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.

Little Witley

Major Settlement in the Parish of Little Witley

Historical Forms

  • Wittlæg 964 BCS1135 12th
  • Witleah, Witleag 969 BCS1242 11th KCD682 c.972 11th
  • Wihtlega 11th Heming
  • Witlege 1086 DB
  • Wit(er)lega c.1086 EveA 1190
  • Widelega 1187 P
  • Parva Wyttelege, Wyttelege 1249 FF
  • Wytele Minor 1275 Ass
  • Litelwytele 1388 IpmR
  • Little Whytley 1550 Pat


The early forms of this name and Great Witley supra 86 make it certain that the first element is not the adjective hwit , for we should have had that adjective in the weak oblique case, hwītan .The form quoted from Heming suggests very strongly that the first element is OE  wiht . For this element in OE place-names, cf. Great Whyte (PN BedsHu 216) and the evidence there, and ib. xli. It is there suggested that the word wiht may in OE have been used of a 'curve or bend in a stream.' Shrawley Brook as it runs up from Little to Great Witley has a somewhat sinuous course, and it may well be that the whole leah or clearing originally took its distinctive first element from one or other of these well-marked bends in the stream which goes through it. Wetmoor (St), whose early forms suggest a similar first element (Duignan PN St 170) lies in a bend of the Trent. Whitehall Fm in Tackley (O), KCD 709 Wihthull , lies in a well-curved hollow at the foot of a hill.

Places in the same Parish