Men of Kent and Kentish Men

What do you call someone from Kent? This is not the opening line in a rubbish joke and it is not intended to elicit some of the ruder comments that such a question might invite. It is, instead, a straight forward question – what is the proper name for people from the county of Kent?

It should be simple, right? Kentish. Most English counties do not have simple adjectival forms, but Kent, along with Lancashire (Lancastrians), Devon (Devonian), Cornwall (Cornish), Cumbria (Cumbrian) and Northumberland (Northumbrian), does.

Inevitably, it is not as simple as that. If you are from Kent, you probably already know the distinction – and for some people it is a very important distinction. You are either a ‘Man or Maid of Kent’ or a ‘Kentish Man’ or ‘Kentish Maid’. Is this just semantics? Nope – when used properly, it denotes a clear demarcation between two halves of the county.

Kent was traditionally subdivided between East Kent and West Kent. The division is based on the River Medway, with those living to the east of the river known as Men or Maids of Kent whilst those to the west are Kentish Men and Kentish Maids.

As a slight aside, people from Shropshire are known as Salopians. This derives from the Latin name for the county and many Salopians write ‘Salop’ as the abbreviation for the county name in addresses.