English River Names: Flow gently sweet Afton and Avon

Some months back, we ran a blog about the names of rivers in Western Europe, and we promised to follow it up with one on English and Irish waterways.  Well here, at last, it is.

The landscapes of the British Isles and Ireland are traversed by rivers, some as long as the Thames and the river Shannon, some flowing across national borders, from England to Scotland or Wales, while others are much smaller streams.

Not surprisingly, most of these names are less lyrical than the French and Italian examples, more simple and straightforward.  A sizable number of them already exist as people names—Amber, Tamar, Perry, Douglas –while the rest are possible crossovers.  Of these, some sound decidedly masculine (Dart, Dewey), while others could conceivably be used for girls.

ENGLAND, SCOTLAND AND WALES

AERON

AFTON

AIRE

ALLUN

ALYN

AMBER

ANNAN

ANTON

ARROW

ARUN

ASH

AVERON

AVON

AYR

BEAL

BEAULY

BOYD

CALDER

CARY

CASSLEY

CLYDE

COLE

CONNOR

CONON

CRANE

DANE

DART

DEVON

DEWEY

DOON

DOVE

EDEN

ELY

EXE

GLEN

GRETA

GWENDREATH

HANNON

ISIS

ISLA

JORDAN

KEMP

KENN

KENSEY

KENT

LARK

LEW

MARDEM

MEDINA

MERSEY

MORDA

NEVIS

PERRY

QUINNY

REA

RHONDDA

SEVERN

SID

SILVER

TAMAR

TAVY

TAY

THAMES

TRENT

TYNE

VALENCY

WHEELER

WILEY

YARTY

IRELAND

ANNALEE

ARNEY

AVOCA

BROSNA

CALLAN

CAREY

CLADAGH

CLARE

DENNETT

DERRY

DOUGLAS

DUFF

FANE

FERGUS

FINN

FOYLE

GLENELLY

LAGAN

LIFFEY

REELAN

SHANNON

TOLKA

VARTRY

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9 Responses to “English River Names: Flow gently sweet Afton and Avon”

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UrbanAngel Says:

March 11th, 2010 at 9:43 am

Some GORGEOUS options there!

There’s actually a Perry or a Parry in my family history

Bella Says:

March 11th, 2010 at 9:54 am

Tamar
Ireland
Callan
and Fane are some of my favourites, though I prefer the sp. Fainne.

vikki Says:

March 11th, 2010 at 10:58 am

and I am a Perry. 🙂

JNE Says:

March 11th, 2010 at 11:46 am

Aaah, I lived less than a quarter mile from the River Avon (I think there are actually several, but the one in Christchurch, Dorset) when I first moved to England… Also the (not on the list) River Stour (near where they join by the Priory and Stanpit Marsh)… They have such positive associations for me… but neither works as a name… for me, Avon is all about Avon Ladies and Stour sounds like a cross between stinky and sour, unfortunately. Hmmm… now I’m tripping down memory lane…. thanks!

Other rivers in England that I have memories of that didn’t make your list but might work for names:

Teign, Axe, Brit, and Beauleiu

From the list – Wow – Exe would make a really unusual name – but I kind of like it for a middle if you had a connection with Exeter.

British American Says:

March 11th, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I grew up in Merseyside, so by the river Mersey. Shame it’s not really my style for a name or a particularly picturesque river. I doubt my friends here in the US would know that it’s a river, but all my friends back in the UK would probably dislike it for a name choice.

Also spent my university days in Nottingham, so by the river Trent and in the ‘Trent Building’. That’s better than Mersey, but still not really my style.

Meg Says:

March 12th, 2010 at 12:33 am

Afton also means “evening” in Swedish, or “eve” – Christmas Eve = Julafton. Not a bad association at all, just thought I’d mention.

CanaLyn Says:

March 12th, 2010 at 3:51 am

I’ve always loved the name Afton. I associate it with the Nickel Creek rendition of the song (which is amazing and I’d recommend that everyone listens to it), and for a long time when I was younger I thought Afton was the girl in the song, not the river by which said girl lay.

I was a sort of dumb child.

Deborah Says:

March 19th, 2010 at 5:01 am

Once I had two colleagues who were married to each other. He was Donald, known as Don, and she was Dinah, known as Dee. Two rivers that had flowed together!

Alexe Says:

March 11th, 2013 at 2:05 pm

You forgot the River ‘Wear’ which is located near the ‘Tyne’.

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