Monday, February 22, 2016

Excerpt Of "Slave Names In Colonial South Carolina", A Chapter In Hennig Cohen's 1953 book " The South Carolina Gazette, 1732-1775"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents an excerpt from a pdf entitled "Slave Names In Colonial South Carolina. This excerpt is given "as is". This pdf is from Hennig Cohen's 1953 book The South Carolina Gazette, 1732-1775 [University of South Carolina, Charleston (S.C.)]

The content of this post is presented for historical, linguistics, and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Hennig Cohen for this book. Thanks also to those enslaved and free Africans who lived in South Carolina and elsewhere. Your legacy lives on.

Click for a pancocojams post on Black names in South Carolina 18th and 19th centuries.

I found this pdf using an internet search engine and know very little about Hennig Cohen or the book that is excerpted in this post. However, I found this information about Hennig Cohen from "List of Guggenheim Fellowships awarded in 1960: Hennig Cohen, Deceased. American Literature: 1960"

And from
"The Melville Society's Hennig Cohen Prize Named for distinguished scholar, critic, and Melville Society editor Hennig Cohen, this prize honors excellence in scholarship and writing in an article or book chapter on Melville published in the preceding year, and it is awarded to an individual relatively new to the field during the Melville Society's annual gathering at the MLA Convention."...

FEATURED EXCERPT: "SLAVE NAMES IN COLONIAL SOUTH CAROLINA" by Hennig Cohen, University of South Carolina [pages 102-105; given without the notes citations that are found in the pdf]

"AN INADEQUATE use by scholars and compilers of dictionaries of at least one colonial newspaper, the South Carolina Gazette published at Charleston from 1732 to 1775, has left relatively untouched an important source of Southern contributions to American English. It is quite probable that a more careful examination of the Gazette would yield a number of citations of Americanisms earlier than have been noted previously and perhaps would establish the American origin of a limited number of vocabulary items as well. This would be true, of course, of almost any colonial newspaper of a comparable period and state of preservation which has not been examined thoroughly; the unique opportunity presented by the Gazette lies in the materials it contains concerning the vocabulary associated with the slave system, concerning African influences on the Gullah dialect of the sea island, and concerning patterns in the nomenclature of slaves.... Another example, both an earlier usage and an Africanism, is the word Gullah signifying the Negroes of coastal South Carolina and their dialect. For their definition and etymology of Gullah the NED, DAE, and DA rely upon a monograph by Reed Smith published in 1926,1 and the first instance of its use which they cite is a reference found by Smith in an official publication relating to the Denmark Vesey slave uprising of 1822. This reference mentions the part played in the insurrection by '"Gullah Jack" and his company of "Gullah or Angola Negroes."'2 A similar reference to Gullah occurs in an advertisement in the Gazette of May 12, 1739, for a runaway slave described as 'a short well set Negro, named Golla Harry.' Actually, Negroes were seldom mentioned by name in colonial newspapers except in notices concerning runaway slaves, and it is in the names contained in such notices that African linguistic influences and nominal patterns generally are most apparent.

Slavery was coexistent with the founding in 1670 of the first permanent colony in South Carolina, and early official records occasionally contain the names of slaves.3 An inventory of the estate of Francis Jones in 1693 lists 'a negro man Jack' and 'a negro Woman name Jugg.'4 An inventory of the estate of James Beamor in 1694 includes the male slaves Robin, Tony, and Mingo, and the females Rosa, Hannay, Doll, and Betty; an inventory of the estate of Joseph Pendarvis in the same year lists the males Mingo and Tom and the females Bess, Pegg, and Moll.5 Of these names two, Jugg and Mingo, are probably of African provenience. By 1732, when the Gazette was established, the appearance of Negro slaves in legal inventories was common.

