Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Copps or Corpse?

I've always heard that Copp's Hill in Boston was named for William Copp (d. 1670) the shoemaker who once owned the land.

The other day, I was looking at a wall-size reproduction of a 1776 map and noticed that the area was labeled as "Corpse Hill."

So which is it? Was the area named for William Copp or for the burying ground (est. c. 1660)? Did the mapmaker hear "Copp" and figure that Bostonions had just omitted the "r" in "corpse" (a logical deduction if he knew of the graveyard)? Is it a clever play on words?

Musings on the confusion can be found here, here, and here.

1 comment:

gwen said...

I vote for Corpse!!

An interesting link on the etymology of place names: