Lorraine’s Dovers Around the World project began in 2006 with the notion of writing a brief history of the 88 Dovers thought to exist in the different parts of the globe. The remit she set herself was to make contact with at least one respondent in each of the different Dovers for a local perspective with the resulting article published in the Dover Mercury. Once published, the story was then reproduced on the Dover Society website, where they can still be seen: Daughters of Dover.
What’s in a Name
The question that consistently came up was the origin the name Dover and how it spread around the World. Briefly, there were at least two likely sources, the Latin – Dubris – meaning waters and was the name given by the Romans to Dover, England.
The word Dover also comes from the old Scandinavian meaning a ravine, gap, gorge or a crevasse between cliffs. Which could equally apply to Dover England as the Vikings – who came to Kent after the Romans – could have altered the Roman Dubris to Dover.
Of interest, Douvres as in Douvres-la-Délivrande, Calvados, France, probably comes from the Celtic Dubrās, also meaning waters. Further south, in France and in northern Italy, there are more Dovers of various spellings; these may derive from Dubris or the Gaulish Dubron, again meaning waters. However, in Turkey, there are two Döver’s pronounced Doeuver, with the meaning ‘to beat or hit a person’, for instance the boxer beats / hits his opponent!
As spelling tended to be phonetic in old manuscripts Dover, England, was sometimes spelt with an ‘o’, i.e. Dovor. In some documents Dover and Dovor are used interchangeably. In more recent times the spelling Dovor has been used, in Lorraine’s opinion, for affectation.
To date Lorraine has been able to identify some 87 Dover’s around the World. Originally there were 88 but by a referendum the folks of Dover, Ocean County, New Jersey, changed the town’s name to Toms River. Nonetheless, Dover, England can still be proud, for the State Capital of Delaware is called Dover, after our little town.
It is in the US where there are the most Dovers and many derive their name from Dover, England due to émigrés who set up homes in places where there were high cliffs. Scandinavian émigrés have also influenced the names of some of the Dovers in the US for the same reasons with those where the original émigrés came from Dovre, Norway, spell it the Norwegian way.