The hundred of Elthorne

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.

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'The hundred of Elthorne ', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington, (London, 1962) pp. 167-169. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]


The hundred of Elthorne lies in the north-west corner of the county, adjacent to Spelthorne and Gore hundreds on the north and west. In 1881 it covered 36,297 acres. (fn. 1) The whole hundred is west of the River Brent, except for the small parish of Hanwell, which lies on its east bank. The southern part of Hanwell forms a narrow tongue of land dividing Isleworth from Ossulstone hundred and extending down the west bank of the river to the Thames at Brentford. Although New Brentford was a chapelry of Hanwell and has been a member of Elthorne hundred certainly since the end of the 13th century, it is historically much more connected with Old Brentford in Ossulstone hundred. Its history, therefore, has been omitted from this volume and is reserved for discussion later with Old Brentford.

In 1086 Elthorne hundred consisted of 224½ hides and formed, with Ossulstone, one of the two double hundreds in Middlesex. The hundred was made up of thirteen manors: Colham (in Hillingdon parish), Cowley, Cranford, Dawley (in Harlington parish), Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield, Harlington, Harmondsworth, Hillingdon, Ickenham, Northolt, and Ruislip. There were also non-manorial holdings at Greenford, Harmondsworth, and Ickenham, and 2 hides said to be in Elthorne hundred were attached to the manor of Harrow, in Gore hundred. The manors of Drayton and Hayes were not assigned in Domesday Book to a particular hundred, but as they were both surrounded by other Elthorne parishes they may almost certainly be assigned to Elthorne at that date. The manor of Kingsbury, which the survey assigns to Elthorne, may be equally well assigned to its later hundred of Gore as it lies well within the hundred boundary. (fn. 2)

The constituents of the hundred varied hardly at all after 1086. By 1316 the thirteen Domesday manors had been increased by Little Greenford or Perivale, Southall in Hayes, and Uxbridge in Hillingdon. (fn. 3) Only Hanwell is not mentioned, the reason probably being that the manor of Hanwell had been absorbed into that of Greenford some time before the 13th century, and the two vills were administered as one estate by Westminster Abbey. (fn. 4) In 1428 Harlington was entered in Spelthorne hundred, (fn. 5) which was presumably an error, although Harlington lies on the boundary with Spelthorne: in 1524 the parish was said to be in Elthorne. Various small changes in the list of 1524 include the omission of Cowley and Southall and the inclusion of Norwood, (fn. 6) and by 1642 the hundred was completed by the reappearance of Cowley. (fn. 7) In lists of the constituent parishes of the hundred Uxbridge, the sole market-town in Elthorne since the late 13th century, was generally ranked as a parish, although in fact it was a hamlet of Hillingdon. Its government was, however, quite distinct from the parish or its constituent manors. (fn. 8) The manors in the hundred always seem to have out-numbered the parishes. By the mid-15th century the thirteen Domesday manors had increased to about 30 throughout the hundred. (fn. 9)


In the reign of Edward the Confessor the value of the hundred amounted to £190 17s., and in 1086 to £133 9s. (fn. 10) By the end of the 13th century, when it was stated to belong to the king, (fn. 11) it was valued annually at only 64s. 8d. (fn. 12) By this time the jurisdiction owned by the hundred appears to have been severely limited. Only Cranford, Harmondsworth, Hillingdon, and Perivale did not have view of frankpledge and other liberties and so owed suit to the hundred court. (fn. 13) As early as 1274 two of the manors which were bound to make suit, Cranford and Harmondsworth, were presented for not doing so. (fn. 14) In the 1320's Greenford and Hanwell had to send two free tenants of the manor to 'defend' it in both the shire and hundred courts, despite the fact that the manor was owned by Westminster Abbey, (fn. 15) which claimed exemption from these courts for all its lands.

