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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Oberwil in Waldkirch, St. Gallen, Switzerland

A hamlet is usually a rural settlement which is too small to be considered a village, though sometimes the word is used for a different sort of community. The name comes from Anglo-Norman hamelet(t)e; Old North French hamelet, the diminutive of Old North French hamel, another diminutive of Old North French ham of Germanic origin, cognate with Dutch heem, German Heim, Swiss German cham or -kon, Old English hām and Modern English home, all derived from the Proto-Germanic *kham-.[1] Historically, when a hamlet became large enough to justify building a church, it was then classified as a village. One example of a hamlet is a small cluster of houses surrounding a mill.


United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the word 'hamlet' has no defined legal meaning, although hamlets are recognised as part of land use planning policies and administration. A hamlet is traditionally defined ecclesiastically as a village or settlement that usually does not have its own church, belonging to a parish of another village or town. In modern usage it generally refers to a secondary settlement in a civil parish, after the main settlement (if any). Hamlets may have been formed around a single source of economic activity such as a farm, mill, mine or harbour that employed its working population. Some hamlets, particularly those that have a medieval church, may be the result of the depopulation of a village.

The term hamlet was used in some parts of the country for a geographical subdivision of a parish (which might or might not contain a settlement). Elsewhere, these subdivisions were called "townships" or "tithings".[2][3]

In Scotland the term of Gaelic derivation, clachan, is often preferred to the term "hamlet"[4].

In Northern Ireland the common Irish place name element baile is sometimes considered equivalent to the term "hamlet" English, although baile would actually have referred to what is known in English today as a townland -- a geographical locality, not a small village.


In Romania hamlets are called cătunuri (singular: cătun), and they represent villages that contain several houses at most. They are legally considered villages, and statistically, they are placed in the same category. Like villages, they do not have a separate administration, and thus are not an administrative division, but are part of a parent commune. Their locations are always marked by road signs.

United States


New York

In New York, hamlets are unincorporated settlements within towns. Hamlets are usually not legal entities and have no local government or official boundaries. Their proximate location will often be noted on road signs, however.

A hamlet usually depends upon the town that contains it for municipal services and government. A hamlet could be described as the rural or suburban equivalent of a neighborhood in a city or village. The area of a hamlet may not be exactly defined and may simply be contained within the ZIP code of its post office, or may be defined by its school or fire district. Some hamlets proximate to urban areas are sometimes continuous with their cities and appear to be neighborhoods, but they still are under the jurisdiction of the town. Some hamlets -- for example, Hauppauge, with a population of over 20,000 -- are far more populous than some incorporated cities in the state.


In Oregon, specifically in Clackamas County, a hamlet is a form of local government for small communities, which allows the citizens therein to organize and co-ordinate community activities. Hamlets do not provide services such as utilities or fire protection, and do not have the authority to levy taxes or fees. The first hamlet to be created in Oregon was the Hamlet of Beavercreek which was organized as a hamlet in 2006.


In numerous provinces in Canada, there are officially designated municipalities generally smaller than villages, classified as hamlets. Hamlets are usually small communities situated in remote areas, like Cape Dorset in Nunavut, and Enterprise and Eaglesham in Alberta and Tulita in the Northwest Territories, or are smaller communities within a rural area of an incorporated town or city, such as the many communities within the single-tier municipalities of Ontario. Every province contain a number of hamlets, all of which are unincorporated. In Canada's northern territories, they are incorporated municipalities.

However, in Alberta, they are unincorporated settlements, as in New York. Sherwood Park, Alberta, which has a population of more than 50,000—well above that needed for city status—has nonetheless retained hamlet status.[5] Fort McMurray, Alberta used to be a city, but has now been amalgamated into the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, thus making it a hamlet.

See also


  1. ^ T. F. Hoad, English Etymology, Oxford University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-19-283098-8.
  2. ^ Kain R J P, Oliver R D, Historic Parishes of England & Wales,HDS, 2001, ISBN 0-9540032-0-9, p 12
  3. ^ "Vision of Britain — Administrative Units Typology — Status definition: Hamlet". Great Britain Historical GIS Project. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  4. ^ see
  5. ^ "Strathcona County, Alberta, Canada | About Strathcona County". Retrieved 2009-10-17. 

External links

Simple English

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a play by William Shakespeare. It is at Hamlet.

]] A hamlet is a small settlement, smaller than a village. Usually, all settlers in a hamlet are centered around a single economic activity. A hamlet may consist of a farm, a mill, a mine or a harbor. All the people living there would be workers on that farm, mill, mine or harbour. Hamlets, especially those with a medieval church may have resulted from a medieval village, that was abandoned for some reason.

Because of the small size of the settlement, there are usually no buildings which have a central or admninistratrive function. There usually is no church, town hall or pub. Roads and streets in the hamlet do not have names, most of the time.

In Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Alsace region of France, such hamlets often have names that end in -wil, -wil(l)er, -wyhl or -viller.


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