Colony Names

So wait. England didn’t just buy a "baby country" book and start flipping through the pages, waiting to be inspired?  "What do you guys think about Georgeland?" "Oh, really? I think he looks more like a New Algonqua…" How did it  really go down?

LanguageEnglish Language
U.S. HistoryColonial America: 1600-1754

Transcript

00:30

Specifically, how were the original thirteen colonies named?

00:36

Let's start with the first colony founded: Virginia.

00:41

Or the Colony and Dominion of Virginia, as they called it then. They liked to complicate things.

00:48

The original colony of Virginia encompassed

00:50

what is today Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and West Virginia.

00:55

It was named after Queen Elizabeth. So why not call it "Elizabethtown?"

01:00

Well, aside from copyright issues, Elizabeth was known as the Virgin Queen. Hence "Virginia."

01:10

Along the same lines, Georgia was named after King George II.

01:16

What about the Carolinas? The North and South parts are pretty obvious...

01:20

But what about the Carolina part? Was there a Queen Caroline?

01:25

Nope. Carolina was a language that local Algonquin Indians spoke.

01:33

Delaware also gained its name from the natives who inhabited the colony.

01:39

Connecticut is an Anglicized version of the Algonquian word for "on the long river."

01:46

Quinatucquet. Say that three times fast.

01:51

The Massachusett was also an Algonquin tribe,

01:55

giving their name to -- you guessed it --

02:00

Massachussets.

02:03

So was there a Hampshire tribe?

02:06

Or a Rhode tribe?

02:09

Nope. New Hampshire was simply named after Hampshire County in England.

02:16

If you didn't guess, the same goes for New York and New Jersey.

02:22

And Rhode Island was named because its shore resembled that of Rhodes in Greece.

02:32

Although folks at the time liked to call it "Rogue's Island" because of its reputation,

02:36

which is much cooler than the name.

02:40

And that leaves us with Maryland.

02:43

Maryland was unique. It was founded specifically as a Catholic colony.

02:49

The name is in reverence to the Virgin Mary.

02:54

And that's how the original Thirteen Colonies got their names.

02:58

What about your state? Your city?

03:01

Do you know how they were named?

03:04

Shmoop amongst yourselves.