Origins of Dacorum


from A Mapp of Hartfordshire, by Richard Blome, 1673

Dacorum is the name of an ancient hundred which includes the parishes of  Aldbury, Berkhamsted, Bovingdon,  Flaunden, Great Gaddesden, Harpenden, Hemel Hempstead, King’s Langley, Little Gaddesden, Northchurch, Tring, Wheathampstead and Wigginton.

The name has been reused for a modern borough containing the towns of Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead and Tring, and several villages such as Aldbury, Bovingdon, Flamstead, Kings Langley, Little Gaddesden, and Markyate.

 The Domesday survey made use of divisions of the country called Hundreds, which existed before the invasion of William the Conqueror.

One explanation of their origins is that each contained a hundred hides, therefore a hundred households. Under the Saxon system of tithing one man was responsible for the behaviour of ten households and represented them at a hundred moot, a court at which the King’s Reeve (an official of high rank) presided. We still use the expression a moot point about something which is open to discussion. The hundred known as Danais, of the Danes, was Latinised to Dacorum by 1196.

The Domesday Book records Tring Hundred, but this was absorbed into Dacorum by the 16th century, when John Speede produced the first printed map. At this time Dacorum was surrounded by Hitching(en) Hundred and Broadwater to the north, Ha(e)rtford Hundred to the east and Caisho Hundred to the south-east all in the shire of Hartfordshire.

In 1644 the Dacorum Hundred was divided into two. The Parish of Hemel Hempstead with Great Gaddesden and Kings Langley was separated from Berkhamsted and surrounding parishes. Thus, today Little Gaddesden and Great Gaddesden are in different parishes.

This map also spells Hemel Hempstead as Hemsted and Berkhamsted as Barkhamsted and states the most ancient town is St. Allbans.

Many thanks to our member June Sinclair and Hertfordshire Genealogy for the above.

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