Hampshire / New Hampshire

Hampshire is a county on the south coast of England that has lent its name to a US state, New Hampshire. The name goes back to the 9th century hamtunscir. Ham and tun are both Old English words meaning enclosure, farm, or manor, so hamtun, which has the same meaning, is rather redundant. Scir, or shire, means district. So hampshire is literally farming district.1

The US state was named by Captain John Mason (1586-1635) who received a grant for territory in what would become the colony and state.2


1A.D. Mills, Dictionary of English Place-Names (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 155, 381.

2Illustrated Dictionary of Place Names, edited by Kelsie B. Harder (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976), 218-19.

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