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f "" : . > YORK 






Author of "Inns, Ales, and Drinking Customs 
of Old England," "Old English Sports," die., dec. 

"God gave all men all earth to love, 
But since our hearts are small, 
Ordained for each one spot should prove 
Beloved above all." 

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J S 




TOWNS, ETC. Frontispiece 













Shires, a Teutonic institution the Anglo-Saxon 


The Jutes found Kent (445) given Thanet and 

seize more territory. 

The Saxons found Sussex (477) Wessex (495) 

and Essex. 

The Angles found East Anglia Deira Bernicia 
and Mercia (586). 
Process of consolidation begins with Northumbria 

Bamborough and Edinburgh line of Northum- 
brian kings succumbs to Wessex. 
Diocese and kingdom co-terminous Durham, a 
bishop's shire. 

Strathclyde (or Cumbria) a Celtic kingdom from 
the Mersey to the Clyde no line yet drawn between 
England and Scotland. 

Rise of Wessex master of the south-midlands. 
All British influence gone Britons driven west- 
ward then Wales cut off from Cornwall (577) 
and from Cumbria (613) Severn Valley left to 
Hwiccas (a mixed race). 

The Bretwaldas rise and decline of Mercia the 
triumph of Wessex a united England, 827 The 
name " England." 

Varying fortunes of contending kingdoms the 
language of the Angles prevails Winchester, the 
first capital the first shires. 

The Welsh made servile if not expatriated 
English shire system spreads into Scotland, Ire- 
land, and Wales. 

Englishman's mixed origin love of self-govern- 
ment autonomy of the local unit the Anglian 
ideal freedom rom a central control. 
Individuality of the Shire value of local ex- 
perience local independence the spirit of the 
English constitution our common faith, " The 
Liberty of the Subject." pp. 2336 



Boundaries not constant Distribution at Roman 
invasion The Trinobantes (Essex and Middlesex) 
Iceni or Cenimagni (Norfolk and Suffolk) Segon- 
tiaci (Hants and Berks) Ancalites (Berks and 
Middlesex) Bibroci (Hants, Berks, Sussex, Surrey, 
and part of Kent), Cassii (Herts, Beds, and Bucks) 
and Cantii (Kent). 

Two races Qoidels and Brythons (or Britons) 
Goidels occupy the three western peninsulas 
(Cumbria, Cambria, and Cornwall) except for a 
wedge of the Ordovices in Mid- Wales the Demetse 
and Silures in S. Wales the Damnonii in Cornwall 
and Durotriges (Dorset and Somerset). 
Coast-lands from Humber to Devon and inland as 
far as Herts, Bucks, and Beds occupied by a race 
distinct rom the western portions their civilisa- 
tion higher probably a people of Belgic Gaul 
while the Goidels of the west probably came from 
West France or the North of Spam. 
North country held by Brigantes flanked (Lan- 
cashire) by Segantii and (Yorks) by Parisii West 
Midlands occupied by Cornavii and East Midlands 
by Coritani Thames Valley by Attrebates and 
the sources by Dobuni the Cantii held Kent, 
and the Regni Sussex the Belgse along the coast. 
Cantium, the most civilised part the corn coun- 
tries of the coast the wild tribes of interior the 
descriptions of Diodorus and Strabo the Cornwall 
tin ores conveyed to Vectis (PWight) no trace 
of the Phoenicians. 

A second century survey the Cantii (Kent) 
Regni (Surrey and Sussex) Belgae (Hants, Wilts, 
Somerset) Durotriges (Dorset) Iceni (Norfolk, 
Suffolk, Cambs, and Hants) Coritani or Coritavi 
(Northants, Leicester, Rutland, Derby, Notts 
and Lincoln) and Parisii (S. E. Yorks) the 
Catuvillani (PCassii) (Bucks, Beds, and Herts) 
Attrebates (Berks) Dobuni (Oxon and Gloucester) 
Brigantes (Northumbria) Voluntii (W. Lan- 
cashire) Sestuni (Westmoreland and Cumberland) 
also Jugantes and Cangi. 


Another Catalogue the Hedui (Somerset) the 
Morini (Dorset) the Senones (Hants) the Rhemi 
or Bibroci (Berks, Surrey and Sussex) the Attre- 
bates (Surrey and Hants) the Cimbri (Devon) 
and the Parisii (N.E. coast) duplicate names 
attributable to foreign writers. 
Belgic names that identify locality of origin Attre- 
bates from Artois Cimbri from CambriUa Rhemi 
from Rheims Senones from Sens Parisii from 

Wales primitive tribes Ordovices (Flint, Denbigh, 
Montgomery, Merioneth, Carnarvon and Anglesey) 
Demetse (Cardigan, Carmarthen, Pembroke) Silures 
(Hereford, Radnor, Brecon, Monmouth, and Glamor- 
gan) Cornavii (Warwick, Worcester, Stafford, 
Salop, and Chester). 

Place-names betraying tribal locations -^Cantii in 
Kent Iceni at Ickborough Bibroci at Bray 
Cassii at Cashio Damnonii in Devon Durotriges 
in Dorset Regni at Ringwood. 
Tribal names and their meanings some heroic 
tribesmen Boadicia of the Iceni Cymbeline of 
the Trinobantes Cartismandua of the Brigantes 
Caractacus of the Silures the names Coritavi, 
Catuvillani, Attrebates, Cornavii. pp. 3746 


The first administrat've divisions were Roman 
governed as one province by emperor's Viceregent 
aided by a Procurator. 

Divided into two provinces, A.D. 197 then into 
four provinces special officers appointed from Rome 
the " Saxon Shore." pp. 4750 


" Shires " credited to Alfred not all in existence 
at the Conquest first mentioned by Ina, 603 first 
ealdorman mentioned by name, 757. 


Wessex comprised seven or eight shires advanced 
its borders by settlements or divided its territory 
among sub-reguli the relationship between eald- 
orman and sub-regulus shires named after royal vills. 
Mercia and Northumbria without an early shire 
system ealdormen succeeding to sub-reguli 
vassal kingdoms placed under duces and possibly 
other units under ealdormen Mercia comprised 
more than a dozen counties Monmouth not an 
English county. 

Hwiccia its extent a " Winchcombeshire " the 
west-midland shires. 

South Saxonia East Anglia first mention of Rut- 
land earl or ealdorman ? or Danish " jarl ? " 
a system of grouping the shires. 
Northumbria ealdormen with a shire system 
hereditary High-reeves mixed Anglo-Celtic race 
Cumbria, a Celtic province. 
A Writ of Parliament in 1275 mentions 37 counties 
the three omitted and why the term 
" Province " has no obvious meaning in England. 

PP- 51-57 


Undetermined appropriation of Northumbria and 
Strathclyde both under influence of Edward the 
Elder Cumbria conquered by Edmund, and let on 
military tenure to Scotland. 

Northumbria divided into baronies and wards 
Northumberland an earldom northern half, called 
Lothian, acquired by Scotland (1018) Strathclyde 
also added to Scotland the overlordship of Eng- 

A united England and a united Scotland (1068) 
Malcolm III. does homage to William I. for Cumber- 
land Cumberland seized by Rufus a : ' New 
Castle " Edinburgh made the capital. 
Durham a Norman earldom devastation of the 
northern counties by the Conqueror Northum- 
berland scarcely English. 

Northumberland, Durham and Westmoreland, re- 
covered by Henry II the hereditary High Sheriffs 


of Westmoreland Scots king abandons claim to 
Northumberland and Cumberland. 
A line of demarcation in 1237 DU ^ border warfare 
not ended. 

North of the border line the fortunes of Berwick 
Lothian essentially English shire system intro- 
duced into Scotland old territorial divisions pre- 
vailed hi Celtic parts Galloway clans opposed to 
shire authorities their tributary status. 

pp. 5863 


While borders remain chaotic, the shire system 
finds its way into the northern kingdom Gselicism 
recedes northward. 

Scotland a confederation Pictland Galloway 
Dalriada, or settlement of Irish Scots the Norse 
settlement and the earldom of Caithness. 
Three Gaelic elements the kingdom of Alban 
(844) Highlands remain detached and semi-in- 
dependent the seven Gaelic Mormaers the Norse 
element of Caithness, Orkneys, and Hebrides. 
David I. introduces Shire System (1124) Sheriff- 
wicks, 1305 expediency of making office hereditary 
or for life the number of sheriffs increased by 
Edward I. 

Scottish parliament and the shire system county 
representation Orkneys and Shetlands, an in- 
sular county. 

Cromwell's scheme of parliamentary representation 
fixes a proportion between counties and burghs 
in Scotland and groups the counties 
" comm ssioners " or members to sit in the House 
on " f urmes " method of Scotch representation 
Scotch Sheriffs and their tenure. pp. 6468 


From principalities to counties from hereditary 
rulers to sheriffs. 

Llewellyn's land formed into counties Flint as- 
sociated with Chester. 


South Wales re-organised on shire system ancient 

laws of Wales retained but modified 

Henry VIII. divides Welsh Marches into shire 

lands and legislates for uniformity with English 

system disappearance of the Lord Marchers. 

Shire divisions introduced into Ireland by Henry 

II. the palatinates of Leinster, Meath, and Ulster 

of Ormond and Desmond. 

The " five obedient shires" of the Pale shire lands 

extended hi Mary's reign the system completed 

under James I. pp. 6973 


From a kingdom to a county eight examples 
names related to points of the compass. 
Counties named from clans eight examples legend 
of " Debon's share." 

Counties named from the chief town ancient 
burghal centres Danish influence on place-names 
waterside towns " South-umberland " towns at 
"ford" or ' bridge:" as Oxford and Cam- 
bridge Isle of Wight " Hamptonshire " and 
Northamptonshire Salop. 

Names from physical features woodland names 
another legendary name. 
Welsh county names Celtic name legends. 
General principles of the naming county names 
that do not bear the terminal "shire" county 
by-names and short names exceptional spelling 
and pronounciation. pp. 74 91 


The Ealdorman or Heretoga the Shire-reeve 
old subject kingdoms as Earldoms their semi- 
independence brought into subjection by the 
Conqueror the Ealdormen also sometimes trouble- 

Different status of Earl and Ealdorman the real 
executive officer, the Sheriff supersedes both 
Earl and Ealdorman. 


Ealdormen merged into Earls only four Ealdor- 
men at the Conquest no titular Earls without 

A double nomenclature Shire and County Earl 
and Count disappearance of the title ' ' Count " 
" Earl " loses territorial significance some county- 
names reserved for royal princes others in the 
peerage. pp. 9297 


Difficulties of a centralized government met by 

divisions and subdivisions influence of the church 

" preost scyres " or parishes. 

Division into Counties, Hundreds, and Tithings 

Constitution of the Hundred northern and 

southern differ much in area. 

Bookland and Folk-land. 

Other divisions than Hundred and Tithing as 

Lathe or Leth of Roman origin Wapentake 

due to Danish influences and of military origin 

Rape, a Norman division. 

Sokes Ridings natural boundaries. 

Modern government subdivisions North, East and 

West Ridings of Yorkshire- Holland, Kesteven, 

and Lindsey in Lincolnshire East and West 

Sussex East and West Suffolk Isle of Ely 

Soke of Peterborough and Isle of Wight. 

pp. 98105 


Saxon basis of society the Family influence of 
local custom no uniform administration Shire 
Moot held twice a year anciently judicial and 

Sheriff's Court criminal jurisdiction the pro- 
cesses of the Court Ordeal Compurgation the 
Deman or " doomsman." 

Delegated functions Hundred Courts, once a 
month Tithing or Township Courts Tithing-man 
or Head-borough presided intimate business of 


local moment dealt with from township to feudal 
manor manorial courts attacked by Edward I. 
rise of the Justices. 

Hundred Courts their constitution influence of 
the clergy the " wise men " or Witan National 
Council or Parliament the element of county 
representation "Hustings" or voting assembly. 
From Folk Moot to Witan grouped Shires The 
Shire Court at its zenith The first House of 
Commons an expansion of the Shire Court Trial 
by Jury also traced to Shire Court procedure. 

pp. 106114 

Saxons not town-dwellers the growth and grading 
of Towns county aid to walled towns ' ' entire 
vflls " originally "one parish one tithing" 
corporate towns market towns cities boroughs. 
London a place apart of independent strength and 
prestige the capital of the East Saxons Win- 
chester being capital of West Saxons London given 
authority over Middlesex long retained its Roman 

London a city of privileges its first mayor first 
Lord Mayor's Show the complexity of modern 
local government. pp. 115 121 


Administrative areas under deputed authority 
the Ealdorman and a royal officer. 
The Shire Man, Scir-gerefa, or Shire-reeve High 
Reeves A constitutional officer whose office has 
survived The King's Bailiff of the Shire annually 
appointed by popular election. 
In the north an heritable office heritable juris- 
dictions abolished County Keepers. 
Popular choice confirmed by royal approval 
election superseded by Chancellor's nomination 
Originally the Scir-gerefa an executive officer 
afterwards a judicial officer President of the 
Sheriff's Court judicial powers waned after ap- 
pointment of Justices in Eyre and Justices of the 


Origin of Trial by Jury local juries in Shire Courts. 
Custos Comitatus the Sheriff's concern in 
other county matters as revenue officer as mill- 

Commander of the County forces The Fyrd or 
national army Posse Comitatus how the levy 
was raised its composition its character changed 
by Feudai System baronial retainers differed 
" livery and maintenance." 

Decline of feudal levies Sheriff superseded by 
Lord Lieutenant. pp. 122130 


From Witan to Great Council Exchequer Court 

composition of fixed revenue. 

The Escheator accounted for the Ferm of the 

Shire" Sheriff-geld " Danegeld. 

Finance reform after Conquest Sheriff as an 

accountant business routine at the Exchequer 

the Treasurer the "chequed" or chessboard 

table tallies. 

The tally system described abolished 1826 

satirised by Charles Dickens. 

The Treasury at Westminster the Exchequer in 

session the Court of accounts Sheriff presumed 

to be illiterate. 

Shrievalties held by barons thesaurarial and 

judicial functions of the Exchequer separated 

importance of Sheriff's Office Statute of Sheriffs 

appointments to be made by Chancellor become 

annual scandals at the Exchequer (1389) a 

change of sheriffs as a political barometer appeals 

for money moved from Parliament to the County 

Courts. pp. 131140 


A connection between Shire Courts and the High 
Court of Parliament the function of the County in 
parliamentary representation "Wise Men" of 
the Folk Moot continued after Heptarchy as Shire 
Moot and a Superior Council set up. 


Domesday practice of sending Commissioners to 
consult Shire authorities local representatives 
brought together by De Montfort original objects 
purely financial 37 counties and many burghs 
summoned by writ but always through the 

Sheriffs not impeccable returning officers false 
returns made. 

A democratic franchise a property qualification 
set up comparative values of a " forty shilling 
freehold " a restrictive franchise the influence 
of large landowners. 

As returning officer for boroughs and cities dis- 
cretionary power as to enfranchisement of ' ' trading 
towns " boroughs by prescription Writs of sum- 
mons always to the Sheriffs who determined what 
towns should send members some towns indiffer- 
ent and represented only by the Knights of the 

Reform Act of 1832 some counties divided into 
two some given an additional member some 
left unchanged with two members Welsh counties 
retained one member each Scotch counties with 
one member each and some with only alternate 

The Union of 1801 two members to each Irish 
county an election song of 1832 additional 
Sheriffs to large counties in 1888. pp. 141 149 


Sheriffs of Condon and Middlesex still elected 
High Sheriffs of counties nominated the ceremony 
of the Law Courts on ' ' the morrow of St. Martin " 
" pricking the Sheriffs " in February ensuing. 
Sheriffs, the link between Shire Moot and Curia 
the Chancellor presides at ceremony " Pocket 
Sheriffs " objections to serve excuses considered 
the judges' recommendations Rutland's ex- 
ceptional treatment. 

A costly office -examples of systematised ex- 


Clr'ef personal duty obligatory attendance on the 
judges of Assize chief ministerial officer of the 
Superior Courts to the extreme penalty of the 
law during year of office may not act magisterially. 
Decline in the importance of office duties vicari- 
ously performed the Under Sheriff High Bailiff 
of Hundreds Constables and petty officers 
duties as Royal Bailiff " Sheriff's Posts." 

pp. 150159 

Country divided into Circuits visited by Judges 
as the King's representatives some ceremonial 
has therefore to be observed. 

Two Assize Courts the Crown Court and Nisi 
Prius Court. 

Originally six circuits " justices in eyre " other 
reforms effected through the Sheriffs Assizes 
restrained to their own shires by Magna Charta. 
The old circuits prior to 1830 Welsh circuits added, 
1831 circuit alterations in 1863. 
Now there are eight circuits the Northern the 
North-Eastern the Midland the Oxford the 
Western the South-Eastern the North Wales 
and the South Wales The position of London 
and Middlesex. 

Four Assizes for all Circuits but not for every 
Assize-town certain groupings found inconvenient 
smaller Assize-towns may be deprived of the 

Old-time Assize-towns "Maiden Assizes" 
judges sent as commissioners " gaol deliveries." 

pp. 160168 


A military officer, tempo. Henry VIII. also Gustos 

Ro'ulorum Sheriff superseded in military 

matters but retains precedency. 
An emergency officer superseding Commissioners 
of Array the earliest known appointment with 
the duties set forth instructions as to " armour 
and artillerie." 


From " Commissions of Array" to Commissions 
of Lieutenancy " the Militia formerly officered 
by Lord Lieutenant responsibility for Militia 

Status of Lord Lieutenant Deputy Lieutenants. 

pp. 169 176 


Boundaries variously marked meeting-places of 
three counties " hoarstones." 
Rectification of county boundaries "foreign" 
areas Ely Place Holborn, as part of Cambridge- 
shire a list of out-lying territories consolidated, 
1846 Kent and Essex once mixed up. 
Pseudo-Shires Norhamshire Islandshire Bed- 
lingtonshire Hexhamshire Bamboroughshire 
Hallamshire Richmondshire Allertonshire . 

pp. 177184 


Every part of realm in some county territories 
that are " counties corporate " by royal grant in 
theory, though not in practice, on same footing as 
the other counties legal constitution of a county 
corporate a tendency to disregard this special 
status in parliamentary areas. 
Nineteen old towns so distinguished London, 
Bristol, York, Lincoln, Norwich, Newcastle, Hull, 
Nottingham, Southampton, Coventry, Canterbury, 
Haverfordwest, Gloucester, Chester, Exeter, Lich- 
field, Poole, Carmarthen and Worcester. 
Berwick-on-Tweed its peculiar status geo- 
graphical counties which include these privileged 
areas Welsh and Irish examples. 
Three counties palatine Ely erroneously included 
origin of privileged status their superior courts. 
Legal definition of a palatinate when instituted 
derivation of term ' ' palatine " the privilege 
of an independent and almost regal jurisdiction. 


The Palatinates of Chester of Durham and of 
Lancaster Ely, formerly a royal franchise, is now 
vested in the Crown. 

Two ancient palatinates, Pembrokeshire and Hex- 
hamshire all now deprived of ancient honours 
by enactments. pp. 185 194 


Two inferior courts Quarter Sessions with criminal 
jurisdictions County Courts for civil business 
a relic of the Shire Moot decline of Sheriff's power 
rise of the Justices who were once elected but 
now nominated by the Crown. 
County committed largely to the Justices' care 
Justices' duties, Appellate and Original. 
Sessions quarterly the Chairman or Recorder 
procedure satirised the Coroner. 
Quarter Sessions a spending authority but un- 
representative reform called for many proposals 
for re-constituted County Boards. 
Elective County Councils substituted, 1888 diffi- 
culties of financing Countryside government. 
The County Borough sixty-four large towns inde- 
pendent of the County government London 
County Council. 

A Standing Joint Committee for control of Police. 
The County Court quite modern civil juris- 
diction simple and inexpensive. 
The Stannary Courts of Duchy of Cornwall The 
Cinque Ports. pp. 195205 


Four Northern Counties poor land, rich coal- 
fields lakes and mountains. 

Counties of the Humber Basin great Yorkshire 
Notts of old romance Derbyshire, the English 
Switzerland, Leicestershire on the Central Plain 
Staffordshire of the twin coalfields. 


Ribble and Mersey Basins Lancashire, the richest 
coal-cellar in England Cheshire, the salt-cellar of 

West-midland Counties Salop, merging into Wales 
Worcester's rich valleys Warwick, ' ' the heart 
of England " Gloster's grazing grounds Hereford 
and the beautiful Wye Monmouth, ' ' the English 
Welsh " county. 

East-midland Counties fenny Lincolnshire little 
Rutland low-lying Huntingdon Bedford and 
' ' the slow-winding Ouse ' ' Cambridgeshire and 
the Isle of Ely" The Bedford Level." 
East Anglia Norfolk Broads Suffolk pastures. 
Thames Basin Middlesex and Essex on lower 
reaches pleasant Hertfordshire Bucks and the 
Vale of Aylesbury Berks and the Vale o; the 
White Horse Surrey, Kent, and the North 

Southern Counties Weald of Sussex Hampshire, 
"the county of Downs" Wilts and Salisbury 
Plain chalky Dorset. 

South West Corner diversified Somerset Lovely 
Devonshire Cornwall, the county which is as 

North Wales Anglesey, the Island County Car- 
narvon and Snowdonia Denbigh in ' ' Wild 
Wales " Montgomery and Flint and their 
mineral resources Merioneth, and the Alsatia of 
Dinas Mawddwy. 

South Wales Cardigan and its sweeping bay- 
Pembroke, "Little England beyond Wales " 
sparsely populated Radnor and Brecon busy 
Glamorganshire Carmarthen, the largest Welsh 
Aid to memorising the county names, pp. 206 219 


The Man from the Shires the Home Counties 

A Shire horse. 

County separateness north and south very distinct 

from each other the northern harshness. 

Line of demarcation Mercia, the ethnological 

dividing line dialect differences. pp. 220 223 




The traditional Yorkshireman his coat of arms 
Lancashire law. 

County nicknames county comparisons in rhyme 
Cheshire cats Lincolnshire bag-pipes Wilt- 
shire moonrakers Derbyshire wise Hertfordshire 
kindness Stafford law. the Bailiff of Bedford. 
County pet names The Home Shire Woody 
Warwick Breezy Berks High Suffolk Norfol- 
cian Goose-greens Beechy Bucks Little Rutland 
Nottingham dukeries the Shire of Sea-kings 
Middlesex, rural London. 

The Delectable Duchy legend of Lyonesse Som- 
erset, most English of counties Dorset the heart 
of Wessex. 

Cheshire, the gateway of N. Wales some character- 
istics of Welsh counties. 

Staffordshire blue Kentish fire lore and legend 
of Kent Men of Kent and Kentish Men the tailed 
men of Kent the real Dickens' county. 
The pride of county productiveness the various 
products for which certain counties have acquired 
wide reputation. pp. 224 242 


County feasts Devon and Cornwall clannish 
Sussex pride in the Cinque Ports. 
County rivalries Worcestershire v. Gloucester- 
shire Cornwall v. Devon Cheshire v. Staffordshire. 
Essex lions the Cinderella county its boasts 
Silly Suffolk. 

Self sufficiency in local custom varying weights 
and measures Troy Weight and Avoirdupois. 

pp. 243250 


A county, having no corporate existence, was not 
entitled to bear arms spurious arms generally of 
chief town or some distinguished earl County 
Council inventions. 


Popular emblems of Kent Lancashire Yorkshire 
Cornwall, etc. 

County cognisances suggested by Mr. Alfred 

Michael Drayton's county heraldry for Warwick- 
shire Worcestershire Herefordshire Stafford- 
shire Salop Derbyshire and their legends. 
The battle streamers at Agincourt distinguishing 
the county bands. 
The Welsh battle standards. pp. 251262 


A power in the land officially recognised in the 

organisation of the new Territorial army. 

The county dignitaries how county families are 

founded old landed families and the new industrial 


"County society" exclusiveness "the county 


Noble families. pp. 263268 


The story of the English Shires begins with the 
Anglo-Saxon invasion ; for the County, as we 
know it, is a peculiarly Teutonic institution. 
The Saxon Heptarchy is only a phrase ; as a 
matter of historic fact the Norse invaders 
established more than seven kingdoms here. 

The first was Kent, founded in 445 by two chiefs 
or ealdormen from Jutland, Hengist and Horsa, 
who came at the invitation of the civilized 
Britons to fight in alliance with them against the 
barbarous Picts of Scotland, and the equally 
troublesome Scots of Ireland. 

The alliance was successful in its primary object, 
and the Jutes received the Isle of Thanet as their 
reward. Quarrels ensued between the new 
comers and their allies, who a few years later 
swarmed across the Wantsum, undertaking a war 
of conquest in which the original inhabitants were 
either slaughtered or dispossessed, the whilom 
rovers of the sea settling down on the land with 
their families and all their national institutions. 
This process, it may be noted, was repeated at 
each subsequent irruption. 

Legend hath it that the Jutes also made a 
descent on the Isle of Wight, and that the mainland 
opposite fell into the hands of Hengist Hengist- 
bury Head on the coast of Hants marks one of 
the natural ' ' gateways of England " used by 
the early raiders, Teutonic and Danish. 


In the year 477 an expedition of Saxons, in- 
habitants of Holstein, set out under the chief- 
tain Ella, and succeeded in establishing themselves 
in Sussex, by capturing the fortress of Anderida, 
near Pevensey, the most thoroughly Romanised 
part of Britain. Eighteen years later another 
Saxon force, led by Cedric and Cynric, passed up 
Southampton Water, and founded the kingdom 
of Wessex. 

The East Saxons landed in Essex, in the 
valleys of the Colne and Stour, captured Col- 
chester, but could make little or no headway, a 
great forest (of which Epping and Hainault are 
remnants) hemming them in, just as the con- 
querors of Kent were cut off from the west by the 
impenetrable belt of the Andredweald forest, the 
same barrier which also limited the kingdom 
of Sussex to a narrow strip of coast land. 

A third Teutonic tribe, the Angles of Schleswig, 
then joined in the migration. They came in 
several great hordes, the main division under 
Uffa descending on the east coast and establishing 
the kingdom of East Anglia. One band settled 
in Suffolk, another in Norfolk, while a third sailed 
up the Witham to Lincoln where their settlement 
became known as Lindesey (Lindis-waras, " the 
dwellers near Lindum "). Almost from the first 
these settlers overflowed into Cambridge. 

Previous to this another horde had landed at 
Holderness, north of the Humber, and in less than 
half a century had made themselves masters of all 
Yorkshire, founding the kingdom of Deira. 

Still further north, a fifth horde of enterprising 
Ang es, under Ida, " the flame-bearer," sailed up 
the Forth to the site of Edinburgh, and conquered 
a large territory which became the kingdom of 
Bernicia, having the mighty coast fortress of 


Bamborough (called after Bebba, Ida's wife) as its 

The last party of invaders, also Angles, made 
their descent under a leader named Cridda, in 586, 
and finding the coastlands already appropriated, 
pushed their way up the Trent into the heart 
of the country, overran the northern and western 
midlands, where they founded a kingdom called 
Mercia, that is, the land of the mere, or march ; 
thus completing the Conquest begun from Wessex 
by Ceawlin in 577. 

This, which was the eighth and last kingdom 
of the Heptarchy, lay between the Thames and 
the Humber, and constituted the mere or boundary 
between the English and the free unconquered 
Britons of Wales. 

Before the close of the sixth century, the pro- 
cess of consolidation had commenced it began 
with the Angles of the northern territories. 

The country between the Humber and the Tees 
was erected into the kingdom of Deira in 560 ; 
the portion north of the Tees was established as a 
kingdom in 547, by Ida, both territories being 
eventually united with the name of Northumbria 
under one monarch. 

Northumbria stretched almost from the Trent 
to the Forth, when its mother-town Bamborough, 
was in the heyday of its pristine strength and 

King Ida's Castle, huge and square. 

It was ' ' Ida the flame-bearer " flames for 
the houses and churches, the barns and the 
steadings who led the fierce Northumbrians 
across the land, almost to the walls of Chester, 
while the vanquished Britons retired to their 
fastnesses in the Pennine Hills. And soon after 


this, Edinburgh was founded by Edwin, and the 
Northumbrian kingdom flourished mightily. 

