“How did the Charles River get its name?”

Charles River at sunset in December. (Photo: Robert Bauer)

On an unexpected detour this weekend through South Natick, The Five-Year-Old (who’s reading now–YAY!) noticed a sign for the Charles River. After establishing that it was in fact the same Charles River that flows by the Museum of Science, she naturally wanted to know: “Mommyo, how did the Charles River get its name?”

He looks so shy and retiring. Can you believe this man would name anything after himself? (Portrait of Charles I by Anthony van Dyck, 1636. Image via Wikipedia)

Funny story. According to Wikipedia, when Captain John Smith mapped the New England area in 1614-15, he named the river the Massachusetts River after a local Native American tribe. But when he presented his map to King Charles I of England, the king made a few changes, as kings will do. One of those changes was to swap out the “barbarous name” Massachusetts for the more refined and regal Charles.

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About Shala Howell

Writer of things ranging from optical network switching white papers to genetic testing patient education materials to historical fiction set in an 1880s asylum. When I’m not scratching my head over pesky characters who refuse to do things how I want them done or dreaming of my next book (which will of course be much easier to write than the current one), my writerly self can be found blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, or musing about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.wordpress.com.
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