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.

Layer Breton, Layer de la Haye, Layer Marney

Major Settlement in the Parish of Layer Breton, de la Haye, Marney

Historical Forms

  • Legrā 1086 DB
  • Leg(e)ra, Leg(e)re 1119–1202 Colch
  • Leg(e)re de Haya 1236 Fees
  • la Leg(e)re, Leg(e)re del Haya, Leg(e)re le Britun 1248 Ass
  • Leigre 1212 RBE
  • Leira, Leire 1179 Colch
  • Leire Marny, Leire de la Haye 1303 FA
  • Leire by Colecestre 1368 Cl
  • Leyr(e), Leyr(e) Bretones 1254 Ass
  • Leyr(e) Marinnye 1265 Ch
  • Leyre sur Laye 1271 FF
  • Leyr(e) de la Haye 1272 Colch
  • Leyr(e) Lenveysie, Leyr(e) Len Veyse 1276 For
  • Sto(c)keneleyr(e), Leyr(e)dehaye 1285 Ass
  • Leyr(e) Magna, Leyr(e) Enveyse 1291 For
  • Leyr(e) en la Haye 1323 ib
  • Leyr(e) Attehaye 1326 FF
  • Leyr(e) Bretoun 1329 Londin
  • Leyrhay 1331 Ipm
  • Leyr(e) dil Hay, Leyr(e) de Hay, Leyr(e) del Hay 1365 Colch
  • Leyr(e) Mounchensi 1402 FA
  • Leyr(e) Dylhaye alias Dylla 1554 Ct
  • Stokkeneleire, Marnys Leire 1328 Banco
  • Lehere 1236 Fees
  • Lehegra 1267 Ch
  • Legehere la Haye 1254 FF 1280 Ipm
  • Leegra, Lera, Lyegra, Leghere a.1272 Colch
  • Ley de la Haye 1272 Ass
  • Lyra 1264 Pat
  • Lyerbretton 1543 Dugdiv
  • Layer Manner 1726 WigboroughPR


This name has been associated with ON  leirr, 'clay,' by Lindkvist (72–3) and with leger (EPN s. v .), but neither etymology can be supported. The use of such a Scandinavian word in an Essex place-name has no parallel in the rest of the county, and it is very difficult to see how OE  leger could give name to three distinct settlements. Rather we must look to the Layer Brook, along which the three settlements lie, for the origin of the name. It is identical with the lost river-name Leire which gave rise to Leire (Lei), DBLegre , and Leicester, 917 ASC Ligeraceaster . These places are on the Soar and on one of its tributaries. Originally the main and subsidiary streams must have had the same name. That name is identical with the familiar French Loire (RN xlii).

Breton because held by the family of Lewis Brito 'the Breton' (12th to c. 1420 M i, 409), and Barlee from that of John Barlee (d. 1445, ib. 410). De la Haye from the family of Maurice de Haia (12th, ib. 411). This manor came to William de Montchensi (c. 1264, ib. 411). Marney because held (t. Hy 2–Hy 8) by the Marney family (ib. 406). Stokkeneleire is perhaps Layer Breton and the brick church may have been preceded by a wooden one like that at Greensted. Cf. Stokenchurch (PN Bk 194), and to þǣre ealde stoccenecyricean (KCD 619). OE  stoccen , 'made of logs.'

Places in the same Parish