Finchley Way is named after the area it inhabits.
Finchley, probably denoting Finch’s clearing
, is a late Anglo-Saxon name but was recorded only from the early 13th century. The common along the parish’s eastern side was a remnant of the woodland which once covered most of northern Middlesex and southern Hertfordshire; known as Finchley wood until the 17th century and later notorious for its highwaymen, it still contained more than a quarter of the parish in 1816.
The earliest settlement was probably in the south-west quarter of the parish at Church End
, where people were living by the 13th century. East End and Parkgate, mentioned respectively in 1365 and 1375, together formed a scattered hamlet where the later East End Road
met the Great North Road at the exit from Hornsey park.
Most building took place around the old centres until transport began to improve with the coming of the railway in 1867, whereupon North End was transformed into the suburb of North Finchley. By 1920 Church End
had been joined to both North End and East End by building, although the eastern edge of the parish was largely kept open by the establishment of cemeteries. The southern part was built up mainly after the First World War, forming an extension of Hampstead Garden Suburb and a wealthy area, cut off from the rest of Finchley by the North Circular Road.
West Finchley dated only from the 1930s, when elsewhere in the parish large houses were giving way to smaller ones and flats, and when offices began to be opened in Whetstone.