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.

Torpenhow

Major Settlement in the Parish of Torpenhow

Historical Forms

  • Torpennev c.1160 Fountains
  • Torpennoc 1163 P
  • Torpenno 1222 ClR 1223 Pipe
  • Torpennoh' 1279 Ass
  • Torpennoth c.1165 Holyrood
  • Thorpenhou c.1210 StB 1243,1247 FF
  • Thorpennou 1212 Fees 1292 Ass
  • Thorpenno 1279 Wickwane
  • Thorppennow 1286 Ass
  • Thorpenho 1292 Ass
  • Torpenho 1222 ClR
  • Torpenhow 1290 Pap
  • Torpenhou 1312 Pat
  • Torpeneu 1228 Pipe
  • Torpenewe 1606 PCC
  • Thorpeneu 1229 Pipe
  • Thorpenneu 1231 ib
  • Thorpenny 1232 Pipe
  • Torpennou, Torpennowe 1278 Ch 1498 Ipm
  • Turpenho 1509 LP
  • Turpennow 1516 DunBev
  • Turpennay 1579 PR(Crosth)
  • Torpenny 1576 S
  • Torpeny 1675 Ogilby
  • Trepenna 1772 PR(Dalston)

Etymology

Torpenhow Hall and church, which doubtless form the nucleus of the settlement, stand on a 'rising topped hill' (Denton 51) which is itself on the northward slope of a long hill and the name Torpenhow is doubtless descriptive of the site. The first element is the British torr , 'peak.' This would seem to have been compounded with British pen , Torpen then denoting 'peak-head.' To this was added in Anglian days the English hōh , dat. sg. (h )e , giving forms Torpenho and the like. A similar combination of penn and hōh is probably found in Pinhoe (PN D 443), c. 1050 Peonho .

The old story, first told by Denton (51), that the name bears witness to three successive races—British (Pen ), Saxon (Tor ), Danish (How ) is incorrect; torr , though occasionally found in OE , is really a loanword from British, and torpen may well be pure British. The added how , to judge by early forms in -oc and -oh , would seem to be from English hōh rather than ON  haugr.