History of Streets and Squares of Old Town
Brunswick, GA, USA
Anyone at all familiar with the names of our State, our County, our City, our streets, our squares will know how redolent they are of English history, particularly during the reigns of King George II and his grandson, King George III (1727 - 1820). The State of Georgia was named for George II, who in 1732 granted a charter to a Board of Trustees and General James Edward Oglethorpe to found a colony as a refuge where the poor, but worthy people in England could find free land and the means of subsistence. Commercially, it was planned to cultivate indigo and to develop a silk industry that would create new income for the weaving industry in England. Thirdly, it was to be a bulwark against Spanish aggression from Florida. There were to be no slaves and no liquor. The Trustees consisted of members of the House of Lords, the House of Commons, clergymen, and various other philanthropists who contributed to the foundation, but received no recompense and could own no land in Georgia. General Oglethorpe spent ten strenuous years as military commander in Georgia and won the Battle of Bloody Marsh, but he received no compensation and paid his own expenses.
Glynn County, organized in 1777, was named for a member of Parliament, John Glynn, who was a friend of the Colonies in parliamentary debates on the various issues which brought about the Revolution. It was formed from the three earlier Parishes of St. David, St. James, and St. Patrick. These earlier geographic divisions were called "parishes" because in the royal colony the Church of England was to be the established local church.
The city of Brunswick was laid out in 1771. It consisted of a rectangular tract of land, 383% acres, bounded on the north by F Street, on the east by Cochran Avenue, on the south by First Avenue, and on the west by the Brunswick River. Petitioners for lots bound themselves to build "a good and Sufficient dwelling house not less than 30 foot in length and 18 foot wide with a good brick Chimney thereto"; otherwise the property would "revert to his Majesty, his heirs and Successors." The city was named for the seat of the House of Hanover in Germany and also for the Duke of Brunswick, a brother of King George III, who had been a prominent general in the Seven Years' War.
The first street on the north, Gloucester, was named for the Duke of Gloucester, a brother of George III and a member of the King's Cabinet. The title has been held by English princes for many years and goes back to Robert, Earl of Gloucester (10901147), a son of Henry I.
Monck Street was named in honor of General George Monck. a famous commander under Oliver Cromwell, and sometimes called "The King Maker." He was in control of Scotland during the Commonwealth and formed there a regiment still known in the British Army as "The Coldstream Guards." After Cromwell's death and the vote by Parliament to restore the Stuart line to the throne in the person of Charles II, Monck became a leader in the peaceful restoration and for his services was made Duke of Albemarle and a Knight of the Garter. and was given .t 7000.
Mansfield Street bears the name of William Murray Mansfield, first Earl of Mansfield, a very prominent English solicitor and judge who was serving as Chief Justice when the city was laid out. He served in this capacity for thirty-four years. Mansfield's permanent stamp upon Anglo-American law lies in commercial law. The State of Georgia operates today on the basis of English Common Law and has very few statutes of its own.
The next street, Howe, was named for General Lord Howe, 5th Viscount, English soldier. He served in America during the French and Indian War alongside George Washington and in Canada was in command of a light-infantry brigade at Abraham Heights in the battle for Quebec. He was also present at the capture of Montreal in 1760. These battles made Canada an English colony rather than French. Though as a Whig he disapproved of the American Revolutionary War, he was sent to Boston as second in command to General Thomas Gage and led the left wing in the three costly but finally successful assaults at Bunker Hill. When he was made supreme commander and Washington forced the British evacuation of Boston, he transferred his army to the New York-Philadelphia area and opposed General Washington there for some two years. In 1778 Howe resigned his command and went back to England.
The next street is George, named for George III, King of England when Brunswick was laid out. After that is London, named for the homesick Londoner. Next in order is Prince Street, named for the then Prince of Wales, son of George III. The Prince later became Regent when George 111 was incapable of acting, and after his death, he reigned as George IV. The next street, Albemarle, was named for George Monck, Earl of Albemarle; thus General Monck has the unique distinction of having two Brunswick streets named for him.
Dartmouth Street was named for William, second Earl of Dartmouth, who was one of the secretaries of state under George 111. In 1775 he advised the colonies to accept the to him conciliatory proposals put forth by Lord North, the Prime Minister, but he opposed similar proposals in 1776 and advocated the employment of force. Dartmouth's piety and his intimacy with the early Methodists won for him the epithet of "Psalm Singer."
