The world was indeed excluded; the sides of the valley shut in the small hamlet and fenced it from the keen and biting winds of the north and east.
-- John Carne, Tales of the West, 1828
Soon appeared glimmering indications of the few cottages forming the small hamlet of Upper Mellstock for which they were bound, whilst the faint sound of church-bells ringing a Christmas peal could be heard floating over upon the breeze...
-- Thomas Hardy, Under the Greenwood Tree, 1872
The term hamlet entered English in the 1300s, long before Shakespeare wrote about the Prince of Denmark, from the Old French ham meaning "villiage."