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 Handsworth

Historical Forms

  • Handesuuord, Handesuurde 1086 DB
  • Handeswrth, Handeswrd(a), Handesworth(e), Handeswurth(e) 12 Dugdv 1181–1210 YCh(1274–1280) l.12 BM 13 1210 Ch 1252 FA 1428
  • Handelesworth 1193–9 RegAlbii,39d c.1201 YChvi
  • Handisworth 1342 FF
  • Hannesworth(e) 1367,1473 BM 1441 SheffMan 1472 Fabr 1573 SheffMan
  • Hansworth 1473 Pat 1529 FF 1641 Rates
  • Honnesworth 1474 Pat
  • Handsworth 1692 Hall


The first el. of this difficult name appears to be a pers.n. (which is likely enough with OE  worð 'an enclosure'), and an OE  Hand (derived from the common word hand ) has been suggested for both Handsworth and Handsacre St; Hand is certainly used as a byname or surname in later times. But the single spelling Handelesworth points to a pers.n. Handel , which would be an -el derivative of Hand or a reduced form of an OE  name Handwulf or the like, corresponding to OG  Handolf ; a pers.n. Handila lies behind the Flemish p.n. Handelingehem (Mansion). Unfortunately there is again no evidence so far for an OE pers.n. of this form. Other speculations about the first el. might include the rare OE  hand -(ge )sella 'close companion' (only recorded in Beowulf ) which, in view of its rarity, might well have been metathesised to handles to conform to the normal gen.sg. pattern, but this would be an unusual el.