From Ida, first king of Bernicia (547) and 
Ella, first king of Deira (560) there were seven 
short-reigned rulers till 593, when the two states 
were united under Ethelfrith, first king of North- 
umbria. Then came Edwin, after whose reign 
the provinces were again divided, to be re-united 
temporarily in 634 under Oswald. In 634 Oswy 
began to reign as ninth king of Bernicia, and 
when Adelwald, fourth king of Deira died in 670, 
he seized the empty throne and became fourth 
king of Northumbria. After its twenty-first 
king had reigned some twenty years, Northumbria 
became subject to Wessex, and ceased to have a 
separate existence. 

With the advent of Christianity, a missioner, 
having converted a Saxon king, was allowed to 
set up his bishop's stool in the capital, and thus 
it came about that each original diocese was co- 
terminous with an ancient kingdom. 

Durham, in origin and history, stands unique, 
in that its ancient boundaries do not preserve the 
rough outline of a kingdom, or any other area 
of civil government. Durham is a bishop's 
shire, a diocese made into a county, with the 
bishop paramount in all things. When the 
heathen Danes destroyed the religious settlements 
on the sacred isle of I^indisfarn, the relics of the 
good St. Cuthbert were carried away, and for 
safety eventually deposited at Durham. 

And after many wanderings past 
He chose his lordly seat at last 
Where his cathedral huge and vast 
Looks down upon the Wear. 

Durham, a noble site upon a bold, rocky pro- 
montory, enfolded by the winding river, became 


at once a temple and a fortress. To this trans- 
ferred shrine the Northumbrians paid all their 
reverence, brought all their offerings. By degrees 
the new settlement became supreme over all the 
country round ; grants from kings and thanes 
confirmed the authority of the bishop. 

Let it be understood that the present line of 
demarcation between England and Scotland had 
no existence. On the eastern side the Anglican 
kingdom of Northumbria stretched from the 
Humber to the Forth ; on the western side, the 
British kingdom of Strath-clyde (or Cumbria, 
south of Hadrian's Wall) reached from the Mersey 
to the Clyde, with Dumbarton as its capital. 

When the Romans left the island, the tribes 
occupying the country between the two walls had 
formed themselves into the kingdom of Strath- 
clyde. This state comprised (on the north side 
of the present border) the counties of Ayr, Lanark, 
Renfrew, and parts of Dumbarton, Stirling, and 

The belated definition of the northern counties 
naturally arose from the later period at which it 
was attempted to fix a line of demarcation be- 
tween a united England and a united Scotland. 
Of which, more anon. In the meantime we 
return to the Saxon kingdoms of the South. 

When London, the richest and most populous 
sea-port, was attacked and occupied, is not pre- 
cisely known? probably about 568. The West 
Saxons had extended themselves from Hampshire 
to Gloucestershire, overrun Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, 
Berkshire, and the valley of the Severn, almost 
reaching Chester ; after storming the huge fortress 
of Old Sarum, they destroyed Silchester which 
commanded the road to London, and suddenly 
found themselves at Wimbledon face to face with 


the Jutes of Kent, who had edged their way west- 
ward between the forest and the Thames. A 
battle ensued, the Kentish men were forced back, 
and the West Saxons remained masters of the 
south midlands. 

British influence largely disappeared in the 
mastered territories, those who escaped death 
fleeing to their brethren in Cornwall or Wales. 
A line drawn along the Pennine chain to Derby- 
shire, through the forest of Arden to the mouth 
of the Severn, and thence to Southampton, 
marked the limits of the Teuton conquest up to the 
year 600. All west of that line remained British. 
For with each successive wave of the incoming 
Teutons, the Celts had retired further before them, 
taking refuge in the more mountainous regions 
of the west in Wales, Cornwall, and Cumberland. 

The main body of the British in Wales were cut 
off from their brethren in Cornwall by the West 
Saxons in 577 ; in 613 the Northumbrians broke 
through the British march, fought their way to 
Chester and thus cut them off from the northern 
section in Cumbria. It was a great battle in 
577 at Deorham, near Bath, which cut off the two 
principal British settlements from each other, 
after which the West Saxons left the lower Severn 
valley to the tribe of Hwiccas, working their way 
up the Avon into Warwickshire. The Hwiccas 
may possibly have been an outlying tribe of the 
West Saxons who had intermarried with the 
British ; when the see of Worcester was founded, 
the Bishop was to be designated ' ' Bishop of the 
Hwiccas/' and his diocese included the counties 
of Worcester and Gloucester, together with some 
of the adjacent district. At the outset there were 
nine or ten Saxon kingdoms ; Middlesex soon 
ceased to exist, and Deira and Bernicia were 


generally governed by one ruler as Northumbria. 
The pure Saxons established themselves into the 
three kingdoms of Essex, Sussex, and Wessex ; 
these afterwards federated under a Bretwalda, 
or " Wielder of the British," chosen from one of 
their kings. From a ducal Bretwalda, to a sole 
king of all the united sub-kingdoms, was but a 
step in political progression. 

The rank of Bretwalda arose out of the need for 
a common leader against the Britons, Picts, and 
Scots. The first was Ella of Sussex, the second 
Ceawlin of Wessex, and the third, Ethelbert 
of Kent, the King who was converted to Chris- 
tianity in 597 by St. Augustine. 

The next Bretwalda was Redwald, king of East 
Anglia ; the fifth and greatest was Edwin, whose 
authority was acknowledged by all the Anglo- 
Saxons, except those of Kent. 

Edwin fell in battle, fighting against Penda, 
the pagan king of Mercia ; who in turn was defeated 
and slain by Oswy, king of Northumbria, and 
sixth Bretwalda, in 656. Then Mercia, successful 
against the Britons of the west, became the 
leading state, uniting under its standard East 
Anglia, Essex, Kent, and for a while also Wessex. 
Ethelbald of Mercia, in a charter of the year 736 
calls himself ' ' King of Britain." After the death 
of Offa, king of Mercia, the builder of a dyke from 
the Dee to the Wye, to keep back the Welsh, 
Mercia began to decline. 

*To Wessex was reserved the achievement of 
bringing all the Anglo-Saxon states under one 
crown. Egbert, eighth Bretwalda, wrested from 
Mercia the tributary kingdoms of Kent and 
Sussex, took under his protection the revolted 
East Anglians, and completely overthrew Mercia. 
To all these Egbert granted the power of electing 


kings tributary to himself, and soon after received 
the submission of Northumbria on the same 
footing. By 827 the country was virtually 
united, the minor kingdoms having merged their 
identity into that of Wessex, so that Egbert 
styled himself " King of the English." 

Varying fortunes of the contending kingdoms 
altered their boundaries from time to time, and 
even their number, as the more powerful absorbed 
their smaller neighbours. The Jutes (or Goths) 
were the first comers, though the less numerous 
of the three invading tribes. The Angles came 
in such hordes that they completely evacuated 
their native land, and left it uninhabited. 

Though in the end a Saxon kingdom prevailed, 
it was the dialect of the Angles, who had filled 
the middle of the country, which came to be used. 
It is indeed remarkable that while the people 
of the entire south called themselves Saxon as 
witness the names Essex, Sussex, Middlesex, 
Wessex they never called themselves in literature 
or records by the name Seaxisc, but always 

It is now disputed that the name of this country 
was elementally " the land of the Angles.'* It 
is contended that the word England was derived 
from the nature or character of the country in- 
habited by them. 

The root of the name is given as ' ' Enge," 
the Norse name for a meadow. Until the latter 
half of the tenth century the southern parts of 
England were known as Wessex, Essex, Sussex, 
Middlesex. Freeman in his ' ' Norman Conquest " 
(Vol. I) writes : ' ' Indeed England itself was hardly 
a geographical name. Enghalaland is a late form, 
scarcely found before the Danish Conquest. The 
common name for the land is the name of the 


people Angel-cyn " in other words, the meadow- 
land folks. 

When the Norsemen overran and conquered 
England in the tenth and eleventh centuries they 
were struck by the extent and richness of the 
pasture-lands of Yorkshire and Central England, 
and called it Enge-land, that is, meadow-land. 

The confusion of Enge-land with Angle-land 
may have arisen from the fact that the district 
so-named was really occupied by Anglians. For 
till then the Angles and the Saxons had really 
stood apart, and remained distinct from each 
other, the former holding the north and the east, 
the latter occupying the south and the west. 

The Angles were the first to produce a cultivated 
book-speech, which accomplishment so excited 
the admiration of their southern neighbours that 
they emulated the Anglian example, and the 
common language which emerged came to be 
called Englisc, after the inventors of it. 

It was 400 years from the first Teutonic invasion 
to the foundation of a united England ; Winchester 
was adopted by Egbert as its capital, although 
Alfred recognised the greater importance of 

The original Saxon capital retained its position 
till after the Conquest, and Henry II was crowned 
at Winchester, although by this time I^ondon was 
fast superseding it as a court residence, and the 
seat of governmental functions. But no capital, 
wherever situated, could make its voice articulate 
or its authority felt, till the relationships of all 
tributary and subordinate territories had been 
placed on a definite footing. 

When the Heptarchy was merged into one united 
kingdom under Egbert in 827, few of the hep- 
tarchical divisions, as Essex and Sussex, became 


counties at once, while the rest of them, as will be 
seen, were in due time divided up till they con- 
stituted the forty English shires as we know them 
to-day. Wales being unconquered territory, was 
left out of this arrangement for a long period, even 
after its conquest by Edward I. 

The arrogant attitude which the Anglo-Saxon 
conquerors assumed towards the original owners 
of the soil, is amusingly illustrated by the name 
by which they designated their victims. Having 
first unceremoniously dispossessed the Britons of 
their lands, the intruders dubbed them Wealas 
that is, ' ' strangers " and as Wealas, or Welsh, 
they are to this day known in the land which was 
once their own. 

Unquestionably a large native population must 
have been left in the conquered portion, and these 
would appear to have been gradually absorbed by 
their conquerors ; the majority of these no doubt 
in a servile position, and all of them in close sub- 

A careful study of English Place-names dis- 
poses of a theory, once so largely held, of the 
original equality of the early inhabitants. It em- 
phasises, too, the character of the first Anglo- 
Saxon forms of land tenure, and seems to indicate 
the early existence of a type of agrarian com- 
munity from which the manorial system was 
gradually evolved. 

As the story of the shires unrolls itself, it will 
be recognised as the manifestation of the English- 
man's genius for local self-government. The 
shire system of England spread at a comparatively 
early period into Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. 

At various later periods we get sprinklings of 
other peoples. The Norman Conquest brought 
in a mixed multitude from the continent : the wars 


of Stephen's reign introduced a numerous body 
of Flemings who were by Henry II. settled in 
Wales ; and a little later a still larger body of the 
same people were brought in by the commercial 
views of Edward III. and located as cloth- workers 
in Kent and the eastern counties. 

However mixed the Englishman's origin may 
have been ; and notwithstanding that De Foe 
has said that 

With easy pains you may distinguish 

Your Roman, Saxon, Danish, Norman- English 

all these varying elements have modified but very 
slightly the national character, the dominant 
feature of which, from the day our first Teuton 
ancestor landed, has been a love of liberty and a 
passion for self-government. And this has 
always been expressed in the autonomony of the 
local unit. 

Though various races have contributed to 
populate this island, the chief contribution, made 
well within the historic period, is from a Teutonic 
source ; large colonies of the Saxons and Jutes 
establishing themselves from Kent to Devonshire, 
and the Angles (subsequently the Normans also) 
from the Thames to the Tweed. It is the Tue- 
tonic ideal of self-government that has always 

The Romans, who occupied the country more as 
a permanent garrison than as a body of colonising 
settlers, are altogether a negligible element. By 
the Danes or Norsemen a very considerable con- 
tribution was made ; but in many characteristics 
they were scarcely dissimilar from the Saxon 
settlers with whom they freely mingled and inter- 


Throughout the centuries, whatever people or 
race have found their way to the shores of this 
country, to remain here and " dwell within the 
gates " with us, have inevitably been absorbed 
and assimilated into the nation ; finding here 

A land of settled government 
A land of just and old renown 
Where Freedom broadens slowly down 
From precedent to precedent. 

And not the least remarkable feature in our 
national life has been the self-assertion expressed 
in our settled form of local government, which has 
always enjoyed comparative freedom from the 
thralldom of a central authority. 

The tendency for centuries has been for each 
shire to exploit its own vitality, to cherish its own 
traditions. Everywhere local patriotism and 
civic independence have gone hand in hand, 
the operation of the shire system tending towards 
variation and individuality, and not to that dreary 
uniformity of social life which robs it of half its 
strength. It was surely the characteristic in- 
eptitude of a centralised bureaucracy that, during 
the recent great World War, neglected to take 
advantage of the ardent spirit of territorialism, 
and allowed the War Office to recruit a Lancashire 
regiment with Cockneys, and to draft Dorset 
men into a regiment of Borderers ! 

No topographer can afford to ignore the subtle 
yet unmistakeable characteristics of the counties 
which set them apart from each other. In the 
old days each county was a little kingdom, and 
all outside it was ' ' foreign." 

The march of progress and easier communica- 
tions are fast obliterating these distinctions, but 
as nature is in them as well as man, and as parts 
of remote rural England have not altered so 


enormously since Domesday, many remain to 
rejoice theUrue topographer, who knows that in 
the country little things go a long way back and 
mean much. 

A disposition to reverse the practice of centuries, 
and to centralise the whole government of the 
country in London, as that of France is in Paris, 
first began to manifest itself here in the latter half 
of the nineteenth century. The result has been 
described as " the chaos of local government." 
As early as 1888, the Rt. Hon. Joseph Chamber- 
lain, while at the L,ocal Government Board, 
diagnosed the evil with statesmanlike sagacity, 
and strenuously opposed any addition to the 
controlling powers of his department had he 
not been himself trained in the school of local 
politics ? The truth has since come home to 
other statesmen, particularly in the education 
department, that it is better to rely on local ex- 
perience than to enforce a national uniformity. 
Everywhere bureaucracy has been a failure, and 
happily the tendency now is to go back to the good 
old English custom and " trust the people." 

The policy of the future will be the policy of the 
past to increase the functions of local authorities, 
to co-operate with them, and to free them from 
the shackles of centralisation. 

English freedom, liberty of thought, liberty of 
speech, liberty of action, the freedom of English 
institutions, are not a little attributaole to its 
ancient system of local independence. It was 
an organisation by which each locality became 
as a matter of course, lively and articulate. 

This is the spirit of the English constitution, 
says that patriot statesman, Edmund Burke 
and i he was speaking of that same spirit carried 
across the Atlantic to the new States then arising 


in the far west ' which, infused through the 
mighty mass, pervades, feeds, unites, invigorates, 
vivifies every part of the empire, even down to 
the minutest member." 

' ' The sovereign authority of the country," says 
the orator, is kept by " the chosen race of the 
sons of England," wherever they make their home, 
as a sacred temple consecrated to their common 
faith the Liberty of the Subject. 



Before entering upon the story of the shires, 
it may not be out of place to make a digression 
here, in order to obtain some faint idea of the 
divisions into which this country was apportioned 
among its earlier inhabitants, the Ancient Britons. 

Even in those primitive times, when the surface 
of the country was nearer the earth's primeval 
state of dense woods, impervious marshes, and 
undrained fenland, political boundaries did not 
remain constant. This fact becomes apparent 
when we find the various writers upon whom we 
depend for our knowledge of those far-away times, 
giving different lists of the tribal areas of the 
Ancient Britons. We have to remember they 
wrote at different periods. 

When the Romans came to this country, just 
before the Christian era, they found it in the pos- 
session of a Celtic population akin to the Gauls 
of France, and like them split into numerous 
tribes, the mass of the people in a state of serf- 
dom, the slaves of two dominant classes, the 
priests (called Druids) and the chiefs of military 

After the termination of the first hostilities, 
treaties of agreement had to be made with the 
Trinobantes of Middlesex and Essex, whose young 
chief was restored (as a Roman tributary) to the 
sovereignty which had been usurped by Cassive- 
launus, the talented leader who had led the Britons 


against the Roman invaders, and whose capital 
was probably St. Albans, in the territory of the 
Cassii, a Belgic tribe, probably the same as the 
' Catycuchlani " of Ptolemy. 

Another city of Romano-British origin in this 
part of the country was that near Basingstoke 
in Hampshire, called by the Britons Cser-Segant, 
and by the Romans Segantiaci ; afterwards it 
was known to the Saxons as Silchester. 

The example of the Trinobantes was immediately 
followed by other tribes ; the Iceni or Cenimagni 
(of Norfolk and Suffolk), the Segontiaci (Hamp- 
shire and Berkshire), the Ancalites (Middlesex 
and Berkshire), the Bibroci (Hampshire, Berk- 
shire, Sussex, Surrey and East Kent), and the 
Cassii (of Hertford, Bedford, and Buckingham). 
All these bargained for protection against the 
aggressive Cassivelaunus, whose kingdom centred 
in Hertfordshire. Julius Csesar was thus master 
of a considerable territory, which completely 
surrounded the country of the Cantii (Kent), 
where he had first landed. And if we are to 
accept Shakespeare as an authority 

Kent, in the commentaries of Caesar writ, 
Is termed the civillest place of all this isle. 

(Henry VI. Part 2). 

The Celts had come to Briton in two separate 
bodies, and at two different periods. No one can 
say when the first horde, known as the Goidels, 
crossed from the Continent, but certainly cen- 
turies before the Brythons or Gauls, who when 
they arrived later drove them westward. 

When the Romans appeared on the scene, the 
Goidels were found occupying the three western 
peninsulas of England, the Cambrian, the Cum- 
brian and the Cornish, except for a wedge driven 
in between North Wales and South Wales by a 


Brythonic tribe called the Ordovices. South 
Wales was occupied by the Demetse and the 
Silures (the latter extending at first from the Dee 
to the Wye) and the Cornish peninsula by the 
Damnonii, having on their inland or north-eastern 
borders the Durotriges, whose territory stretched 
from the Bristol Channel to the Isle of Wight 
within the well-defined limits of the Mendips and 
the River Stour. 

It is quite clear the island was inhabited by 
two distinct races, differing perhaps to- some ex- 
tent in language as well as in manners. The 
coast-lands extending from the Humber to Devon- 
shire, and stretching inland as far as the modern 
counties of Hertford, Buckingham, and Berks, 
were occupied by the tribes who had last crossed 
from the continent and driven the aboriginal in- 
habitants westward. They were distinguished 
by a much higher civilization* they had perman- 
ent habitations, while the others wandered all 
over the interior, and the western highlands, 
driving their flocks and herds before them. 

It may be accepted that the southern and eastern 
parts of England derived the main portions of 
their population from Belgic Gaul, while the 
western districts and Wales were probably 
peopled from the west of France and the north of 
Spain. The earliest peoples of both Ireland and 
Scotland may also have been originally Belgic. 

Northward of the Tyne wandered the Maetse, and 
north of them the Caledonii, together known as 
the Picts. 

It will be seen that practically the whole 
of England proper was held by the various 
tribes of Brythons (otherwise Britons), the 
north central part, stretching from the sources 
of the Trent to the mouth of the Tweed, 


being inhabited by the Brigantes, who were 
flanked on the Lancashire coast by the 
Segantii, and on the Yorkshire coast by the 
Parisii. Eastward of the Ordovices, the Midlands 
were occupied by the Cornavii, divided by the 
Trent from the Coritani whose territory stretched 
thence to the Wash. East Anglia, we have seen, 
was held by the Iceni, Essex by the Trinobantes, 
and west of these were the Catuvillani. The 
Thames valley was occupied by the Attrebates, 
and between the sources of that river and the' 
left bank of the Severn came the Dobuni. Kent 
was the country of the Cantii, divided by the 
Forest of Anderida from the Regni. Lastly, 
along the south coast came the Belgse whom 
Caesar distinctly says differed in language and 
customs from the Celtae. 

As already noted the most civilized of all were 
the people of Cantium (Kent), whose manners 
bore strong resemblance to those of their Gallic 
neighbours. The maritime districts were essen- 
tially corn countries, agriculture having been in- 
troduced by the Belgic settlers. The wild tribes 
of the interior did not till the soil, but lived on 
milk and flesh and clothed themselves with skins. 
Cattle were abundant, though the art of making 
cheese was unknown. All the Britons stained 
themselves with a blue dye made from woad, 
to give them a more terrible aspect in battle ; they 
wore their hair long, and shaved every part of the 
body but the head and upper lip. 

The Goidels or aboriginal Celts were tall of 
stature and corpulent, but not well made. They 
practised polygamy. Their dwellings were tem- 
porary establishments formed in the forest by 
inclosing a space with felled trees, within which 
they made huts of reeds and logs, and sheds for 


the cattle, ' ' not intended to remain long " says 
Diodorus Siculus, the Roman historian. Those 
who practised agriculture, he describes as gathering 
the corn, storing it up in the stalk in thatched 
houses, out of which ' ' they plucked the old ears 
from day to day, and used them to make their 

Strabo, the geographer, informs us that those 
who lived near the Bolerian promontory (the 
Bands' End, Cornwall), were more polished in 
manners, and hospitable to strangers, to whom 
they were more accessible than those of the interior 
since they had some small intercourse with the 
outer world by sea. 

Both authors quoted describe the country as for 
the most part flat and very woody, with ' ' many 
strong places on the hills." 

The produce consisted of corn and cattle, gold, 
silver, and iron, with skins, slaves, and dogs of a 
superior breed for the chase. The inhabitants 
of Cornwall worked mines of tin, and showed 
skill in preparing the ore, which they conveyed 
to Vectis (? Wight) where it was purchased by 
merchants who transported it to Gaul. 

The Isle of Wight was called by the British 
Guict, signifying "divorced" or "separated," 
from which arose the appellation of Vectis, or 
' separated region," for this island. In the days 
of Diodorus it was only disjoined from the main- 
land by the tide, and was united to it sufficiently 
at the ebb, by a gravelly isthmus, to allow carts 
of tin to pass over it. 

Whatever there was of British intercourse with 
the outer world, there exists not a scrap of 
evidence, linguistic or other, of the presence of the 
Phoenecians in Britain at any time. The tin of 
the Damnonian peninsula certainly found its way 


to the continent, it may have been through the 
Isle of Wight, though not improbably via the 
Isle of Thanet. 

A survey made by a Roman geographer about 
the beginning of the second century, shows Kent 
still occupied by the influential Cantii ; Sussex 
and Surrey by the Regni ; Hampshire, Wiltshire, 
and Somersetshire by the Belgae ; Devon and 
Cornwall by the Damnonii ; Dorset by the Durot- 
riges ; Middlesex and Essex by the Trinobantes ; 
Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridge, and Huntingdon 
by the Iceni ; Northampton, Leicester, Rutland, 
Derby, Notts, and Lincoln by the Coritani or 
Coritavi ; while the south-eastern portion of 
Yorkshire was held by the Parisii. 

Between the tribes last enumerated, in the 
counties of Buckingham, Bedford, and Hertford, 
lay the tribe called the Catuvellani, another name 
for the Cassii, or a division of it. In Berkshire, 
west of these, were the Attrebates, and still further 
west in Oxon and Gloucester, were the Dobuni. 

Coming to the interior of the land and north- 
ward, the extensive district, difficult of approach 
on account of mountain and wood, reaching from 
the Humber and Mersey to the present borders 
of Scotland, was occupied by the Brigantes, be- 
lieved to be the original inhabitants of the country. 
This powerful and predatory tribe included several 
smaller ones ; the Voluntii occupied the west of 
Lancashire, and the Sestunii inhabited Westmore- 
land and Cumberland. The Jugantes and the 
Cangi, on the shores of the Irish sea, belonged to, 
or were dependent on, the Brigantes. 

A later writer gives a list of the Belgic colonists 
who settled in the south-eastern portion of the 
country, associating the Hedui with the locality 
of Somersetshire, the Morini with Dorset, the 


Senones with Hampshire, the Rhemi (probably 
another name for the Bibroci) with Berks, Sussex, 
and Surrey, the Attrebates with a strip of terri- 
tory stretching from Surrey into Hants, the 
Cimbri with the borders of Devon, and the Parisii 
with the north-east coast. Some of these names 
we have noted before ; those that are new are 
probably duplicates, or the names of subdivisions. 
Anyway it should be remembered that all these 
names were conferred on the various tribes by 
foreigners and strangers to them. 

But it is interesting to trace in the names of 
some of these Belgic tribes the localities on the 
continent with which they were originally 
identified. The Attrebates came from the region 
of Artois, the Cimbri from Cambrilla, the Rhemi 
from Rheims, the Senones from Sens, and the 
Parisii from Paris. Place-names do occasionally 
yield evidence in this way of the migratory move- 
ments of a people. 

Wales continued to be inhabited by its primitive 
population. The northern counties of Flint 
Denbigh, Montgomery, Merioneth, and Caernarvon, 
with the island of Anglesey (then called Mona), 
was the territory of the Ordovices. The south- 
western counties, Cardigan, Carmarthen, and 
Pembroke were held by the Demetse ; while the 
still more celebrated tribe of the Silures occupied 
the modern counties of Hereford, Radnor, Breck- 
nock, Monmouth, and Glamorgan. Between 
these and the Brigantes lay the Cornavii, who in- 
habited the territory now filled by the border 
counties of Warwick, Worcester, Stafford, Salop, 
and Chester, and a part of Flint. 

In the versification of Michael Drayton, we have 
an expository rendering of all this in the lines 


The Ordovices, now which North- Wales people be 
Prom Cheshire which of old divided was by Dee ; 
And from our Marchers now, that where Demetae then 
And those Silures called, by us South- Wales men. 

The poet, it will be observed, slightly displaces 
some of the tribes, though fairly correct in the 
main ; as " where the Dobuni dwelt, and their 
neighbouring Cateuclani." And again in the 

Cornavii more remote, and where the Coritani 
Where Dee and Mersey shoot into the Irish Sea. 

he is scarcely so correct as in the following 

As in that horn which juts into the sea so far, 

Wherein our Devonshire now, and farthest Cornwall are, 

The old Damnonii dwelt ; so hard again at hand 

The Durotriges sat on the Dorsetian sand ; 

And where from sea to sea the Belgse forth were let 

Even from Southampton's shore through Wilts and 

The Attrebates in Bark unto the bank of Tames. 

So eastward from the Thames the Trinobantes were set 
To Trinovant their town, from that their name in debt 
That London now we term. 

London's earliest name, Troy-no vant, is really 
British, being compounded of Tri-nou-hant, 
' inhabitants of the new town." Civitas 
Trinobantum, the city of the Trinobantes, might be 
rendered New- townsmen. It has nothing to do 
with the legend that London was founded by 
Brute, a Trojan refugee, notwithstanding 
Spenser's lines in the Faery Queen 

For noble Britons sprung from Trojan's bold, 

And Troy-novant was built of old Troyes ashes cold. 

The spelling of the names of some of the tribes, 
and their geographical location, must be re- 
conciled as best they may. 

It is interesting to note that the names of some 
of these ancient tribes may be discerned in 
existing place-names in the localities they once 
occupied. The name of the Cantii is seen in 


Kent and in Canterbury ; of the Iceni in Ick- 
borough (Norfolk), Ickworth and Iken (Suffolk) ; 
of the Bibroci in Bray (near Windsor), and of 
the Casii in Cashio, the name of a Hertfordshire 
Hundred, and in Cashiobury (near Watford) 
which probably occupied the site of the chief 
town of the tribe. 

The Damnonii are believed to have given their 
name to Devon, and the Durotriges to Dorset and 
Dorchester, while the Regni evidently lived around 
Ringwood (or Regne-wood) in Hants. 

The literal signification of these tribal names 
would be profoundly interesting and, probably, 
very illuminating, if only they could be arrived 
at with any degree of certainty. 

The name Trinobantes, if not derived from the 
capital settlement of the tribe, has been said to 
signify the " battle-spearers " ; and the Ordo vices 
(or Ordovi) are said to have been so-called because 
originally they were " the hammerers," wielding, 
in the Stone Age that preceded the Iron Age, 
formidable axe-hammers of flint. The Iceni, 
again, were " the men of the small knives," pre- 
senting a Celtic parallel to the Saxons who, it is 
well-known, derived their name from Seaxe, a 
short sword. Invading hosts were frequently 
named from the weapons they wielded in battle 
with most effect. 

