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How name Corbet Tey won against rival 'Tye'

PUBLISHED: 18:00 11 November 2012

Undiscovered Upminster

Undiscovered Upminster

Archant

» For almost 200 years after 1700, the people of Upminster were split into two camps. There were those who talked about "Corbets Tey" and those who preferred "Corbets Tye".

“Tye” place names were common across Essex. They generally referred to an outlying hamlet, away from the main village, and clustered around a small green.

But the word could turn up as “Tey”, as in Marks Tey, near Colchester.

Beerhouse

Corbets Tey was Upminster’s satellite hamlet. 177 people lived there in 1841. There were two inns (one, the Huntsman and Hounds, was rebuilt in 1896 and operates today), plus a beerhouse – 177 thirsty people!

The hamlet also boasted a butcher, a shoemaker, several farmers and a man called Harry Farquharson who was described as a “butler”.

It sounds idyllic – but when terrible disease, cholera, struck in 1854, the community’s small size made it a death trap.

But what was it called? In the end, of course, we know that Corbets Tey won out over Corbets Tye. The Teyites had a powerful myth on their side. In 1588, as the Spanish Armada threatened to invade, an English army was assembled at Tilbury.

Queen Elizabeth I visited her troops and inspired them with a fighting speech.

On her way to Tilbury, it was said, she rode through the little settlement near Upminster that had no name. At that moment, a raven landed on the Queen’s hand. The dialect name for a raven was a “corbet”.

As the bird was about to take off again, Elizabeth imperiously commanded, “Corbet, stay!”

An alternative version makes Corbet the name of one of her servants, who started to wander off at this point. “Corbet, stay!” Her Majesty shouted.

On learning that the hamlet had no name, the Queen decreed that it should be called after the incident: Corbets Tey.

Charming, but nonsense. Elizabeth I probably travelled to Tilbury on the Thames.

It’s very unlikely that a place where so many people lived had no name. In any case, the first “Tey” name only appears in 1729.

That very year, 1588, it was recorded as “Corbettes Tye”.

In fact, it is first mentioned as “Corbinstye” in 1461.

The name probably comes from a local medieval family called Corvin.

In the 16th century, another family, called Corbet, were prominent in Upminster, so the older name was tweaked under their influence.

The “Tey” names are 18th century. John Mallard, described as a “gardener”, seems to have been the first person to mention “Corbets Tey” when he drew up his will in 1729.

One hundred years ago, an Upminster poet tried to set the record straight.

“A, stranger tramping out this way

May find a place called Corbets Tey,

But ‘tis a fact none can deny,

Its proper name is Corbet’s Tye.”

History, poetry and common sense all backed Corbets Tye.

But Corbets Tey won in the end!

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