What’s in a name – Hornsey, Harringay or Haringey?

Hornsey, established as a settlement in the pre-Conquest county of Middlesex, is a name with Anglo Saxon origins and derives from the Old English name Heringes-hege (with the ‘g’s pronounced as ‘y’s), meaning ‘the enclosure of Hering’ or ‘of Hering’s people’.

It is likely that Hering was an Anglo Saxon who settled in the area, at a time and location unknown. In the Bishop of London’s will of 1303 reference is made to bequeathing silver plate to Walt de Londonia, Rector of the church ‘at Haryngeye’. The name ‘Haringseye’ was also much used in medieval times. Dr S J Madge, local historian and schoolmaster undertook a 35 year study of the name.

In his 1936 book, The Origin of the Name of Hornsey, he cited 162 different spellings of the name in surviving documents from medieval times onwards such as ‘Haringseye’ and ‘Harnsey’. Hornsey comes from the changing of old spellings such as ‘Harnsey’.

The name chosen in 1965 for the new borough, Haringey, is a revival of one of these medieval forms, as is Harringay, adopted for the new development along Green Lanes and Wightman Road in the 1880s and 1890s.