As the Iceni gave to our history its most heroic 
queen, the renowned Boadicea, the Trinobantes 
produced for our literature Shakespeare's hero, 
Cymbeline. Cymbeline, otherwise Cunobeline, 
whose father was an ambitious chieftain 

The first of Britain that did put 
His brows within a golden crown, and call'd 
Himself a king 

is said to have had his capital at Colchester. 


The Brigantes are believed to bear a name 
which (literally) distinguished them as free men 
and a privileged race, as contrasted with the 
reduced and servile Goidels under them. It was 
Cartismandua, queen of the Brigantes, who de- 
livered the gallant Caractacus, king of the Silures, 
to the Roman invaders. The name Silures is 
altogether of unknown meaning, though believed 
to have some relationship to the name Scilly. And 
all that can be said of Demetae is that the district 
they occupied now bears the name, in modern 
Welsh, of Dyved. 

The Attrebates bore a name which, it is said, 
marked them out in a special sense as the farmers 
or "homestead men." The Cornavii, it has been 
suggested, had this name conferred upon them 
because they occupied the horn, or ' corn " 
headland, between the Dee and the Mersey. 
This origin is extremely doubtful. 

The Coritani (or Coritavi) are said to have taken 
the name of some pre-Celtic inhabitants who had 
possibly survived in the inaccessible regions of the 
Wash, which then reached inland to Cambridge 
and Northants. The Catuvillani were another 
aggressive tribe, the Mercians of their day, and 
paramount among the Celts. 



At the first coming of the Romans the tribes 
were sharply divided. Many and great were the 
changes which came over the native inhabitants 
of the land after its subjugation. Their inde- 
pendence was irrecoverably gone, their nationality 
was lost, and, as they were merged into the 
Roman Empire, they lost their very names, either 
as Roman subjects or as Roman slaves. 

Not the least of these great changes was the 
disappearance of the old tribal divisions of the 
land. Under barbaric rule the boundaries of these 
divisions had fluctuated as aggression expanded 
a territory, or subjugation had either obliterated 
or contracted the tribal delimitations. 

The Romans were the first to divide this 
country into administrative areas ; though from 
the time of its conquest, down to the year 197 
A.D., they governed it as one province, and did 
not, as they had done with Spain and Gaul, 
divide it into three or four separate territories. 
It is noticeable that while the people of Spain 
became cultivated Roman citizens, the^Britons 
remained rude boors. 

Britain was one of the provinces administered 
by the Emperor's deputies, not by an officer of the 
Senate ; and the governor's full title was Legatus 
Augusti pro prcetore, or Viceregent of the Em- 
peror. Being a province that required military 


occupation, Britain was not committed to a 
Pro-consul chosen by the Senate, but to a Pro- 
praetor nominated by the Emperor. In other 
words, it was "Imperial" as opposed to 
" Senatorial." 

The governor of Britain, however, was not a 
mere rough soldier, but generally a man of some 
education, capable of administering the law and 
conducting the affairs of state, besides com- 
manding the military forces of the province. 
By his side was an officer called a Procurator or 
Quaestor, who took charge of all financial matters, 
and administerd the revenues of the country. 

After the year 197, Britain was divided into 
two provinces by a boundary line, which was 
not improbably drawn between the Mersey and the 
Humber ; the southern half of the Country being 
designated Britannia Superior, and the northern 
half Britannia Inferior, these distinguishing terms 
having reference to nearness to Rome. Although 
it is not known in what towns the respective 
Governors took up their official residence, the 
weight of evidence is largely in favour of London 
and York. 

Presently this arrangement gave way to an organi- 
zation of four districts or provinces, Britannia 
Prima, Britannia Secunda, Maxima Csesariensis and 
Flavia Csesariensis, to provide which with physical 
frontiers the Thames, the Severn, and the Humber 
were very probably called into use. 

The first of these lay south of the Thames and 
the Bristol Channel ; the second corresponded with 
the modern principality of Wales ; Flavia com- 
prised the middle of the country, from the Thames 
to the Humber and Mersey ; and the country be- 
yond this, to some twenty-five^miles north' of 
Hadrian's Wall, formed the department of Maxima 


Csesariensis. At a later period (A.D. 369) a fifth 
province called Valentia was added, stretching 
northward from the Tyne to the Forth. 

Towards the end of the Roman period, when 
the enemies of the empire were closing in on every 
side, three high military commanders were ap- 
pointed, independent of the authorities in Britain, 
but subject to the Gallic praefectus ; they were the 
Duke of the Britons, the Count of the Britons, and 
the Count of the Saxon Shore, the last-named 
having the defence of the south-eastern coast in 
his special charge. 

The Saxon Shore comprised the coast of Norfolk, 
Suffolk, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire ; 
castles with garrisons under the command of 
Comes Littoris Saxonici per Britanniam were 
situated at Brandcaster (Norfolk) Burgh (Suffolk), 
Ithanchester (Essex), Reculver, Richborough, 
Dover, L,ymne, (Kent), Pevensey and Worthing, 
(Sussex). The remains of some of these castles, 
and of the Roman walls in the north, are a few 
of the reminders of the sway once held by imperial 
Rome in this island. Hadrian's Wall, between 
the Solway and the Tyne, marked the northern 
limits of the province in the year 120. This wall 
was the beginning of the division of Great Britain 
into the two parts now known as Scotland and 

Subsequently, but for a very brief space, the 
old British kingdoms were united under one chief, 
called Pendragon, who claimed to represent the 
Roman Emperors. 

It will be seen that for some considerable time 
before the Roman evacuation, piratical expedi- 
tions had harried the coasts of the country, and 
that settlements had even been effected. After 
the Roman withdrawal the Teutonic marauder 
was merged entirely into the settler. 


In considering these early settlements physical 
barriers and other natural features must not be 
lost sight of. Thus, the first great settlement, 
which was made in Kent, was bounded by the 
dense forest which the Romans called Anderida ; 
and here the Jutes were practically shut up in a 
single county ; for by the time they made their 
second landing, in Hampshire, the other tribes 
settled round about were too strong for them. 

Later, when the Angles attacked the east and 
north-east coasts, they penetrated into the mid- 
land districts but slowly, and that by sailing 
cautiously up the rivers ; for at that period there 
existed a great belt of swamp and marsh of which 
the Fens are but now the merest remnant. The 
river valleys, too, were found by the Saxons who 
landed in Southampton Water, to be the easiest, 
if not the only avenues into the heart of the 

These invaders, whatever their tribe, were a 
bold and sturdy people, of a free and enterprising 
spirit. Yet of their previous history our know- 
ledge is strictly limited, notwithstanding that 
their habits and customs and their established 
laws, came to exercise such a far-reaching influence 
over the destinies of this country. It is manifest 
that, as they came with their wives and families, 
their intention was not so much to govern the 
Britons as to exterminate or subdue them 
to deprive the natives of their land, which by 
comparison with the district round the Elbe 
from which they came, with its barren marshy 
soil and its chilly damp climate, was a rich and 
inviting country. 


Though Alfred the Great is generally credited 
with the division of the country into shires, it 
is certain these territorial divisions were known 
long before his day, being mentioned in the laws 
of King Ina, a century or more before the con- 
solidation of England into one realm under one 
king. The probability is that Alfred rectified 
the boundaries of a number of them. 

The smaller kingdoms and their sub-divisions 
fell naturally into shires ; as Kent and Surrey, 
Norfolk, and Suffolk, Essex and Sussex. At 
what time the complete distribution of the 
country into shires was effected is not known, 
but nearly all of them had been called into exist- 
ence before the Norman invasion. 

Freeman, the historian, makes an exception of 
Lancashire, which he says, did not exist as a shire 
at the Conquest. In 1071 the northern portion 
was included in Yorkshire ; and the southern part, 
between the Mersey and the Ribble, had been 
vested in the crown under Edward the Confessor, 
and held of him by a number of petty thanes. 

Ina, the greatest of the early kings of Wessex, 
in 693 formulated, for the good governance of the 
West Saxons, a Code of Laws, the thirty-sixth 
of which distinctly mentions the earldorman 
as the governor of a shire under the king. ; the 
ordinance is to the effect that if he lets a captured 
thief escape, or hushes up the crime, ' ' he shall 
lose his shire." 


The first Wessex ealdorman mentioned by 
name is Cumbra, who ruled ' Hamtunscire " 
(Hampshire), for king Sigebert, a tyrant, who 
rewarded his fidelity by slaying him (A.D. 757). 

Wessex included Hampshire, Wiltshire and 
Berkshire, and also perhaps Oxfordshire, although 
it was on the north side of the Thames. Somerset 
and Dorsetshire were long included in Celtic 
Damnonia, which comprised Devonshire and Corn- 
wall, only nominally in Wessex, and in reality 
mainly Welsh. Not till 926 was the king of the 
Corn welsh driven back beyond the Tamar. A 
trace in the delimitations of the two races may be 
found in the loop of Devonshire on the west side 
of the Tamar, none of the place-names being 
Cornish, but commonly ending with the Saxon 
terminal " cot." 

All the shires of Wessex, save Devon, appear 
to have been created before the reign of Ina. 
These shires may have been the successive local 
units created by each advance of the Wessex 
border at the expense of the Welsh ; colour is 
given to this theory by interpreting the names 
Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, Somersetshire, as in- 
dicating the regions in which bodies of settlers 
called Wilsaetas, Dornsaetas, and Somersaetas 
took up their abode, and gave their names to 
their respective settlements. 

Another view of the origin of shires regards 
them as representing, more or less, the realms of 
the numerous sub-reguli who parted Wessex 
among themselves on several occasions during 
the seventh century. This theory would certainly 
hold good with regard to Berkshire, which most 
probably represents a principality of three thou- 
sand hides which king Csenwalch is known to 
have granted to Cuthred "in Ashdown." 


Under the latter hypothesis the ealdorman 
would be a royal official appointed to administer 
what had formerly constituted the realm of a 
sub-regulus, from its most important centre. 
In agreement with this theory, the shire names of 
Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorsetshire and Somer- 
setshire, would then be traced back to the royal 
" vills " from which they were respectively ad- 
ministered, namely Hamton, Wilton, Dorchester, 
and Somerton. 

It is noteworthy that in the other English 
kingdoms which were large enough to require 
administrative ealdormen, Mercia and North- 
umbria, no trace can be found of this early shire 
system, with its sheriffs, and other necessary 

In Mercia there were certainly ealdormen who 
governed districts for the king, but they were much 
more extensive than the Wessex shires. The 
Mercian ealdormen seem to have ruled the old 
sub-kingdoms, in succession to the sub-reguli, 
who died out in the eighth century. When the 
Mercians were supreme in the eighth century, it 
is noteworthy that they held way in London, when 
that great imperial city was being engrafted with 
Anglo-Saxon forms of local government. 

It may be inferred from a statement in the 
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle that in the following 
century there were at least five administrative 
districts in Mercia under ealdormen these dis- 
tinct from the vassal kingdoms of Mercia, like 
Kent and Essex, under duces, as they signed 
themselves in various charters. These ad- 
ministrative districts were those of Hwiccia 
(the lower Severn valley, formerly ruled by a 
line of native kings ;) the Magesaetas beyond the 
Severn to the line of Offa's Dyke ; Lindsey, be- 


tween the Humber and the Wash ; the Middle 
Angles, directly inland of East Anglia ; and 
Mercia proper. Possibly there were two other 
administrative units under ealdormen the 
Gyrwas, on the Fenland border (Cambridgeshire, 
North Northamptonshire and South Lincoln- 
shire) ; and the Chilternsaetas, lying north of the 
middle Thames. 

Mercia at one time or other comprised the area 
now occupied by Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Not- 
tinghamshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, 
Rutlandshire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, and 
Worcestershire ; possibly also parts of Bedford- 
shire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. For a 
long time the Severn was its western boundary, 
and till a comparatively late period Shropshire 
and Herefordshire were in the Welsh marches, 
and under Welsh rule. Monmouthshire, in the 
basin of the Usk, was not made an English county 
till the reign of Henry VIII (1535) and remains 
to this day more Welsh than English. 

Gloucestershire and Worcestershire do not 
exactly reproduce Hwiccia, which had embraced 
B. part of Warwickshire along the Avon, and had 
not included the Forest of Dean, which was in the 
ealdormanry of the Magessetas. Gloucestershire 
was no doubt formed of lands attached to Glou- 
cester and Winchcombe (there was originally a 
' Winchcombeshire," which Eadric Streone, the 
infamous ealdorman of Mercia, who was executed 
by Canute, arbitrarily annexed to Gloucester- 
shire) ; Worcestershire, of lands attached to 
Worcester ; Herefordshire, of the area round 
Hereford ; Warwickshire of lands governed from 
Warwick Castle ; Staffordshire, of the burghal 
hidage attached to Stafford ; and Shropshire, 
of lands belonging to Shrewsbury. Salop com- 


prises a portion of Mercia only as to two-thirds 
of its area, its southern third having been 
Magesaetan soil. Oxfordshire, which was formed 
round the government of Oxford, stretched beyond 
the limits of old Mercia. 

The formation of the west-midland shires came 
much later, and seem to have been administrative 
districts which crystalized around certain of the 
burghal centres created by the warlike Princess 
Ethelfleda (daughter of Alfred the Great, and 
widow of Edward the Elder) or older centres like 
Chester. It cannot be discovered that they 
were honoured, on their formation, with an 
ealdorman apiece. The first to be mentioned 
by name is Cheshire, in 980 ; and none of them, 
from this county to Oxfordshire, had boundaries 
which coincided with those of the older Mercian 

South Saxonia was made up of Sussex and 
vSurrey ; East Saxonia, of Essex, Middlesex, and 
Hertford, and in ancient times took in part of 
Bedfordshire. Kent, as a Saxon kingdom and 
a modern county, is practically identical. 

East Anglia contained Norfolk and Suffolk, 
Cambridgeshire and Hunts ; and as a rule, Lin- 
colnshire, though at odd times it belonged to the 
Mid Angles of Mercia. Of Rutland, as a distinct 
county, no mention is made till the fifth year of 
King John, at the coronation of whose queen, 
Isabel, it was (with other lands) assigned for her 
dower. Till this period it was a crown manor 
merged in the neighbouring counties of North- 
ampton and Nottingham. 

In the eastern regions, which had come under 
Danish influence, the title of Earl began to appear, 
and evidently indicated the high dignitary who 
on purely English soil would have been designated 


By the year 930 there were no less than thirteen 
earls bearing Danish names, evidently Danish 
magnates holding territorial jurisdictions in 
Northumbria, East Anglia, and the east Mid- 
lands, all of them probably " jarls " who, having 
submitted to Edward the Elder, were graciously 
given, or confirmed in, their official positions. 

Though there was an ealdorman for every 
southern shire when Edward came to the throne, 
by the end of his eldest son's reign there were only 
three or four south of the Thames, a system of 
grouping, probably for military purposes, having 
been commenced by Edward and completed by 
Athelstan. A unit of three shires, as Somerset, 
Dorset, and Devon, or Hants, Wilts, and Berks, 
would be more conveniently handled by one 
ealdorman than three ; and its levies got together 
more effectively under one leader, a matter of 
some consideration when the Dane-law was but 
newly subdued. 

As to Northumbria, there were certainly ealdor- 
men therein, though without any visible trace of 
the shire system. These officials are styled High- 
reeves in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle ; they 
exercised as much power as a sub-regulus, and their 
office was apparently hereditary, as one family 
of such High-reeves can be traced at Bamborough 
for several generations. Though this character- 
istically Anglo-Saxon administrative system 
flourished in the north during the seventh and 
eighth centuries, it was entirely swept away by 
the Danes in the ninth. 

Northumbria contained Northumberland, York- 
shire, and Durham, and anciently stretched to 
the Firth of Forth. The races who occupied 
Mercia and Northumbria can only be described 
as mixed Anglo-Celtic. 


Cumbria comprised Cumberland, Westmoreland, 
Lancashire and a portion of Cheshire, and as a 
Celtish province it stretched at one time into 
Yorkshire as far as Leeds. 

For Edward I's parliament of 1275 writs were 
issued to thirty-seven counties, the three names 
omitted being those of Durham, Chester, and 
Monmouth the last-named, as already noted, 
did not become shire ground till 1535, and the 
other two were palatinates. 

Durham was granted to St. Cuthbert and his 
successors in 685, and was held by its bishops as a 
palatinate from the Norman Conquest until 1836, 
when it was transferred to the crown. Chester, 
after the departure of the Romans was held by the 
Welsh till 607, when it fell under the power of 
Ethelfrith, king of Bernicia. In 828 Egbert 
annexed it to Mercia, and William the Conqueror 
made it a county palatine, and since 1237 & nas 
been an appanage of the eldest son of the king. 

Thus, so far as it is possible to trace them, were 
the shires carved out of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. 
The term province has no obvious meaning in 
England beyond application to the ecclesiastical 
provinces of Canterbury and York. Mercia, 
Wessex, and Northumbria are sometimes men- 
tioned as provincial divisions, and there is now- 
adays a tendency with some writers to revert to 
the old names of the Heptarchy. 


Administrative areas disappeared from Scotland, 
as they had from England and Wales, at the 
termination of Roman rule in 410. 

It remained still to be settled whether the 
Angles of Northumbria and the Britons of Strath- 
clyde should be annexed to Scotland or to Eng- 

Both these states were largely under the in- 
fluence of Edward the Elder, because he was able 
to protect them from the Danes, who were then 
ravishing the land on every side. In 945 Edmund 
Ironsides made the conquest of Cumbria, and 
then handed it over to the Scots king on military 
tenure. Cumberland remained in the hands of 
the king of Scotland till 1237, when it was per- 
manently annexed to the English crown. 

When Edwin, the founder of Edinburgh, sub- 
dued all Northumbria in 942, he divided it into 
baronies and counties, and transformed its kings 
into jarls or earls. One of the earldoms took the 
name of Northumberland, which extended from 
the Tees to the Forth, with the consequence that 
part of its history is interwoven with that of 
Scotland, till the death of Siward, who dethroned 
Macbeth of Scotland (1055). 

The northern half, known as Lothian, of which 
Edinburgh was the chief town, was granted on 
certain conditions to Kenneth II, of Scotland, by 
Edgar the Pacific. Half-a-century later Lothian 
had become a part of Scotland absolutely (1018). 


In 1006 Malcolm II. had made a great effort to 
annex Lothian, but he suffered a severe defeat 
on the banks of the Wear, while besieging a new 
town which was growing up around the shrine of 
St. Cuthbert, the missionary who had converted 
the Lothians that town is now the city of Dur- 
ham. Twelve years later he did succeed in a 
second attempt, defeating the Northumbrians at 
Carham on the Tweed. In the same year (1018) 
the latest independent king of Strathclyde died, 
and that district was also added to the kingdom 
of Scotland. 

Even after his victory at Carham, Malcolm 
had to recognise the king of England as his over- 
lord ; and when Duncan, his successor, tried to 
throw off the yoke, he was disastrously defeated 
at another battle fought near Durham. 

By 1068 there was a united England and a 
united Scotland, though the borderland between 
them long remained vague, undefined, and 

In that year Malcolm Canmore, always a 
troublesome vassal, made an attempt to annex 
Northumberland. William the Conqueror suc- 
cessfully resisted the attempt, and in 1072 forced 
him to acknowledge his overlordship for Cumber- 
land also. Twenty years later William Rufus 
seized Cumberland and placed an English garrison 
in Carlisle. It was during this struggle that a new 
castle (now Newcastle) was erected on the Tyne, 
to hold the district against the Scotch raiders. 

The capital was removed from Dunfermline 
to Edinburgh by Edgar (1098) though homage 
was still being rendered to the king of England 
for Ix>thian and Strathclyde. 

The Conqueror had given the county of Durham 
to one of his followers, Robert de Comines, as an 


earldom. The Norman garrison placed in the 
city was promptly massacred, and the English in 
York also rose on their new masters. The king 
marched against these northern insurgents and 
routed them with unsparing slaughter. A year 
or two later the Normans set fire to York before 
making a sally upon the English who were in- 
vesting the city, and who with some Danish allies 
managed to defeat the attackers, inflicting heavy 
losses upon them. William was so exasperated, he 
collected an overwhelming force with which he 
again marched to the north, and laid it waste 
with fire and sword, driving the inhabitants to 
take refuge in the forests and mountains. From 
the Humber to the Tees, and from the Wear to the 
Tyne was made a desert. The history of the 
northern counties at this period was a tale of 
fury and carnage. 

The country southward of Durham could 
scarcely have been sympathetic to Norman rule, 
and it is not at all surprising that Northumber- 
land continued to link its fortunes with those 
of Scotland through the reigns of several suc- 
ceeding kings of England. 

In 1157 Henry II. induced Malcolm to give up 
Northumberland, Durham, and Westmoreland, 
which had been held by Scotland since the dis- 
turbed days of King Stephen. 

When William the L,ion attempted to recover 
Northumberland, he was not only defeated, but 
compelled to acknowledge the king of England 
as his overlord for the whole of Scotland. Scot- 
tish independence, however, was shortly after- 
wards recovered from Richard I for a money fine. 
By the time of William the Lion, the counties 
of Northumberland and Cumberland had become 
English in their sympathies. 


Under the Normans Westmoreland was held 
in two baronies of two wards each for border 
service. It is significant of the demands of the 
locality that for 650 years the office of High 
Sheriff was hereditary in this county, the privilege 
being terminated only in 1849. 

The barons who opposed King John in the 
civil disturbances of that reign, secured the 
assistance of Alexander II. by promising him 
the northern counties of England, which he had 
always coveted. By the treaty of Newcastle, 
twenty years later, a compromise was agreed to 
that the Scots king, if he abandoned his claim 
to the whole of Northumberland and Cumberland, 
should be permitted to retain certain lands 
situated in those territories. The fact that 
Scotch kings and princes held lands in England 
on feudal tenure, tended not a little to com- 
plicate the relationships between the two countries. 

It was not till 1237 that the line of marches 
between England and Scotland became at all 
fairly defined, when an arrangement was come to 
that no further efforts should be made to extend 
the Scotch frontier southward. However, in 
May, 1385, Scotland having made a league with 
France against England, a French force of two 
thousand men landed at lyeith, and were afforded 
the pleasure of making a raid into England to lay 
waste the counties of Northumberland and Cum- 
berland. And so the border game of harrying 
and plundering went merrily forward for yet 
another century or two. 

Now to examine the state of affairs north of the 
border line. Berwickshire is the most southern 
portion of Lothian. Edward VI. and Mary, 
Queen of Scotland, by treaty made Berwick, 
which had been brought under the English crown 


in Edward TV's reign, a county town, and a free 
town independent of both states. Yet from this 
time until the death of Queen Elizabeth, Berwick 
continued to be involved in all the turbulence of 
constant border broiling. By 1603, when the 
two countries were united under one crown, this 
town had changed masters no less than thirteen 
times in its chequered history. Though referred 
to separately in many national documents, Ber- 
wick is now considered an English town, situated 
politically in the county of Northumberland, 
though it cannot escape from Scotland geo- 
graphically without crossing the Tweed. The 
uncertainty of its nationality in early times won 
Berwick-on-Tweed the distinction of being ac- 
counted a county in itself, and the singular honour 
of being specially mentioned in Acts of Parlia- 
ment, after Wales, as a separate area in Great 
Britain. It may be claimed as the only English 
town whose members have sat in a Scottish 
parliament this happened in the Bruce's time, 
and on one or two occasions subsequently. 

The Saxons had entered the southern parts of 
Scotland before the close of the fifth century, 
and early in the sixth had established themselves 
in Lothian. Their attempt to dominate the 
country between the Forth and the Tay failed, 
but Lothian remained essentially Saxon, in speech 
and other ways. As we have seen, they were 
eventually separated from the Saxons of England, 
and absorbed into the kingdom of Scotland, the 
historic centre of which was at Scone, on the banks 
of the Tay. 

It was, of course, to the Saxon element, that 
the- introduction of the Shire system into the 
northern kingdom was due. But for a long time 
the policy of territorial divisions prevailed, 


divisions that were semi-independent and the 
frontiers of which could be clearly marked by 
some physical feature, as mountain, river or lake ; 
to such divisions in Scotland proper may be 
traced many of the country's great historical 
names, like those of Fife, Angus, Athol, Argyle 
and Strathnairn. The Saxon policy of Shire 
divisions was quite unknown to the Celtic peoples, 
who long after the appointment of Sheriffs, 
treasured a hatred of them that was character- 
istically racial. 

The Galloway clans were always turbulent, 
and for centuries the kings of both countries 
failed in their efforts to maintian order among 
the Border freebooters, a Sheriff's posse often 
meeting with as sanguinary a reception as the 
marauders gave each other in their old-standing 
feuds and retaliations. 

At first Galloway was rather a tributary than 
an incorporated part of the Scottish kingdom. 

The subjection of both Pictish Galloway and 
British Cumbria was for a long time uneasy and 
uncertain. But so far as the purpose of this work 
is concerned, the most important annexation 
was that of iothian, because it meant that Scot- 
land was not to be solely a Celtic country, but to 
contain a large English element. 



Mainly because neither state was strong enough 
to make the exact boundary line between the two 
countries a really effective frontier, the border 
countries remained in a disturbed and chaotic 
condition for centuries. As a matter of historic 
fact, the northern state was being all this time 
slowly but surely Anglicised in many of its in- 
stitutions certainly in those relating to its 
system of political divisions. To see how the 
English shire system was introduced into Scot- 
land and developed there, it will be necessary to 
take a cursory view of Scottish history. 

Sight must not be lost of the fact that for six 
hundred years before the Norman Conquest 
there had been an English population spreading 
itself and its racial influences over the south of 
Scotland. After the annexation of Lothian, the 
language and customs of Scotland gradually 
became more and more English, Gaelicism receding 
to the remoter districts of the north and west. 

Scotland is made up of a number of confederate 
nations. Pictland to the north of the Forth, as 
far as the Spey, represents the land of the original 
Gaels. Galloway (Wigtonshire and Kirkcud- 
bright) was occupied by a smaller but independent 
section of Picts. On the coast of Argyleshire 
was Dalriada, a settlement of Irish Scots, who in 
the end succeeded in converting the Picts to 
Christianity, and then in giving their name to the 


whole country. At a later period, the temporary 
settlement of Norsemen in the great northern 
earldom of Caithness, was brought under the 
Scotch kings. 

The Gaelic population of Scotland contains 
three elements, the Picts, or northern Gaels, the 
Scots, or Irish Gaels, and the British or Gaels of 
Strathclyde. The Kingdom of Scotland had its 
beginning in 844, when Kenneth Mac Alpin, king 
of the Scots, united these Celtish peoples into what 
was called the kingdom of Alban, with Dunkeld 
in Perthshire for its capital. 

Because of the hilly and inaccessible nature of 
the Highlands, the local chiefs of the northern 
Gaels acquired a power that, if not quite inde- 
pendent of any centralised authority, made them 
contemptuous of royal officials. There were 
seven separate districts under officials called 
Mormaers, each the head of a clan, exercising the 
authority of a petty kinglet. The Norwegian 
settlements and influence in the Orkneys and the 
Hebrides, in Caithness and Sutherland the 
Norwegians were as troublesome to Scotland as 
the Danes had been to England are almost 
outside the scope of this work, though it is in- 
teresting to note that in the eleventh century a 
Norwegian earl of Orkney held the office of 
Mormaer. Eventually, however, this Celtish title 
gave way to that of earl. 

David I. (1124) was very much under English 
influence, and had a great deal to do with the 
earlier stages of Scotland's development of the 
English shire system. In his reign Scotland 
was divided into Sheriffwicks, in which the law 
was administered in the name and by the au- 
thority of the King ; and the Sheriff was, 
both in theory and practice, the minister of the 


crown, for executing the king's writs as well as 
judging and trying cases, both civil and criminal 
aS precisely as it was in Norman England. 