Examples of probable African names of this period include Bowbaw, Cuffee, Ebo Jo, Ganda, Quaquo, Quomenor, and Quoy for male slaves, and Auba, Bucko, J]uba, Mimba, Odah, and Otta for female slaves.6

An examination of slaves' names appearing in the Gazette supplements the findings of Lorenzo Turner regarding the presence of a dual naming system among present-day Gullah Negroes.7 This system consists of an English or 'true name' and a more intimate but more widely used nickname, often of African origin. Turner expresses surprise that earlier writers on Gullah failed to note the existence of this system or the importance of African survivals in the nomenclature of the Gullahs. For field investigators this was a remarkable oversight, but it is even more remarkable in the face of evidence found in the Gazette of the tacit recognition by white owners of a dual naming system among Negro slaves in the eighteenth century. As a matter of convenience, owners usually gave their slaves simple names, but they were aware that the slaves themselves often retained or took an African name. Therefore, in advertising for runaways the owners were at pains to include both the 'proper' name (the name which the owner had prescribed) and the 'country name' (the African name which the runaway retained).

The following examples from advertisements for runaways are evidence of this situation:
John Aug. 27, 1757 ('. . . he will more readily answer to the name of FOOTBEA, which he went by

Tyra Aug. ro, 1765 ('The wench's country name Camba...')

Somerset Sept. 20, 1773 ('. . . his country name Massery...')

Limus Sept. 20, 1773 ('... his Country Name Serrah.. .')

Mask Sept. 2o, 1773 ('. . his Country Name Mussu ....')

Chloe Sept. 27, 1773 ('. . . Her Country Name, Agua')

In certain instances slaves did not receive a 'proper' name but were known by their African names alone, some of which, like Sambo, Quash, Mingo, and Juba, became commonplace in the eighteenth century. In other instances, slaves translated their African names into English or used English names which conformed to the African naming systems.8 A striking illustration of this practice can be seen in the custom of naming a child for the day, month, or season when he was born. As early as 1774 Edward Long noted that Jamaican Negroes 'called their children by the African day of the week on which they are born,' and he compiled the following chart illustrating this system:

Male - Female - Day
Cudjoe,- Juba - Monday
Cubbenah - Beneba - Tuesday
Quaco - Cuba - Wednesday
Quao - Abba - Thursday
Cuffee - Phibba - Friday
Quamin - Mimba - Saturday
Quashee - Quasheba - Sunday

Cufee and Cudjo were perhaps the most widely used of the male 'day' names, and Abba and Juba of the female. An English counterpart of this system of nomenclature existed side by side with the African. Two male slaves named Friday, one of them 'this country born' and the other from the 'Angola Country,' and two male slaves named Monday, one from 'Bomborough' and the other 'A Barbian Negro' are mentioned in the Gazette. Slaves were more often named for the months of the year, and Gazette notices include the mention of males named January, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and November. Male slave names derived from the seasons are Spring, 'Ebo or Calabar,' and Winter, 'country born.' Moon and Thunder are names probably connected with the state of the weather at the time of the child's birth. Other male names which are probably English equivalents of Africanisms are Arrow ('of the Pappa country'), Boy ('Guiney'), Huntsman ('new'), Little One ('Ebo'), Plenty ('Gambia' and 'Mandingo'), and Sharper ('Bambara').

Several studies of slave appellations of the colonial period have been made. N. N. Puckett in a list of sixty-five late seventeenth-century slave names found only two, 'Mookinga and Sambo (Maryland, 1692) [which] seem to offer possibilities of African origin,' but he concluded that 'the African element was still fairly strong' in the eighteenth century.1o Blanche Britt supplied H. L. Mencken with the following list of Negro names obtained from 'Southern newspapers of the period from 1736 to the end of the Eighteenth Century': Annika, Boohum, Boomy, Bowzar, Cuffee, Cuffey, Cuffy, Habella, Kauchee, Mila, Minas, Monimea, Pamo, Qua, Quaco, Quamina, Quash, Warrah, and Yonaha.11 Lorenzo Greene, who examined the personality of the runaway slaves as revealed in sixty-two advertisements from eleven eighteenth century New England newspapers, found that slave names fell into 'at least four categories: classical, Hebrew, Christian (English), and African.' However, slaves who 'bore what appeared to be African names' were only four in number, 'Quom, Cloe, Coffee and Bandong.'12

