Lancaster’s surprising royal connection

Pop Quiz

What connection does King George, Queen Caroline, the Prince of Wales, and the Duke of York have to the city of Lancaster?

King George, Queen Caroline, the Prince of Wales, and the Duke of York.
Going clockwise from the top left corner: King George, Queen Caroline, the Prince of Wales, and the Duke of York.

While you think about it, here’s some context. Lancaster County was erected on May 10, 1729. Shortly after, through some excellent political maneuvering, James Hamilton’s father purchased a large tract of land that soon became home to the future Lancaster City.

Hamilton began laying out plans for a village in 1734 on the site of what had been called Hickory Town. Within two years, Lancaster Townstead (as it was then known) was well-established.

Learn more about the creation of Lancaster County and Lancaster City.

Quiz Answer

In an attempt to demonstrate his loyalty to the crown and perhaps gain royal favor, Hamilton began to name his streets after the English monarchy.

The main east-west street, called initially High Street, became King George Street. The principle north-south road honored his bride, Queen Caroline. One block to the West was Prince of Wales Street, and one block to the east was Duke of York Street.

Map of Lancaster City
Map of Lancaster City

Orange Street

Some believe that Orange Street was named to recognize the royal house of King William III; however, there is little evidence to support that theory. Instead, the English had a tradition of naming streets after trees, nuts, berries, vines, and fruits. As such, Hamilton surrounded the royal avenues with Chestnut, Lime, Lemon, Vine, and Orange Streets. Orange is most likely a reference to the fruit and not the royal house.

William III of England
William III of England, House of Orange

Lancastrians stopped using the old English names long before the start of the American Revolution, and those streets simply became King, Queen, Duke, and Prince as they are known today.

Red Rose City

Originally called Hickory Town, the city was renamed after the English city of Lancaster by native John Wright. Its symbol, the red rose, is from the House of Lancaster.


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