Ecclesiastical corporations owned a number of franchises in the hundred: the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's at West Drayton; Westminster Abbey at Greenford, Hanwell, and Brentford; the Archbishop of Canterbury at Hayes; the Abbey of Bec at Ruislip; and the Priory of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, at Brentford. Lay franchises were held in 1293 by Richard of Batchworth at Harefield; Peter Butler at Northolt; William de Scaccario at Down, in Northolt; and Lucy Peachey at Cowley. Westminster Abbey held the overlordship of Cowley and seems to have retained some jurisdiction there itself. (fn. 16) The largest single liberty was probably that of the honor of Wallingford. In 1235 the honor included Dawley, Colham, Harlington, and Ickenham; (fn. 17) in 1274 Harlington was said not to 'participate' in the hundred, (fn. 18) and in 1293 a view of frankpledge was held at Uxbridge for it and Hanworth (Spelthorne). (fn. 19) In the early 15th century courts were held for Uxbridge, Colham, Harlington, Hillingdon, and Ickenham, as well as places in Spelthorne, (fn. 20) and in the 16th century Dawley and Sipson were added to these. (fn. 21)

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Elthorne, like other hundreds, was used as a unit for tax-collection, (fn. 22) and sometimes for inquiries about poor relief or agriculture. (fn. 23) The county was generally divided for administrative purposes into two halves, Elthorne then being linked with Spelthorne and Isleworth. The high constables of the three hundreds, for instance, jointly complained of the ship-money taxation, (fn. 24) and maintained a joint treasurer for the funds for maimed soldiers, prisons, and hospitals. (fn. 25)

In the late 13th century the chief officer of the hundred was a chief bailiff, (fn. 26) but liberties, such as Hayes and Wallingford, had bailiffs of their own. (fn. 27) At the beginning of the 15th century Elthorne shared an under-bailiff with Spelthorne. (fn. 28) In the 17th century quarter sessions were appointing or confirming in office the officers of the hundred, consisting of two chief constables, and a bailiff, as well as the sub-constables for the parishes. (fn. 29) Sessions maintained some control over the officers, and in 1615 the Elthorne bailiff was removed for 'divers misdemeanours'. (fn. 30)

In the mid-19th century the name of Elthorne was used for a militia regiment that was raised in 1853, becoming the Royal Elthorne Light Infantry. It became the 3rd battalion of the Middlesex Regiment when this was formed in 1881. (fn. 31)

The meeting-place of the hundred is not known: the name of Elthorne as applied to parts of Hanwell (fn. 32) is entirely modern.


  • 1. Census, 1881.
  • 2. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 127-30. Kingsbury was in Gore hundred by 1316, Feud. Aids, iii. 373.
  • 3. Feud. Aids, iii. 373; Place Names of Mdx. (E.P.N.S.), 37-49.
  • 4. B.M. Add. Ch. 8139.
  • 5. Feud. Aids, iii. 381-2.
  • 6. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (1), p. 422.
  • 7. Hist. MSS. Com. 5th Rep. 129.
  • 8. Lysons, Mdx. Pars. 175-88.
  • 9. These figures are from the parish histories below, and from Lysons, Mdx. Pars. 136-207.
  • 10. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 127-30.
  • 11. This is the only reference to the ownership of the hundred that has been found.
  • 12. J.I. 1/544, m. 52.
  • 13. J.I. 1/544, m. 51d.
  • 14. J.I. 1/540, m. 12d-13.
  • 15. V.C.H. Mdx. ii. 70, quoting B.M. Add. Ch. 8139.
  • 16. J.I. 1/544. m. 51d-52d.
  • 17. Bk. of Fees, 473-4.
  • 18. J.I. 1/540, m. 13d.
  • 19. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 477.
  • 20. S.C. 2/212/2.
  • 21. Ibid. /18.
  • 22. M.R.O., Acc. 249/15-16; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1627-8, 323.
  • 23. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1631-3, 43, 162.
  • 24. Ibid. 1636-7, 290.
  • 25. For example, Mdx, Cty. Recs. N.S. i. 76; Mdx. Cty. Recs. Sess. Bks. 1689-1709, 46, 106, 109.
  • 26. J.I. 1/540, m. 24; /544, m. 67.
  • 27. J.I. 1/540, m. 12-13.
  • 28. Cal. Pat. 1399-1401, 315.
  • 29. Mdx. Sess. Recs., N.S. i. 442, 445.
  • 30. Ibid. N.S. iii. 68.
  • 31. C. L. Kingsford, Story of Mdx. Regiment, 145.
  • 32. See p. 223.