The Scottish Sheriffwicks were mostly settled 
in 1305. For some time, Galloway, Argyle, and 
the western isles clung to their ancient policy and 
lay outside the system. When the Anglo-Nor- 
man policy at last prevailed, it was found ex- 
pedient to make the SherirTships hereditary in 
certain families. Under Robert I. (1306) and 
David II. (1329) an advance was made by granting 
Sheriffships for life. 

Edward I., during the time he held Scotland, 
increased the number of Sheriffs in that country. 
To the policy of this monarch we are also largely 
indebted for the system of border warfare as 
a recognised institution a lawless system which 
continued till the reign of James I., and during 
which (notwithstanding that the frontier had 
been irrevocably fixed) the sword was never long 
in the scabbard, and the border counties, if not 
exactly a waste, were shamefully kept back from 
peaceful development. 

In the northern kingdom, as in England, the 
story of the Shires cannot be separated from the 
history of the evolution of parliamentary re- 
presentation. From the twelfth century Scot- 
land had its national assemblies of bishops, earls, 
and barons, which were held at various places, as 
Perth and Stirling. In the following century 
these great councils came to be called Parlia- 
ments, and began to include an element claimed 
as representative of ' ' the community of Scot- 
land " ; at the parliament of 1326, held at Cam- 
buskenneth, certain ' ' burgesses and other free 
tenants of the kingdom " were distinctly sum- 
moned to attend in a representative character. 


In 1424, when James I. returned from his Eng- 
lish imprisonment, full of English constitutional 
ideas, he proposed to relieve the small barons from 
the burden of attending parliament, provided they 
sent two or more " wise men" from each shire 
to represent them, except Clackmannan and 
Kinross, which were to send one each. An 
Act was passed to give effect to this, and thus, it 
will be seen, the English method of the re- 
presentation of counties was closely imitated. 

The Orkney and Shetland Islands, the most 
remote, if not the last shire-land added, were 
acquired by the marriage of James III. with 
Margaret of Denmark in 1468 ; these now con- 
stitute an insular county. The name of the 
adjacent county, Sutherland, is no misnomer, 
though it is situated almost at the extreme 
north of the mainland ; to the Norwegians who 
founded it ' ' south land " was quite accurately 
descriptive of its relative position. 

It will be found that one of the first things done 
by James III., when reducing the Highlands and 
the Isles to order, was to appoint Sheriffs to take 
charge of the several districts. 

Cromwell was the first statesman who brought 
forward a well-considered scheme for the parlia- 
mentary representation of the three nations ; 
in his second parliament (1654) England was to be 
represented by four hundred members, Scotland 
by thirty, and Ireland by thirty. He also fixed 
the proportion between the county and burgh 
representation of Scotland the former were to 
have twenty members and the latter ten. For 
this purpose the smaller and less populous counties 
were to be grouped ; Sutherland, Ross and 
Cromarty to return one member ; Forfar and Kin- 
cardine, one ; Fife and Kinross, one ; I^inlithgow, 


Stirling and Clackmannan, one; Dumbarton, 
Areyle and Bute, one; Ayr and Renfrew one. 
Selkirk and Peebles, one ; Orkney, Shetland, and 
Caithness, one ; Elgin and Nairn, one. 

It is interesting to note, in passing, that m t 
Scottish parliament, while the nobility and clergy 
occupied " benches," the commissioners of 
and burghs sat on " furmes." 
' It should not be forgotten that even in the 
eighteenth century Scotland did not possess the 
ri^ht of popular representation as we understand 
The town councils elected the borough 
members of parliament, and in 1790 the tot 
number of voters in all the counties of the king- 
dom was only 2652. Other particulars 
cerning the Scottish counties may be found by 
consulting that voluminous work, Chalme 
" Caledonia." 

At the Union of 1714 a return was made of th< 
" Sheriffs and Stewarts" in Scotland, of which 
there were found to be 33, given under 
heads 9 held office " during pleasure 4 held 
office for life (or lives), and 20 enjoyed heredi 
office In 1748 the Imperial Parliament abolished 
all hereditary jurisdictions in Scotland which were 
associated with the ownership of land and 

of rank. 


So far we have accounted for the origin and 
development of the forty English counties. The 
twelve counties of Wales came into the scheme of 
things at a later period of our history. 

After his conquest of Wales, Edward I. sought 
to introduce the shire system into that country. 
In various parts of the conquered territory, 
government by princes had to give way to govern- 
ment by the king's officials. Instead of tiny 
principalities composed of commotes in ancient 
Wales a commote was half a centred or hundred, 
containing fifty villages grouped differently at 
different times, there were to be shires with fixed 
boundaries. Instead of ruling scions of the 
Welsh royal race, there were to be a sheriff, a 
coroner, and bailiffs of commotes in each shire. 

Mona, being an island, was comparatively 
easy to make into a shire by itself, and it became 
the county of Anglesey. The wild district of 
Snowdonia, hitherto the unconquered heart of 
independent Wales, together with the adjacent 
promontory that runs out into the western sea, 
became Carnarvonshire. 

The rest of Llewellyn's land became the shire 
of Merioneth, and these three counties were placed 
under the justice of Snowdon. The county court 
was held regularly in each of them every month ; 
and twice a year the sheriff was to make his 
tourn through the commotes, to inquire into all 


crimes and offences, after the traditional English 
manner. East of these territories lay the four 
centreds which had been in possession of King 
Edward before 1284, and which had risen in 
revolt because he had tried to introduce the shire 
system into them. The eastern portion was 
made into the shire of Flint, and the sherif 
Flint was to attend before the justice of Chester, 
and to bring his accounts to the exchequer of 

South of Llewellyn's land, beyond the Dovey, 
were the territories of the royal house of South 
Wales, a picturesque land of feudal castles. 
From the castles of Cardigan and Carmarthen, 
Edward tried to establish his rule by introducing 
the English shire system there. These two 
southern shires were also given their sherif 
their coroners, and their bailiffs of commotes, but 
were made subject to a separate justice- the 
justice of South Wales. 

In re-organising the principality, Edward 
ordered the justices, sheriffs, and other officers, 
to administer, as far as was practicable, the ancient 
laws of Wales, which he had publicly recited before 
himself and his nobles at the Castle of Rhuddlan. 
" We have," he then proclaimed, ' annulled 
some of them by the advice of our nobles, some we 
have allowed to remain and some others we have 
decreed shall be added." Edward I. was a states- 
man as well as a soldier. 

After the Norman Conquest the English kings, 
in order more effectively to protect the borders, 
had given warrants to such of their barons as 
desired them to seize and enter upon the lands of 
Welsh princes. The land thus seized was called 
a " lordship marcher" and was held from the 
crown as a fief, but not subject to the usual con- 


ditions of feudal tenure. The Statute of Rhudd- 
lan, which put an end to Welsh independence, did 
not apply to the territory of the Lords Marcher, 
and these districts remained as separate entities 
until 1536. 

From the date of the Statute of Rhuddlan the 
term ' ' Wales " applied exclusively to the portion 
directly under the King's rule. 

In 1535 (27 Henry VIII.) an Act was passed 
' for laws and justice to be ministered in Wales, 
in like form as it is in this realm (England) " 

By this Act the Marches or intermediate Border 
Lands between England and Wales, were divided 
into new counties, or annexed to old ones. The 
new counties were Monmouth (which became an 
English' county) Brecon, Denbigh, Montgomery, 
and Radnor, in Wales ; the English counties 
augmented by annexations were Gloucester, Here- 
ford, and Salop ; the Welsh counties augmented 
were Cardigan, Carmarthen, Glamorgan, Merion- 
eth, and Pembroke. 

The same Act directed the Chancellor of Eng- 
land to issue a commission to such persons as he 
should deem fit to inquire and view all the said 
shires of Carmarthen, Pembroke, Cardigan, Mon- 
mouth, Brecon, Radnor, Montgomery, Glamorgan, 
and Denbigh ; and thereupon ' ' to divide each of 
them into so many Hundreds as should be thought 
most convenient, and to certify the said Hundreds 
to the High Court of Chancery ; which Hundreds 
(after such certificate) should be used and taken 
as other Hundreds were in every other shire within 
the realm of England." 

By this Act Wales was removed from the juris- 
diction of the Lords-Marcher, each of whom 
had been a kinglet in his own territory. The 
principality was also, with this legal constitution 


of its twelve counties, brought within the English 
parliamentary system. Eight years afterwards 
another Act was passed creating the courts of 
Great Sessions to which was assigned the work 
carried on by the Commissioners of Assize in 
England. These courts were held in each of the 
twelve counties, and they went on practically 
without alteration, down to 1830. 

Similarly, at a later period, James I. when 
modelling the Scotch local government upon the 
English shire system, appointed " Commissioners 
of the Middle Shires." After the Union of 1603 
there no " Borders " they had become 
the " Middle Shires." 

Here a glance may be given at the English 
shire system as it has been introduced into the 
sister kingdom of Ireland. Henry II., after 
landing at Waterford in 1171, and establishing 
his authority in the south-east of the island, had 
not been in Ireland six months before he had 
divided the district ceded to him into counties, 
appointing sheriffs and setting up courts of law 
on the traditional English plan. King John 
continued the process with fresh annexations, 
and by his time there were three Palatinates in 
Ireland, namely Leinster, which had been granted 
to Strongbow, earl of Pembroke ; Meath to De 
Lacy ; and Ulster to De Courcy. To these were 
subsequently added Ormond and Desmond ; and 
Strongbow's Palatinate of Leinster was split up 
into rive smaller palatinates. 

The power of the Irish Lord Palatine was all 
but absolute. He had his Palatine Court, with 
its judges, sheriffs, coroners, and other usual 
officers, the territories being divided into counties. 
By 1569 the whole of Ireland had been finally 
divided into shires. 


Presently as England was unable to protect her 
settlers in Ireland, they refused to call themselves 
English any longer, save only those in the " five 
obedient shires " which came to be known as the 
English Pale, outside which the king's writ no 
longer ran. 

Two separate codes of law grew up, one for 
the English Ireland, which then included ten 
counties, though it afterwards shrank to four ; 
the other for the rebellious English, which prac- 
tically included the rest of Ireland. English 
law could not be enforced outside the Pale, and 
from time to time many ferocious Acts were passed, 
which tended not merely to separating the two 
classes of subjects, but to keep them from ever 

By the reign of Mary the area of the shire lands 
was still limited, though increasing. I^eix and a 
portion of OfFaly, some of the more profitable 
lands of the centre, were leased to English colonists, 
and called Queen's County, in compliment to the 
Queen ; while an adjacent territory was named 
King's County, in compliment to Philip, her hus- 
band ; at the same time Dangen became Philips- 
town, and Campa was re-named Maryborough. 
Other counties were formed in 1562. 

Not till the time of James I. was every portion 
of Ireland made into shire land, when the last 
remnant of the native laws, as made by the 
Brehons or ancient law-givers of the land, was 
abolished. After the great Ulster Confiscation 
of 1607 seventeen new counties were formed. 

In speaking of an Irish county, it is customary 
to omit the preposition ; thus, while we say the 
' county of York," across the channel it is correct 
to speak " Co. Cork." 

In Ireland the name Barony is given to a Petty 
Sessional Division. 


In the majority of cases the name of an English 
county will give a clue as to its probable origin ; 
whether it represents an ancient kingdom, or was 
a district occupied by settlers, or whether it was 
formed as an area of government around a burghal 
centre, and took its name from that centre. 

As the Heptarchy faded out of existence, and 
a united England came into being, the original 
Saxon kingdoms declined to the position of Earl- 
doms ; in other words, they became, for all 
practical purposes counties. 

Sussex, Essex, Wessex, and Middlesex were the 
kingdoms, as the names imply, of the southern, 
eastern, western and central Saxons. Wessex 
has disappeared from the list of counties. The 
south Saxons also founded Surrey, a name which 
appears in Robert of Gloucester's Chronicle in 
the form of Sothe-reye, that is, the south realm. 
Norfolk and Suffolk were the northern and southern 
divisions of the East-Anglian folk. Another 
shire name which reveals an ancient kingdom is 
Kent, though the name is one of British origin 
which the Jutish invaders just adopted ; it sig- 
nifies the territory of the Cantii, and is derived 
from a Celtic word for " corner " or " headland," 
which geographically Kent is. 

The eighth and last of this group is Northum- 
berland, though its area is but a poor shrunken 
remnant of the once extensive Anglian kingdom 


of Northumbria the country north of the 

Northumberland is a name, the origin of which 
may be attributed to its relative position land 
north of the Humber ; or, if regarded as another 
form of Northumbria, as a piece of tribal nomen- 
clature applied to the reduced area of a modern 
county, carved out of that ancient kingdom. 

The points of the compass, as might be ex- 
pected from a hardy race whose " home was on 
the wave," entered largely into Saxon nomen- 
clature ; the cardinal points were never lost sight 
of as we see not merely in the county names 
as South-Seaxe, North-folk, and so on but in 
such place-names as Aston (East-town), Weston 
(West-town) Norton (North-town), and Sutton 
(South-town), of which they have left us scores of 
examples. The same method of structure is 
seen in the name of Northamptonshire or North 
Hants the English county which touches the 
greatest number of other counties. 

The second group of county-names also makes 
up a list of eight ; they are those in which are 
preserved the names of ancient clans, or of some 
prevailing tribe. 

The intermixture of the two races, where the 
conquering Teutons permitted the dispossessed 
Celts to remain among them, could not have 
been without important results on the language 
of the locality, and certainly on the place-names. 
In Wessex and in Mercia the bulk of the popula- 
tion was Celtic. 

Even so late as the time of Henry II., Here- 
fordshire was not entirely Anglicized, and it was 
not till the reign of Henry VIII. that Monmouth- 
shire was first numbered among the English 
counties. The nomenclature of these two coun- 
ties, however, was not affected by this fact. 


In the name Cornwall, which is equivalent to 
Cornwales, " the kingdom of the Welsh of the 
Horn/' is recorded the fact that the Britons were 
driven into this peninsula as they were into 
Wales, and given the same nickname, 
" Foreigners," by their overbearing conquerors. 
Another body of Britons found security in the 
hills of Cumberland, otherwise " the land of the 
Cymri," the real name of the Welsh. By some 
authorities the name of Cornwall has been derived 
from the Cornavii tribe. 

In Devon survives the name of the Celtic tribe, 
the Damnonii (a word which has been claimed to 
be of Phoenician origin, made up of Dan or Dun, 
1 a hill," and moina, " mines"). The Cornish 
called this county Dunan, but under Saxon rule 
it became Devenascyre or Devonshire. 

According to English mythology, the name 
Devonshire is a corruption of Deboii's share. 
This Debon was one of the heroes who came 
with Brutus from Troy. One of the giants that 
he slew in the South coasts of England was Coulin, 
whom he chased to a vast pit, eight leagues across. 
The monster trying to leap this pit, fell backwards, 
and lost his life in the chasm. When Brutus 
allotted out the island, this portion became 
Debon's share. Thus in Spenser's Faery Queen 
(ii. 10). 

And eke that ample pit, yet far renowned 
For the great leap which Debon did compell 

Coulin to make, being eight lugs of ground 

Into the which retourning back he fell .... 
In mede of these great conquests by them got 
Corineus had that province utmost west 

And Debon's share was that is Devonshire. 

Although Wessex disappeared from the map, 
its divisions retain good Teutonic names. In the 
names Dorset and Somerset, the terminal " set " 
or seat, signifies the habitation of settlers. In 


the word Wiltshire again, the t belongs to this 
root ; in the Saxon Chronicle the men of the 
county are called Wilsaetan, just as the men of 
Dorset and Somerset are called Dornssetan and 
Somerssetan ; it was the seat or ' ' settlement of 
the Wyltic tribe," a people found in Germany in 
the sixth century. 

Somerset may possibly have been named from 
the Saxon Sumerton, because of the summer- 
like temperature of the locality the Welsh for the 
same reason called it Glad-arhaf. Dorset is 
believed to reveal the name of the Durotriges, or 
' dwellers by the water." 

In the will of Alfred the Great, Dorset, Somer- 
set, Wilts, and Devon are enumerated as 
' Wealhcynne," a phrase which proves that 
these counties were then Celtic in blood and lan- 
guage, although politically they belonged to the 
Anglo-Saxon Commonwealth. Wiltshire may 
possibly be Wilton-shire, Wilton being a con- 
traction of Wily-town, a town inhabited by a 
mixed race, on the river Wiley. 

Worcester, the British name for which was 
Wigorn, was the country of the Hwiccas. In 
Anglo-Saxon charters the name appears as 
Wegerna-cester, Weogern, Wihgeraceastre, and a 
variety of forms up to the tenth century, when 
the addition of ' ' scire " is made to the name of 
the county ; in one instance the town is specified 
as " in metropoli Huicciorum." The country of the 
Hwiccas extended from the lower Severn halfway 
into Warwickshire. 

In the name of Nottingham we have a relic of 
an old English tribe of troglodytes, of whom very 
few other traces remain. The word Nottingham 
disguises the original form Snot-incga-ham, the 
ham or home of " the children of the caves." 


An old British name for Nottingham was Tyogo- 
fawr, " the house of the cave-dwellers." The 
sand-rocks on which this town is built are easily 
perforated, and rock houses existed there in the 
last century. Mortimer's Hole, under Notting- 
ham Castle is a cave well known to history. 

According to the thirteenth century scribe, 
Roger of Wendover, Nottingham was called in 
the tongue ot the Britons, Tinguobanc, which 
meant the ' ' house of dens," or of caves. 

The names of the great bulk of the English 
shires, as might be expected from the way these 
divisions were formed, were borrowed from the 
county-towns, from the burghal centres around 
which they grew up as administrative areas. 
In these cases, which constitute our third group, 
where the shire name is obtained from that of the 
dominating town within its borders, it will be 
necessary to get at the meaning and derivation 
of the names of the respective towns. 

Alfred the Great and his successors had built 
a number of " burhs," which it was the duty of 
the neighbouring free-holders to garrison and 
maintain. These strongholds, though some- 
times called castles, were really stockaded mounds ; 
it was with their aid that an end had at last been 
put to the Danish forays ; and these places be- 
came the centres for the new divisions or ad- 
ministrative shires in the Midlands. 

Those so named had, as a rule, a different his- 
torical foundation from the counties with tribal 
names, such as Devon, Essex, or Kent. With 
hardly an exception names of the former class 
belong to the Mercian or Northumbrian king- 
doms, which were conquests or annexations 
posterior to the date of the Saxon immigration. 
Successive districts, as they were annexed, tooky 



Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms 


their names from the town in which the earl held 
his court, and from which he governed his con- 
quered earldom. Names of the one class, like 
Sussex, point to the original tribal kingdoms ; 
those of the other, like Derbyshire, mark the 
boundaries of the subject provinces. 

Derby was at the first called North worth ig by 
the Saxons ; this was before the fortune of war 
had created the Danelagh, or Danish kingdom, 
where the Norsemen were predominant. Ac- 
cording to one theory the Danes, when they be- 
came paramount, rejected this name and called 
the place Derby, from deor "a. wild beast" and 
by, " an abode," because it was " the village of 
wild beasts," in a clearing of the great midland 
forest between Sherwood and Arden. Another 
opinion derives Derby from Derwentby, the 
village on the river Derwent. The Earls of 
Derby take their title, not from the Co. Derby, 
but from West Derby in Lancashire, which is 
always pronounced as if spelt with a. 

Some etymologist derives Durham, like Derby, 
and makes it signify the " home of wild beasts." 
This origin is more than doubtful, as in the 
Saxon Chronicle the name is written Dunholm, 
which at least gives it the Danish suffix holm 
(an island or a grassy hill by the water) and not the 
Saxon ham (home). The bishop's signature is 
Dunelm, which again changes the prefix from the 
Danish Deor ("wild beast") to the British 
Dun, " a hill." 

The bishops have been used to sign in Latin 
and in French alternately, as each succeeded to the 
see ; thus if the last bishop signed Dunelm, the 
living incumbent of the see would sign Dunesm, 
the next again Dunelm ; and so on. 


A goodly number of the towns which designated 
the counties they dominated, have names associat- 
ing them with the waters on which they stood. 
Gloucester is ' ' the fortress near the clear water," 
derived from the British word gloyw, ' clear." 
The Britons called Gloucester Caer Gloyw, ' ' the 
fortress near the glowing or clear water," which 
the Romans Latinised into Glou or Glevum. 
The Saxons restored the old British name Glou, 
adding to it ceaster, to signify it had been a Roman 

Monmouth is at the mouth of the river Monnow, 
where it makes its junction with the Wye ; and 
the Monnow water was, in the British tongue, the 
Mynydd, or ' mountain river." This county 
with Glamorgan made the British Kingdom 
Gwent, a name meaning an open elevated county, 
Latinised into Venta by the Romans, and some- 
times called Wentsel or Wentsland. 

The name of Lincolnshire is obtained from its 
chief town Lincoln, which was a British fortress 
on the river Lindis, now the Witham. The 
Romans in succession made the place one of their 
chief stations, established a colony there, and 
called it Lindum Colonia, from which it is easy 
to trace the contracted form of Lincoln which 
is substantially a Latin name for an English town. 
The Lindum is a corruption of the old British 
Llyn-dune, or ' fen-town." In Early English 
times the county was sometimes known as South- 

Another river-named town is Leicester, the 
cester or ' ' camp on the Leir " or Ligera, now called 
the Soar. (Some authorities, however, derive 
Leicester from Legionis Castra, precisely as they 
do Chester from Castra Legionis, each place having 
been the permanent station of a Roman legion.) 


York is a contraction of Eure-wic (pronounced 
Yor-ric) the Eure being now called the Ouse. 
The Romans called the place Eboracurn, and the 
Archbishop signs himself Ebor. 

Obviously Lancaster is the ' castra on the 
I/line/' or the Lon as its older pronunciation was. 
Popular tradition, as unreliable as it is fanciful, 
has derived Lancaster from Lang Kester, that is 
Long Christopher, who in far away times used to 
carry travellers over the river Lune at this spot. 

Cheshire, made up from Chester, is Castra-shire. 
Chester was called by the Romans Devana castra 
(the camp town of Deva, or Dee-mouth). But it 
was pre-eminently the great Roman city, the 
Castra that it had been a British settlement, the 
chief stronghold of the Ordorvices, was quite 
ignored the Latin Chester, without any Celtic 

Among the Saxons there were few towns worthy 
the name ; markets and fairs were often held at 
fords or bridges, where road and river met, and 
hence it is that many towns which eventually 
grew up at these points bear the word ford or the 
word bridge as part of their names. 

Several in the same category were fording places, 
whose importance arose from the traffic brought 
to them as well-frequented places. Oxford is a 
good example. In Ceadwalla's grant to the 
abbey of Abingdon, made in Saxon times, mention 
is made of " eoccenforda," which is believed to be 
the earliest form of Oxford, the name of which 
long remained in the form Oxenford, literally 
' the ford for oxen." 

Hertford in its pronunciation, if not in its 
spelling, is plainly " the hart's ford," although 
an origin has been claimed for it in Harting's- 
ford. Taylor traces it through the Celtic rhyd, 
a ford, as a reduplication of terms. 


Stafford is popularly derived from " the staff- 
ford," the town at which the shallow So we could 
be crossed by the aid of a staff. The old form, 
however, was Stsethford the ford nearby a land- 
ing place ; staithe being an old English name for a 
riverside landing. 

Some antiquarians explain the name Hereford 
as a Saxon word meaning ' ' army-ford," forgetting 
that the Saxons called the place Feren-lege, that 
is " the meadow of fern." One of its British 
names was Henffordd, that is " the old way." 
Probably the true etymology is from its other 
British name Cser-fFawydd, corrupted by the 
Saxons to Harford and then to Hereford. This 
etymology is supported by Shakespeare's accenting 
the word as two syllables in the fine 

Harry of Hereford, Lancaster, and Derby. 

Some old writers spell the name Hariford. 

The etymology of the name Bedford has given 
rise to much controversy. The first syllable Bed 
occurs in a number of place-names, but in this 
case it has been very variously interpreted. On 
Saxon coins minted in the place the town's name 
appears in the form Bedafor, and in the contraction 
Bedaf and Beda. Anciently the name was fre- 
quently written as Bedanford, which has been 
taken as an abbreviation of Bedicanford, meaning 
the " fortress by the ford." Another contention 
is that the name is derived from the Cymric 
Bedw, ' a birch grove," because it was the 
' ' ford in the birch woods " ; and yet another that 
its signification is " the beggars' ford," derived 
from Bedica, a beggar. Many incline to regard 
the first syllable as the relic of a personal name, 
Beda or Bedca, and a few have even claimed 
the word Bedford as equivalent to Bideford, other- 
wise By-the-ford, 


Cambridge appears in the Anglo - Saxon 
Chronicle, under date 875, as Grantanbryce, ' ' the 
bridge over the Granta " ; it also appears at an 
early date as Granta-ceaster, or Grantchester. 
It is therefore evident that the town practically 
occupied the site of the Roman station, Granta. 
Spenser and Drayton call the river on which it 
stands, the Grant. But Chaucer calls the town 
Cante brigge ; and the river has for centuries been 
known as the Cam. It is difficult to believe that 
Cam is a corruption of Granta. Whatever the 
river was called, it is more than probable it was 
crossed by a ford long before it was spanned by a 
bridge, and that Cambridge, like Oxford, derived 
its earliest importance from a water-crossing. 
The Rev. Isaac Taylor says that in 
' Camboritum," the ancient name of Cambridge, 
the syllable rit represents the Celtic root rhyd, 
" a ford." 

At Camboritum two great Roman roads inter- 
sected, one of which, the Via Devana, was made 
to pass sheer through the river by the construction 
of a paved causeway, laid on the bed of the 
sluggish stream. For some reason best known to 
themselves the Roman engineers did not throw a 
bridge across the Granta, or the Cam, whichever 
they called it ; and the fact which emerges is that 
for centuries the place was known as a " ford of 
the Cam," but by Chaucer's time had changed its 
name to Cam-bridge. The primeval fortress 
of the Britons, covering some sixty acres, and de- 
fended by mighty earthworks, a formidable strong- 
hold which the Roman conquerors appropriated, 
stood on the left bank of the river. 

Warwick, which gives its name to Warwick- 
shire, was at first the Weringwic, the fortress- 
village, or station of soldiers. 


Huntingdon is not improbably the Hunters' 
hill ; the terminal don signified a hill-fortress. 
These last two names indicate an origin through 
conquest and annexation at a date posterior to 
the Saxon tribal immigration. 

Hampshire is a contraction of Hamptonshire, 
named from the county-town Hampton, standing 
on the river Anton, and now called Southampton, 
to distinguish it from Northampton. The Shire 
is also called the County of Southampton. The 
natives prefer not to derive the name from the 
river, but from the fine old Saxon word ham, 
making it the homestead of the original Teutonic 
settlers. Ham, like the German heim, signifies, 
at first, an inclosure, that which hems in ; and in 
essence expresses the sanctity of the family bond, 
of the home, among our Anglo-Saxon progenitors. 

The Isle of Wight, which forms part of the 
county was called, according to the Anglo Saxon 
Chronicle, after the name of Wihtgar, great-grand- 
son of King Cedric, who conquered the island. 

Northampton in the Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 
917, is Hantun, and in Domesday Book, North 
An tone. In 1087 it becomes North-hamtun. 

Shropshire and Salop are names derived, 
directly or indirectly, from Shrewsbury. In 
Domesday Book (1086) the town appears as 
Sciropesberie ; and the county as Sciropescire ; 
in the Pipe Rolls (1159) Salope and Saloscir appear 
for the first time. In the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, 
tinder the year 1006, the town's name is written 
Scropesbyri, and the county 'sScrobbesbyrigscire ; 
in which the Scrope or Scrobbe is probably a 
personal name, though Shrewsbury has some- 
times been interpreted as Shrub-borough. As to 
pronunciation the sc in the first syllable was 
originally sounded as sk, but later became sh, and 


eventually just s. Then Srop, or Scrob, not being 
easy to say (though to this day, the vulgar pro- 
nunciation of the name in the immediate locality 
makes it Shropshire), the name in process of time 
developed into Slob, Slop, and ultimately into 
Salop. The word Salop is generally accepted as 
derived from the Norman " Sloppesburie," a 
corruption of the Saxon Scrobbes-burh (Shrub 
borough) the original of Shrewsbury. 

