by Colin Hinson ©2013
"ARMINGFORD HUNDRED, in the county of Cambridge, is bounded on the north by Longslow and Wetherley hundreds, on the east by Triplow hundred, on the south by Hertfordshire hundred, and on the west by Bedfordshire. It contains the following parishes: Abingdon-in-the-Clay, Bassingbourn, Croydon-cum-Clapton, Guilden-Morden, East Hatley, Littlington, Melbourne, Meldreth, Shingay, Steeple-Morden, Tadlow, Wendy, Whaddon, and part of Royston. It comprises an area of about 28,771 acres."
"BEDFORD LEVEL, an extensive tract of flat marshy ground, also called the Fens, on the eastern coast of England, comprising parts of the six counties of Lincoln, Northampton, Huntingdon, Cambridge, Norfolk, and Suffolk. It is situated to the south of the Wash, extending from the river Welland, in the south-east part of Lincolnshire, to Milton, in Cambridgeshire; and from Peterborough, on the river Nen, in Northamptonshire, to Brandon, on the little Ouse, in Suffolk. It is about 40 miles in length from north to south, and the same in its greatest breadth. The Level is divided into three parts, the North, Middle, and South Levels. The first is the district lying between the rivers Welland and Nen; the second, that between the Nen and the old Bedford river; and the third, that which lies to the south-east of the old Bedford river.
The area of the Level is estimated at about 400,000 acres. Above half of that area is comprised in the Isle of Ely. When the Romans invaded Britain, the whole of this district, it is believed, was a great marsh, and its surface was considerably lower than at present. Roman ways were formed across its site, one of which is still to be seen. Writers of the 12th century describe the Fens as being at that time a most fruitful and agreeable country, with lakes and many rivers, woods, and orchards. But in the following century it was all changed; for in the year 1236, on occasion of a fierce storm which lasted above a week, the sea broke in and spread destruction over the country. Similar calamities occurred several times in subsequent years; the natural drainage was stopped, and the whole district again became a morass. In some parts it was covered with stagnant water above ten feet deep, and boats were necessary for communication between the towns and villages.
In the 15th century, the first attempts were made to drain the Fens. One of these was Bishop Morton's Cut, from Peterborough to Guyhern, 40 feet in width, and now forming part of the river Nen. After several other failures, the task was undertaken afresh in the reign of Charles I., by Francis, Duke of Bedford. A charter was granted to the company formed under the presidency of that nobleman, and in three years their proposed works were completed. It was in honour of this important undertaking for the drainage of the Fens that they have since been called the Bedford Level. Fresh works, however, soon became necessary, and in 1664 the company received a charter of incorporation, with all necessary powers and regulations for maintaining and improving them. They are styled the Corporation of Bedford Level, and consist of a governor, 6 bailiffs, 20 conservators, and a commonalty. The principal cuts formed under their management are, the Old and New Bedford Rivers, Bevil's River, Sam's Cut, Peekirk, South-eau, and other great drains, besides many smaller ones. The most important recent works are the following:-A new channel; 6½ miles long, for the outfall of the Nen, by which a larger area has been reclaimed, and the Wisbech navigation much improved; a new communication opened between Lincolnshire and Norfolk by a bridge over that channel, and a long bank across the sands at Sutton Wash; a new drain for the waters of the North Level; a new cut, 11 miles long, for the drainage of the Middle Level; and works for the drainage of Whittlesea Mere. The cost of the Nen outfall was £200,000; that of the new drain for the North Level, £150,000. The Old and New Bedford rivers, which run parallel to each other, are 21 miles in length and 1 mile apart. The former is 70, the latter 100 feet wide. They extend from Earith in Cambridgeshire, to near Downham in Norfolk."
"CHESTERTON HUNDRED, a hundred in the southern portion of the county of Cambridge, surrounding the town of Cambridge; it contains the parishes of Chesterton, Childerley, Cottenham, Dry-Drayton, Histon, and part of Cakington, and comprises 16,600 acres."
"CHEVELEY HUNDRED, a hundred in the south-east portion of the county of Cambridge; it contains the parishes of Ashley, Cheveley, Kirtling, and Newmarket All Saints, and comprises 12,867 acres."
"CHILFORD HUNDRED, a hundred in the south-east portion of the county of Cambridge, contains the parishes of Great and Little Abingdon, Babraham, Great Bartlow, Castle Camps, Kildersham, Horseheath, Linton, Pampisford, Shudy-Camps, and West Wickham, comprising 21,430 acres."
"ELY HUNDRED, a hundred in the Isle of Ely, county Cambridge; contains the city of Ely,and the parishes of Downham and Littleport. Besides the above, the Isle of Ely comprises the hundreds of North and South Witchford, March, Thorney, Whittlesea, and Wisbech, including the whole of the land which, in ancient times, rose above the water of the surrounding marshes. It is under the immediate jurisdiction of the Bishop of Ely, who appoints the magistrates. The land is extremely productive, consisting principally of rich black earth and loam, with patches of turf-moor, and is intersected by numerous dykes, or cuts, to carry off the waters of the Fens."
