Cumberland Nomenclature

6 Jan

I work at Cumberland University. A few blocks away sits a Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Around town, there are numerous businesses named Cumberland, including Cumberland Animal Hospital. Just north of town flows the Cumberland River. A geological formation called the Cumberland Plateau is east of here. Cumberland County is on top of the Cumberland Plateau. In Knoxville, the students at the University of Tennessee hang out on Cumberland Avenue. Lake Cumberland is a recreational area in Kentucky. Pioneers, including Daniel Boone, made their way through the Appalachian Mountains at the Cumberland Gap.

In other words, there is a lot of stuff in this area named Cumberland. It is a word that people in these parts use on a daily basis. However, I have a question that I have never heard anyone ask.

What is Cumberland?

It turns out that there used to be a county in northwest England known as Cumberland. It came into existence in the 12th Century and was abolished in 1974. Interestingly, Graham and Bell were the most common surnames of the area. The Bell name is of particular importance to me. Also, I wonder if Alexander Graham Bell had relations in Cumberland County.

Despite the great names, I would be surprised if all of the stuff in this area was named after a defunct county in England. There must be something else. Lo and behold, more search engining proves that to be the case.

In 1644, the title Duke of Cumberland was created and named after the county from the prior paragraph. Several men held this title, and things in America tended to be named in honor of titled folks. Therefore, it stands to reason that things began to be called Cumberland for that reason. However, that leads to another question. Which Duke of Cumberland has his name all over this area?

More search engining led me to Prince William Augustus, grandson of King George I; son of King George II; and uncle of King George III. He fought in the War of Austrian Succession and in the Seven Years’ War. The Cumberland River and the Cumberland Gap were named in his honor, and, one would assume, the rest of the Cumberland named places and things followed from those.

Prince William, Duke of Cumberland received many honors in his lifetime. However, one posthumous recognition stands out. In 2005, BBC History Magazine named him the worst Briton of the 18th Century. Presumably, this was for his role in the Battle of Culloden. It was after this battle that many of his contemporaries began calling him The Butcher.

Yep, the common use of Cumberland in these parts is derived from this guy.Duke

My thirst for knowledge has been quenched.

9 Responses to “Cumberland Nomenclature”

  1. Bantering Ram January 6, 2016 at 04:01 #

    Interesting as all your history pieces. I’m curious (in quite a macabre way) – is there a meat shop called The Cumberland Butcher?

    • Rick January 6, 2016 at 04:20 #

      I don’t know of one, but I am going to search for it.

  2. Andrew Petcher January 6, 2016 at 09:02 #

    Cumberland became Cumbria in 1974 but you can still get Cumberland sausages.

    • Rick January 6, 2016 at 13:04 #

      I read about the sausages. Are they good? How is life in that part of England?

      • Andrew Petcher January 6, 2016 at 13:30 #

        It is wet at the moment. Lots of flooding thanks to El Nino. The sausages are good but I prefer a Lincolnshire where I come from.

  3. Manu Sudhakar Kurup January 7, 2016 at 06:06 #

    Interesting. History behind names is something I love to read.
    Just yesterday I was reading about George III and cartoons about him and his son.

    • Rick January 7, 2016 at 14:28 #

      It’s strange how Cumberland means a lot around here but no longer has any meaning in England.

      • Manu Sudhakar Kurup January 8, 2016 at 00:46 #

        I guess they lose importance later. In my place, local names given by the British are being changed back to what it was before. But in casual conversation or in English conversation, colonial names stay and when language changes to local, people tend to use the old names. It is kind of interesting. Old names are beautiful but British names have a colonial charm (and are easy to type, of course!).

      • Rick January 8, 2016 at 04:28 #

        Of course

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