From west to east, the first street is Bay, a universal name for streets on the waterfront. The next is Oglethorpe, named for the illustrious founder of the Colony of Georgia. The next in order, Grant Street, was named for one Colonel James Grant, British soldier. He was in command of a group of Highlanders in New England under General Amherst, commander of the British Army in America at that time. During a Cherokee uprising against Georgia and South Carolina in 1757 and 1758, Amherst was appealed to for help. He sent Colonel Grant, who raised a provincial regiment in South Carolina under the command of Colonel Middleton and gave presents to the Chickasaw and Catawba Indians for their aid against the Cherokees and the French. With this regiment, some Georgia volunteers, and the Indian allies, Colonel Grant had about 2600 men. Having served in America several years and having fought in several engagements with Indians, he knew their methods of war. In two months, Grant had defeated the Indians and demolished their most important towns.
The next street is Newcastle, named for the Duke of Newcastle, one of the most prominent politicians in, England for nearly two generations. He was an outstanding Whig nobleman and a brother of the noted English statesman, Henry Pelham, whom he succeeded as Prime Minister. Newcastle was a great friend of the Colony of Georgia. He was immensely wealthy from his coal mines near Newcastle-on-Tyne. Obviously, Newcastle was a poor market in which to sell coal. Hence the phrase "carrying coals to Newcastle" meant a useless or unprofitable undertaking.
Richmond Street was named for the Duke of Richmond. He had been a Colonel of His Majesty's Second Regiment of Foot, but after the close of the Seven Years' War he resumed his seat in Parliament. In the debates on the policy that led to the American War of Independence, Richmond was a firm supporter of the Colonists. In recognition of his services in their behalf, when the State of Georgia was organized into counties, the County of Richmond, whose county seat is Augusta, was named in his honor.
The next street, Reynolds, was named for the first Royal Governor of Georgia after the Trustees had turned the management of the Colony over to the Crown. Captain John Reynolds had been in the Royal Navy. He served only two years as governor, his rule being generally unsatisfactory to the Colonists and the King. The Colony asked the King to recall Reynolds, charging that "his administration of the government was incompetent, partial, and tyrannical." It appears that Governor Reynolds was too much accustomed to absolute authority on the quarter deck of a man-of-war and was not fitted for the difficult position of the governor of a new province under a new plan of government.
Union Street was probably named to commemorate the union of Scotland with England, May 1, 1707, during the reign of Queen Anne, at which time Scotland finally acquiesced in the Hanoverian succession to the throne. When James VI of Scotland became James I of England, he ruled the two countries separately and each had its own parliament. After the union they were ruled as one country, with Scottish representatives in the Parliament in London.
Ellis Street was named for the second Royal Governor of Georgia, Henry Ellis. He was a scientist and navigator of some note and his administration was satisfactory both to the Crown and to the Colonists. As the climate of Georgia affected his health, he requested to be relieved after nearly three years. It was during his administration that the province was divided into eight parishes for the observance of the form of worship of the Church of England. Thereafter, all Georgians were expected to be good Episcopalians!
Egmont Street was named for Philip Percival, Lord Egmont, a very close friend of Oglethorpe and the first President of the Board of Trustees of the Colony. He served as a Trustee for nearly twenty years. He later appears in the provincial records as "the Right Honourable, the Earl of Egmont", one of His Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, and announces to the Colonial House of Commons on Thursday, February 17, 1763, the birth of a Prince. This is the Prince for whom Prince Street is named.
Norwich Street derives its name from the city of Norwich, the second oldest town in England. It is a university and cathedral town, having one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world, constructed in the 1200s. Some readers may remember the nursery rhyme:
''The man in the moon came down too soon,
And asked the way to Norwich,
They sent him south
Where he burnt his mouth
From eating cold plum porridge."
Carpenter Street was named for General Carpenter, who had been in the Royal Army and had assisted in putting down the First Scottish Rebellion, known as "the Fifteen". He was afterwards a member of the Board of Trustees for Georgia. Lord Egmont, in his journal, gives the impression that Carpenter took himself too seriously. He resigned from the Board in high dudgeon because the Trustees, when filling a vacancy on the Board elected a Mr. Beauclerc which did not please his Lordship.
Wolfe Street takes its name from General Wolfe the veteran Commander of the British Army in America during the French and Indian War. He had previously been a courageous commander during the War of the Austrian Succession on the continent. He was present at the capture of Louisburg in Canada, but is chiefly remembered for his encounter against Montcalm at Quebec. It was the strongest French fortification in America, and its capture in 1759 resulted in a peace treaty ceding Canada to England. General Wolfe was killed during the battle.
Albany Street gets its name from the Duke of Albany, a brother of George III. Albany is a titular name for one of the princes of the Royal House of Great Britain. It originated as a Scottish title and was first created April 1398 and bestowed on Robert Stewart, Regent of Scotland.
