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.

Odsey Hundred

Hundred in the County of Hertfordshire

Historical Forms

  • Odesei 1086 DB
  • Odeseth 1135 Ch 1286
  • Odeseche 1191,1193 P
  • Odesela 1166,1178 ib
  • Odeseles 1275 RH 1278 QW
  • Oddishel 1247 FF
  • Oddeseth 1248 Ass
  • Oddessete 1248 Fees
  • Oddeseye 1252 Ch 1275 RH 1346 FA
  • Oddesele(s) 1255,1287,1316,1342 Ass 1330 Gesta
  • Odesethehill 1406 Ct
  • Oddesethull 1469 StJohns
  • Hodseidyche 1449 ib
  • Odsetheway 1450 ib


The Hundred takes its name from Odsey, just outside the county boundary, in Cambridgeshire. It may be that originally it fell within the county boundary, but even so the place must always have been at the extreme edge of the Hundred and is thus an exception to the usual rule that the meeting-place is central for the whole Hundred. The first element in the name is the OE  personal name Odda . The second is difficult. The earliest spellings point to OE  seað , 'pit, well,' found in Roxeth (Mx), the loss of the final consonant in DB and in some of the 12th and 13th century spellings being due to French influence. Other spellings point to OE  sele , 'house,' as in Newsells infra 173. It may be that these were alternative names, as suggested by Skeat (24), or there may have been a seað and a sele near together, both taking their name from the same man.