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.

Market Drayton

Parish in the County of Shropshire

Historical Forms

  • Draitune 1086 DB
  • Draiton 1203-4 Ass 1452 AD
  • Drayton' 1271-2 Ass
  • Dreitona c.1138 SAC
  • Dreiton' p.1256 SAC
  • Dreyton' 1276 SAC
  • Dreyton 1593 PR(L)
  • Draton 1577 Saxton 1726,31 PR(L)
  • Dreton 1659,61 PR(L)
  • Minor Draitona 1121 SAC
  • Parva Drayton 1271-2 Ass 1540 SBL6083
  • Drayton Parva 1517 SRO
  • Little Drayton 1672 HTR
  • Magna Drayton' 1271-2 Ass
  • Magna Drayton, Muche Drayton 1529 SBL5441,5450
  • Great Drayton 1549 Pat
  • Drayton Magna 1661 PR(L)
  • Draiton Market c.1540 Leland
  • Drayton' in Le Halys 1334 SR
  • Magna Drayton in Hales 14th SBL9892
  • Magna Drayton in le Halys 1407-8 SBL9905


A Drayton (OE  drægtūn ) is a settlement where dragging takes place. The name is considered to refer to a portage on a river in some instances, and to a steep slope in others. In this instance the likeliest reference seems to be to the use of sledges, rather than wheeled vehicles, on marshy ground. The same name has become Dryton in Wroxeter parish.

There were two settlements, Market and Little Drayton, and they have separate entries in DB. Little Drayton is Minor Draitona 1121 SAC, and this affix is used in SAC till the mid-13th cent. The place is Parva Drayton 1271-2Ass , 1540SBL 6083 , Drayton Parva 1517SRO 327 , Little Drayton 1672 HTR.

Market Drayton is Magna Drayton '1271-2Ass , Magna Drayton , Muche Drayton 1529SBL 5441 , 5450 , Great Drayton 1549 Pat, Drayton Magna 1661 PR(L) 4. The earliest use of Market noted is Draiton Market c.1540 Leland. Leland also used Drayton upon Terne . The commonest affix, however, is - in Hales . This occurs 1290 Clet freq , with variant spelling - in Halys . Drayton in Le Hales occurs 1316 FA, Drayton ' in Le Halys 1334 SR, and there is one instance of - under Hales , 1701SBL 4244 . This affix and 'great' are frequently combined, as in Magna Drayton in Hales 14thSBL 9892 , Magna Drayton in le Halys 1407-8SBL 9905 . Drayton in Hales otherwise called Markett Drayton occurs 1680SBL 4547 , and Drayton-in -Hales is given as an alternative name in Kelly 1934.

Hales is a district-name covering lands on both sides of the St/Sa border. There is a settlement called Hales in the St parish of Tyrley, which adjoins Market Drayton, and the name occurs as an affix in Norton in Hales, infra , three miles N.E. of Market Drayton. This is the plural of OE  halh, a place-name element which is used in a variety of senses.

The commonest sense of halh in Shropshire is a broad, shallow depression, a valley which is not sufficiently well-defined to be a cumb , a denu or a hop . Other well-attested senses are 'tongue of land between rivers', 'land in a river-bed', and 'piece of land projecting from, or detached from, the main area of its administrative unit'. None of these senses is obviously appropriate for this district-name. Another suggested meaning is 'raised ground isolated by marsh'. This is evidenced in north Shropshire, Whixall near Wem being a good example. It seems reasonably appropriate to the area east and north-east of Market Drayton.

Places in this Parish