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.


Parish in the County of Shropshire

Historical Forms

  • Weme 1086 DB 1367,1500,4 Ipm 1586etfreqto1638 PR(L)
  • Wemme 1228 Cl 1727 PR(L)
  • Wem 1577 Saxton


There is general agreement that the source of this name is OE  wemm 'filth'. The group of words to which wemm belongs is better-evidenced as referring to moral than to physical pollution, but the use of the noun as a simplex place-name can only be explained by postulating a sense appropriate to soil conditions. Much of the large parish of Wem is marshy.

The Wems occurs as a farm-name in Adderley, about 12 miles N.E. of Wem, also in wet ground. This has not been traced back further than the 19th-cent. OS map and the TA , but it is likely to be an ancient name. There is a single instance of Wem in Cheshire, as a 19th-cent. field-name in Great Warford, another marshy area.

The parish contains 12 townships, Aston, Edstaston and Coton, Horton, Lacon, Lowe and Ditches, Newtown, Northwood, Sleap, Soulton, Tilley and Trench, Wem and Wolverley. These have separate Tithe Awards, varying in date from 1840 to 1846. A high proportion of these, all except Lowe and Ditches, Newtown, and Tilley and Trench, are DB Manors.

Major Settlements

Other places in this Parish

Other OS name