Bermuda’s Ireland: Naming the Colonial World
For Spenser a man’s English or Irish identity rested in his English or sept (clan) name; name and “countrie” or “nation” were inextricably linked. While integrating with the native community could cause settlers to lose national identity and name, colonizers could use the integrity of name and nation to divorce the Irish from their traditional clan identification. Spenser’s fear of English degeneration and his program for reidentifying the Irish point to the crucial place of names and naming in the new Atlantic world. As David Spurr argues, “the very process by which one culture subordinates another begins in the act of naming and leaving unnamed” (4).
renew that old statute … by which it was commanded that whereas all men used to be called by the name of their septs according to their several nations, and had no surnames at all, that from thenceforth each one should take unto himself a several surname, either of his trade or faculty … whereby they shall not only not depend upon the head of their sept … but also shall in short time learn quite to forget his Irish nation. (View 155–56)
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