1) Channels or courses of water, a frequent suffix in Yorkshire place-names.
This is a frequent suffix in Yorkshire place-names, particularly popular along the Ouse, with Yokefleet in the East Riding and Adlingfleet, Ousefleet and Swinefleet in the West Riding. Hunslet is a less transparent example, although early spellings include Hunsflete. The meaning in such cases has to do with channels or courses of water but the great changes in the river network over the last one thousand years have obscured the history of many such fleets. Early references include: 1189-99 de vno tofto prope domum suam, scilicet super fletam, Howden
1274-5 ‘obstructed the course of the water of Flet’, Snaith
1403 ‘from … Baxtergate towards the west to la flete of Hedon’: later in the document just quoted is a reference to ‘the sewer del flete’. It remained an active word in the local vocabulary: 1637 unto Tollerton and so unto the fleet where a bridge ought to be built. As a minor place-name element it is also very common and this relates the word to particular localities. In 1352, a grant of arable land in the fields of Drax included one selion called Fletstang, possibly associated with the Fleetlands named in the township’s 1840 tithe award. Some of these fleets were water channels which served as drains in the open-field system. In Masbrough, for example, three selions were said in 1347 to lie ‘scattered in the fields … between the Fletes’ and one other selion abutted ‘at one end on one Flete and at the other on the second Flete’. These aspects of the word’s history are associated mostly with low-lying areas and are reasonably well documented, unlike examples noted in upland regions: 1579 ther ys 1000 acres and more of Fleet, Mosses and Cragg which ys or maie bee convenient for the Game. This survey was concerned with Langstrothdale, and a statement by the jurors of the manor court reveals more about the nature of the landscape: Wee finde that the Fleets and Mosses are nott to be estymatyd by Acre Tayle with a saife conscience, bothe for wyllde Hidde [heath] and closs Lynge. These were bleak, wet moors with bogs and occasional tarns, but precisely what ‘fleet’ referred to in an upland region is not clear.