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 Purleigh

Historical Forms

  • Purlea 998 Crawfix
  • Purlai 1086 DB
  • Purle(ye), Purleg(h) 1212 Fees 1231 Cl 1244 FF
  • North Purleg(h) 1333 FF
  • Pirle, Pirley 1337,1401 Pat
  • Purele (Purle) 1349 Ipm
  • Purlewe 1570 FF
  • Purleigh, Purley or Purlieu 1593 Harl 1594 N


In view of the great preponderance of Pur -, Por - forms, this name, with Purley (Berks), DBPorlei , must be dissociated from Purley (PN Sr 54), a compound of pyrige, 'pear-tree.' Both these names, as suggested by Ekwall (Studies 80), must contain OE  pur , 'bittern' or 'snipe.' Cf. also Purbeck (PN Do 115). This bird is not common in England to-day, owing to the draining of the marshes where it bred. It was once a common resident in Essex, but is now only a rare winter visitant. Miller Christy (Birds of Essex 186–7) records specimens shot at Maldon, Tillingham, Woodham Ferrers and on the Chelmer.