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.

Becontree Hundred

Hundred in the County of Essex

Historical Forms

  • Beuentreu 1086 DB
  • Begetreowa c.1150 Ch 1383
  • Begintre, Beghentro 12th RBE
  • Beg(g)entre 1155 1179–86,1230,1242 P
  • Beghintre 1198 Ch 1383
  • Bekintr(e), Bekyntr(e) 1219 Fees 1346 FA
  • Be(c)kingtre, Be(c)kyngtre 1227 Fees 1291 For 1450 Pat
  • Becchintre 1267 Ass
  • Bekentre 1238 SR 1464 Pat
  • Bekentre alias Begentrowe 1392,1462,1464 Pat
  • Berkintre 1225 ib
  • Bentre 1254 Ass
  • Beyntree 1341 Shawcross
  • Byentre 1368 HPD
  • Becontre 1594 N
  • Beaucountry 1777 C


This was probably originally Beohhan-treow , 'Beohha 's tree,' with the same sound-development as in Beckenham (K), Beohhahamm (BCS 1295) (see further PN K 8), and other names, for which see s. nn. Woughton (PN Bk 28–9), and Coxwold (PN NRY 191), the development being influenced by ready association with OE  bēacen , 'sign,' a suitable element in a hundred-name.

It is just possible, however, that we should start from OE  beacen-treo (w ), 'beacon-tree,' with the same development of medial c [k] as in Cople (PN BedsHu 89). The Domesday form is in any case irregular.

The meeting-place of the hundred, sometimes called a half- hundred, was on Becontree Heath in Dagenham infra 91, now near the eastern boundary of the hundred, but approximately central before Havering Liberty was taken out of it.