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.


Early-attested site in the Parish of North Thoresby

Historical Forms

  • Aduluesbi 1086 DB
  • Aldulvebi 1086 DB
  • Alwoldesbi 1086 DB
  • Alwoldebi 1086 DB 1204 P
  • Aluoldebi, Aluoldabi c.1115 LS
  • Alwoldeb' 1238–41 Fees
  • Alwoldeby 1272 Ass 1291 Tax 1299 Pat 1300 Orig 1346,1406,1407 Pat 1428 FA
  • Alwoldby 1295 Ipm 1347,1408,1409 Pat 1606 Yarb
  • Alwodeby 1300 Cl
  • Alwodbie a1567 LNQv
  • Alwaldebi 1196 ChancR 1196 P 1219 Ass
  • Alwaldeby 1266 RRGr 1271 FF 1272 Ass 1274 RRGr 1311 Pat 1311 Ipm 1316 FA 1327 SR 1334 Cl 1349 Pat 1353 Ipm 1356,1358 Pat 1361 Ipm 1361 Cl 1384,1390,1411,1414 Pat
  • Halwaldeby 1242–43 Fees 1312 Fine 1312 Orig
  • Alewaldeby 1254 ValNor 1281 QW
  • Alewaldby 1275 RH
  • Alwaldby 1332 SR 1345,1358,1404,1412 Pat
  • Alwalby 1354 AD 1358 Cor 1406 FF 1451–53,1475–77,1496–98,1523–24 MinAcct
  • Alewardebi 1202 HarlCh
  • Alewardeby 1204 AddCh
  • Alwardeby 1225 Cur 1342 Pat
  • Alwardby 1298 Ass
  • Athewaldeby 1272 Ass
  • Aylewaldby 1272 Ass
  • Aldwoldeby 1295 Ipm
  • Awdeby 1553–55 ECP 1608 Foster
  • Awdby 1601,1611 Terrier
  • Aldeby 1553,1554,1561 Pat
  • Aldeby als Aswholdby (sic)
  • Audby 1617 Admin 1638,1671,1709,1724 Terrier 1824 O 1828 Bry
  • Autby hs 1872 White


This is a difficult name. The second el. is ODan  'farmstead, village'. Ekwall, DEPN, s.v., interprets the name as 'Alfwald 's BY', and comments: “Alfwald is an ODan pers.n. Or the first el. may be OE  Ælfweald ”. In Denmark, Alfwald is only attested as a Lund moneyer's name of the period 1080–86, and the name is generally regarded as representing OE  Ælfw (e )ald (v. DaGP, 29a, s.v. Alfwald ). An 'ODan' Alfwald can thus be excluded as a possible etymon for the first el. of Autby.

The majority of the early forms would suggest that we are concerned here with ME  Alw (e )ald , Alwold from OE  Ælfw (e )ald or Æðelw (e )ald (v. Feilitzen 154–155). The 1272 forms Athelwaldeby and Aylewaldeby are interesting. The usual reflex of OE  Æðel - in Middle English is Ayl -, Ail , v. Feilitzen 103–106 and Ekwall, Early London Personal Names , Lund, 1947, 197. B. Seltén, The Anglo -Saxon Heritage in Middle English Personal Names : East Anglia 11001399 , ii (Lund, 1979), 35–36, shows that a common form of OE  Æðelw (e )ald in East Anglia in the Middle English period has initial Athel -, not Ail -. It might be conceivable that the 1272 form Athelwaldeby represents a more conservative variant beside the usual Alwoldebi , Alwaldebi . If this is the case, then we can take the first el. of Autby to be OE  Æðelw (e )ald . Forms in Alewardebi , Alward (e )by show confusion with ME  Alw (e )ard . The DB forms Aduluesbi and Aldulvebi could be taken to imply that the first el. is OE  Aldwulf , which became confused with Alwald , Alwold as a result of the Middle English weakening of medial syllables, but it is perhaps more likely that they reflect the influence of Audleby in Caistor (PN L 2, 88), for which the form Aldulvebi is in fact recorded. The form of 1295, Aldwoldeby , has intrusive -d- in the first syllable probably again due to association with Audleby.

On balance, therefore, it would seem best to take the first el. of Autby to be the OE  pers.n. Æðelw (e )ald , Æðelwald .

It will be seen that there are only two forms with the OE  gen.sg. -es , and they are from DB, while there are many with medial -e -, as in Alwoldebi , etc. Ekwall, Selected Papers 65–66 considers that spellings with medial -e -, such as Aldulvebi (for Audleby), presuppose an original Scand. gen.sg. in -ar and that such names were formed by Scandinavians, even when an English pers.n. occurs as first el. Cf. Audleby PN L 286. The modern spelling Autby has not been noted before 1872, but Autbie hedge occurs as a f.n. dated 1578Terrier in Ludborough f.ns. (b) supra .Audby is a “lost” village, though traces of it are still visible in the north-west corner of Autby Park. The name is still used locally, and today is represented by Autby Manor , Autby Park and Autby Wood . The house has been demolished and has been replaced by a factory.