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 Hatherleigh

Historical Forms

  • Hadreleia 1086 DB(Exon)
  • Adrelie
  • Hatherlegam 1193 Oliver
  • Hatherley al. Hetherley 1675 Ogilby


This name raises the problem of a large number of names containing Hather -, Hether -, Hader -, Heder -, as their first element in their ME forms. In addition to this name we may note in Devon Hatherton, Hathercombe, Hatherland, Hetherland , Hatherleigh and Heathercombe infra (v. Index). Elsewhere we have Heatherton in Bradford (So), Hederdon 1277 FF, Hetherden 1456 AD i; Hatherleigh in Holton (Do), Hatherlegh 1277Ass , 1309 Ipm; Hatherley (Gl), Athelai DB, Haiderleie c. 1150 BM, Heitherleia 1210 Gl Corpn. Records, Hatherlege , Hetherlege , 1221Ass ; Hatherden in Andover (Ha), Hadredena c. 1110 (15th) Dugd, Hetherdene 1235, 1256Ass , Hatherdene 1256Ass ; Hatherton (Ch), Haretone 1086 DB, Hatherton c. 1307 St Werburgh Cartulary. For none of these have we any OE forms, but we have one for Hatherton (St). In the Wolverhampton charter of 996 this is Hage (n )þorndun (Dugd vi, 1443).It is DB Hargedone , 13th cent. Hatherden , Hetherden . This makes it clear that it is just possible that all these contain as their first element OE  haguþorn , hægþorn , 'hawthorn,' with loss of n from the consonant groups rnd , rnl , as early as DB, and variant Hather -, Hether -, Haider -, Heither - forms which reflect the ME  variants hawethorne , heythorne . It is a little surprising, however, if this is the history of these names, that the aw and the n have disappeared so completely in all the various examples, and the question may be raised whether we may not have, in some of these names at least, the ancestor of the common word heather .That has hitherto only been noted from the North of England and from Scotland in ME  documents, where it takes the forms hather , hadder , hedder . The origin of this word is obscure (v. NED s. v .). That it might be used in place-names is shown by Heather (Lei), Hadre DB, Hether 1221 Cur, Hethere , 1428 FA but there is no evidence that the word heather was in common use in Southern England until modern times and there is no evidence for the presence of the plant itself at many of the places in question. It is of course possible that the term, if it was in use, had not the same significance as it had in the north of England. It might denote heathland generally, not necessarily a place where the plant we know as heather grows.There may have been an OE  *hǣðra or *hǣðor with a stem- extension of the same type as that found in ME  polre (OE  *pōlra ) from pōl , 'pool,' telgor from telga . It would presumably denote a heath-grown place, v. Addenda supra lix.