The Middlesex Federation

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Middlesex Heritage – The Hundreds

EDMONTON (Meaning Eadhelm’s Farm) The Hundred of Edmonton covers all of the Borough of Enfield, plus the Parish of Monken Hadley in the Borough of Barnet, South Mimms and Potters Bar from Hertsmere and Tottenham and Wood Green in Haringey. Edmonton Hundred has also be referred to as the half hundred of Mimms.
Meeting Point: Unknown.

ELTHORNE (Meaning Ella’s Thorn Tree) The Hundred of Elthorne covers all the Borough of Hillingdon, plus the parish of Cranford from Hounslow Borough and Greenford, Hanwell, New Brentford, Northolt, Norwood, Perivale and Southall from the Borough of Ealing.
Meeting Point: Like Spelthorne a thorny bush or tree of remarkable shape or size. Suggested by one historian it was in Elthorne Park in Hanwell Parish but this is a moot point (see it works!) as is too far from the middle of the Hundred to the eastern borders and the name is fairly modern. No better ideas so far.

GORE (Meaning a triangular or wedge shaped field or piece of land) The Hundred of Gore covers all the Borough of Harrow, plus Kingsbury and Wembley from Brent and Edgware and Hendon from Barnet.
Meeting Point: Gore Farm (demolished in 1937) in the Parish of Kingsbury.

ISLEWORTH or HOUNSLOW (Meaning Hund’s hill see Isleworth area for further explanation) The Hundred of Hounslow then renamed Isleworth covers Twickenham from Richmond Borough and Heston, Hounslow and Isleworth from the Borough of Hounslow. The name of Hounslow for the Hundred is written in the Doomsday Book but not too long after it is renamed Isleworth after the manor of that name. Then towards the end of the 12th century beginning of the 13th the Parish of Hampton (including Hampton Wick) was transferred from here to Spelthorne.
Meeting Point: A barrow, tumulus, mound somewhere in the area.

OSSULSTON (Meaning at the stone of Oswulf) The Hundred of Ossulston was also split into another tier of administration called Liberties or Divisions known as Finsbury and Wenlocksbarn. It covers the Boroughs of Camden, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Tower Hamlets and City of Westminster. And if that isn’t enough it includes the parishes of Acton, Chiswick, Ealing, Old Brentford and West Twyford from Ealing Borough, Willesden from Brent and Hornsey from the Borough of Haringey and finally, Finchley and Friern Barnet from Barnet Borough.
Meeting Point: Popularly thought Tyburn aka Marble Arch but in 1484 a document mentions a Westminster Lane leading from Tyburn to Ossulston Pits. By the 17th Century Westminster Lane had become Park Lane and Ossulston is marked as field name on the Grosvenor Estate about half way down on the east just beyond today’s South Street. However no stone was marked on the Estate map to pinpoint Oswulf’s Stone and no stone survives.

 SPELTHORNE (meaning the Speech Thorn Tree) The Hundred of Spelthorne covers all of the present Borough of Spelthorne as well as East Bedfont, Feltham and Hanworth in Hounslow Borough and Hampton, Hampton Wick and Teddington in the Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Hampton and Hampton Wick became part of the Spelthorne Hundred circa 1200.
Meeting Point: At a thorn tree in the Parish of Ashford, there is an ancient track way linking the moot HQ with Kempton Park which was named Spelthorne Lane in 1819.

Wessex, an old Saxon kingdom, was the first to adopt a system of local government. As far back as the 8th century they divided their territory into smaller areas called Scirs, meaning a shorn off or shard of land. Each new Scir revolved around important tribal towns, such as Wilton (Wiltshire), Somerton (Somerset), Dorchester (Dorset) and Southampton (Hampshire still lawfully called Southamptonshire). Once the invading Danes and warring Anglo Saxons, themselves unwelcome visitors not so long before, declared a truce the Saxons were divided from the rest of their tribes by a diagonal line cutting from south-east to north-west under the terms of an agreement called the Danelaw. The Danes taking everything from East Anglia, the East Midlands and Yorkshire upwards and eastwards and the Saxons moving south and west controlling Sussex, Kent, Mercia and Wessex.

It was then that King Alfred, the most famous king of the Saxons and father of the new English kingdom began to organise the other areas outside of his own Wessex to shore up his defences as much as anything else.

Shires were founded and Middlesex was created a ‘Scir’, N.B, The word County was coined from the Old French ‘Comte’ so counties weren’t established until William of Normandy had conquered the Saxons in 1066 – although shires and counties corresponded to roughly the same area where a shire already existed.

As the shire was a large or populous area it was necessary for even more localised administration to govern the grass roots – welcome the Hundred. So-called because it was said to consist of 100 hides, a hide being a measurement of land and each hide supporting one family – on average they were around 120 acres each. These areas were given judicial, fiscal and taxation rights and held ‘council’ meetings called moots – still used as a term today for something that is debatable or needs discussing e.g. a moot point. At the moots laws were formulated and justice dispensed on a regular basis to the Hundred’s citizens. Each Hundred had its own special location for the ‘moots’ to meet usually at some place of historic, social or geographical significance – a tree, a river, a stone, some where everybody knew and was accessible which is why the Moot often met in a location in the centre of the Hundred.. The Hundreds became such an important and vital part of local life that eventually Moot Halls were built the forerunners of the Town Hall or Civic Centre.

To this day many of our ancient Hundreds remain active in our everyday Middlesex life and amazingly correspond to their Saxon counterparts. Spelthorne is the name of a modern Middlesex borough but was originally a Middlesex Hundred covering the same area plus more. The Edmonton Hundred Historical Society is an active and thriving group conserving the name of the old Middlesex Hundred focusing on the history and topography of the original area now administered by Enfield, a part of Haringey, a tiny bit of Barnet and the Middlesex half of Hertsmere boroughs. Elthorne is a sports club, park and railway junction, Ossulston remembered in a street name, Gore a legal district until 1986 and Isleworth and Hounslow with modern identities through towns and a borough of the same names: Isleworth home of Sky TV and Middlesex Crown Court and Hounslow a massive borough stretching way beyond its original locality.