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Places with 'Pen' names in Jamaica - What with them? How Many Are There?

by Wellesley

May Pen, Jamaica

May Pen, Jamaica

How many more places in Jamaica have the word "Pen" included in them? What is its significance in Jamaican place names?

Is it something like how the word "waite" is used in names in England's Lake District, such as Braithwaite? Do you know?

I know of 'May Pen', and now in your latest e-zine of 'Devon Pen'.

ANSWER: by Wellesley, May 15, 2013

Hi Glyden,

Very interesting question my friend! I know I can depend on you for such critical thinking.

Yes, place names does have some significance here and much of them are derived from the colonial days.

This page from the National Library of Jamaica list some of the unusual ones and the history of them, but it would appear that in general, most either have something to do with the uniqueness of the actual geographical location or the family name of the master, owner or plantation that it was on.

But what's special about the PEN? Beats me, but rest assured, I'll be checking around.

In the meantime though, I've done some brainstorming and researching and has created this list:

  1. Bamboo Pen (Old House, St. Andrew)
  2. Bonny Pen (St. Mary)
  3. Bowden Pen (Portland)
  4. Chambers Pen (Hanover)
  5. Christian Pen (Portmore, St. Catherine)
  6. Church Pen (Old Harbour, St. Catherine)
  7. Clermont Pen (St. Mary)
  8. Content Pen (St. Ann)
  9. Coopers Pen (Trelawny)
  10. Cottage Pen (Manchester)
  11. Cranbrook Pen (St. Anns Bay, St. Ann)
  12. Cuffes Pen (St. Elizabeth)
  13. Dean Pen (St. Mary)
  14. Dempshire Pen (St. Catherine)
  15. Devon Pen (St. Mary)
  16. Duncans Pen (St. Catherine)
  17. Ellerslie Pen (Spanish Town. St. Catherine)
  18. Ensom Pen (Now Ensom City, St. Catherine)
  19. Faith's Pen (St. Ann)
  20. Farm Pen (Westmoreland)
  21. Fyffe's Pen (St. Elizabeth)
  22. Gordon Pen (St. Catherine)
  23. Grants Pen (Kingston)
  24. Industry Pen (Three Hills, St Mary)
  25. Jew Pen (Bog Walk, St Catherine)
  26. Kingswood Pen (Westmoreland)
  27. Lakes Pen (St. Catherine)
  28. Lennox Pen (Darliston, Westmoreland)
  29. Luana Pen (Black River, St. Elizabeth)
  30. March Pen (St. Catherine)
  31. Marshall's Pen (Manchester)
  32. May Pen (Clarendon)
  33. McCooks Pen (St. Catherine)
  34. Nanse Pen (Kingston)
  35. Rhoden Pen (Old Harbour, St. Catherine)
  36. Slipe Pen (Kingston)
  37. Tawes Pen (St. Catherine)
  38. Thompson Pen (St. Catherine)
  39. Tinson Pen (Kingston)
  40. Trench Pen (Now Trench Town, Kingston)
  41. Waterhouse Pen (St. Andrew)
  42. Wild Pen (St. Elizabeth)
  43. Wynters Pen (St. Catherine)

It is not complete, but this is certainly eye-opening!

To my surprise, many of them are from the parish of St. Catherine! Did you notice?

I wonder if there are any historians in this audience who could shed some light on it?

I am also going to invite my readers to join in by submitting other places using the comment form below.

But now, my thoughts are wandering, I am thinking I need to do the same for "Town" in Jamaica, eg. Albert Town (Trelawny) :-) That should be interesting.

Related: Places in Jamaica with Spanish Names

See also: Famous Places In Jamaica


Comments for Places with 'Pen' names in Jamaica - What with them? How Many Are There?

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Sep 13, 2023
March Pen and Cuffies Pen
by: Anonymous

Hi there
I am interested in the history of March Pen in Clarendon and Cuffies Pen in St Elizabeth.

