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 Asfordby

Historical Forms

  • Esseberie 1086 DB
  • Osferdebie 1086 DB
  • Osfordebi 1102×06 Reg
  • Osfordeby c.1291 Tax
  • Asfordebi 1184,1185 P 1195 13 Laz 1404
  • Asfordebia c.1130 LeicSurv
  • Asfordeby 1225 Cur 1232 RHug 1409 Pat 1428 FA 1547 Pat 1552 MiD
  • Asfortheby 1295 ChPr
  • Asseford(e)by 1316 FA 1367 Pat
  • Assford(e)by 1375(p),1377 LCDeeds 1505 Peake
  • Aisfordeby 1156 Ch 1318 Dugd Hy2
  • Eisfordby 1218 RegAnt
  • Esfordebi 1190×1204 BM e.13 Laz 1404 CRCart l.13
  • Esfordeby 1205 Dugd 1218 RegAnt 1253×58 RHug 1263 GildR
  • Essefordebi 1204 RegAnt 1204 ChR
  • Esseford(e)by 1204,1218 RegAnt 1254 Val 1329 Ch
  • Essfordeby 1205 ChR 1217 BodCh
  • Esfordby 1218 RegAnt 1234 RHug
  • Assh(e)ford(e)by 1291 OSut 1294 Ass
  • Ashford(e)by 1294 OSut 1335 LAS 1412 Nichols 1537 MinAccts
  • Aschfordby 1505 RTemple
  • Asfordby 1232 RHug 1288 OSut 1499 Banco 1505 Peake
  • Asforby(e) 1528 LWills 1552 Pat 1625 LML
  • Asforbie 1581 LEpis
  • Assorby(e) 1529 AAS 1537 RTemple
  • Asorby(e) 1576 Saxton 1610 Speed
  • Hasford(e)by 1528 LWills
  • Hasforby 1528 ib
  • Hassorby 1529 AAS


This is a difficult name because of the disparities evidenced in the 11th and 12th cent. forms. The two DB spellings attributed by historians to Asfordby, i.e. Esseberie and Osferdebie , are greatly at variance.Esseberie has as its first el. OE  æsc 'ash-tree', perhaps influenced by the cognate ON  eski with the same meaning. An OE collective esce 'a group of ash-trees' may also have existed. The form of the generic of this unique spelling is one in a number of East Goscote Hundred p.ns. whose final el. is actually Scand  - 'farmstead, village', but whose Norman scribe mismanaged as -berie : these are Asfordby, Barkby, Gaddesby, Ingarsby, Quenby and Shoby. It has been suggested that such -berie generics may in some instances represent earlier OE  -byrig (the dat.sg. of burh 'a fortified site') later replaced by - . However, all Leics. p.ns. with burh whose etymologies are unequivocal have their generics in the nom.sg. burh . For this county, -byrig > -berie may be safely dismissed.If the form Esseberie does not represent Ashby Folville, four miles to the south, then the spelling may be explained by the scribe's attributing to it the four syllables of Osferdebie /Asfordebi . Even so, and perhaps significantly, he fixed on the ash-tree as shaping the name of the site.

The forms Osferdebie , Osfordebi and Asfordebi , on the other hand, appear to contain as first el. the ON  pers.n. Ásfrøðr (reflex Asford , v. Feilitzen 165), but perhaps showing early confusion with ODan  Āsfrith and maybe OE  Ōsferð , Ōsfrið . However, the weight of the forms following these earliest instances suggests that we may have, rather, an early OE  p.n. *Æscford 'ford at the ash-trees' to which Scand  - was later appended. This concurs with the DB form Esseberie as a name relating to the local tree-cover. Four miles to the south lies Ashby Folville, another major p.n. indicating the regional presence of ash-trees.Also, Asfordby is on the river Wreake at an important crossing point, used in the medieval period by salt-merchants and no doubt on a time- honoured route. Six miles to the east, also on the river, is Wyfordby (v. Lei 2142), an OE ford-name *Wīgford to which Scand  - was later appended, while to the west, Blackfordby in West Goscote Hundred offers a parallel construction with - added to an OE ford-name *Blæcford . Across R. Wreake from Asfordby in Kirby Bellars was Asfordewong '/Assefordewong ' (surviving forms from 1347 onwards).This may be interpreted as either 'the field at Ashford' or 'Asford's field' (v. vangr ), although one may question whether the river as a natural estate boundary negates the notion of a postulated Ásfrøðr owning and farming land to its south in another estate unit.

The unresolved problems of the p.n. Asfordby are : (i) whether it is to be interpreted as 'the farmstead, village at Ashford' (v. æsc , eski , ford , ) or 'Asford's farmstead, village' (v. and cf. Asserby, DLPN 5); (ii) whether the later forms which describe a settlement at an 'ash-ford' are rationalizations of a misunderstood and forgotten Scand pers.n.; (iii) whether the lost Asfordewong '/Assefordewong ' south of R. Wreake in Kirby Bellars contains acceptable evidence for the original name of the ford.