Another group of county names is constituted 
of those which are derived from some physical 
characteristic, or some dominant natural feature 
of the locality. Thus Rutland, or Roteland, 
obtains its name from the English word rot, 
" red," and is so called on account of its red soil. 

It is curious to notice how our Teutonic ances- 
tors seemed to seize upon any natural feature that 
differed from or reminded them of their native 
land. Denmark, the home of the Jutes, was an 
undulating land of low hills and spreading moor- 
land, consisting mostly on the surface of meadows 
and beech woods. Of its forests more than fifty 
per cent, were beech trees. So among our county 
names we have Buckinghamshire taking its name 
from the county town, which was the " ham in 
the becen," or the village among the familiar 

No county bears a name of greater historic 
value than Berkshire which was named from the 
tree under which its shire-mote was held in the 
very earliest times. According to Asser, the 
biographer of Alfred the Great, than whom no 
authority could be more weighty, the name is 
derived from Bar oc (bare oak) otherwise a polled 
oak in the forest of " Wyndesore," under which 
the people were accustomed to assemble for the 
transaction of the public business of the shire. 


Speed, the sixteenth century antiquary, remarks 
" Bark-shire whether of the Box-woods there 
sited, according to the censure of Asserius 
Menevensis, or from a naked and beare-lesse 
Oke-tree, whereunto the people usually resorted 
in troublesome times, to conferre for the State, 
I determine not." 

Of the last county to be treated here, the Saxon 
name seems to have been West-moring-land, 
the west land of the moors." Geoffrey of Mon- 
mouth (1154) gives currency to a legend that Mar, 
son of Arviragus, one of the descendants of 
Brutus, the Trojan Wanderer, killed Rodric, a 
Pict, and set up a monument of his victory in a 
place which he called West-mar-land: ; and the 
chronicler adds that ' ' the inscription of this 
stone remains to this day." The second syllable 
has also been given as mere making the county 
to be West-mere-land. 

This completes the name-derivations of the 
forty English counties. Although the Welsh 
counties were not all named till a much later 
period, it will be convenient to deal with their 
nomenclature here. 

In North Wales four of the six counties are 
named after their chief towns, namely Carnarvon- 
shire, Flintshire, Denbighshire and Montgomery- 
shire. Anglesey obtained its name from its 
Teutonic invaders, and Merioneth has retained 
its ancient British name. 

In South Wales five of the six counties have 
names that correspond with those of the chief 
towns ; namely Cardiganshire, Pembrokeshire, 
Carmarthenshire, Brecknockshire, and Radnor- 
shire (New Radnor a town of 3,000 inhabitants, 
is not now the county-town of the last-named, but 
Presteign, a mere village) while Glamorganshire 


has a Celtic name, the real origin of which has been 
lost in the mists of antiquity. 

Anglesey is generally supposed to be, literally 
interpreted, ' the Englishman's island " ; the 
Rev. Isaac Taylor makes it ' ' Onguls eg," meaning 
" the isle of the strait." By the Ancient Britons 
the island seems to have been called Mon, sig- 
nifying remote ; this the Romans Latinised into 
Mona, ' the nurse of Wales," because of its 

Carnarvon is Caer-yn-Arfon, the city of Arfon ; 
Arfon being the land over against Mona's isle. 
In Gray's ode ' ' The Bard," we have the reference 

On dreary Arvon's shore they lie. 

Flint is not so called because it is the county of 
siliceous rocks. Old documents make allusion 
to Castellum apud Fluentum, " the castle on the 
flow," or tideway. The word Fluentum, applied 
to the adjacent town on the Dee estuary, has in 
course of time been corrupted into Flynt or Flint. 

Denbigh like the Flemishly corrupted form, 
Tenby is a Welsh word signifying ' ' cliff." 

Montgomery till 1533 was a part of Powysland. 
The castle there was captured from the Welsh 
by Roger de Montgomeri, a Norman noble who 
gave his own name to it. The name of the 
castle, as in the case of Flint, passed on to the 
town which grew up round its walls ; and when 
Henry VIII. made it the county-town, it was 
allowed to name the shire in which it stood a 
unique example of a Norman name so applied. 
The Welsh call it Baldwinshire (Sir Dre Valdwyn) 
after the original holder of the castle. 

Radnorshire was named by Henry VIII. from 
New Radnor, which he made the capital of the 
county. Probably the literal signification of 
Radnor is ' ' red shore." 


Pembroke is Pen-bro, signifying the " head of 
the land " a name highly descriptive of its 
physical features. 

Cardigan is a corruption of the old name 
Keredigion, the country of Keridig, a son of 
Cunedda, a sixth century Welsh prince. 

Merioneth is also said to be derived from a 
personal name that of Meirion, a Welsh saint, 
and another son of Cunedda. A second derivation, 
however, has been proffered " mseronaeth/' a 
dairy farm. 

Another Welsh legend asserts that Brecon was 
named after Brycnan, the eponymic king whose 
daughter was martyred by the heathen Saxons 
and Picts at Merthyr Tydfil. 

Carmarthen is believed to be Maridunum, the 
sea fortress, which with the prefix Caer signifying 
the city, became Cser-marthen. 

An old British legend chronicled by Geoffrey 
of Monmouth gives a romantic, though highly 
improbable origin for the name of Glamorgan. 
He says that Cundah and Morgan, the sons of 
Gonorill and Regan, usurped the crown at the 
death of Cordeilla. The former resolved to reign 
alone, chased Morgan into Wales, and slew him 
at the foot of a hill, a place ever afterwards called 
Gla-morgan, or Glyn-morgan, otherwise the valley 
of Morgan. A more probable derivation is from 
mor the sea, and gant side, and makes the name 
Glamorgan express " the place by the sea-side " 
and synonymous with the Celtic Armorica. 

The Cornish and Welsh languages, it may be 
noted here, were originally indentical ; they were 
two branches of the Cymric, as the Armoric of 
Brittany is another. 

In remote parts of Devon the ancient Cymric 
speech feebly lingered on till Tudor times, and in 


Cornwall was still the general medium of inter- 
course. On the other hand in the Welsh border 
counties of Glamorgan, Flint, Denbigh, and 
Montgomery, the English language has encroached 
very largely upon, and in many parts has dis- 
placed, the native language. 

While the natural features of the country were 
allowed to retain their British names every 
river-name in the island, for instance, is of Celtic 
origin the towns, strongholds, and political 
divisions had Teutonic names conferred upon 
them by the dominant race. Exceptions to this 
rule may be found in the border counties of Salop, 
Hereford, Gloucester and Devon, and in the 
mountain fastnesses of Derbyshire and Cumber- 
land, where occasionally village names occur with 
the prefixes Ian and ire interspersed among the 
Saxon patronymics. 

And yet most of the shire names contain Celtic 
roots. The Rev. Isaac Taylor gives the following 
list of such Cambridge, Cornwall, Cumberland, 
Dorset, Durham, Gloucester, Hertford, Hunting- 
don, Kent, Lincoln, Lancaster, Monmouth, North- 
umberland, Oxford, Worcester, and York, together 
with all the Welsh and Scotch counties except 
Anglesey, Montgomery, Haddington, Kircud- 
bright, Selkirk, Stirling, Sutherland, and Wigton. 

There are a few of the chief ancient centres of 
population which bear Celtic names, as London, 
Winchester, Gloucester, Exeter, Lincoln, York, 
Lancaster and Carlisle ; while some of those which 
originated from isolated family settlements in the 
uncleared woods are distinguished by Teutonic 
names, as Buckingham and Derby. 

Anglesey in Wales, and twelve counties in Eng- 
land Cornwall, Cumberland, Durham, Essex, 
Kent, Middlesex, Norfolk, Northumberland, Suf- 


folk, Surrey, Sussex, and Westmoreland bear 
names which do not terminate in " shire." 

In three cases the terminal ' ' land " would per- 
haps make the addition of shire redundant, al- 
though the objection has not applied equally in the 
case of Rutlandshire. As explained elsewhere 
Durham was originally an ecclesiastical diocese, 
and not an earldom or civil shire. 

For obvious reasons the termination " shire" 
has never been appended to the Celtic state of 
Cornwall. Nor has it been attached to Essex, 
Sussex, Middlesex, Surrey, Kent, Norfolk, and 
Suffolk, because anciently they were autonomous 
kingdoms, and not portions "shorn" away from 
other states. The same distinction has been 
claimed, though not for the same reason, or a 
particularly valid one, for Somerset and Devon. 

Most of the English counties have by-names 
or convenient abbreviations of their full legal 
designations. Many of these terminate in s, 
which may be taken as signifying shire ; as Beds, 
Berks, Bucks, Staffs, Lanes, Lines, Yorks, Notts, 
Wilts, Hunts, and Herts. In some cases the ter- 
mination of shire is dropped without the addition 
of the s ; as in Warwick and Derby. 

Other counties are fortunate in finding short 
names easily understandable ; as Devon, Oxon, 
Salop, Rutland, Hants. Others again seem im- 
possible of curtailment as Durham, Hereford and 

The best authorities spell the name Gloucester 
in full ; Shakespeare and the Post Office cut it 
down to Gloster, which is tolerable and to be en- 
dured ; but the compromise between these two 
forms, sometimes accepted as good journalese 
Glocester, is without justification. 


The pronunciation of Derby whether the er 
be sounded like ar, as in clerk, person, Berkeley 
must remain a matter of taste. The same 
option is scarcely allowed us in the names Hert- 
fordshire and Berkshire, which are invariably pro- 
nounced Harfordshire and Barkshire. In the 
seventeenth century Derby was most frequently 
written as Darby, and the territorial title of 
nobility is always so pronounced. The departure 
from the usual sound of e in these words may be 
attributed to an alteration in the sound values of 
the vowels, and partly perhaps to original deriva- 


Each Saxon shire had a separate organisation, 
and the entire system of shires made up the king- 
dom. Its chief was called Ealdorrnan or Here- 
toga, according as he was engaged in peace or war. 

A Shire might be defined as containing a circuit 
or proportion of the realm into which the whole 
land is divided for the better goverment of it, and 
the more easy administration of justice ; so that 
there is no part of the kingdom that lies not 
within some county. 

Every county was also placed under the super- 
vision of a yearly officer called the Shire-reeve, 
who represented the king ; and of whose office more 
detail presently. 

Before the subdivision of the entire country 
into shires, the old subject kingdoms were some- 
times constituted earldoms. But the earls sought 
to make their office hereditary, and were powerful 
enough to give the king much trouble. During 
the Danish period, while the office of the Elder- 
man in the shires became less important that of 
the earl (the Danish " jarl " is equivalent to the 
Saxon ' ' eorl ") which became exalted, even at the 
expense of the royal authority. Siward, " the 
right valiant," earl of Northumbria, the famous 
Leofric, earl of Mercia, and the rebellious Godwin, 
earl of Wessex, made themselves semi-independent. 
Of the latter's two sons, Tostig became earl of 
Northumbria, and Harold actually acquired the 
crown of England. 


The Norman Conqueror discreetly limited the 
powers of his barons and earls, except in two cases ; 
the Bishop of Durham, who had to keep irder on 
the Scotch borders, and the Earl of Chester, who 
had a similar responsibility on the Welsh Marches. 

The Ealdorman or Elderman (practically the 
same word as Alderman) was not a territorial 
noble, but an appointed officer, who held a meet- 
ing of all the people of the shire twice a year, to 
settle disputes, punish offenders, and collect fines. 
His social status was different from that of an 
earl, though his functions may have been prac- 
tically the same. 

In dealing with these officials there was at times 
considerable trouble ; some of them being found 
dishonest, and not a few of them ambitious. 
Ethelred made an ineffective attempt to restrict 
the powers of the Eldermen. 

William of Malmesbury accounts for thirty-two 
counties existing in the reign of Ethelred, and 
Robert of Gloucester for thirty-five, including 
' Winchelcomb," since joined to Gloucestershire. 
No mention is made in these lists of Cornwall, 
Cumberland (styled also Carlisle-shire) Northum- 
berland, Lancaster, Westmoreland, Durham, Mon- 
mouthshire, and Rutland. Cornwall, says a 
Tudor writer who quotes these old chroniclers, 
remained British till William the Conqueror gave 
it to his brother, Robert of Moreton ; Cumber- 
land, Northumberland, " Westmerland," and 
Durham were ranged, in the Saxon period, either 
under Scottish or under Danish rule ; Lancashire 
was no county until Henry III. made it so, nor 
had Rutland any Earl till the time of Richard 
II. This is not strictly correct, but the list of the 
thirty-two earliest counties is interesting from 
their classification which is given thus The 


nine counties under West Saxon law were Kent, 
Sussex, Surrey, " Hantshire," Berkshire, Wilts- 
shire, Somerset, Dorset, and Devonshire ; another 
eight were under Mercian law, namely Oxford, 
Warwick, Hereford, Gloucester, Shropshire, 
Stafford, Worcester, and Cheshire ; and the other 
fifteen were in Ethelred's reign under Danish 
law ; namely Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk, Norfolk, 
Hertford, Cambridge, Bedford, Buckingham, 
Huntingdon, " Northamton," Leicester, Derby, 
Nottingham, Lincoln, and Yorkshire. 

It is not probable that there existed, side by 
side, in every shire area, both a territorial (and 
sometimes hereditary) ruler, known either as 
"earl" or " jarl " (or in later times by the 
Frankish equivalent, ' Count "), and the 
king's appointed highest representative, the 
" Ealdorman." But from an early period there 
came into existence an official who was the real 
and actual executive of royal authority, one to 
whom the practical government of the shire was 
entrusted, either as the Earl's deputy or the 
Ealdorman's subordinate. He was known as 
the Sheriff, or Shire-reeve. In English, the 
name implies simply and directly what he was 
the Officer of the Shire : but the Latin equivalent 
still in legal use ' ' Vice-Comes," shows his original 
position as subordinate to that of the Count, or 
Earl. In process of time, however, it was upon 
the Sheriff or Vice-Comes that the civil adminis- 
tration of the county totally devolved he super- 
seded both earl and ealdorman, and the Shire 
Moot or County Assembly became the Sheriff's 

The Ealdormen, says an ancient authority, 
at first enjoyed ' ' the title of Earles, in whose 
disposition was the government, upon delegation 


from the king, the title being officiary and not 
hereditary, except in some particular shire." 

According to one learned authority, when, in 
process of time, the Ealdormen merged into Earls, 
the latter, by reason of their high employment, 
military duties, and attendance upon the king's 
person, not being able to transact the business of 
the county, the burden of it was delivered entirely 
into the hands of the Sheriffs. 

After the Conquest only four Ealdormen were 
to be found in the whole of England, the ad- 
ministration of several shires being in the hands 
of each of these. By this time the Saxon idea of 
kinship as the basis of society had so weakened 
that the call was urgent for a king's executive 
officer in each shire. It was under these cir- 
cumstances that the Sheriff rose to be the king's 
right hand in the county area. 

According to I^ord Littleton, in his History of 
Henry JI.,lib2fol. 217, each county was anciently 
an earldom, so that previous to the re'gn of King 
Stephen, there were not any titular earls, nor 
more earls than counties, though there might be 

The double nomenclature of county and shire 
reflects the social and political conditions under 
which the terms originated. Shire is a word 
connected by Trench with ' ' share " and ' ' shear " 
and is properly a piece of land sheared off. 

When a Saxon king created an earl, it did not 
occur to men's thoughts, accustomed as they 
were to deal with realities, that such should be 
merely a titular creation, or exist without ter- 
ritorial jurisdiction ; and a share or shire was 
assigned to him to govern, which also gave him 
his title. 


At the Conquest this Saxon officer was dis- 
placed by a Norman, the earl by the count (comes 
meaning originally " companion " one who had 
the honour of close companionship to the leader, 
or king) : it was then the shire became the county 
(comitatus) or the territory governed by the count. 

Strangely enough the title count has disap- 
peared from the titles of English nobility, and the 
earl has recovered its place and is the most ancient 
of our titles of nobility ; notwithstanding which, 
the wife of the earl is called a countess. Ter- 
ritorially the two names " shire " and " county " 
still survive, side by side. 

Many Spanish counts bear the devices of a 
cauldron in their arms which is taken to signify 
their greatness in housekeeping and ability in 
maintaining those whom they lead. Folk- 
Lorists have thought the famous porridge pot of 
Guy, Earl (comes) of Warwick, may have had 
some connection with this association. 

Whilst the original Saxon shares were generally 
earldoms, no territorial significance is now at- 
tached to a title of nobility appropriating a 

Quite recently Ix>rd Carrington, on being raised 
a step in the peerage, took the title Earl of I/incoln- 
shire, although the family seat is situated in 

A more glaring example is that of the Duke of 
Devonshire, who is a great territorial magnate in 
several counties, particularly in Derbyshire, yet 
owns no estates in the county from which his title 
is derived. Tradition explains this by the story 
that when the first patent of nobility was made out 
for the head of the Cavendishes in the reign of 
James I., the Clerk made the mistake of writing 
Devonshire for Derbyshire, and that the error 


was allowed to go unrectified. It must be borne 
in mind that the first Cavendish dignity was an 
Earldom, and there was already in existence an 
earldom of Devon, in the Courtney family. By 
the way, it is contended by some precisions that 
the county should be called Devon, and not 

Cornwall, as previously noted, is a royal duchy 
belonging to the Prince of Wales ; there are other 
county-names which have been strictly reserved 
for use by princes of the royal blood as titular 
dukedoms ; as Cumberland and Kent. There 
are in existence also dukedoms of Somerset, Rut- 
land, Northumberland, and Norfolk. The last- 
named also carries the second title, Earl of Surrey. 

The earl of Wiltshire is borne as the second 
title of the Marquis of Winchester, while one 
nobleman appropriates two county-names the 
Earl of Suffolk and Earl of Berkshire. Among 
the other counties which now name titular earl- 
doms are Buckinghamshire, Essex, Huntingdon, 
and Westmorland. There are other county names 
in use as titles, some borne as secondary titles. 

Obviously, from the foregoing, a new peer in 
choosing a title could not be permitted, if below 
the rank of Earl ("Count") to adopt the name of 
a county or a county town. 

Three grades of earls are described and de- 
fined in Burke's Peerage, of whom the Earl 
Palatine is highest. 

The style of an Earl is " Right Honourable," 
and he is officially addressed by the Crown as 
' Our tnisty and right well-beloved Cousin," 
a mode of address invented and artfully used by 
Henry IV., that prince having been either by his 
wife, his mother, or his sisters actually related or 
allied to every earl in the kingdom. 



Having seen how the shires were formed and 
named, the next point to claim the attention, is 
their organisation for gubernatorial purposes. 

When communication between distant parts 
of the country was difficult, the problem of govern- 
ment from a central authority was not so easy to 
solve. In Tudor times, for example, under a 
highly organised Privy Council Government, it 
was found necessary (after the uprising of 1536, 
known as the Pilgrimage of Grace,) to strengthen 
the king's authority in two outlying parts of the 
realm by setting up divisional Councils, one for 
Wales and the Marches (see p. 71) and the other 
for the Five Northern Counties. The Northern 
Council was abolished by the Long Parliament, 
as was also the Court of Star Chamber. 

It seems probable that when the realm was 
originally divided into counties, it was done 
primarily with a view to the convenient ad- 
ministration of justice ; for the judicial business 
of the kingdom was in early times chiefly dis- 
patched in local courts, held in each different 
county, before the duly appointed officers of the 

Nor must the influence of the church in local 
government be overlooked. After their con- 
version to Christianity the influence of the clergy 
among the Saxons became very great, the humblest 
priest ranking with the landed gentry as a " mass 


thane." Originally the bishops' dioceses were 
ecclesiastical divisions co-extensive with the king- 
doms of the heptarchy, and therefore with the 
ancient kingdoms which became shires. Each 
diocese (or shire) beyond its civil divisions was 
ecclesiastically divided into parishes, co-ex- 
tensive with the Saxon township ; that is, into 
preost scyres, each being the district of a single 
priest. The Bishops became members ot the 
Witana Gemote or national Council, though in 
time they retired from participation in the work 
of the County Courts. 

Hume says that it was Alfred the Great who, 
' that he might render the execution of justice 
strict and regular, divided all England into 
Counties ; those Counties he subdivided into 
Hundreds ; and the Hundreds into Tithings ". 
The statement appears to be made on the au- 
thority of Ingulphus secretary to William the 
Conqueror who asserts that ' Alfred divided 
the kingdom into counties, hundreds and 
tithings." William of Malmesbury repeats the 
statement, and gives a reason for the measure ; 
namely, that it was to ensure safety of intercourse 
among the people that Alfred " appointed cen- 
turies which they call hundreds, and decennaries, 
that is to say tithings ; so that every Englishman 
living according to the law must be a member of 

In Saxon times the Court of the township was 
the Hallmote or Halimote ; but a little later this 
developed into the Court Baron, the Court Leet, 
or the Customary Court of the Manor having 
civil jurisdiction. It was a court of freeholders 
in which the steward of the manor acted as judicial 
officer. Every manor had a Court Baron, but a 
Court L,eet was a franchise granted by the crown 


conferring the criminal jurisdiction anciently exer- 
cised in the Hallmote now superseded by courts 
of summary jurisdiction. 

The constitution of the Hundred is found to be 
so anomalous that really it is difficult to divine 
on what principle it was founded. Some of the 
smallest Shires present the greatest number of 
Hundreds, but this may have arisen from their 
being more densely populated. 

That a Hundred consisted of a hundred families 
of freemen is, after all, a mere guess. In the 
time of Edward the Confessor, the Hundreds of 
Northamptonshire seem to have consisted of a 
hundred hides of land. In the north of England 
the Wapentake corresponded to the Hundred 
of the southern district. One authority states 
that a Hundred was a group of inhabitants which 
provided a hundred fighting-men tor the fyrd, 
or national army. 

There is a strange disproportion between the 
area of a Hundred in the southern and in the more 
northern counties ; the average number of square 
miles in a Hundred of Sussex or Kent being about 
four-and-twenty ; of Lancashire more than three 
hundred. The Saxon population would naturally 
be far the densest in the earlier settlements of the 
east and south, while more to the west and north 
their tenure would be one rather of conquest than 
of civilization, and the free families much fewer 
and more scattered. 

Other authorities maintain that the system of 
Shires and their sub-division into administrative 
units existed long before Alfred's time, not only 
in this country, but among all German nations. 
When this people planted themselves on a land, 
peaceably or otherwise, the family bond was the 
unit of government. Each family had a hide 


of land some thirty cultivable acres. It was 
book-land private property. Other families 
clustered around, for the protection and com- 
fort ot society. Ten families made the Tithing. 
A wider personal and territorial division being 
found necessary for administrative purposes, a 
group of a hundred families formed the then con- 
siderable community and hence the Hundred. 

Each tithing and hundred had its folk-land 
land comprising wood, heath, marsh, and pasture 
held in common, and which originally formed 
the mark or boundary of the small community. 
The quality of the soil and the nature of the 
surface differing in various parts of the country, 
also accounted for the varying dimensions of these 
territorial divisions. 

The Hundred and the Tithing constitute the 
normal or ordinary divisions of an English county ; 
but there are other divisions and subdivisions, 
in the names of which may be detected the im- 
port of such epochs in the nation's history as the 
accession of new blood by conquest and settlement. 

A Lathe or leth is a larger division of a county, 
containing three or four hundreds or wapentakes, 
as in Kent and Sussex. The root of the word 
lathe is German, signifying people, and was 
originally applied to subsidized colonists (Iceti) 
introduced by the Romans to defend a frontier. 
The lathes of Kent are in all probability a vestige 
of the Isetic organization of imperial Rome. The 
English name for the officer who presided in a 
lathe, was Lath-grieve, or Lathe-reeve, or some- 
times Ledgrave. 

The border counties of Northumberland, Cum- 
berland, Durham, and Westmoreland have 
divisions significantly named Wards, as has 
Lanarkshire on the other side the border. 


The Wapentake was a military division of all 
fighting men capable of bearing weapons, an 
organisation due to the Danish intruders, and 
found chiefly in Yorkshire and other northern 

The word Wapentake literally signifies the 
touching of arms, and was derived from the cere- 
mony which took place on the inauguration of 
the chief magistrate, when, having dismounted 
from his horse, he fixed his spear in the ground, 
which was then touched by the spears of those 
present. This was evidently the military origin 
of the Hundred, as adverted to by Tacitus, who, 
however, also mentions its civil or judicial des- 

While the Hundred indicated a peaceful Saxon 
settlement, and a Wapentake a Danish defensive 
settlement, later still came a Norman sub- 
division which must be classified with the latter. 
The Rape is a memorial of the violent trans- 
ference of landed property by the Norman Con- 
queror the lands being plotted out for division 
by the hrepp, or rope, just as they had been by 
Rolf in Normandy. The Hide, the Saxon unit 
of land, seems to have been measured off with a 
leather thong, as the Rape was with a hempen 
rope. Sussex is the only county which is 
divided into Rapes as weU as into Hundreds 
or Wapentakes. Wapentakes generally prevail 
north of the Trent. The presiding officer of a 
Rape was called Rape-reeve, and like the Lath- 
reeve, acted in subordination to the Shire-reeve. 

The counties divided into Wapentakes include 
Lincoln and Derby (which have also their Hun- 
dreds and Sokes, the latter a kind of manorial 
franchise) ; also Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, which 
apparently from their great size, were divided into 


thirds, called thirdings or tradings, now corrupted 
into Ridings. The word " thing" or " ding" 
is Scandinavian, and signifies a legislative assem- 
bly. A Riding, or as in Lincolnshire, a Trithing, 
was the jurisdiction of a third part of a county, 
placed under the government of a Reeve or 
Sheriff. Originally the officer who presided over 
a Trithing was known as a Tri thing-man. 

Originally the largest divisional area, the " Ga " 
or ' ' Scir " (that is, the Shire) was probably always 
defined by some natural boundary, as a river, a 
forest, or a mountain range ; and it is tolerably 
certain that some of the Shires bore the names by 
which they are still known quite a century in 
advance of Alfred's time. 

At the present day certain of the geographical 
counties are divided into smaller administrative 
counties. In Yorkshire they are the Ridings, 
and in Lincolnshire the Trithings, each having 
the jurisdiction of a county. In Yorkshire, the 
largest English county, the divisions are known 
respectively as the North Riding, the East Riding, 
and the West Riding. 

The extensive area of Lincolnshire is par- 
titioned into three " parts " ; they are known as 
Holland, Kesteven, and Lindsey. 

There is an East and a West Sussex, with 
Quarter Sessions at Lewes for the former, and at 
Horsham and Chichester for the latter, though 
the Assizes are held at Lewes only. 

There is also an East and a West Suffolk, ad- 
ministered from Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds 

In Cambridgeshire the Isle of Ely possesses in 
some respects the features of a distinct county. 

In Northamptonshire the Soke of Peterborough 
is an administrative county of itself, with peculiar 


A Soke is a locality which has some special 
' liberty," as the tenants being excused from cus- 
tomary burdens, or the privilege of holding a 
court within its own ' soke " or jurisdiction. 
Within the boundaries of the Soke of Peterborough 
are comprised thirty townships and hamlets. 
The Marquis of Exeter, the " first Civil Lord of 
the Soke," is (or was) Lord Paramount and 
Gustos Rotulorum having charge of the rolls of 
the Sessions or the Peace and of the Commission 
of the Peace. 

The administration of justice in the city is in 
the hands of a bench of magistrates, chosen from 
the Soke under the nomination ot the Custos 
Rotulorum and approved by the Crown, and 
these magistrates when sitting at Quarter Sessions 
had, till the igth century, powers of jurisdiction 
far more extensive than an ordinary Court of 
Quarter Sessions, in that they have the power of 
trying any offence, including murder, and as for 
long the Mayor of Peterborough (though reckoned 
' the least city and the poorest bishopric in 
England ") was said to be the only Mayor to have 
the power of convicting and sentencing a man to 

In Hampshire the mainland is administered as 
the County of Southampton, leaving the Isle of 
Wight a separate jurisdiction, though the Assizes 
for the whole are held at Winchester. In Wales 
the county of Carmarthen has a territorial division 
called a Commot a name believed to be derived 
from " commonty," a pasture right. 