Was Cuffie’s Pen named after Nanny’s brother Cuffie? Did maroons live here? Were enslaved Africans living here?

Does anyone know the history of March Pen or where I can find information?

Editor's Note
It's great to see your interest in Jamaican history, especially in places like March Pen in Clarendon and Cuffie's Pen in St. Elizabeth.

Regarding Cuffie's Pen in St. Elizabeth, there's a huge possibility that it was named after Nanny's brother Cuffie, as you know, Nanny was a prominent Maroon leader here.

The Maroons, as you also know, were escaped slaves who formed their own communities in the rugged interior of Jamaica. So, it's quite likely that Maroons lived in this area.

As for enslaved Africans, many parts of Jamaica were inhabited by enslaved Africans during colonial times, so it's possible that they lived in or near Cuffie's Pen.
To get more specific historical details, I would suggest that you check the local library there, the JIS or the Institute Of Jamaica, or even speak with elders in the community who might have oral history passed down through generations.

Regarding March Pen in Clarendon, I don't have specific information about its history, but you can also start your research by reaching out the JIS, The Institute Of Jamaica or the local library and government offices in Clarendon. They might have records or resources that can point you in the right direction.

Please let me know.
Many thanks

Aug 30, 2022
by: Anonymous


Dec 24, 2021
Another pen
by: Anonymous

Irish pen is another one in St.Catherine

Nov 14, 2020
by: Anonymous

St. Catherine is a Plain in Jamaica. The lands are very fertile for agriculture. People were heavy meat eaters. Spanish Town was the Island capital that housed the Governor General and House of Assembly plus residents. Many land owners owned property and slaves in St. Catherine (my ancestors owned March Pen and McCook's Pen among others.) The elite and the workers had to be fed. Residences were in the Town so the pens (taking the owner's name) were built outside the town central for farming for meat lovers. The animals also benefited from the fertility and agriculture. Can you imagine the smell the town would have from dead animals and droppings had they built farm pens within the town?

Jun 15, 2020
by: Anonymous


The phrase Tre, Pol and Pen is used to describe people from or places in Cornwall, UK. The full rhyming couplet runs: By Tre Pol and Pen / Shall ye know all Cornishmen,[1][2] a version of which was recorded by Richard Carew in his Survey of Cornwall, published in 1602.[3] Many Cornish surnames and place names still retain these words as prefixes, such as the surname Trelawny and the village Polzeath. Tre in the Cornish language means a settlement or homestead; Pol, a pond, lake or well; and Pen (also Welsh and Cumbric), a hill or headland. Cornish surnames and placenames are generally pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable.[4]

Mar 03, 2020
Rest Pen
by: Margaret

For two happy years (1963/1965) I lived at 16 South Avenue, Rest Pen, Kingston 10, Jamaica. No Jamaican that I have met over the years has heard of 'Rest Pen'.

I am surprised at how many areas you have discovered with the word 'Pen' in the address, well done and very interesting! 'Rest Pen' was near to the Sheratan Hotel on those days.

Jun 30, 2019
'Retirement Pen'
by: Anonymous

They all leave out 'Retirement Pen' in Clarendon. It was owned by my gtx4 grandfather and is in his will of 1816 as 'Retirement Pen'

Nov 28, 2018
by: Anonymous

My Grandfather grew up on Friendship pen somewhere between Crossroads and Slipe Rd. Trying to find the information I found there are many Friendship pens and estate in each Parrish. My great grandmother was French and they may have called it Frenchies Pen or Pelong Pen. Their name was Pillon.

Feb 28, 2018
Friendship and or Frenches Pen St . Andrew
by: Pamela Scharaga

Does anybody know anything about Friendship Pen near Crossroads and Slipe Rd? Was it alternatively called Frenches Pen because the Pillon family from Haiti lived there? We believe it was willed to my 2x great grandmother Sarah M. Gibson Pillon by her mother Also named Sally or Sarah Gibson.We believe David Gibson of Wakefield plantation and Ireland Pen fathered Sally's children and left her money or land or both when he left for Scotland. I'd love to see a map.Any stories would be appreciated! I'm on many facebook Jamaican sites.