Amherst Street was named for Jeffrey Amherst, Baron and Field Marshal, another hero of the French and Indian War. His capture of Montreal in 1760, coupled with Wolfe's capture of Quebec, put an end to the dream of a French Empire in America. Amherst was in command of all the British troops in America during the French and Indian War and tried to help each colony fortify and defend itself. When the colonists of Georgia asked for aid during a Cherokee uprising, General Amherst sent Colonel James Grant to their rescue. General Amherst was commander-in-chief of the British Army during the American Revolution and served in this capacity from l 772 to l 795.
When Olde Town Brunswick was laid out in 1771, Cochran Avenue was its Eastern Boundary. Lieutenant Colonel James Cochran was an officer with Oglethorpe's troops at Fort Frederica. Cochran was polite to the Rev. George Whitefield, a missionary in the Georgia colony. (Researched by Mrs. Frazier Livingston Ledbetter from Jones History of Georgia and letters by Oglethorpe to the trustees and Jones History of Georgia).
When Brunswick was planned, Governor Wright was still in residence in Savannah and superintended the survey. A number of squares were laid out and expected to be cultivated as parks, probably like the beautiful squares still existent in Savannah. Unfortunately, the city fathers - from time to time - have seen fit to take over some of the squares for schools and public buildings and have bisected all except Hanover with streets. Between Egmont and Carpenter Streets seven parks were laid out, four small and three larger; between Grant and Richmond, seven others of comparable sizes were planned.
Hillsborough Square, the present site of a complex of public schools, was named for the Earl of Hillsborough. He was President of the Board of Trade and Plantations, which had jurisdiction over all of the colonies. In 1768 he became Secretary of State for the Colonies and served in this capacity for some years, during which time Brunswick was planned. Hillsborough Square lies between Egmont and Carpenter Streets and is bisected by Mansfield Street. Additional land had to be purchased for some of the buildings there.
The next large one in order is Wright Square, named for Sir James Wright, the last colonial governor of Georgia. Sir James was a native of South Carolina, the son of that state's Chief Justice, and had been for twenty-one years its Attorney General. He succeeded Governor Ellis on October 13, 1760. He was descended from the Wrights of Norfolk County, England, and his grandfather, Sir Robert Wright, was Chief Justice of the Court of the King's Bench in the time of lames II. His grandmother was the daughter of Bishop Matthew Wren, a nephew of Christopher Wren. The new governor was qualified for his task by his long residence in Carolina and his experience in colonial affairs. His legal knowledge was a great advantage and aided him in the very satisfactory administration of the government. Sir James served from 1760 until the evacuation of Savannah at the close of the Revolution. Three years of this time he spent in Halifax, Canada, while the Revolutionists were temporarily in command of Savannah. Wright Square is bisected by George Street and the northern half is currently occupied by the Glynn Junior High School.
The next large square between Egmont and Carpenter Streets is Halifax, named for the second Earl of Halifax, President of the Board of Trade from 1748 to 1765. He took an active interest in colonial development and made the Board of Trade a real department of the British Cabinet. He helped to found Halifax, Nova Scotia, which was named for him. In several ways he rendered good service to trade, especially with North America. He served in several different offices: Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, First Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary of State, Lord Privy Seal. He was an uncle of Lord North, the Revolutionary Prime Minister under George III. Lord Halifax had been a judge at one time in the criminal section of the courts. Possibly some readers may remember hearing their grandmother use the expression, "Oh, go to Halifax." It seems that Lord Halifax took it for granted that the prisoners were guilty until proved innocent, on the theory that if they were not guilty they wouldn't be there. Hence, he judged them guilty and inquired into the matter afterwards. As a rule, the criminals got what was coming to them. When you wished to assign someone to proper punishment, you told him to "go to Halifax." , his Square is bisected by Prince Street.
The other three large squares lie between Richmond and Grant Streets. They have obvious names: King's, which is bisected by Prince; Hanover at George, the only park left in original size; Queen's, bisected by both Newcastle and Mansfield. One quarter of Queen's was used for the old City Hall; currently it is used for public services. To one side of the building is a monument to Mark Carr, an original settler, who was granted for a plantation the land that Brunswick now occupies. Three sections are left as small parks; one contains a monument to Oglethorpe, one a monument to Glynn County Men in World War 11, and the third a monument to Major Columbus Downing, a prominent citizen and philanthropist.
Smaller parks were provided at regular intervals and named largely for the islands near Brunswick. They are located as follows: bisected by Newcastle Street are Machen Place between F and Gloucester Streets, Jekyll Place between Gloucester and Monck Streets, Crispin Place between Albemarle and Dartmouth Streets, and St. Simons Place between First Avenue and Dartmouth Street; and bisected by Norwich Streets are: Hillary Place between F and Gloucester Streets, Blythe Place between Gloucester and Monck Streets, Satilla Place between Albemarle and Dartmouth Streets, and Frederica Place between Dartmouth Street and First Avenue.