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 Kempley

Historical Forms

  • Chenepelei 1086 DB
  • Kenepele(ge), Kenepeleg(h), Kenepelai, Kenepeleye 13 Misc 1215 ClR 1220 Fees 1221 Ass 1236 Fees 1248 Ass c.1270 GlR
  • Kenepleya, Keneplegh', Keneple 1221,1287 Ass c.1270 GlR
  • Kempele(a), Kempeleg(a), Kempeley(e), Kempeleigh 1195 P 1232 Heref 1260 FF 1529 et passim
  • Kenesleye c.1275,c.1280 For
  • Kemple(y) 1316 FA 1335 Ipm 1659 ParlSurv
  • Kemele 1349 IpmR


The first el. is to be associated with OE  cenep 'moustache', 'a horse's bit', which is related to ON  kampr , kanpr 'beard, moustache', 'corner of a wall' and OFris  kænep , kenep 'moustache'; the usual meaning is 'moustache, beard', but the ultimate root-meaning seems to be 'peg, stump' (cf. Jóhannesson 341). Ekwall has suggested that cenep might have been used to describe some plant, but apart from a doubtful Kempshot (Ha) which contains scēat , a word often associated with plant names, there is no evidence for this. It might well have been used as a by name, as in ON  Kampi 'the bearded one'; such a byname might also be found in Cenepesmor (i, 220 supra ). If that is so, Kempley has the name in an uninflected form. 'Cenep's clearing', v. lēah .