The name of this place has been variously written;—Eaglestree, Elstree, Ilstrye, Idlestrye, &c. Norden says that it is
called, in Ossa's grant to the Abbey of St. Alban's, Eaglestree, that
is, says he, "Nemus aquilinum, a place where it may be thought
that eagles bred in time past (fn. 1) ." It has been derived also from
Idel-street, i. e. the noble road; and Ill-street, the decayed road (fn. 2) .
May it not have been, rather, a corruption of Eald-street, the old
road, i. e. the ancient Watling-street, upon which it is situated?
Situation, boundaries, extent, &c.
Elstree lies in the hundred of Caisho, about three miles beyond
Edgware, and eleven from London. The parish is bounded by
Edgware and Whitchurch on the south and south-west; by Aldenham and Shenley on the north; and by Chipping Barnet on the
east. It is to be observed, that the village stands in four parishes, a
few houses only, near the church, being in that of Elstree; the
remainder are in Edgware, Whitchurch, and Aldenham. The
parish of Elstree contains about 3000 acres of land, which is divided
between arable and pasture nearly in an equal proportion. The soil
is, for the most part, clay. Boreham Wood, a waste of nearly 700
acres, was inclosed about the year 1778, and is now in culture.
This parish pays the sum of 151l. 11s. to the land-tax, which is
raised by a rate of about 1s. 9d. in the pound.
Manor of Elstree, or Boreham.
Elstree was formerly included in the manor of Parkbury, which
belonged to the abbey of St. Alban's, and was granted, on the
dissolution of that monastery, to Anthony Denny, Esq. whose
grandson Edward, in the year 1607, sold that part of the estate,
which was within this parish, with all manerial rights, to
Robert Briscoe, Esq. (fn. 3) ; in whose family it continued till about
the year 1748, when it was sold to James West, Esq. M. P. for
St. Alban's, who, in or about 1751, aliened it to — Gulston, Esq.
of Widdial: Mr. Gulston sold it to Pigfatt, a gunsmith, who, within
a few years, conveyed it to Thomas Jemmet, Esq. In 1774 it
was purchased of Mr. Jemmet by the late George Byng, Esq. M. P.
for Middlesex, whose son is the present proprietor. This estate is
now called the Manor of Boreham (fn. 4) .
The parish church, a small structure, is supposed to have
been built out of the ruins of the ancient city of Sulloniacæ,
about a mile distant. It is dedicated to St. Nicholas; and consists
of a chancel, nave, and south aisle, separated by octagonal pillars and
pointed arches. On the east wall of the chancel is the monument
of William Sharpe, Esq. (fn. 5) ; on the north that of Olive, daughter
and heir of James Harman, Esq. and wife, first of Nicholas Atwood
of Sanderstead in Surrey, and secondly of John Buck of Aldenham,
Gent. (fn. 6) ; ob. 1603. On the floor was formerly the tomb of John
Blake, minister of Elstree, who died in 1638. There is now only
a memorial for Mrs. Elizabeth Baldwin, 1712.
On the south wall of the aisle is the monument of Samuel Nicoll,
Esq. (fn. 7) of Hillingdon, who married Margaret, daughter of Robert
Beale of Gray's Inn, ob. 1723; on the north wall, that of Jane,
wife of P. Buhet, 1767. In the nave is the tomb of Mary Oxenham, 1773.
The church of Elstree is a rectory, in the deanery of St. Alban's.
The advowson, which formerly belonged to the monastery at that
place, has since its dissolution been vested in the crown. The
commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of ecclesiastical
benefices in 1650, found by their inquest that the rectory of
Ilestrey, with two acres of glebe, was worth 40 l. per annum; that
it had been sequestered from Abraham Spencer (to whose family a
fifth of the rectory was allowed); and that the cure was supplied
by William Marketman, put in by the committee of plundered
ministers (fn. 8) . This rectory is rated in the King's books at 8l. per
annum. The present rector is the Rev. William Hawtayne, instituted in 1778.
The earliest date of the parish register is 1656.
Comparative state of population.
||Average of Baptisms.
||Average of Burials.
The present number of houses is fifty.
Extracts from the Parish Register.
Instances of longevity.
"John Yates, aged 90, buried Nov. 7, 1690."
"Elizabeth Holland, aged near a hundred years, buried May 12,
1720. Francis Arnott, aged 96 years, was buried April 6,
"John, son of John Paddy, Esq. and the Rt Hon. Lady Anne
his wife, baptized Oct. 6, 1738."
"Martha Ray, buried April 14, 1779." The story of this
unfortunate victim to the violence of an ungoverned passion is well
known. She was shot by her hopeless lover, Mr. Hackman, as she
came out of Covent Garden theatre on the evening of the 7th of
April. After an unsuccessful attempt to destroy himself, the
wretched murderer was seized, tried within a few days at the
Old Bailey, and executed at Tyburn on the 19th of the same
Robert Briscoe, Gent. of Aldenham, anno 1616, gave 2l. per
annum to the poor, and 1l. to the repairs of the church, being a
rent-charge upon a field called Churchmead. Samuel Nicholl of
Elstree, Gent. anno 1684, bequeathed 20s. per annum to the poor,
charged upon a field called Penscroft. William Nicholl, Gent. anno
1697, charged the same field with a farther rent of 2l. for the poor.
John Nicholl, Gent. anno 1709, made another rent-charge of the
like amount upon it for the same purpose; since which time,
another William Nicholl has given the whole field (now let at 6l.
per annum) to the parish. Robert Warren of Elstree, Gent. by his
will, bearing date 1735, gave 4l. per annum to the poor of this
parish, and 5l. per annum for the purpose of apprenticing poor
John Rudge, Esq. pays 2l. 10s. for a piece of ground allotted
to the poor when the common was inclosed.