Apr 02, 2017
friendship pen or Frenchies Pen
by: pamela

My Great Great Grandparents lived on Friendship
Pen in the late 1800's to the early 1900's There seems to be so many places named Friendship in Jamaica I can't pinpoint where it was .My Gteat Grandparents were William Wightman and Isabelle Pillon and my 2x great parents Alfred Pillon and Sarah Messesi Gibson.Does anyone know where this is ? We heard they called it Frenchi'es Pen becuse my 2x great grandfather was Haitian French.

Jan 11, 2015
pen names
by: Anonymous

why is the history not showed...... only the names the history of the place would greatly help

Sep 30, 2014
by: Shazzsmash

My understanding is that all pens in jamaica were initially where cattle was raised as opposed to sugar plantation etc..

Jun 18, 2013
A complete list of Pen places in Jamaica
by: Wellesley

Here's another list, thanks to Devin, my dependable researcher :-)

Parish Pen' Place Name
Clarendon Bryans Pen
Clarendon Chandlers Pen
Clarendon Coates Pen
Clarendon Cross Pen
Clarendon Dunkley’s Pen
Clarendon Hamilton Pen
Clarendon Harmony Pen
Clarendon Hunts Pen
Clarendon Low Ground Pen
Clarendon May Pen
Clarendon Mears Pen
Clarendon Milk Pen
Clarendon Monymusk Pen
Clarendon Oaks Pen
Clarendon Orange River Pen
Clarendon Pusey Hall Pen
Clarendon Rules Pen
Clarendon Russell Pen
Clarendon Sandy Gully Pen
Clarendon Saxony Pen
Clarendon Shickle’s Pen
Clarendon Teaks Pen
Clarendon Thatch Pen
Hanover Argyle Pen
Hanover Coventry Pen
Hanover Lances Bay Pen
Hanover Peak Pen
Hanover Pedro Pen
Hanover Ramble Pen
Hanover Recovery Pen
Manchester Blakes Pen
Manchester Marshall’s Pen
Portland Shirley Pen
St. Andrew Bull Bay Pen
St. Andrew Delacree Pen
St. Andrew Grants Pen
St. Andrew Smith’s Pen
St. Andrew Waterhouse Pen
St. Ann Dorothy Pen
St. Ann Glenfield Pen
St. Ann Huntley Pen
St. Ann Lindale Pen
St. Ann Taws Pen
St. Ann Tows Pen
St. Ann Unity Pen
St. Catherine Boca Pen

Jun 01, 2013
Reason for names with "pen"
by: Anonymous

Hi Wellesley. There is actually a simple reason for the 'Pen' part of the place names. In colonial days, some slave owners had estates called plantations, where crops were grown. Other slave owners had estates called 'pens' which were farms on which cattle were raised versus a 'crawle' where hogs/pigs were raised.

There were a lot of cattle pens in St. Catherine because grass could be grown easily and abundantly on the hot plains which had ample water supply from rivers and streams.


Jun 01, 2013
Places with "Pen" in there names
by: JamaicaPortal

I have lived in, and visited many Caribbean countries of past English domination. I cannot recall another place with the word Pen ending it, except Jamaica. A pen is obviously the writing instrument, or not so commonly used, a containment for animals. I tend to believe the latter was used in naming places. See this interesting link:

May 27, 2013
places with the name pen in jamaica
by: Anonymous

hunts pen close to new bowens in clarendon
dawkins pen close to lionel town
coatis pen up carroto hill
mc crooks pen i think its st catherine

May 18, 2013
Other place names with Pen in them
by: David Brown

Nanse Pen is actually the correct name for part of the community known as Waterhouse, especially that part on Spanish Town Road... learn your history people

May 18, 2013
Devon Pen Mentioned
by: Wellesley

The ezine I mentioned Devon Pen is actually located here:

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