The Place-names of Hertfordshire


J. E. B. Gover, Allen Mawer & F. M. Stenton

English Place-name Society Volume 15

Cambridge University Press

1938, reprinted 1970

This is a very useful reference book in that it covers every parish and most hamlets and individual farms. It even includes some field names. It gives dates and where possible suggests origins and must be the first port of call if you want to known the origins of a particular place-name.. Because it is full of abbreviations and cross references it is hard reading and a direct transcript would be unhelpful. However the following shows shortened versions of some of the entries relating to Tring, with a few comments from me where the suggested name adequately describes the location:

Tring was Tredung and Treunge in the Domesday book (1086) and later Medieval spellings include Triungla, Treunga, Triangre, Trehangre, Treinge, Treinges, Treynge, Trenge, Treng, Traynge, Trahing, Trieng, ...

Aldwick Farm is Aldwwyke (Old dairy farm) in 1288.

Beechgrove was the home of Ralph ate Beche in 1307 (Note that Beche [= Beech] was where he lived NOT his surname - similar comments apply in later similar examples.)

Betlow Farm is Betelawe in 1203 and may be Beta's (burial) mound or hill.

Boarscroft Farm is Bure in 1086 and Bowrscrofte in 1563 - possibly a small holding attached to a bower.

Brook Street may be the le Brocforlong of the 13th century.

Bulbourne takes its name after the river, which rose from nearby springs. (The Grand Union Canal takes the water now.)

Dunsley is Daneslai or Deneslai in the Domesday Book and may be Dane's clearing or wood.

College Farm belonged to the College of St Mary and All Saints in 1547.

Gammel Farm is probably associated with the family of Ralph Gamel (1298).

Grove Place was the home of John de la Grave in 1296 .

Gubblecote is Bublecote in the Domesday Book (presumably an error) and late variants include Coblicote and Gobelicot. Possibly Cubbel's cottages.

Long Marston is Mershton in 1287 and Marsh Farm fits its low lying location.

Marshcroft was the home of Thomas ate Mersse in 1294.

Miswell is Mascewelle and Missewelle in the Domesday book. It may be a moss spring - there is now a large pond there (possible a former active rising typical of the edge of the Chiltern Hills).

Pendley Manor is Pentlai in the Domesday Book and may be Penda's wood or clearing.

Startups End may be associated with the families of Ralph Stertout (1298) and Thomas Stertowte (circa 1500)

Tiscott is Theisecote in the Domesday Book and may be Tissa's cottages

Tringford was the home of William de la forde in 1248.

West Leith is Westlyth in 1525 and as leith means a hill or hill slope, and the farm is on the edge of the Chiltern escarpment this undoubtedly explains its name.

Wilstone is Wivelestorn in 1220 and may be Wifel's thorn tree.

Other places have names where the modern name and location explain the old name For example there is a mill at New Mill and Shirelane Farm borders the lane that forms the county boundary between Bucks and Herts.


"Bottom" Place-names mentioned in this book are listed on The Bottoms of Hertfordshire


Following a query a note on the references in the book are appropriate. The book contains 9 pages of abbreviations - which include source references. Unfortunately the references only tell you the name/nature of the document from which the information was given, and this can make them hard to follow up. The Domesday Book (DB) references are easy enough to track down because it has been published a number of times in modern English translation, and these translations are usually indexed well enough to find the information you are seeking.  References to the Ordnance Survey (O.S.) and some of the the others should give no great trouble if you are familiar with the area. However many of the references are to books - and these books are often obscure, perhaps in Latin, probably with no index, and with no page reference. Others are to classes of documents in the Public Records Office - such as the lay subsidy rolls (S.R.). These were taxation returns - which will be organised by year and county - and, depending on date, list the people  who were eligible to pay tax, how much they paid, and where they lived. The reference will give the first date, and entries may well re-occur in subsequent years. The Lay Subsidy Rolls can only be seen in the Public Records Office - and of course will be in medieval Latin and handwriting which most people finds very difficult. Other references are merely to collections of documents. For instance I note that Brownlow is used for "Documents in the possession of the Brownlow Family" which I suspect are now in HALS.

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Page updated April 2005