It may be recalled that Cromwell divided 
England into eleven Districts, over each of which 
he appointed a Major-General, a military officer 
to enforce Puritan discipline (1655). Very soon 
did the country tire of the severities of military 


administration and gladly reverted to the old 
County system again. 

As the familiar unit of local self-government, 
the " county" is constantly being met with in 
English literature. In Bret Harte's novels of 
life in far western California, repeated allusions 
are made to the ' ' county " and to the ' ' Sheriff," 
and the limitation of the latter's authority to the 
confines of his own official area, just as it is in the 
Mother Country. Or if we turn to the page of 
history we find Richard Cobden in 1848 advocating 
a plan in what he describes as ' ' constitution 
tinkering," a subject then enjoying some amount 
of public attention. He proposed that each 
county should be governed by an elected assembly 
to replace the lord-lieutenant and the magistracy 
who then had charge of most of the local affairs. 
According to the plan he unfolded ' ' The head of 
this body, or rather the head of each county, to be 
the executive chief, partaking of the character of 
prefect or governor of State in the United States. 
By and by, when you require to change the con- 
stitution of the House of Lords, these county 
legislators may each elect two senators to an upper 
chamber or senate." 

One is suddenly reminded of Cobden's almost 
forgotten proposals, by the Ulster exclusion 
clauses suggested for the Irish Home Rule Bill 
by Mr. Asquith in 1914. In America, in England 
in Ireland, it is always the Shire unit which is 



Saxon Society was constituted on the basis of 
the family ; the whole nation was built on the 
family tie, cemented by the blood-bond of kinship, 
which to them implied mutual dependence and 
mutual responsibility. 

Local customs and local laws at this period 
governed the lives of the whole people. For any 
practical purposes there was no central govern- 
ment in existence ; there was no " state " dealing 
directly with the people, and if there were national 
laws there was certainly no uniform administration 
of them. 

The great bulk of all the justice was done in the 
local courts the Shire Moot and the Hundred 
Moot the king's own court being for the pro- 
tection of the royal rights, and a court for the 
causes of the king's barons. 

Originally, when as the national assembly as 
well as the judicial court of the tribal kingdom, 
held in the open air beneath the spreading shade 
of some mighty oak, the Scir-gemote, or Shire 
Moot, had possessed legislative functions. In 
London ' ' Paul's Cross " was the meeting-place 
for one of the chief Folk motes of the city. 

In the later Anglo-Saxon times a Shire Moot or 
County Court was held at the beginning of May 
and October, in which all the thanes were entitled 
to a seat and a vote. Its functions were judicial 


and it was presided over by the ealdorman (or the 
earl), with the assistance of the bishop. Hume 
justly remarks that among a people who lived 
in so simple a manner as the Anglo-Saxons, the 
judicial power is always more important than the 
legislative ; and the thanes were mainly indebted 
for the preservation of their liberties to their 
possessing the judicial power in their county courts. 

From the foundation of the kingdom the Shire 
was the largest administrative division ; the 
Sheriff occupied the position of royal steward in 
it, and has survived all the other functionaries. 

The County Court remained in Norman times 
as the tribunal before which almost all the criminal 
charges were determined. All the land-owners 
of the county under the presidency of the Sheriff 
and Bishop, formed the Court. They all took 
part, or had a right to take part, in a criminal 
trial, and they all looked on to see whether due 
proof of guilt or innocence was given. Into the 
methods and processes employed it is scarcely 
necessary to enter here ; but, as is well known, 
they included Trial by Ordeal, and the system of 
Compurgation. In the latter, the neighbours of 
the accused swore to a belief in his innocence, the 
testimony of each compurgator being estimated 
according to a scale of ' ' worth " an earl's oath, 
for instance, being equal to the oaths of six 
ceorls (the freemen cultivators of the soil) and so 
on. If the aggregate value of the oaths fell below the 
prescribed sum, the accused was found guilty. If 
the accused put himself upon the trial by ordeal, the 
weight of the pot of iron he was to bear, or the 
depth to which he was to plunge his arm into the 
hot water, was scrupulously pre-appointed by 
the law. The Assembly looked on. In trial by 
compurgation they added up the amount of the 


oaths ; in trial by ordeal they watched the effect 
of the hot iron, or hot water, upon the skin of 
the accused person ; and that was all they had to 
do. It was over the solemnity of their fellows' 
judgment, judicially exercised, that the Sheriff 
of the county and the Bishop of the diocese 
presided. When, in process of time, the Bishop 
disappeared from this civil court, the Sheriff, as 
direct representative of the King's authority, 
became the sole president. 

To assist in the dispensation of justice there 
seems to have been another class of official, called 
Deman in the original Saxon, but generally trans- 
lated judices in the Latin, who took part in ad- 
ministering and accepting the oaths of Com- 
purgators. It is difficult to realise the precise 
status of this officer in a court where the suitors 
were the judges, but conceivably the judex may 
have been the ' ' doomsman " of the Hundred. 
In any case he acted as deputy to the Sheriff 
in the administration of justice. 

The sovereign of a large or considerable king- 
dom found it impossible to wield the sword of 
justice personally in every part of his realm, and 
therefore in the evolution of the state, the ad- 
ministration of the law was from the first a 
delegated function. In England the earliest and 
most elemental form of this delegated authority, 
with a criminal jurisdiction, was found in the 
Hundred Court. 

Each Tithing or Township had its own local 
court, with varying amounts of jurisdiction, and 
subordinate to the Hundred Court, which again 
was subordinate to the County Court or Shire- 
moot. Hundred Courts were held monthly, and 
the Shire Courts at least twice a year. 


' ' The civil division of the territory of England 
(says Stephen in his Commentaries) is into counties, 
of those Counties into Hundreds, and of those 
Hundreds into Tithings or towns. This division 
is of remote and undefined antiquity ; and was 
not peculiar to England, similar distributions 
having been in use among several nations of the 
continent. As to the Tithings, they were so 
called from the Saxon, because ten freeholders 
with their families composed one. These all 
dwelt together, and were sureties or free pledges 
to the king for the good behaviour of each other ; 
and if any offence was committed in their district, 
they were bound to have the offender forthcoming. 
And therefore antiently no man was suffered to 
abide in England above forty days unless he was 
enrolled in some Tithing or decennary." 

One of the principal inhabitants of the Tithing 
was annually appointed to preside over the rest, 
being called the Tithing-man, or Head-borough, 
names which speak their own etymology. In 
some counties a similar officer, elected because he 
was deemed to be the discreetest man in the 
borough, town, or tithing, was known as the 
Borsholder, or borough's-elder. As a Head- 
borough came to be regarded as a sort of petty 
constable, a borsholder would be a superior kind 
of constable. The commonalties of some of the 
larger townships elected officers with magisterial 
powers ; but as a rule the Town Moot concerned 
itself with other and more intimate affairs. 

At the Town Meeting all questions of local 
moment were considered and decided. For 
instance, each year the strips of cultivated land, 
scattered about the parish, were at these meetings 
fairly divided so that each man stood an equal 
chance of having good and bad in his holding. 


The question of cropping was settled to the satis- 
faction of the majority of the townsmen. Regu- 
lations were made for the grazing of the common 
lands, and also of the waste land between the 
townships. In fact every communal interest was 
discussed and fairly arranged. 

With the advent of Norman rule, each village 
and township became a feudal manor, or part of a 
manor. As a ruling class, the Normans had 
sense enough to preserve the local courts and 
customs, and, incidentally, the powers of the 
Sheriff became considerably enlarged. 

At a later period the manorial courts of the 
feudal lords were fiercely attacked by Edward I., 
who tried to extend the jurisdiction of the Shire 
and Hundred Courts as well as the popularity of 
the Assize Courts ; his object being not only 
uniformity in the administration of justice, but a 
vindication of the authority of the central govern- 
ment. Another blow dealt at the old manorial 
jurisdiction was the rising power and increasing 
usefulness of the unpaid justices. 

At the Hundred Meetings, where the Bishop 
sat with the Elderman to look after the interest 
of the church, the Sheriff also being present in 
the capacity of the royal steward, to safeguard 
the king's rights, all disputes were decided, and 
criminal offenders punished according to law or 
custom. Neither the Danish kings or the Nor- 
mans interfered with the English practice of pre- 
serving the peace by the method of mutual re- 
sponsibility, and open trial in the Hundred Courts. 

At the Hundred Court the landowners of the 
district and their stewards were entitled to be 
present, or if unable to be present might be 
represented by certain of the freemen. The 
Hundred was governed by a High Constable or 


At the Shire Court, also, the Church took a part 
in the proceedings ; it was not till after the Con- 
quest that the Church asked for, and obtained, in- 
dependent ecclesiastical courts with a privileged 
jurisdiction. Almost concurrently with the with- 
drawal of the Bishop from the Shire Court, the 
powers of the Eldermen waned to vanishing 
point while those of the Sheriff steadily increased. 

Henry I. sent out Commissioners to the Hun- 
dred and Shire Meetings to see that justice was 
done in them, and that the taxes were paid. 

Above the Town, the Hundred, and the Shire 
Courts was the Witan, or assembly of wise men, 
who advised the king. As in Saxon and Danish 
times, government through the great earls had 
proved unsatisfactory, the Conqueror was careful 
to avoid this form and to rely more on the advice 
of the Eldermen, who in some sense, at least, 
were representative of the Shires. 

Our Saxon ancestors, like all the ancient German 
peoples, maintained the right of meeting to advise 
their king in council ; so, in all the countries where 
the feudal system became established, there arose 
a national council which, in different countries 
was known by different names, as States General, 
Cortez, the Grand Assize, or Parliament, In this 
country the Norman Conqueror and his successors 
had assemblies, differently constituted under the 
names of Concilium, Magnum Concilium, and- 
Commune Concilium. To these none were sum- 
moned but archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, 
earls, and barons. 

In this national assembly there always existed 
an element of county representation, the Sheriff 
of each Shire being directed to send up a certain 
number of freeholders or royal tenants to talk 
with the king it was in fact a ' ' talking meeting " 


or parliament, the deliberations at which were 
carried on in Latin or Norman-French. These 
representatives were chosen by the free votes of 
their fellows at the Shire-moot, or Hustings as it 
came to be called later. 

The Hustings, literally, was an assembly 
(or "thing") of householders. The Borough 
Courts were first called Hustings, and thence the 
name became applied to the assemblies at which 
Borough (and later, County) representatives in 
parliament were elected. 

Shire-Moot and Folk-Moot were synonymous 
terms, the folk signifying the tribe. When the 
union of the kingdoms had been effected, it was 
doubtless found difficult, even on special legis- 
lative occasions, for the people to attend. The 
powers and functions of the Folk-Moot then 
merged into the Witan or national council of Wise 
Men, which consisted of the bishops, abbots, and 
the chief officers of the royal household, the 
ealdormen of the shires, and the King's nearest 
kinsmen and chief tenants. These men, con- 
sidered to have the highest knowledge of political 
affairs, advised the King, carried on the ad- 
ministration, and prepared the laws for the 
acceptance of the people. 

Spelman says that originally the Saxon Folk- 
Moot held its annual meeting on May-day. This 
learned antiquary explains it as a convention of 
Bishops, Thanes, Aldermen, and Freemen, in 
which the laymen having first sworn to defend 
one another and conjointly with the king maintain 
the laws of the realm, then proceeded to consult 
of the common safety. 

It was under the absentee King, Richard I., 
that the Shire Court reached its fullest activity, 
and made for the fullest form of local self-govern- 


ment in the county, which could be enjoyed under 
feudal conditions, from the year 1194 its 
influence in affairs was recognised time after time 
by the union of a number of shires into a central 
assembly for the discussion of some matter of 
grave importance. In 1226, for instance, knights 
of the shire were called together to discuss certain 
disputed articles in Magna Charta. 

It has therefore been suggested that, when 
calling his first national parliament, Simon de 
Montfort borrowed the idea of organising a central 
assembly from the practice, which had then pre- 
vailed for some time, of four leading knights going 
round to arrange for a representative body of 
twelve knights or freeholders for each Hundred, 
into whose hands certain well-defined powers of 
local government were fully committed. The 
first House of Commons is claimed to be an ex- 
pansion of this idea. 

It is a weighty suggestion, no doubt ; there is 
another of almost equal significance that our 
boasted system of trial by jury can also have its 
origins traced to an old Shire Court practice, or 
possibly to that of the Hundred Court below it. 
By the laws of Ethelred (about 675 A.D.) a court 
was to be held in every Hundred, in which twelve 
men (duodeni viri) of free condition and mature 
age, together with the presiding officer, ' ' shall 
swear not to condemn the innocent or acquit the 
guilty." But, it must be remembered, these laws 
were promulgated to regulate Trial by Ordeal and 
Trial by Compurgation, and the " twelve men" 
therein mentioned were merely a body of assessors 
to assist the Earl or other officer who presided in 
the Court ; and the duties performed by them can 
scarcely be claimed as similar to those discharged 
by a modern juryman. The germ of the idea 


which gave us the jury system is certainly there ; 
but whether as a relic of Roman law adopted by 
the Saxons from the vanquished Celtic inhabitants, 
or brought over from the forests of Germany by 
them, no man can say. 

The Hundred Court was utilised in 1086 to 
collect the sworn information upon which the 
Domesday Book was compiled. The chief men 
in each Hundred, who were called upon to give 
evidence to the compiling clerks, were designated 
jurors. The term, however, did not convey 
the signification since attaching to it, as men called 
upon to judge and award but merely men put 
on their oath. 

Among the Saxons the Shire Court had relied 
chiefly on compurgation, and trial by ordeal. 
The Normans introduced the wager of battle. 
Henry II., a little later, is believed to have in- 
troduced the jury system in a modified form. In 
his reign the Shire Court first accepted the oaths 
of those persons who were considered most likely 
to know the truth of the case under trial. This 
procedure in time developed mto the jury system 
as we know it; a body of men knowing nothing 
whatever of the case, bemg called upon to weigh 
the evidence of those who did know. 

To trace the history ot the Shire Court is to dis- 
cover the origin of the Parliamentary idea, and 
the rudimentary beginnings of democratic govern- 


Our Anglo-Saxon forefathers were not town- 
dwellers ; and in many ways they showed their 
dislike of walled towns when they settled here. 
With them land was the accompaniment of full 
freedom, and the freeman was the freeholder. 
Therefore, on their first arrival, instead of crowd- 
ing together in cities, they preferred to live apart 
in farmer commonwealths, each of which was 
jealous of its isolation and independence, and to 
maintain which, each agricultural settlement was 
girt by its own " mark " or belt of waste land. 
But even in a nation of sturdy farmers, the evolu- 
tion of the burgh is inevitable though these 
Teutonic invaders had destroyed Roman cities, 
their children were doomed to the erection of 
many Saxon burghs. 

Though our subject treats nominally of the 
Shire, the evolution of the Town cannot be entirely 

Though with the Saxons the Tun or Township 
was the smallest, if not also the least important 
of governmental areas, it has come in many in- 
stances to rival, and even to outstrip, the Shire, 
in all material factors except, of course, area 
as population, wealth and political influence. 
Something, therefore, requires to be said on the 
growth and grading of Towns. 

Cities, boroughs, and corporate towns were not 
always absolutely independent of county sup- 


port. In early times the walled towns, being 
strongholds somewhat in the nature of local 
" cities of refuge," received aids from the county 
in which they were situated, and sometimes even 
from a neighbouring county. Thus we find 
Ipswich, in the reign of John, had its walls and 
ditches repaired by the aid of the county, assisted 
by the county of Cambridge. An entry in 
Domesday Book discloses that the responsibility 
for the upkeep of the walls and bridges of Chester, 
lay upon the whole county. 

Sir Edward Coke estimated that in his time, 
some three centuries ago, there were in England 
and Wales about 8,800 towns, several of them 
having small appendages called ' ' hamlets," which 
were noticed in the Statute of Exeter (14 Edward 
I.) wherein also occurred the terms ' ' entire vills " 
and ' demi vills." Sir Henry Spelman con- 
jectures " entire vills " to have consisted of ten 
freemen or frank pledges, " demi vills" of five, 
and hamlets of less than five. ' These little 
collections of houses are sometimes under the same 
administration as the town itself, sometimes 
governed by separate officers ; in which last case 
they are, for some purposes in law looked upon as 
distinct townships." 

' Tithings, towns, or vills," says a later au- 
thority, ' ' are of the same signification in law, 
and are said to have had each of them originally a 
church with celebration of divine service, sacra- 
ments and burials ; though that seems to be rather 
an ecclesiastical than a civil distinction. The 
word town or mil is indeed, by alteration of times 
and language, now become a generical term, com- 
prehending under it several species and varieties. 
These towns contained each originally but one 
parish and one tithing ; though many of them 


now, by the increase of inhabitants, are divided 
into several parishes and tithings ; and, sometimes, 
where there is but one parish, there are two or 
more vills or tithings." 

Towns are distinguished from each other (legally) 
as being either corporate or not corporate ; the 
townsmen forming, in the first kind a corporation, 
that is, a society, with certain legal powers, pro- 
perties and capacities. 

There are Market-towns, which are towns 
entitled by some old privilege or franchise to hold 
markets in their public streets and thoroughfares. 
Cities (in England) are those towns which are 
or have been in the past sees of bishops ; there 
being no connection between a city and a see, 
though the bishopric be dissolved, the town re- 
mains a city still. 

A borough is a town that sends, or has sent in the 
past, a burgess to parliament ; it is sometimes 
known as a " mayor-town." 

Of all the towns in this country, London is 
the most privileged, being the capital and the 
most important, rejoicing in every civic franchise 
possible. London is the exception to all rules. 

When a state organism was being given to 
England by its Norman Kings, London occupied 
a peculiar place in the institutional life of the 
country ; a place of independence, strength, and 
prestige of a really remarkable kind, though 
it is generally unnoticed or unemphasised by 
historians. The records, though fragmentary, 
clearly show that London stood apart from the 
life that surrounded it in the Anglo-Saxon period. 

In the earlier part of the period it had been the 
chief town of the East Saxons ; but for recognition 
as the capital city of a united England it had a 
strong rival in Winchester, the Hampshire capital 


of the West Saxons. Its Roman walls at the 
first had not attracted the Saxon invaders, for 
they were not town dwellers ; the Danes, however, 
had made it their head-quarters, and after they 
had desolated it, King Alfred recovered and re- 
built it. 

The Conqueror had found London the chief 
trading town, and had ordered it to be fortified 
by the erection of a strong castle or tower. Its 
citizens were freed from taxation, it was allowed 
to have its own Courts of Law, and by Henry I. 
was even given authority over Middlesex. While 
London remained the largest city, Middlesex was 
but the smallest of the Shires. 

London is not included in the comprehensive 
survey of Domesday. It did not become the 
seat of Government until the late period in which 
it grew out to, and absorbed Westminister, ' * the 
home of royalty." 

That eminent authority, Sir Laurence Gomme, 
who has attempted to trace the origin and growth 
to maturity of ' ' the English institution which is 
contained within the shell of London city," makes 
one realise that there is something almost myster- 
ious in this complete separation of London from 
the rest of the country. 

This writer says 

' London remained so long independent of 
English polity because that city alone, in the 
midst of the primitve and typically tribal society 
that now flooded the country, retained the 
character and the highly-developed institutions 
of a city of the Roman world-state ; she stood 
like a strong tower above the tide that over- 
whelmed every other centre of the Roman civiliza- 
tion of England." 


There was in London a prolonged resistance by 
its isolated garrison and higher civilisation to the 
assaults, first of the Anglo Saxon, then of the Dane, 
and then of the great Norman and Angevin state- 
builders. London's position and numbers having 
saved the community from mere stamping out 
and scattering, her own law, custom, and govern- 
ment, by sheer force of superiority, withstood 
the absorbent power of the barbarian society about 
it. And this at the period when the Shire system 
was being inaugurated. Only by degrees Anglo- 
Saxon custom and spirit soaked into the city from 
without the walls. London elections were not 
English elections its Anglo-Saxon Folk -Moot was 
always striving to be dominant but never actually 
became dominant. 

When the Norman came London was still in- 
dependent, though ranged with the rest against 
him on the hill behind Hastings. The epoch of 
the charters to London, begun by the Conqueror, 
was the epoch of the gradual discovery by the 
new statesmen of London's peculiar body of pre- 
scriptive rights and customs, claimed as London's 
due against every other power, into rights and 
customs expressly granted by the Crown out of its 
new national sovereignty. In the end the robust 
life of the young English State, now at length 
made one, played freely through the city, ob- 
literating a thousand traces of the rule of ancient 
Rome and blotting out the memory of what they 

The first Mayor of London was Henry Fitz- 
Ailwin, who was appointed in 1189, and held office 
for twenty-four years. In 1354 the holder of the 
office was dignified with the title of ' ' lord-mayor." 

The Mayors of London, York, and Dublin, and 
the Provost of Edinburgh have long had the 


courtesy title of lord, which brought with it the 
other courtesy designation of Right Honourable 
and a similar honour has in recent years been 
extended to the Mayors of the newer populous 
cities, like Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, 
Bradford (Yorks.), Bristol, Hull, Leeds, Newcastle- 
on-Tyne, Norwich, Nottingham, Sheffield, and 

The first lord mayor to go by water to West- 
minster (for the royal ratification of his election) 
was Sir John Norman, who in 1453 thus instituted 
the Lord Mayor's Show. 

The symbolical cap and sword of the Lord Mayor 
of London were given to Sir William Walworth 
by Richard II., for killing Wat Tyler. In ' ' The 
Nine Worthies of London " (1592) we are told 
that the Mayor first arrested and then stabbed 
the rebel chief, of which died. 

A costly hat his Highness likewise gave 

That London's " maintenance " might ever be ; 

A sword also he did ordain to have 

That should be carried still before the Mayor 
Whose worth deserved succession to the chair. 

In course of time the creation of diverse bodies 
for diverse objects, tended not a little to com- 
plexity the single community of London, for 
instance, is managed by 144 local governing au- 
thorities, with 4343 members elected in various 
ways but then the population dealt with is half 
as numerous again as that of Bulgaria. 

In the centre is the City, nursing the ancient 
privileges and property that belong to all ; outside 
is County Council London, with its 28 separate 
boroughs and 30 separate poor law districts ; 
beyond extends the area of Main Drainage 
London, beyond that the area of Water London ; 
still further is the area of Police London, 
stretching from Cheshunt to Epsom and 



from Romford to Staines. No two of these 
areas are co-terminous and all are strewn with 
authorities, often conflicting in interest and 
activities, all independent and all spending the 
ratepayers' money. Within the 117 square miles 
of the County of London there are 101 authorities, 
spending over 25,000,000 a year; within the 693 
square miles of Police or Greater London there are 
262 authorities, spending some 35,000,000 a 

There is no central control and no co-ordination ; 
with the result that there is much waste, great con- 
fusion, and some injustice. 

And so London, with ever increasing population 
and accession of wealth, has grown from greatness 
to greatness. Other trading towns and com- 
mercial cities have followed in the same course of 
material prosperity. Inasmuch as many of these 
prosperous towns have extended their municipal 
boundaries, they have grown in area at the ex- 
pense of the county area. But whether this 
shrinkage of the county areas is for the good of the 
general community is doubtful there is not only 
the encroachment of the town upon the country- 
side which is not hygienically desirable, but 
there is the risk of a further impoverishment of 
the rural districts, where local government is 
already handicapped by the smallness and in- 
elasticity of the rateable values chargeable. 


The division of the country into a number of 
administrative areas called Shires, necessarily 
implied deputed authority on a large scale ; it 
was a system which called into being for each 
Shire a functionary of no little importance, one 
who for local purposes was the representative of 
royal authority, vested with very considerable 
powers. In the earlier stages of state con- 
solidation the over-king had delegated his au- 
thority to the Ealdormen of the Shire, who was 
not unfrequently a descendant of the old tribal 
kings. But with the later organisation of the 
shire system, this delegated authority was placed 
in the hands of a local freeholder of the better 
sort, chosen by his fellows, though sometimes 
nominated by the king ; he was specially charged 
with the care of the royal estates within his 
jurisdiction, and the collection of all dues and 
fines for the royal treasury. 

In the creation of this constitutional officer we 
seem to see the first glimmerings of a national 
consciousness, and the growth of that conscious- 
ness is traced in the gradual evolution of his office. 

This was the Shire-man in Saxon times the 
Scir-gerefa or Shire Reeve, and in the northern 
parts, the High Reeve. But by whatever name 
he was known, he was a constitutional officer, 
and his office, it is noteworthy to observe, 
has survived a thousand years after that of 

THE ' ' SHIRE MAN " 123 

the Ealdorman has ceased to be known, and that 
of the Earl or Count has ceased to have any 
official connection with the county. It may have 
been that when the custody of a Shire was com- 
mitted, as at the first division of the kingdom, 
to the hands of an earl or of an ealdorman, either 
of these rulers was found of tendencies too auto- 
cratic for the independent spirit of the people, ard 
it was therefore deemed expedient to associate 
in the government another official of a more 
representative character, one more amenable to 
well-ordered influences. It is not difficult to 
understand how, under conditions such as these, 
the office of Sheriff came into being. 

As bailiff of the shire, acting on behalf of the 
king, appointed annually with the approval of 
both king and people, the Sheriff became the con- 
stitutional head of the county ; and it was as such 
that his office endured. 

The Sheriff was at the first chosen by the in- 
habitants of the several counties, in confirmation 
of which it was ordained by statute 28 Edward I. 
that ' ' the people should have election of Sheriffs 
in every shire when the shrievalty is not of in- 

For in some counties the office was once here- 
ditary, as it was in Scotland, till the heritable 
sheriffs were deprived of their powers (which ex- 
tended to the trial of criminals) by an Act of 
1748. After the Rebellion of 1745 the Imperial 
parliament found it advisable to abolish all here- 
ditary jurisdictions m Scotland which were 
associated with the ownership of land and titles 
of rank. In England the Earl of Thanet was 
hereditary Sheriff of Westmoreland, and the 
office once descended to, and was executed by, 
a female of his line, in the person of Ann, Countess 


of Pembroke, who exercised it in person, sitting 
on the bench with the judges at Appleby Assizes. 

The Sheriff of Northumberland was High 
Treasurer of the county, and being entrusted with 
the defence of the borders, was endowed with 
extraordinary powers and prerogatives, even to 
the retaining of some of ' ' the issues of his sheriff- 
rick to his own use." 

In Northumberland and the adjacent border 
counties, the Sheriff in olden times appointed 
officers known as the County Keepers, whose 
chief duty was to afford protection against, or 
make good, losses occasioned by reivers from the 
Scottish side of the Tweed. 

Although the process of popular election, which 
was the more generally observed, appeared to 
give the appointment that democratical tinge 
which is in consonance with the English con- 
stitution, the person elected was always re- 
quired to receive the royal approbation. The 
elected of the people required the confirmation 
of the king. 

These elections growing too tumultuous, an 
end was put to them in the ninth year of Edward 
II., when it was enacted that from thenceforth the 
sheriffs should be assigned by the Chancellor, 
Treasurer, and the Judges, as being persons in 
whom the same trust might with confidence be 

Originally the Scir-gerefa (conf. the other 
Teutonic form, Shire-graf) was the executive 
officer appointed by the king to carry out the 
decrees of the Court, to take charge of prisoners, 
to levy distresses, and so on. He was the legal 
official before whom accusations had to be enrolled. 
At first he acted only as assessor, but in process of 
time became joint president, and ultimately sole 


president. The Sheriff's court survived the 
Norman Conquest, and in the opinion of Hallam 
it contributed in no small degree to fix the liberties 
of England by curbing the power of the feudal 

When the Earl (or the Ealdorman) had ceased 
to attend the County Court, and the Bishop 
had his own court, the Sheriff became the sole 
judicial officer in the shire, and so remained for 
a time till the appointment of Justices in Eyre 
1189, and then of Coroners and Justices of the 
Peace in 1195. By the first of these innovations 
Henry II sought, amongst other reforms, to 
secure greater uniformity in the administration 
of the law ; and at the same time, of course, to 
carry royal justice into every quarter of his 

As already suggested (Chapter XI.) the origin 
of trial by jury which no one really knows is 
associated, and not remotely either with the history 
of the office of Sheriff. In the reign of the 
Conqueror a dispute arose about some land which 
the Sheriff claimed on behalf of the king. ' All 
the men of the county " (by which we are to 
understand the " Sectores," or the landowners 
of the district who acted as judges in such matters), 
were assembled and sworn to say the truth. 
Eventually they found for the Sheriff. The judge, 
dissatisfied with the verdict, directed the men of 
the county to choose out of their number twelve 
who should, upon oath, confirm the verdict if 
they thought fit. This they did, though au- 
thorities now agree that the selected twelve were 
not exactly jurymen. The legal existence of 
jurors, in the sense of the awarders of a judgment, 
was first recorded under the Plantagenets, a 
century or so later. 