Although no comparative treatment has been attempted in this paper, the number of names of probably African origin contained in the following list from the South Carolina Gazette suggests that a larger proportion of slaves bore African names than has been previously realized. This list is limited to the twenty-five years preceding the Revolutionary War, a period which saw the slave population in South Carolina increase to more than one hundred
thousand, outnumbering the white by almost two to one.13

Obvious duplication of names has been eliminated, but doubtless some duplication remains as a result of the casual manner in which African names were transliterated into English. For example, the name of a male slave mentioned several times in the Gazette in 176I was spelled variously Cockcoose, Caucos, and Caucause. Cumba, Comba, Cumber, and Camba are variants of a widely used female name. Some names of non-African origin may be listed because the compiler, lacking a knowledge of African languages, was forced to depend upon internal evidence in combination with Professor Turner's check list of Gullah personal names as a basis of selection."...
I added the dashes in the chart above to make sure the entries were separated.

I've made no attempt to identify the sources of the African names given in this pdf file, but some of them are folk processed forms of Akan (Twi/Asante) day names.

"The Akan people of Ghana frequently name their children after the day of the week they were born and the order in which they were born. These names have spread through West Africa, from Benin/Dahomey (Fon) and Togo (Ewe) to Cote d'Ivoire (Baoule), and throughout the African diaspora."....


Note that all of the people in this Wikipedia list aren't of Black African descent.

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Visitor comments are welcome.


  1. Some remnants of African culture survived in Jamaica into the early 20th century, according to this account. William Routledge, an explorer,mentioned that during his brief expedition to the John Crow Mountains he heard local 'Maroon' helpers singing songs in an African language:

    'At night when lying down the Maroons would sing songs set to very catching airs, but the curious thing was they did not know the meaning of the words they used...The forgotten language was brought ages ago from Africa by the original slaves.'

    * ("Across Jungle-Covered Mountains." Times [London, England] 27 May 1920:p.11)

    It's possible of course the Maroons did know the meaning of their songs, but preferred not to share it.

    1. Hello, slam2011. Thanks for sharing that information.

      A considerable amount of African culture survived in Jamaica. Here's a long quote from
      "Coromantee (derived from the name of the Ghanaian slave fort of Fort Kormantine in Koromanti, Ghana.[1] ), also called Coromantins, Coromanti or Kormantine was the English name originally given to Ashanti slaves in Jamaica, but became synonymous for all Akan groups from the Gold Coast or modern-day Ghana. The term Coromantee is now considered archaic as it simply refers to Akan people, and was primarily used in the Caribbean.

      Coromantins actually came from several Akan ethnic groups and were sent to separate European colonies in the Caribbean based on their alliance with Europeans back in the Gold Coast – Ashanti being opposed the Fanti and the British were shipped to Jamaica and Barbados; the Fanti, being opposed to the Asante and the Dutch were sent to the Guianas, etc. as war and kidnapped captives, respectively.[2] Owing to their militaristic background and common Akan language, Coromantins organized dozens of slave rebellions in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Their fierce, rebellious nature became so notorious among white plantation owners in the 18th century that an Act was proposed to ban the importation of people from the Gold Coast despite their reputation as strong workers.

      The Ashanti had the single largest African cultural influence on Jamaica, including Jamaican Maroons whose culture and language was seen as a derivation of Asante-Twi.[3] Names of some notable Coromantee leaders such as Cudjoe, Quamin, Cuffy, and Quamina correspond to Akan day names Kojo, Kwame, Kofi, and Kwamina, respectively. A large amount of the slave population also had Akan day names, as the name "Quashee" (a distortion of "Kwasi") was the British planters' way of implying the Ashanti majority. The word became the Jamaican British term to mean "black person or slave",[4] likewise, the white individual was called "obroni" (Twi: white person) by the slave populace. The term is still used and is considered a slur."
      As an aside, I met an African American woman whose married last named was "Cromantie". It seems likely that that last name has its source in the name of the Ghanaian slave fort of Fort Kormantine in Koromanti, Ghana.

    2. I wrote that I thought that it was likely that the last name "Cromantie" had it source in the Ghanaian name "Coromantee". Well, maybe not.

