English Place-name Society

Survey of English Place-Names

A county-by-county guide to the linguistic origins of England’s place-names – a project of the English Place-Name Society, founded 1923.

Margaret Marsh

Major Settlement in the Parish of Margaret Marsh

Historical Forms

  • Margaretysmerschchurche 1395 MiltC
  • Margaretysmerssh'churche 1395 MiltRoll e15
  • Margaret(t) Marsh(e) Eliz ChancP 1575 KCC
  • Margret marshe 1575 Saxton
  • Margatt Mershe Eliz LRMB
  • St Margarets Marsh 1811 OS


From mersc 'marsh', with cirice 'church'. Margaret may be from the dedication of the church as first suggested by Hutch1 2 202 (and accepted by Fägersten 41), but it is probably more likely to have been the name of an early owner of the ground itself, and, in view of its having belonged to Shaftesbury abbey (Hutch3 3549), perhaps the Margaret in question is one of the two 14th cent. abbesses so named, Margaret Auch (i )er 1315–29 or Margaret de Leucenore or de Leukenore 1350–62 (Hutch3 327, VCHDo 279).The church dedication will then have followed at a later date, as it did at Osmington 1211. The nearby Guy's Marsh in Cann par. supra (with forms from 1401) may suggest that the Marsh was originally a fairly extensive tract of marshy ground, later divided and differentiated according to ownership, cf. also the adjacent Marsh Cmn in Fontmell M. par. supra . Indeed the following (mainly earlier) simplex forms may (partly) belong here: feodo quod vocat ' Le Marays 1244Ass (ME  mareis 'marsh'), la Marshe 1310 Hutch3, terraAbbatisse in La Merssh '1348 (15) ShaftR (with reference of course to the abbess of Shaftesbury), le Marsh 1560 Hutch3, cf. also pastur '…voc Alfledemers 1275 RH (first el. the OE  fem. pers.n. Ælfflǣd or Æðelflǣd ), Robert in the Mersch 1327SR , Robert in the Merssh '1332 SR (taxed in Thorton and Todber).

Much of the present par. of Margaret Marsh seems to have been included within the bounds of the Anglo-Saxon estate of Thorton (in Marnhull par. infra ) described in 958 (15) ShaftR (S 656).