The known and established facts are that the 
jury system was found to exist in a very rough 
and primitive form in the Conqueror's time, and 
that under the Plantagenets it was carefully ad- 
justed and improved to meet changed conditions 
and altered circumstances. All sorts of inquests, 
inquiries, and inquisitions, to do justice between 
man and man, were brought through the Sheriff, 
or other local officer, before a body of men sworn 
to speak the truth, and who were chosen by reason 
of their character and local knowledge ; and in 
this assembly of sworn "Recognitors," as they 
were called, we undoubtedly have the first germs 
of the modern jury. The first steps in the evolu- 
tion of the system are well known. 

By the Assize of Clarendon, an order of the 
King's Council made in 1164, local juries were to 
present criminals for trial before the Shire Courts. 
It was enacted that Inquest be made through 
each County and through each Hundred by 
twelve ' ' lawful " men of the Hundred and by five 
" lawful " men of each Township, by their oath 
that they speak the truth. These men were to 
present to the justices all persons of evil fame 
who must then submit to the test of the Ordeal 
by fire or water. 

Further legislation followed in the Assize of 
Northampton, promulgated in 1194, prescribing 
the method of appointing the Recognitors, in 
whom we may recognise the beginnings of the 
Grand Jury. There is a great tangle of subse- 
quent statutes, rights, and customs ; in the 
application of the Jury system to both criminal 
and civil trials ; in the institution of the Petty 
Jury to test the truth of the Recognitor's present- 
ments ; and at last, after the abolition of Ordeal, 
to make a judgment and return a verdict. 


Confessedly the part of the jurymen at first 
was rather that of witnesses than of judges. 
But the system which encouraged the accused, 
or the litigant, to lay his case before a jury of his 
fellow men, or as it was expressed, to ' ' put him- 
self upon the country," was an institution worthy 
of the administrative genius of the English people. 

Sheriffs are said to have been nominated for 
every county in England by William I in 1079, 
though this is doubtful. In the new language 
of the law courts, he then became vice-comes, 
that is, deputy count ; and by that name he is 
still legally known, though no longer subject to 
an earl. To him, by letters patent, was com- 
mitted the custody of the county, and in his 
hands were other than judicial matters affecting 
county governments. 

This, the most ancient constitutional officer 
in the realm, has therefore to be considered in 
other aspects than as a judicial functionary. The 
Sheriff was the earliest revenue officer, being 
legally responsible for the collection of the royal 
revenues arising from litigation and taxation, as 
well as from the king's landed estates. 

He collected the royal rents and ferms, or con- 
tributions of towns on the king's demesnes ; and 
(as Escheator) dealt with escheats and fines, and 
forfeitures for scutage, assarts, and other feudal 

Not only was the custody of the county com- 
mitted to him in a financial sense, but he was also 
charged with the important duty of raising the 
shire's quota to the national army, and presenting 
it, when called upon, in a state of efficiency. He 
was expected to head, if not to lead, the Fyrd, or 
county force, 


The basis of national defence in Anglo-Saxon 
times was an obligation not only to serve in arms, 
but to equip oneself and to support oneself 
entirely during the campaign. And the levy 
was always made by counties. In return for 
this service one became a ' ' freeman." Nowa- 
days a minority regards military service as a loss 
of freedom, whereas it used to be the price at 
which one attained citizenship. 

The Sheriff as a military officer does not occupy 
a conspicuous position in history ; the form of 
feudalism introduced by the Normans did not 
encourage the old system under which the Saxons 
had raised a national force by means of the 
" Fyrd." From time to time the Fyrd, which 
was in essence a territorial defence army, was used 
to supplement the feudal levies the liability of 
the feudal army did not extend to more than 40 
days in a year but this was entirely a misapplica- 
tion of its purpose. 

The first precedent for employing the Fyrd on 
foreign service was created by William Rufus. 
This unscrupulous monarch, having assembled as 
large an army as possible at Hastings, collected 
from the men the money entrusted to them by 
their respective counties for the expenses of the 
campaign then cancelled the expedition and 
pocketed the proceeds ! 

The Fyrd was the general levy of the shire, 
liability to military service extending to every 
man between the ages of 16 and 60. At the 
call to arms the men of each township marched in 
families, with their reeve (and in Christian times, 
with their parish priest) to the meeting-place of 
the Hundred ; thence the united townships 
marched under the Hundred-man to the Shire 
meeting-place, where the Ealdorman (and the 
Bishop) took the command. 


This force at a later period was called the Posse 
Comitatus, by the latter word being understood a 
county composed of hundreds and tithings. 

The Posse Comitatus was the whole force of 
the county that is, all the male members of the 
county over fifteen, who may be summoned by 
the sheriff to assist in preventing a riot, the rescue 
of prisoners, or other unlawful disorders. Clergy- 
men, peers, and the infirm were exempt from such 

Originally the Fyrd had consisted of two ele- 
ments. The bulk of the shire levies consisted of 
all freeholders, men in the prime of life, yeoman 
and gentry, who need only discipline to make them 
the very best fighting material. Supplementary 
to these were the house carles of the king and his 
ealdormert, fewer in number, but better trained and 
always well disciplined. The levies were not 
bound to serve out of their own shire, except under 
certain defined circumstances. 

In 1328 the first Parliament of King Edward 
III. enacted : " . . . that no man be com- 
pelled to go out of his shire but wher> necessity 
requireth and sudden coming of strange enemies 
into the realm ; and then it shall be done as hath 
been used in times past for the defence of the 

With the Saxons the Fyrd (or army) was actually 
a territorial force, each locality supplying its quota 
of fighting men for national defence. Moreover, 
the labour of all the inhabitants could be re- 
quisitioned for the making and mending of the 
roads, bridges and forts in the neighbourhood. 

The introduction of the Norman form of 
feudalism naturally made some change in the 
character of this national militia when land- 
holding, instead of land-owning, became the basis 


upon which depended the provision of an army 
(and incidentally, the enforcement of justice). 
William II. made use of the Fyrd in his quarrels 
with the barons, using this English force as quite 
distinct from his feudal supporters. The Fyrd 
was again revived as a national militia by Henry 
II., who embodied it for the defence of the coun- 
try ; and in 1285 the Statute of Winchester con- 
tinued the Fyrd by legal enactment. A blow, 
however, was struck at this ancient method of 
raising an army by the rise of baronial retainers, 
attached to their leaders by " livery and main- 
tenance," which began to grow up in the reign 
of Edward III. 

By the Tudor period, and when the old method 
of raising military forces by feudal levies was fast 
dying out, a new one had to be invented to take 
its place. The Sheriff was superseded, as the 
military commandant of the county, and his 
place was taken by an entirely new functionary 
known as the Lord Lieutenant. 

To him was transferred the power to raise the 
posse comitatus, or county forces, formerly in- 
vested, under certain conditions, in the Sheriff. 
Macaulay, however, does not hesitate to show the 
more ancient officer discharging this military 
function in Elizabeth's reign ; as thus, in his 
famous ballad, " The Spanish Armada " 

With his white hair unbonneted, the stout old sheriff comes, 
Behind him march the halberdiers, before him sound the drums. 


Under the Normans the Witan became the 
Great Council, a strong central authority, attended 
by the great barons and chief tenants of the king, 
the bishops, and the heads of the great monas- 
teries. As a consultative council it held period- 
ical meetings for the transaction of business of 
state ; and between those meetings a small body 
of advisors, who in course of time evolved into 
regular officials, carried on the affairs of the King's 
Court. The Council gave its added authority 
to the mandates of the king. 

A branch of the King's Court was set up to 
deal with the financial matters of the realm. 
This was the Exchequer Court, in which trained 
clerks were employed, under the direction of 
capable officials. These officials stationed at 
Westminster, were appointed to receive all ac- 
counts and payments from the Sheriffs. 

The fixed revenue consisted of the king's 
demesne lands within the counties, of the county 
mints (the " moneyers " were liable to be sum- 
moned to Westminster to take part in the trial of 
the pyx, when, for any deficiency in weight or 
fineness of their coin, the manufacturers were 
punished as traitors) and of certain boroughs which 
paid annual sums as the price of their liberties. 
There were also rents incidental to the forests, 
and mining and other royalties. Danegeld was 
regarded as a fixed revenue till the time of Henry 


II. There was also a considerable casual revenue 
arising from feudal fines and forfeitures. 

The Sheriff, as Escheator, had to collect, bring 
into the Exchequer, and there account for the 
Ferm of the Shire ; that is, the fixed rent of the 
old public lands and royal domains. At the 
Norman Conquest these rents, known as Sheriff- 
geld, together with the Danegeld (a tribute of 
two shillings on every hide of land in the realm 
and so called because it was a " gold " levy first 
laid upon our ancestors by the Danes, and was in 
fact the first tax collected in money in this coun- 
try), and the various feudal fines and amercia- 
ments, constituted the whole of the national 

An Escheator was the officer, connected with 
the seignorial interests of the Crown, who played 
an important part in county organisation, when 
feudal dues were rather a large consideration at the 

Another term just used which needs glossarial 
explanation is Ferm a word with an interesting 
history which cannot be given better than the 
learned Blackstone has given it 

"Farm or feorme is an old Saxon word signifying 
provisions ; and it came to be used instead of rent 
or render, because antientJy the greater part of 
rents were reserved in provisions ; in corn, in 
poultry and the like ; till the use of money became 
more frequent. So that a farmer, firmarius, was 
one who held his lands upon payment of a rent or 
teorme ; though at present by a gradual departure 
from the original sense, the word farm is brought 
to signify the very estate or lands so held upon 
farm or rent." 

After the Conquest the system of national 
finance was reformed, and the Sheriff was brought 


into contact with three great officers of state, the 
Justicier, who was almost a vice-roy ; the Chan- 
cellor, who was the King's secretary, and the 
royal Treasurer. The Sheriff, in discharge of his 
duties as a revenue officer, came up to the capital 
to meet these high officials twice a year in the 
Court of Exchequer. 

The business of the ancient Exchequer was 
primarily financial, and the principal accountants 
were the Sheriffs, who were bound as the King's 
principal financial agents in each county to give 
an account of their stewardship twice a year, 
at the Exchequers of Easter and Michaelmas. 
Half the annual revenue was payable at Easter, and 
the balance at Michaelmas, when the accounts 
were made up for the year and entered on the 
Pipe Rolls. 

The Treasurer charged the accountants with 
their fixed debts, which he read out from the Pipe 
Roll, or great roll of accounts, wherein were 
written the decision of the court, as to the in- 
debtedness of each Sheriff, and all other account- 
ants having business at the royal treasury. 

The Treasurer of Henry III. is said to have been 
provided with a ' ' checker " to ensure the accuracy 
of his accounts, an official now represented by the 
Chancellor of the Exchequer. The I^ord High 
Treasurer disappeared in 1714 when George I. 
put the office in Commission, since which the 
Chancellor has become the chief official at the 

The Court of Exchequer is said to have derived 
its name from the " chequed " cloth (scaccarium) 
resembling a chess board, which covered the table 
there, and on which, when certain of the king's 
accounts were made up, the sums were marked 
and scored with counters. 


The abacus, or other mechanical contrivance 
for keeping accounts, was almost universally in 
use before the introduction of the Arabic notation. 
In England the Treasury department was named 
originally ' the Tallies," from the method of 
accountancy therein employed. 

This ancient exchequer practice was a primitive 
method of reckoning and keeping accounts by 
means of wooden tallies. Two slips of wood, 
precisely the same size, were placed together 
and notches cut in them ; or sometimes the in- 
dentations were cut in one piece, which was after- 
wards split down into two equal and corresponding 
parts ; one stick was kept by the creditor, the 
other, " a tally," by the debtor. The word tally 
is derived from the French taillier, to cut. 

The tally was generally a willow or hazel stick, 
about an inch in depth and thickness and roughly 
shaped like a thick table knife. 

The Exchequer tallies were notched according 
to a graduated scale, a notch of one-and-a-half 
inches representing 1000, a notch of one inch 
standing for 100; three-eighths of an inch forio; 
half a notch of that size representing i ; three- 
sixteenths of an inch, is., and the smallest notch 
id ; half pennies were represented by smaU holes. 
The account of the transaction was written on the 
two opposite sides, the piece of wood then being 
split down the middle, through the notches ; one 
half, called the tally, being given as a form of 
receipt to the person making the payment, while 
the other half, called the counter-tally, was kept 
in the Exchequer. 

The payments were then entered into account 
books or rolls, and written records of the trans- 
action duly kept. 



This method of reckoning continued in use in 
the Exchequer till 1826, when the last of the 
officials known as Chamberlains of the Exchequer 
passed away, and the system came to an end. 
In 1834 the returned tallies were ordered to be 
destroyed, and in pursuance of this order were 
utilised as fuel for the stoves of the House of 
Lords. It was the overheating of the flues by 
heaping on this fuel which occasioned the burning 
down of the old Houses of Parliament. 

Charles Dickens once made the burning of the 
Houses of Parliament the subject of a humorous 
speech delivered before an Administrative Reform 
Association. He said ' Ages ago, a savage 
mode of keeping accounts on notched sticks was 
introduced into the Court of Exchequer, and the 
accounts were kept much as Robinson Crusoe kept 
his calendar on the desert island. In the course 
of considerable revolutions of time .... a 
multitude of accountants, book-keepers, and 
actuaries were born and died. Still official 
routine inclined to these notched sticks .... 
accounts continued to be kept on certain splints 
of elm-wood called tallies. In the reign of 
George III. an enquiry was made by some re- 
volutionary spirit whether pens, ink, and paper, 
slates and pencils being in existence this ob- 
stinate adherence to an obsolete custom ought 
to be continued." And so the speaker pro- 
ceeded to make fun of these ' preposterous 
sticks " which were only abolished in 1826, and 
then instead of being given as firewood to the 
miserable people of the neighbourhood, were used 
as fuel to overgorge a stove, and cause a devastat- 
ing fire which necessitated the expenditure of a 
million of the public money to make good 
the loss. 


The national treasury was at Westminster. 
Close to the Chapter House of the Abbey is an 
ancient vaulted chamber, called the Chapel of the 
Pyx so named from the box which contained 
the sacred wafer, though the term was afterwards 
given to the public trial made there of the weight 
of the coinage for currency. The once well- 
guarded entrance to this place, which was no less 
than the Treasury of England, is in the eastern 
cloister ; it is an ancient double door which could 
never be opened except by the officers of the 
Government, or their representatives, bearing 
seven keys, some of them of large dimensions. 
Though access to the Chamber was purposely 
made a ponderous formality, in the time of 
Edward I. the chamber was forcibly entered and 
plundered of its contents. 

The periodical attendance of the Sheriff at the 
Royal Treasury for the discharge of his onerous 
duties and responsibilities there, adds further varie- 
gation to the already composite pattern of his 
official life. 

At each session of the Exchequer a president 
sat at the head of the chess board table the king 
was the nominal president, but his place might 
be taken by the Justicier or other great official. 
On the right sat the Treasurer ; the Chancellor 
sat on the left. Further to the left, but clear of 
the table, were the Constable, two Chamberlains, 
and the Marshal. The Chamberlain shared with 
the Treasurer the duty of receiving and paying 
money, and the keeping of an accurate account 
of the state of the treasury. The Marshal (a 
subordinate of the Constable, a high official, who 
was responsibile for the army) had the custody of 
all vouchers. 


These officers and their subordinates constituted 
the court of accounts, or upper exchequer there 
was lower exchequer, or office of receipt and pay- 
ment where there was also an appointed cal- 
culator, who exhibited the state of each account 
by means of counters on the exchequer table, so 
that the proceedings of the court might be clear 
to the presumably illiterate Sheriff. 

When Henry II. overhauled the Shrievalties 
he found the office frequently held by powerful 
barons who had grossly abused their authority, 
and whom he promptly removed ; in many cases 
appointing in their places trained clerks of the 
Exchequer. The reform was evidently short- 
lived, as in the succeeding centuries the office 
was filled in all parts of the country by members 
of the baronage. 

The political struggles of the reigns of Henry 
III., Edward I. and Edward II., amongst other 
results, transformed the Exchequer into a purely 
revenue department, a decision brought into 
effect by the Parliament of Lincoln, 1316. Under 
the Angevin Kings both thesaurarial and judicial 
functions pertained to the Court of Exchequer, 
and besides the Treasurer there was also a Chief 
Justice, and another great officer, the Chancellor, 
who appears to have originally acted as the King's 
private secretary. 

This Secretary obtained the name of Chancellor 
(Cancellarius) because he sat at a desk behind a 
lattice-work screen, the Latin name for which was 
cancelli. Or, according to Coke, he was so called 
from cancellendo, from ' ' cancelling " the King's 
letters patent when granted contrary to law, which 
is the highest point of his jurisdiction. At first 
the Chancellor ranked as a very humble officer. 
He resided in the palace and had a daily allowance 


of ' ' five shillings, a simnel, two seasoned simnels, 
one sextary of clear wine, one sextary of household 
wine, one large wax candle, and forty pieces of 
candle." The money allowance was made only 
if he dined out ; if he dined at home he got three- 
and-sixpence, with a slight variation in the other 
commodities. . . . He kept the King's seal 
and the King's conscience. 

The independence of the financial department 
had become a great issue by 1316. The Sheriff's 
duties were not confined to executing the behests 
of the courts of law, and attending the judges on 
circuit. The Sheriffs superintended the muster 
of the troops and were charged with the supply of 
men and munitions for public purposes. They 
conducted the parliamentary elections, paid the 
members, and controlled the sources of informa- 
tion as to the state of the country, then available 
to the government. And a matter of great 
importance the bulk of the royal revenues 
passed through their hands. 

Among the legislative enactments of the Parlia- 
ment which opened 28th January, 1316, was a 
statute relating to the appointment of Sheriffs 
and Hundreders ; and while those troublous times 
brought the repeal of some enactments at the 
Parliament of York in 1322, the Statute of Sheriffs 
was carefully excepted, and the method of ap- 
pointing those officers lasted till the Stuarts. 

The Ordinance provided that Sheriffs were to 
be appointed by the Chancellor, and by the 
Treasurer and Barons of the Exchequer ; or 
in the absence of the Chancellor, by the Treasurer, 
the Barons, and the Justices of the Bench, and 
that the commissions must be issued under the 
great seal. Thus the Chancellor had the power 
of putting his veto upon any appointment ; which 
had not been so before. 


At the time of the Provisions of Oxford (1258) 
the Sheriffs were chosen by the King in Council, 
and were summoned to come to the Exchequer 
and receive the keepership of their counties in the 
form lately provided. At this date the Ex- 
chequer appears to have been on the Baron's side, 
and the Chancery on the King's. The Chancellor 
is forbidden to consider himself responsible to the 
King only. He is to seal no writs but on an order 
by the Council. 

Although one of the Provisions of Oxford was 
intended to make the office of Sheriff an annual 
one, it did not become so until more than a century 
later. The choice of Sheriffs was always a point 
of no little importance during the political struggles 
of that century. Henry Ill's barons appointed 
one set, and the King another. 

In 1389 the great scandals in the Exchequer 
involved an almost complete change of Sheriffs. 

It has been asserted that during the thirteenth 
and first quarter of the fourteenth centuries any 
general change of Sheriffs was equivalent to a 
very rapid fall in the political barometer. From 
the advent of John de Clancy to the office of 
Treasurer in 1278 there was a desire and an effort 
made to maintain the system of getting grants of 
money to the Crown passed in the separate County 
Courts instead of having to appeal to the re- 
presentative body of the whole country assembled 
in Parliament. But this system had gradually 
died out by 1295. 

The preamble to the Statute of Lincoln recites 
as the reason for the change in the system of 
appointing Sheriffs, the continual oppressions 
suffered by the people through the appointment 
of unsuitable men. 


The new Sheriffs were not to be merely the 
servants of the department primarily concerned 
with the collection of the revenue and the assertion 
of the King's rights as against the people they 
must be landowners in their respective counties. 
As some holders of the office had been known to 
grow immensely rich, the motive for the change 
is not far to seek. 

All this turmoil centring round the office of 
Sheriff is a tribute to its immense importance, and 
indicates the power, either for good or for evil, 
conferred upon the holder of it in those ruder 

It is significant, also, of the spirit in which es- 
cheats to the Crown, and other accidental profits 
accruing to the Exchequer in those times, were 
levied by these official escheators, that we have 
derived the words ' cheat " and ' cheator " 
from the name of such legalised extortioners. 



It has appeared there was a threefold object 
in dividing the realm into shires ; namely, for the 
administration of justice ; for the collection of 
revenue ; and for the raising of a national army 
by territorial contingents. In all of these the 
Sheriff took the leading part ; and later, when 
parliamentary representation by shires and lesser 
constituencies came into being, what official so 
readily available, what officer so competent to 
deal with the matter, as the Sheriff ? And so 
when the time arrived, and circumstance de- 
manded, the Sheriff became the Returning Officer 
of the County. 

It is interesting to trace the connection between 
the High Court of Parliament and the ancient 
Shire and Hundred Courts ; between the national 
representative assembly and those embryonic 
local assemblies whose deliberations and de- 
cisions judicial, perhaps, rather than legislative 
gave effect to the popular will and secured redress 
of popular grievances in more primitive times. 

It is interesting to remember that before the 
Counties sent members to parliament in 1295, 
the Knights or lesser barons had met in their own 
counties for local government. 

The function of the county in parliamentary 
representation began long before the era of the 
House of Commons. At the time when the 
Tribal English Kingdoms existed, each kingdom 


had its Folk-moot or assembly of the people, who 
held counsel with the King and his " wise men " 
on the affairs of the kingdom, and also formed a 
judicial court. After the heptarchy had passed 
away, the Folk-moot was continued in the united 
England as the Shire-moot, while for the affairs 
of the whole realm, a supreme Great Council 
sprang into existence. After the Norman 
Conquest the National Council underwent some 
changes, but the right of Englishmen to deliber- 
ate on national affairs, and to direct taxation, 
was steadfastly maintained. 

From the Domesday inquiry a practice grew up 
of sending out Commissioners to consult with the 
local authorities of the Shire and Hundred Courts, 
on the administration of criminal justice, and the 
levying of national taxes. This was the first 
real attempt to keep the central government in 
touch with local representatives. 

The bringing together, by Simon de Montfort, 
of the representative burgesses and shire men, 
first gave us all the elements of a modern parlia- 

When the Sheriffs were required by Simon de 
Montfort to send two burgesses to represent each 
borough, a new class was added to the King's 
Council or national parliament. 

In the Writs of 1254 the Knights of the Shire 
were summoned to appear " in the stead of each 
and all," the object of county representation being 
then purely financial. In 1264 the towns were 
first admitted to representation, so that from the 
first the importance of the representative prin- 
ciple in matters of taxation, seems to have been 
tacitly admitted. 

Writs were sent out to 37 counties and 166 
burghs for the important parliament of 1295 ; the 


number of the counties were fixed, although the 
king might alter the number of the enfranchised 

The Knights of the Shire, coming in place of the 
lesser tenants-in-chief, were representative of the 
freemen of the county rather than of the feudal 
class ; and though they really belonged to the 
baronial class, as representative of the country- 
folk, they identified themselves with the re- 
presentatives of the towns, and elected to sit in 
the same chamber with them the House of 
Commons. While the lords of parliament were 
summoned personally, the elected representatives 
were always summoned through the Sheriff. 

In 1710 (9 Anne c. 5) it was enacted that no 
person should be returned to Parliament as a 
Knight of the Shire who had not a landed estate 
worth 600 a year. 

The Sheriff, as returning officer at parliamentary 
elections, does not boast an altogether impeccable 
record. Hallam records six instances during 
the Plantagenet period, wherein the misconduct 
or mistake of the sheriff called for specific anim- 
adversion ; indeed the laxity of the sheriffs at 
elections was frequently the ground of general 
complaint, and even of some statutes. For in- 
stance in 12 Edward II., a petition was presented 
to the Council against a false return for the county 
of Devon ; and in 36 Edward III., the sheriff of 
Lancashire was found in fault, when the wages for 
attendance at Parliament were claimed by knights 
of the shire unduly returned by him as having 
been elected. Defaulting sheriffs were usually 
summoned before the Court of Exchequer to 
answer for such delinquencies. 

It appears that at the voting for members of 
parliament in the county courts of that period, the 


privilege of the franchise was not limited totenants- 
in-capite, but was based on a much broader 
foundation ; for not only all freeholders, but all 
persons whatsoever present at the county court, 
were declared or rendered capable of voting for 
the Knight of the Shire a more democratical basis 
of the representative principle than is commonly 
supposed. It was a retrograde measure in the 
reign of Henry V. (1429) which disqualified men 
of small estate from voting, limiting the county 
electorate to freeholders with estates of and above 
the annual value of 405. 

Before the year 1429 a sort of universal suffrage 
appears to have prevailed. An act (8 Henry V,) 
was then passed to put an end to this prematurely 
democratic state of things, and set up a property 
qualification. After reciting that ' ' the elections 
of knights of shires in many counties had then of 
late been made by very great and excessive 
number of people dwelling within the same coun- 
ties of which most part was a people of small sub- 
stance and of no value, whereof every one of them 
pretended a voice equivalent with the most worthy 
knight and esquires dwelling within the same 
counties, whereby manslaughters, riots, batteries, 
and divisions among the gentlemen and other 
people of the same counties would very likely rise 
and be, unless convenient and due remedy were 
provided," the Statute enacts, ' ' That the Knights 
of the Shires shall be chosen in every county by 
people dwelling and resident in the same counties, 
whereof every one shall have free Land or Tene- 
ment to the value of Forty Shillings by the year 
at the least, above all charges." 

This was the origin of the ' ' Forty Shilling 
Freeholder." By 10 Henry VI., c. 2 the qualifi- 
cation must be situate or arise within the County 


for which the Freeholders claimed to vote ; a 
condition which was not formally expressed in the 
previous Statute. 

The qualifying figure of five hundred years ago 
was estimated by Bishop Fleetwood to have been 
equal to 12 per annum in Queen Anne's days, 
and by Blackstone as equivalent to 20, which is 
the more correct. The permanence of the quali- 
fication for the County franchise is thoroughly 

The forty-shilling freeholders tended to make 
the House of Commons less representative, be- 
cause this franchise was really a restrictive one ; 
and besides, the elections were really controlled 
by the large land-owners. One of the first steps 
in constitutional government, introduced by Henry 
IV. was to forbid Sheriffs interfering in elections. 

The Sheriffs were also at that period the return- 
ing officers for the cities and boroughs. The 
kings who first summoned parliaments little 
foreseeing the lofty prerogatives to which the then 
half -emancipated burghers would eventually attain 
could but address the Writs of Summons for the 
towns, as well as for the counties, to the same 
officer. Thus the writ of 23 Edward I. directs 
the sheriffs to cause deputies to be elected to " a 
general council " from every city, borough, and 
trading town. The latter phrase, though subse- 
quently omitted from writs, gave the sheriffs 
such discretionary power that quite a number of 
" trading towns," which were not chartered 
boroughs, and had no other claim than that of 
populousness, or commerce, became in course of 
time boroughs of prescription. Some ' ' consider- 
able places," though unincorporated, but which 
could afford to defray the expenses of a represen- 
tative, took such a notable interest in the public 


welfare, that they regularly exercised the fran- 
chise and elected two " burgesses " to successive 
parliaments and from this cause alone many 
towns came to be called boroughs, though they 
held no charter, either from the crown or from 
mesne lord. The point here, however, is that the 
Writs of Summons were at first addressed in 
general terms to the Sheriff, and it therefore 
rested really with him to determine what towns 
should exercise the elective franchise. 

