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 Hensingham

Historical Forms

  • Hensingham c.1170 StB
  • Helsingham c.1170 StB
  • Elsingham 1301 GDR
  • Hunsingham c.1170 StB
  • Ensingham 1276 FF
  • Henzingham 1292 Ass


This, like Addingham supra 193 and Whicham infra 443, is an ancient Anglian name ending in -ingahām . But it is difficult, if not impossible, to reach a convincing explanation of the name on the basis of the existing material. If the solitary form showing u in the first syllable can be trusted, the name can, formally, be derived, as by Ekwall in DEPN, from a personal name *Hȳnsige , a hypothetical form of the recorded Hūnsige , in which the first element has undergone i -mutation as in Hēmgils which goes back to *Hāmgils . But it is not impossible that the origin of the name may lie, beyond discovery, in one of the archaic names of provinciæ or regiones recorded in early sources relating to northern England, of which many are etymologically obscure. In any case, the name is historically important as an indication of Anglian settlement in the extreme west of Cumberland at a date which cannot reasonably be placed later than the first quarter of the 7th century (v. Trans. R. Hist. Soc. NS xxii, 21).