"FLENDISH HUNDRED, one of the 19 hundreds or subdivisions of the county Cambridge, situated in the southern part of the county,-and bounded on the north by the hundred of Staine, on the east by the hundred of Radfield, on the south by the hundred of Whittlesford, and on the west by the hundred of Triplow. It contains the parishes of Cherry-Hinton, Fen-Ditton, Fulbourn, Horningsea, and Teversham, comprising an area of nearly 12,000 acres."
"LONGSTOW HUNDRED, one of the 19 subdivisions of county Cambridge. It is situated in the western part of the county, and is bounded on the north by the hundreds of Chesterton and Papworth, on the east and south by the hundred of Wetherly, and on the west by the county of Huntingdon. It includes the parishes of Bourn, Caldecote, Caxton, Croxton, Eltisley, Great and Little Eversden, Gamlingay, Little Gransden, Hardwicke, St. George Hatley, Kingston, Longstow, and Toft, comprising an area of about 25,000 acres."
"MURROW FEN, in the hundred of Wisbech, Isle of Ely, county Cambridge, 5 miles west of Wisbech."
"NORTHSTOW HUNDRED, a hundred in the county of Cambridge, containing the parishes of Girton, Impington, Landbeach, Lolworth, Long, Stanton All Saints and St. Michael, Madingley, Milton, Rampton, Waterbeach, and part of Oakington, comprising an area of 19,990 acres."
"PAPWORTH HUNDRED, a hundred in the county of Cambridge, contains the parishes of Boxworth, Conington, Elsworth, Fen-Drayton, Graveley, Knapwell, Over, Papworth St. Everard, Swavesey, Willingham, and part of Papworth St. Agnes, comprising an area of 26,230 acres."
"RADFIELD HUNDRED, a hundred in the county of Cambridge, contains the parishes of Balsham, Brinkley, Burrough-Green, Carlton-cum-Willingham, Dullingham, Stetchworth, Westley Waterless, Weston-Colvill, and West Wrattin, comprising an area of 23,560 acres."
"RIVER LARKE, a river rising near Rushbrook, in county Suffolk, and joining the Ouse near Ely, in Cambridgeshire."
"RIVER NEN, (or Nyne), a river of county Northampton, rises at Chapel Well, near Naseby, and passing through part of Cambridgeshire, falls into the Cross Keys Wash, near Sutton St. Mary, in Lincolnshire.
"STAINE HUNDRED, a hundred, county Cambridge, contains the parishes of Bottisham, Stowe-cum-Quy, Swaffham Bulbeck, and Prior, and Great and Little Wilbraham; comprising an area of 18,397 acres. It is traversed by the Roman way to Caistor."
"STAPLOE HUNDRED, a hundred in the county of Cambridge, contains the parishes of Burwell, Chippenham, Fordham, Isleham, Kennett Landwade, Snailwell, Soham, and Wicken, comprising an area of 39,570 acres."
"THRIPLOW HUNDRED, a hundred in county Cambridge, contains the pars of Foulmire, Foxton, Harston, Hauxton, Newton, Great Shelford, Little Shelford, Stapleford, Thriplow, and Trumpington, comprising an area of 16,279 acres."
"WETHERLEY HUNDRED, a hundred, county Cambridge, contains the parishes of Arrington, Barrington, Barton, Comberton, Coton, Grantchester, Harleton, Haslingfield, Orwell, Shepreth, and Wimpole, comprising 18,559 acres."
"WHITLESFORD HUNDRED, a hundred in the south division of county Cambridge, contains the parishes of Duxford, Hinxton, Ickleton, Sawston, and Whittlesford, comprising 10,928 acres."
"WISBECH HUNDRED, a hundred in the Isle of Ely liberty, county Cambridge, contains the parishes of Elm, Leverington, Newton, Outwell, Thorney, Tydd St. Giles, Upwell, Wisbech, and Wisbech St. Mary, comprising 70,790 acres."
"WITCHFORD HUNDRED, a hundred in two divisions, north and south, in the Isle of Ely, county Cambridge; the north division contains the town of March, and the parishes of Chatteris, Doddington, Ramsey, Whittlesey St. Mary, and Whittlesey St. Andrew; and the south division contains the parishes of Coveney, Grunty Fen, Haddenham, Mepal, Stretham, Sutton, Welches-Dam, Wentworth, Wilburton, Witcham, and Witchford, comprising together 127,420 acres."
- A transcript of the Miscellaneous parish entries from Stepehen Whatley's 1750 Topographical Gazetteer of England,
- A transcript of the Miscellaneous parish entries from 1929 Kellys Directory of Cambridgeshire