How to pronounce “Bulkeley”

The historic Bulkeley Bridge is now lighted again! After years of being dark, the longest stone arch in the world is now shining brightly. By the way, the bridge will undoubtedly be mispronounced, so we are here to set the record straight. Here is an excerpt from a blog entry from this past summer, that is worth repeating.

As you may know, the name of the former Connecticut governor, U.S. Senator, Aetna president, and Baseball Hall of Famer Morgan Bulkeley is often pronounced two ways: BULK-lee and BUCK-lee. Only one is correct: BULK-lee.

I spoke to Bulkeley’s great-grandson, Morgan G. Bulkeley IV, who told me BULK-lee is the correct way to pronounce his family name and everyone in the family says it that way and always has.    Channel 3 political analyst Duby McDowell is friends with Houghton Bulkeley, who confirmed the pronunciation.  The Bulkeley Bridge and Bulkeley High School are named after the late governor, and those are both pronounced BULK-lee. There is some belief that the bridge is BULK-lee and the school is BUCK-lee, but the authority on the pronunciation says that is not true.

So why do so many people pronounce it the incorrect way?  According to the current generation of Bulkeleys, they believe  BULK-lee may be difficult to say.  People who mispronounced the name in 1925 then taught their children this wrong way, and then those children passed it on to the next generation, and so on.  If you grow up being told that is how to pronounce it, you believe it. That’s why I often hear “my mother went to Bulkeley and she pronounced it BUCK-lee, and they are vehement in their defense of the incorrect pronunciation.

Also, this from David Medina, the Director of Communications for Hartford Public Schools. “Dennis, the proper pronunciation is “bulk-lee.”

FYI: I have some Bulkeleys in my family tree, way back in the middle ages in England.

9 replies »

  1. PS though the place (near the big hill “bwl clough” from which the name originates) is now pronounced as BEWKlee. That’s what happens when the family move off to foreign parts in North Wales and elsewhere for a few centuries 😉


  2. one of my English teachers from bulkely did tell us it was called bulk-lee high and she was all about grammar


  3. I was raised with the silent L in Bulkeley so hard to relearn that name….also ya the street in Hartford is HaNmer not Hamner as we all grew up saying it….I think we learned that street name before we learned how to spell. 🙂


  4. Anyone who grew up listening to Bob Steel knew it was Bulk-lee. The word of the day more than once. My grandfather came from Ireland as a mason to build the bridge.


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