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.


Major Settlement in the Parish of Sawtry, All Saints and St Andrew, and St Judith

Historical Forms

  • Saltrede 1086 DB
  • Saltreia, Saltre(y) 1146–53 Rams c.1350 BM 1157 P 1163
  • Saltre(y) Monacorum 1167 P 1363 Cl
  • Saltereia, Saltereye 1147 BM 1152–67 AC 1186 BM
  • Saltereye Roberti de Bello Mesag' 1220 Fees324
  • Saltereye Robt de Bello Mesnagio 1242 Fees923
  • Saltreda 1183 P
  • Sauteria, Sautereye 1184 BM 1224 Bract 1228 Cl
  • Sautre(ye) 1235 Cl 1258 FF 1260 Ass 1269 FF
  • Magna Saltreya Monachorum, Majorem Sautr' 1279 RH
  • Saltreya le Moynne 1279 RH
  • Sautr' Beumeys 1279 RH
  • Saltretha c.1350 Rams
  • Sawetre 1416 FF
  • Sawtre Moyns and Ivet 1568 FF
  • Sawtrye Beames 1572 FF
  • Sawter 1576 Saxton
  • Sawtry Jewel 1589 FF


There can be little doubt that the second element in this name is OE  rið and that the reference is to the stream which makes its way from here down to the fens. rethe rather than rithe is the form which this word takes in the ME forms of undoubted OE  names in rīð , as in Shepreth (C), Hendred and Childrey (Berks), Shottery (Wa) and probably also Meldreth (C), the development of rithe to rethe being due to lack of stress.Loss of intervocalic th is very common, as witnessed in two of these very names. The first element may be the simple word salt and the term be descriptive of a stream of brackish taste, but it is also possible that, as suggested by the Saltereia forms, the first element is OE  sealtere , 'salter,' and that the full early form of the name was sealtera -rīð , 'salters' stream.' If that is the case we should take this as a further example of the numerous names in which Salt and Salter are found in England, referring to the carriage of salt, that all-important commodity of the Middle Ages. The stream may have been one by which salt was brought up from the fenland water-ways. It may be noted that in the Northants Assize Roll of 1202 there is a reference to tolls exacted for loads of salt passing through Winwick, which may well have come from Sawtry.

Monacorum from the holding of Ramsey Abbey or of Sawtry Abbey itself. Beumeys or Beams from the family of the Robertus de Bello Mes (n )agio who had a holding here in 1220. They had been here since the 11th cent. for we have a Walter de Belmeis here c. 1090 (Rams 229). Sawtry Monachorum was also known as Magna or Major Sawtry. Sawtry Moyne is named not from the monks but from the Moigne family who were holding here in 1279 (RH). All Saints and St Andrew are the saints to whom the two churches are dedicated. The Countess Judith, wife of Earl Waltheof, who held land in Sawtry (DB) has been canonised by popular usage in order to keep them company.

Places in the same Parish

Early-attested site