Skip to main content


hundreds were the principal subdivisions of most English shires from before the Conquest and for many centuries afterwards. Their approximate equivalents in Northumberland, Durham, and Cumberland were called ‘wards’, in six Danelaw shires ‘wapentakes’. Hundreds are first mentioned by name in the laws of Edmund (c.940); it is likely that they derive from a somewhat earlier reorganization of local government. The adoption of the new term ‘hundred’ suggests recognition of the Carolingian centena as something of a model. The late Anglo-Saxon hundred was simultaneously a jurisdictional, a fiscal, and a military unit. Through most of the Middle Ages, the jurisdictional function was predominant. The hundred court usually met every three weeks, was attended by a variable number of freemen from the component villages, and exercised petty civil jurisdiction. On two of these occasions each year the sheriff attended to regulate the frankpledge system and then criminal justice was done. Hundred courts had a long decline until Victorian legislation (especially an Act of 1867) dismantled them. A few hundred courts were important through serving developing but unchartered industrial areas, e.g. Salford. Many more hundreds kept significance as recognized areas of authority, for petty sessional divisions or, ultimately, rural district councils.

James Campbell

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"hundreds." The Oxford Companion to British History. . 20 Jan. 2019 <>.

"hundreds." The Oxford Companion to British History. . (January 20, 2019).

"hundreds." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved January 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.