      "Cromartie Name Meaning Scottish (now found mainly in Orkney and Aberdeen): habitational name from Cromarty in Ross and Cromarty."

      There's a number of African American football players with the last name "Cromnatie", including Marcus Cromantie and Antonio Cromantie. Maybe they got that name from a Scottish man living in the South. But that man or men weren't necessarily their ancestors' master/s when slavery was abolished and Black people had to choose a last name. History and anecdotal stories document that a number of Black people who had been enslaved took their last names from people other than their last slave master.

  2. I just checked the British census records 1841-1911. There are over 2000 listings for people named 'Cromarty', but not a single one for 'Cromantie'. It doesn't seem to exist at all as a surname in Britain.

    On familysearch it seems to be a name associated with black families from Carolina and Georgia. I suppose it could be a variant spelling of 'Cromarty' which is unique to the American south. I think though it's possible your first theory was right: 'Cromantie' is a corruption of Coromantee, and not derived from the Scottish name.

    1. Thanks, slam2011.

      It does seem strange that most [all?] of the Cromantie listed are Black. When I wrote that quote about the Scottish name "Cromarty", I didn't catch that "mar" instead of "man" as in the surname "Cromantie".

      Given your research, I'll return to my first theory- that "Cromantie" is a folk processed form of "Coromantee", though I'll add that that spelling was probably influenced by the spelling of the Scottish surname "Cromarty". The last name "Cromarty" could have been known to some 19th century free Black people and newly freed Black people since there were people of Scottish descent in the Southern region of the USA during that time (and since then).

      I should also add that the Black woman who I met at a business meeting whose married surname was "Cromantie" pronounced that name "Croh-mahn-tee, (the last syllable rhyming with "me" and not pronounced like the "tie" that men wear.)

    2. Here's another correction: The African American football players whose names I cited have the last name "Cromartie" and not "Cromantie" [btw Marcus Cromartie and Antonio Cromartie are cousins as are some other football players with that last name:
      "He [Marcus Cromartie]
      He is a cousin of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie of the New York Giants, who was an All-American cornerback at Tennessee State University, and was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the 16th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft as well as the cousin of New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie and former Washington Redskins safety Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith.[8] Terrelle Smith, Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith's brother, formerly of the New Orleans Saints and the Detroit Lions is also a cousin of Marcus."
      -end of quote-

      Here's a link for a chart of "Last names beginning with Cr in the United States" [US Census 2000]

      while the last names "Cromartie" and "Cromarty" are included in the list of surnames that begin with CR [2000 USA census], there are no entries for the last name "Cromantie" in that list [which may mean that the number of people with that last name is far too small to make that list. I am sure that I met one woman with that last name...]

  3. To supplement (or correct) the Wikipedia information about the source of the name "Coromantee" that I quoted February 23, 2016 at 5:02 PM, I found this quote on a forum about the Akan influence in Jamaica: "Coromantee (derived from the name of the Ghanaian coastal town "Kormantse")...

    I suppose the name could come from both Ghanaian sources-the name of the Ghanaian slave fort of Fort Kormantine in Koromanti, Ghana and the Ghanaian coastal town "Kormantse"...

    To better ensure that this topic is found on this blog and through internet searches, I've decided to do some more online research and then publish a post on the names Coromantee/ Cromantie in Ghana, Jamaica, and the USA. I'll include the information that you found, slam2011 and will add the link to that post on this comment thread.

    1. Here's a correction: "Kromantsi" and "Koromanti" are the same geographical location. "Koromanti" is the English form of the Twi language place name "Kromantsi".

  4. Here's the link to a post that includes additional examples of "Coromantee" and Akan day names in the Americas & the Caribbean:

    slam2011, earlier you wrote "On familysearch it [Cromantie] seems to be a name associated with black families from Carolina and Georgia."

    I wrote a comment in that post whose link I just gave which included two examples of the last name "Cromantie" which were almost certainly White. Interestingly enough, one is from North Carolina and one is from Georgia. I wonder if those names were misspellings of the name "Cromartie".

    slam2011, would you please post the link to that familysearch citation? Thanks again!