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Whitespots, County Down

Origin

Eng. white + spots or possibly a borrowed name; earlier Ir. Ceathrú Chamchoise ‘crooked-leg quarter’

Background

The historical spellings indicate that the townland had an interesting older name i.e. Ceathrú Chamchoise lit. 'crooked-leg quarter’. An Inquisition of 1605 refers to a river called Alchamcoiss which flows into Loughconn (Strangford Lough) as a boundary feature of upper Clandeboy (Inq. Ult. (Down) §2 Jac. I, 1b).  This is probably one of the streams which bounds the townland, perhaps the modern Cully's Burn. Altacamcosy, in the parish of Lower Badoney, Co. Tyrone, is of the same origin (Ir. Alt Chamchoise 'crooked-leg glen/stream').  

Ceathrú Chamchoise was superseded by the current name Whitespots which appears to be an unrelated name first documented as an alias in 1675 (Montgomery MSS 268 n.35) and applied to the townland by English speakers, but under circumstances that are unclear.  It is possible that it was newly coined with reference to some significant feature in the landscape, but the lack of parallels in Ulster for names containing the element spot makes this doubtful. A stronger possibility is that the name was imported from Scotland.  There is a rather small settlement named Whitespots in Nithdale, Dumfriesshire. It appears on William Roy's Military Survey of Scotland (1747-55) as White Spotts. By contrast to Ulster and Ireland generally, the use of spot to denote a small patch or plot of land is well established in Scotland and Northern England, cf. the village and parish of Spott near Dunbar (J. B. Johnston 1892, p. 224), Greenspot in Cumbria and Spotland in Lancashire (Gelling & Cole 2000, p. 282). 

In the late-18th and 19th centuries there was a significant lead-mining industry in Whitespots, along with nearby Conlig. The Ordnance Survey Memoirs refer to "extensive lead mines within 2 miles of the town of Newtownards" which were "worked with considerable success" (OSM vii 103, 110) and the disused chimneys and shafts of these mines can be seen in Whitespots Country Park.

References

Hannan R. J. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 2 p. 236; revised PT, 2012

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

Alchamcoiss descendit in stagn' de Loughconn, usquedū amnis vocat'

1605Inq. Ult. (Down) §2 Jac. I, 1b

"In the hills of this rock [graywacke] lying north of Newtownards lead mines are worked with considerable success."

1837cOSM vii 110

"extensive lead mines within 2 miles of the town of Newtownards"

1837cOSM vii 103
Carowcamcoyse1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] xliv
Carrowchamchoise1636Inq. Ult. (Down) $75 Car. I
Carrowchamcoise1650cInq. Ult. (Down) $109 Car. I
Carrowcamcoise als Couacks als Whitespots1675Montgomery MSS 268 n.35
Whitespots1810Wm. Map (OSNB) E.33
Whitespots1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) E.33
Barony
Ards Lower
Parish
Newtownards
Parish in 1851
Newtownards
Townland
None
Place name ID
6737
Place name type
T