Gravesend Brits Look To Gravesend Brooklynites

Source: GK tramrunner229 via Wikimedia Commons

When the staff here at Sheepshead Bites combs through the daily news alerts for mentions of our area, we are inundated with a deluge of photographs, videos and news items from our similarly named haunts in Great Britain.

Sometimes we come across fantastic stories for Gravesend that we can’t believe we haven’t covered, only to quickly realize that they are for the British Gravesend located in the South East English County of Kent. Apparently, the writers of Gravesend Reporter, a local UK website, probably have had the same problem and decided to just see what life is really like for Gravesend residents located on our side of the Atlantic.

Their article is a fascinating exposè on the ins and outs of Gravesend life, its local history and what connection, if any, the British Gravesend has with the American one.

In reading the article I learned that the connection is dubious at best. The American Gravesend was named by British colonist Lady Deborah Moody in 1645 after a town in Holland (s-Gravenzande) oddly enough. On the one hand it makes sense that Gravesend would be given a Dutch name since its earliest (European) inhabitants were Dutch, yet the town was still founded by a British colonist. (Another fun fact, Lady Moody was the first female landowner in the New World, and the only woman to ever found a settlement in colonial America. According to Wikipedia, she was considered “a dangerous woman.”)

The only real link dredged up by our neighbors in Kent was when (English) Gravesend councilor Peter Dyke made a visit to our American home over 30 years ago, carrying the declaration, “To designate June 9, 1979, as Gravesend, Brooklyn, New York, and Gravesend, England, Twin Communities’ Anniversary Day.” Sadly, the twin city status no longer exists and is barely remembered.