Not a few towns willingly forewent the privil- 
ege of parliamentary representation rather than 
pay a representative. From 1349 to X 547 f r 
nearly two centuries, no Lancashire borough sent 
members to parliament, and the county was re- 
presented only by the knights of the shire. One 
Sheriff of Lancashire returned ' ' there were no 
cities or boroughs in his county that ought, or 
were used, or could on account of their poverty, 
send any citizens or burgesses to Parliament." 
The average payment was four shillings a day for 
a Knight of the Shire and two shillings for a citizen 
or burgess, levied on the constituency. 

There was a custom of girding with a sword each 
Knight of the Shire upon his election ; a custom 
honoured in the metropolitan county by its 
breach, probably because the parliaments were 
usually held in Middlesex, the Knights whereof 
had only fees for their attendance, and no allow- 
ance for travelling, as in other shires. The 
practice appears to have disappeared altogether 
after 1769, so far as Middlesex is concerned, when 
Wilkes was being repeatedly re-elected for that 

On the subject of ' Knights of the Shire," 
William Somner, the seventeenth century an- 
tiquary and learned compiler of an Anglo-Saxon 


Dictionary, has an interesting note. According 
to this authority the Anglo-Saxon form of the 
word ' Knight " was ' ' Cniht," and it meant 
' a boy, a little boy or child, a young youth or 
stripling, also a servant, a servitor, a man-ser- 
vant. Indeed, the word, properly interpreted 
beside that of a boy or youth, signifies no more than 
a servant. Witnesse that use of it yet remaining 
in our ' knights of the shire/ which, although 
no knights by dignity or place, yet are so called 
but why ? Under favour, in regard of that ser- 
vice which is required and performed of them in 
Parliament for their several counties, whose ser- 
vant for the time they are." 

This certainly rather discounts the dignity of 
county representation ; but, be it remembered, 
it was a strained definition, written during the 
levelling days of the Cromwellian Commonwealth. 

Till the Reform Act of 1832 all the forty English 
counties had returned to Parliament ' ' two knights 
of the shire " each except Yorkshire, which 
since 1821 had been allowed to return four ; 
thirty-seven of them continuously from the time 
of Edward I., Cheshire and Monmouth from the 
time of Henry VIII, and Durham from the days 
of Charles II. 

The ' ' reform " of 1832 (among other things) 
divided the following twenty-five counties into 
two electoral districts each : Cheshire, Cornwall, 
Cumberland, Derbyshire, Devonshire, Durham, 
Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Lan- 
cashire, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Northampton- 
shire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Shrop- 
shire, Somersetshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, 
Surrey. Sussex, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and 


Seven others were not divided, but were allotted 
an additional member each ; namely, Berkshire 
Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Dorsetshire, 
Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, and Oxfordshire. 

In the case of seven others, where apparently 
there was insufficient increase of population to 
call for additional representation, no change was 
made ; these were Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire 
Lincolnshire, Middlesex, Rutland, Westmoreland, 
and Monmouthshire. 

Nor was any alteration made in the represen- 
tation of the twelve Welsh counties, represented 
by one member each from the time of Henry VIII, 
namely Anglesey, Brecknockshire, Cardiganshire, 
Carmarthenshire, Carnarvonshire, Denbighshire, 
Flintshire, Glamorganshire, Merionethshire, Mont- 
gomeryshire, Pembrokeshire, and Radnorshire. 

Before the passing of the 1832 Reform Bill, of 
558 members of Parliament for Great Britain, 
about half represented constituencies south of a 
line drawn from Gloucester to Harwich. Cornwall, 
for instance, had 40 members, nearly as many as 
Yorkshire and Lancashire together. The north- 
ern counties had not yet come into their own 
mining and manufacturing had not yet ousted 
agriculture from its ancient eminence. 

The Scotch counties represented in the British 
Parliament by one member each, from the time 
of the Union under Anne, were then thirty in 
number : Aberdeen, Argyle, Ayr, Banff, Berwick, 
Dumbarton, Dumfries, Edinburgh, Elgin, Fife, 
Forfar, Haddington, Inverness, Kincardine, Kirk- 
cudbright, Lanark, Linlithgow, Orkney and 
Shetland, Peebles, Perth, Renfrew, Ross, Rox- 
burgh, Selkirk, Stirling, Sutherland, Wigton, Bute 
and Caithness alternately, Clackmannan and Kin- 
ross alternately, Cromarthy and Nairn alternately. 


Of Irish counties represented in the Imperial 
Parliament by two members each, from the Union 
under George III, in 1801, the following is an al- 
phabetical list : Antrim, Armagh, Carlow, Cavan, 
Clare, Cork, Donegal, Down, Dublin, Fermanagh, 
Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, King's 
County, Leitrim, Limerick, Londonderry, Long- 
ford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Queen's 
County, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Tyrone, 
Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, and Wicklow. 

Of the changes, re-groupings, and subdivisions 
made by subsequent Redistribution Acts it is un- 
necessary to treat here. 

There occurs in Fraser's Magazine for November, 
1837, a political song, entitled" The Counties," 
which reviews, county by county, the result of the 
general election then recently over ; the nature 
of this effusion may be judged from the following 
sample of its quality 

Here's to the counties divided in two, 

Here's to the undivided at all, sir ! 
Here's to the Shires with one member ! though few 
Have an allowance so small, sir. 
Melbourne's vile crew 
Well may look blue 
While they are reading the county list through. 

Down to 1888 the fifty-two geographical coun- 
ties had each one Sheriff, even if it were divided 
into Parts (as Ridings) that had each a distinct 
county administration ; although within such 
counties there were not a few places exempt 
from the jurisdiction of the County Sheriff, and 
entitled to have Sheriffs or equivalent officers 
of their own as the " Counties corporate," 
or those cities and boroughs which were ' ' counties 
in themselves." 


The High Sheriff is still the chief civil officer of 
the county, holding the office for one year only, 
to which he is appointed with the same quaint 
old formalities which have been observed for 

The story of the shires is to a very considerable 
extent the history of the evolution of the office 
of Sheriff. Established in Saxon times with 
almost vice-regal powers, the Sheriff's office was 
utilised to constitute a local constitutional au- 
thority representative of several departments 
of the state ; but as the shrieval machinery grew 
out of date, the office was gradually shorn of much 
of its ancient importance. 

The election of the Sheriffs of London and 
Middlesex was granted to the citizens of London 
for ever, in very ancient times, upon condition 
of their paying 300 a year to the King's exchequer. 
In consequence of this grant, they elected two 
Sheriffs, though these constituted together one 
officer. In 1748 a bye-law of the city imposed a 
fine of 600 on every person who, being elected, 
refused, to serve the office of sheriff. 

The High Sheriffs of the counties of England 
and Wales (except Cornwall and Lancashire) are 
nominated every year on the morrow of St. Martin 
(November 12). The Chancellor, Chancellor of 
the Exchequer, the judges, and several of the 
privy councillors, assemble at the Law Courts ; 


an officer of the court administers an oath to them 
in old French, that they will nominate no one from 
favour, partiality, or any improper motive. The 
same officer produces a list of the counties in al- 
phabetical order, and of those who were nominated 
the year before, reads out three names to each 
county, and the last of the three he pronounces 
to be the present Sheriff. But where there has 
been a " pocket sheriff" one not of the three 
nominated by the judges in the exchequer, but 
who has been appointed directly by the king, 
of his royal prerogative he reads the three names 
upon the list, and then declares who is the present 
sheriff. Should any of the ministry or judges 
object to a person named in the list another gen- 
tleman must be named in his room. If no 
objection be made, some one rises and says, 
' To the two gentlemen I know no objection, and 

I recommend A B , Esq., 

in the room of the present sheriff." 

This ancient and interesting ceremony, which 
dates to the reign of Edward II, and popularly 
known as " pricking the sheriffs," is but the 
nomination of three gentlemen, fitted by wealth 
and position in each county in England and 
Wales (excepting the Duchies of Lancaster and 
Cornwall) to occupy the position of High Sheriff, 
The " pricking" is really done in the February 
ensuing by His Majesty the King, who with a 
golden bodkin, " pricks" the name of one of 
three gentlemen named for each county, almost 
invariably that of the first on the list placed before 

The popular election of Sheriffs was terminated 
in the reign of Edward II ; and the office is now 
not only gratuitous but compulsory. For Corn- 
wall the Sheriff is nominated by the Prince of 


Wales as Duke of Cornwall, while for Lancashire 
the Sheriff is appointed by His Majesty, as Duke 
of L/ancaster. 

The ceremony even in its most modern form, 
recalls the ancient Exchequer wherein the Sheriffs 
were the connecting link between the Shire-moot 
and the Curia. Not only are the judges sum- 
moned for this appointment, but all the members 
of the Cabinet. The justiciarii and Great Officers 
of State sit once more on the Exchequer side of the 
Curia, only the Exchequer and his Barons are now 
gone, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer finds 
himself presiding once a year in the King's Bench 
Division of the High Court of Justice. On such 
occasions he wears a gorgeous robe of black silk, 
with costly and elaborate gold embroidery a 
robe which his predecessors in former days wore 
as Judges of the Court of Exchequer, and which 
is still distinctive of his high office. 

The right of the sovereign to name whom he 
pleases to be sheriff, whether chosen of the judges 
or not, was grounded on a particular case in the 
fifth year of Queen Elizabeth, when by reason of 
the plague, there was no Michaelmas term kept at 
Westminster, so that the judges could not meet to 
go through customary forms of nomination ; 
whereupon the queen named them herself without 
any such assembly. Though this was the only 
authority for making these extraordinary sheriffs, 
a procedure whereby the royal prerogative was 
set above the laws, the practice of occasionally 
naming the so-called ' ' pocket sheriffs " continued 
till the time of George III. 

The new Sheriff is generally appointed about 
the end of the following Hilary term which enables 
the old sheriff to hold officer over the Michaelmas 
and Hilary terms. By several old statutes it is 


required that no man shall continue in the office 
longer than one year, and by a statute of Richard 
II. no man who has served the office of sheriff 
for one year can be compelled to serve the same 
again within three years after. 

Not unfrequently a person nominated has raised 
objection himself, pleading sometimes that he is 
likely to be abroad ; or that he is a practising 
barrister or else a military officer ; or that his 
estate is small and that he has no equipage ; and 
so on. 

The Council takes into consideration the validity 
of the excuses and, if necessary, hears the 
evidence of counsel on the matter, and if the ex- 
cuses be eventually accepted it then becomes the 
duty of the judges who went on circuit in the dis- 
trict at the last summer assizes to name other 
gentlemen to take the place of those excused. 
For this purpose their lordships have provided 
themselves with lists of the name? of suitable 
persons, from which, when the King's Remem- 
brancer calls out, " One name wanted," or " Two 
or three names wanted," as the case may be, 
they read as many as required. And thus the 
list of shrieval appointments is satisfactorily 
made up. 

In the county of Rutland, the area of which is 
so very small, there was so often a difficulty in 
rinding a man of the usual high social station for 
this office, that it became customary there to draw 
regularly upon the farming class for this purpose. 
Huntingdonshire is joined with Cambridgeshire 
in the appointment of a sheriff to serve both 
counties, and in the middle ages one sheriff long 
served for the two counties of Norfolk and 
Suffolk, a practice reminiscent of their original 
status as the Kingdom of East Anglia. 


If country gentlemen came at last to be chary of 
accepting this ancient and honourable office, it 
was not because its dignity had declined, so much 
as on account of the gross extortions to which 
the holders of it were subjected by a crowd of 
official hangers-on, who existed merely for the 
maintenance of an antiquated and useless cere- 
monial of state. So a time came when sheriffs 
of strong mind and sound common sense dispensed 
with much of the old ceremonial ; one went to 
meet the judges in a hired carriage in lieu of the 
traditional golden coach ; another cut off the 
trumpeters ; and a third suppressed the javelin men, 
till, in some county-towns, the ancient pageantry 
of the judicial procession had all but disappeared. 

To the Sheriff was committed the care of an un- 
discharged jury, whom the judge possessed the 
power to lock up without meat, drink, fire or 
candle, until they had agreed on their verdict. 
And if the judge was obliged to remove to the 
next Assize town on his circuit before the jury 
had found their verdict, the Sheriff had to take 
the jury after him in a cart. 

Some years ago a " little bill" of the charges 
in which a High Sheriff had been mulcted was 
communicated to The Times. It appeared that, 
in the course of three assizes in one single county, 
the gentleman whose duty it was to entertain the 
judges of the land, was called upon to pay the piper 
at the following prodigious rate, Item. For 
the Judges servants, 8, i8s. 6d. ; and for ale for 
them, 9 193. The " ringers " cost three guineas, 
which must be considered as cheap at the price, 
seeing that no extra charge is made for being 
deafened or driven half crazy by the intolerable 
clangour of the bells. The " use of the pulpit " 
was charged at one guinea ; but we are not told 


whether this included the use of a clergyman, a 
beadle, and a pew-opener. The ' ' trumpeters " 
had 5 8s. between them ; and though this seems 
in all conscience sufficient for the duties they had 
to perform, they further shared, with the ' ' clerk 
of assize" and the " chaplain," in the sum of 
eleven pounds charged for wine. Then a mys- 
terious individual, alluded to as Mr. P. , 

charged 10 i6s. lod. for attending at the Trea- 
sury, passing the accounts, and obtaining the 
Sheriffs quietus \ And so the items ran on in a 
range of conscienceless extortions. 

Some times a judge on circuit travels with a 
marshal, a clerk, a butler, a cook, a valet, and a 
marshal's man, and at times the cook carries his 
own cooking utensils, so that the baggage of the 
whole retinue is enormous. At a West Country 
Assize town the judge's lodging contains fourteen 

The Sheriff, as principal county officer, still 
has to perform certain functions in connection 
with the administration of justice. 

The chief of his personal duties is obligatory ; 
he must attend personally and in proper state 
upon His Majesty's Judges when they come to 
hold the Assizes for his county ; the sufficient 
lodging and maintenance of them during that 
period is also laid to his charge. 

The accommodation to be provided always in- 
cludes fire, lighting, linen, table equipment, 
kitchenmaids, scullery-maids, chambermaids, and 
not infrequently a staff of men-servants ; to say 
nothing of the time-honoured responsibility for 
providing the judge's state coach, having the 
church bells rung on his lordship's arrival, and 
engaging the trumpeters to grace his presence. 


The High Sheriff who neglects to be in attend- 
ance on the Judge of Assize is liable to a heavy 
penalty. At the Winchester Winter Assizes of 
1892 the High Sheriff of Hants was fined 500 
guineas for not being present. He had utterly 
forgotten that he was High Sheriff and had gone 
away on a health cruise to Africa. 

His ancient presidency of the County Court, 
and the other common law duty of commanding 
and controlling the militia, have long since dis- 
appeared. As chief ministerial officer of the 
Superior Courts of Justice, the Sheriff executes 
(vicariously, of course) all processes issuing there- 
from ; in civil cases serving writs and taking bail ; 
in criminal causes arresting and imprisoning, 
summoning the jury, keeping custody of the 
delinquent, and executing sentence upon him. 
He has to carry out the law even to the extreme 
penalty, for there is no official hangman. 

In the time of Edward IV. when the King's 
officers attempted to set up their own scaffold 
and gallows on Tower Hill, the city of London 
resisted, and the Sheriffs successfully maintained 
their right to carry out all executions revolting 
and cruel as some of the accompaniments were. 

Yet this part of a Sheriff's duty had its risks 
in bygone days when the deadly typhus was com- 
monly present under the name of " gaol fever." 
In 1577, at the Black Assize at Oxford, there died 
of the gaol fever two judges, the sheriff of the 
county, two knights, several justices of the peace, 
and all the jurymen but one. 

A Sheriff may not " hold pleas of the crown," 
that is, try criminals ; for it would be altogether 
unbecoming for one to be both judge and execu- 
tioner, or even to impose a fine and then to levy 
it. Indeed, during the year of his shrievalty 


he may not act as a magistrate, as this would be 
equally inconsistent. 

Formerly the Sheriff exercised both civil and 
criminal jurisdiction ; the former in the Sheriff's 
County Court, and criminal jurisdiction in the 
Sheriff's Tourn or Turn the Tourn deriving its 
name originally from the Sheriff's taking a 
' turn " or circuit about his shire and holding this 
court in several places. The Tourn was a court 
of record, having jurisdiction in claims of 40 
shillings and upwards ; it was finally abolished in 
1877. The Sheriff's County Court was not a 
court of record, the claims for debt or damage 
exceeding 40 shillings, or action for trespass, could 
not be tried there ; the Sheriff's County Court 
ceased when the modern County Court was in- 
stituted in 1846 the newer one is a statutory 
court having nothing to do with the ancient court 
it superseded. 

The omce of High Sheriff has grealty shrunk in 
importance since the days when he was ' ' governor 
of the shire, president of its court, and captain 
of the forces." 

As a judicial officer he had the administration 
of justice in the county court, and as a ministerial 
officer he was charged with the execution of all 
legal processes, civil and criminal. 

The High Sheriff always appoints for his year 
of office a professional Under Sheriff, who is a 
trained lawyer. Then there are quite a number 
of underlings whose services are utilised to carry 
out the various duties pertaining to the office ; 
as High Bailiffs of Hundreds and of other liberties, 
bound-bailiffs (" bum-bailiffs " who levy distress), 
foot-bailiffs, and other executive deputies, which 
occasion may require to carry out the processes 
of the law. For all these the High Sheriff is 


responsible, by virtue of his office. The Sheriff 
himself is considered as the bailiff to the crown 
the word bailiff being of Anglo-Saxon origin, and 
signifying a keeper or protector. Of High Con- 
stables, Head Constables and similar executive 
officers of olden times it is not necessary to say 
anything here, as their functions have been largely 
merged in to those of the county police. 

The Under Sheriff holds the courts necessary 
to carry out some of the judicial functions still 
pertaining to the office of Sheriff. On receipt of 
certain Writs, as a Writ of execution against one not 
able to satisfy claims for debt or damages, or a writ 
of enquiry as to damages, the Sheriff must summon 
a jury to inquire into and deal with the matter- 
all of which is done through the Under Sheriff. 
The judicial functions of this official are pointed 
to in the old seventeenth century rhyme 

Swearers are lyers, lyers most are thieves, 
Or God helpe jaylors and true under-shrieves. 

As royal bailiff it would fall to the High Sheriff 
to collect crown rents, seize lands forfeited or 
escheated to the crown, and to take charge of 
wrecks, waifs, and strays. 

The writs of parliament for the county being 
addressed to him, he controls the election of county 
members, making all necessary returns relating 
thereto ; also elections for Coroners, when they 
occur, are in his hands. 

As elsewhere shown, the ancient military func- 
tions of the office passed to the Lord Lieutenants. 
Yet to-day any male above sixteen years of age 
who refuses to obey the High Sheriff's call to 
withstand the King's foes is guilty of felony. 

At one time posts were set up at the doors of 
Sheriffs on which the royal proclamations were 


fixed ; and it was the custom when a man went up 
to the Sheriff's posts to read the proclamation, to 
remain uncovered while doing so. In Newcastle- 
on-Tyne and one or two other ancient ' ' counties 
of cities " the compliment is still paid to the 
Sheriff of fixing two ornate lamp-posts outside 
the door of his private residence. 



The capital of any country or province is the 
town which is the seat of the Government. 
Similarly the county-town is the one in which the 
Assizes for the county are usually held, and in 
which the other branches of local self-government 
for the shire area are carried on. 

The country is divided into what are known as 
circuits, and in each circuit is a number of towns 
where Assizes are held. These towns are visited 
periodically, about three times a year, by judges 
of the High Court of Justice. Generally two 
judges go on circuit together, taking alternately 
the criminal and the civil business at the towns 
where the Assizes are held. 

Because the judges come as the representatives 
of the sovereign to deliver the gaols of those 
charged with crime and to do justice among the 
people generally, a certain amount of state and 
ceremony is observed on these occasions, as the 
history of the Sheriff's office has disclosed. The 
county authorities have to provide ' Judges' 
Lodgings," that is, suitable accommodation in 
which the monarch's representatives may reside 
during the Assizes. On their arrival, of which 
due notice is officially communicated to those 
concerned, the royal judges are met by the High 
Sheriff, as the leading county official annually 
appointed by the Crown. 


The time-honoured practice is to meet them with 
a state carriage drawn by two or four horses, and 
sometimes by outriders, the coachman and foot- 
men invariably rejoicing in powdered wigs and 
gorgeous liveries. The Sheriff himself wears 
either court dress with a sword, or, if he is an officer 
in any branch of his majesty's forces, a military 
uniform. The escort to the Assize Courts often 
includes besides trumpeters, marshals, javelin 
men, and other attendants ; and the commission 
is opened in the criminal court by the reading of 
the royal proclamation. 

The business of the Assizes begins next morning. 
The Court in which criminal trials take place is 
known as the Crown Court (because proceedings 
are undertaken in the name of the Sovereign), 
where the bewigged judge wears a robe of scarlet 
trimmed with ermine ; his colleague donning a 
black robe and a wig presides in the civil court. 
The latter is sometimes called the Nisi Prius 
Court, because formerly all county causes were 
ordered to be tried on a given day ' ' unless before " 
the judges came into the county to which the cause 

Henry II. divided the country into six circuits 
or districts with three judges assigned to each, 
for the administration of the King's justice. This 
was done in 1176 at the Council of Northampton, 
thus effecting a much needed reform by which 
each division of the Kingdom could be periodically 
visited by justiciarii itiner antes, or " justices in 

Justices in Itinere (or ' ' in Eyre ") were in- 
tended, not merely to improve the administration 
of justice, but particularly to remove the great 
inconvenience arising from the high court of law 
following the king's person. At first the judges 


passed round the kingdom once a year, com- 
missioned to hold their Assizes in the various 
places appointed for the sittings. 

Assizes united indissolubly the royal and the 
popular elements of justice, and replaced judicial 
combat by something which approaches very 
near to trial by jury ; more than that, they en- 
couraged the principle of selective representation, 
and revived and re-organised the national militia. 

All this business was in the hands of the Sheriffs, 
and it is significant that in 1170 a clean sweep 
had to be made of corrupt local Sheriffs, when 
officials royally nominated were everywhere sub- 
stituted for them. 

One of the most important changes made by 
Magna Charta was a provision restraining Assizes 
to their respective shires, so as to save the un- 
fortunate suitor from following the Curia Regis 
from one end of the kingdom to the other, as had 
been the case during King John's itineraries. 
But this provision was so far modified as to 
enable Justices Itinerant to adjourn suits to 
another day and place in the same circuit ; and 
with this result, that the ancient pleas of one 
county are not infrequently to be found on the 
plea rolls of some adjacent county. 

The old circuits prior to 1830 were (i) The Home 
Circuit consisting of the counties of Hertford, 
Essex, Kent, Sussex and Surrey ; (2) The Midland 
Circuit, consisting of the counties of Warwick, 
Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, Lincoln, Rutland 
and Northampton ; (3) The Norfolk Circuit con- 
sisting of the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cam- 
bridge, Huntingdon, Bedford, and Buckingham ; 
(4) The Northern Circuit, consisting of the counties 
of York, Northumberland, Cumberland, West- 
moreland, Lancaster, and Durham ; (5) The Oxford 


Circuit consisting of the counties of Oxford, 
Worcester, Stafford, Salop, Hereford, Monmouth, 
Gloucester, and Berkshire ; (6) The Western 
Circuit consisting of the counties of Hampshire, 
Wiltshire, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset. 

To these were added in 1831 the two Welsh 
Circuits ; and three years later it was provided 
that assizes might be held at more than one place 
in the same county in Yorkshire, for instance, 
in each of the three Ridings. 

Other alterations were made from time to time. 
In 1863 the county of York was taken out of the 
Northern Circuit and annexed to the Midland 
Circuit ; then the counties of Leicester, Rutland, 
and Northampton were taken out of the Midland 
Circuit and annexed to the Norfolk Circuit. 
Later, the public convenience was sought by 
making it possible to discharge the civil and 
criminal business of Surrey through judges and 
juries trying issues in Middlesex and London. 

By the Winter Assizes Act 1876 certain counties 
were united to facilitate the more speedy trial of 

There are now eight of these circuits, each con- 
taining from six to nine towns. They are the 
Northern and North-Eastern, the Midland, the 
Oxford, the Western, the South-Eastern, the 
North Wales and the South Wales. 

The Northern Circuit covers the counties of 
Cumberland, Westmoreland, and the County 
Palatine of Lancaster ; the towns visited by the 
judges being Carlisle, Appleby, Lancaster, Man- 
chester, and Liverpool. 

The North-Eastern Circuit covers Northumber- 
land, Durham, and Yorkshire ; the towns visited 
being Newcastle, Durham, York and Leeds. 


The Midland Circuit covers the counties of Lin- 
coln, Nottingham, Derby, Warwick, Leicester, 
Northants, Rutland, Bucks and Beds. ; the assizes 
being held at Lincoln, Nottingham, Derby, War- 
wick, Leicester, Northampton, Oakham, Ayles- 
bury, and Bedford and Birmingham. 

The Oxford Circuit covers the counties of Oxon, 
Berks, Worcester, Stafford, Salop, Hereford, Mon- 
mouth, and Gloucester ; the towns visited by the 
judges being Oxford, Reading, Worcester, Stafford, 
Shrewsbury, Hereford, Monmouth, and Glou- 

The Western Circuit takes in the counties of 
Hants, Wilts, Dorset, Devon, Somerset, and 
Cornwall ; the towns visited including Winchester, 
Salisbury (or Devizes), Dorchester, Exeter, 
Taunton, Bodmin and Bristol. 

The South-Eastern Circuit includes the counties 
of Norfolk, Suffolk, Hants, Cambs, Herts, Essex, 
Kent, Sussex and Surrey ; the towns at which 
Assizes are held include Norwich, Ipswich, Hunt- 
ingdon, Cambridge, Hertford, Chelmsford, Maid- 
stone, Lewes, and Guildford. 

In the North Wales Circuit are included the 
assize towns of Chester, Mold for Flintshire, 
Ruthin for Denbighshire, Carnarvon for the 
county of that name, Beaumaris for Anglesey, 
Welshpool for Montgomeryshire, and Dolgelly for 

In the South Wales Circuit the towns visited are 
Haverfordwest for Pembrokeshire, Lampeter for 
Cardiganshire, Carmarthen for the county of 
that name, Brecon for Brecknockshire, Presteign 
for Radnorshire, and Cardiff or Swansea in 

London and Middlesex, as previously mentioned, 
are not comprised in any circuit, but courts for 


the trial of issues by a jury are held before judges 
of the High Court four times every year at what 
are called the London and Middlesex sittings. 

In 1834 the Central Criminal Court was in- 
stituted to deal with London, Middlesex, and 
certain of the metropolitan suburbs which reached 
into Essex, Surrey, and Kent. The county-town 
of Middlesex was Brentford so far as the holding 
of assizes and the county election in olden times 
could make it so. The Essex Assizes were at one 
time holden at Brentwood. In Northumberland 
the Assizes were formerly held at Alnwick till the 
large centre of population claimed the privilege. 
In Lancashire Preston claims to be of more im- 
portance, and certainly more central than the old 
county-town ; it is the headquarters of the county 
police and the meeting place of the County 

In recent years new towns which have become 
great centres of population as Leeds and Birm- 
ingham have been created Assize-towns ; so 
that in one geographical county there may now 
be found more than one town enjoying that 
privilege which was once the special prerogative 
and characteristic of a county-town. 

Although all the circuits now get three assizes 
a year, every assize town is not visited that number 
of times density of population, and the demands 
for judicial attention necessarily arising there- 
from, giving a new assize town like Leeds the full 
number, while an ancient county-town situated 
in a sparsely populated district, as Appleby is, 
has but two assizes each year. Formerly there 
might be four Assizes a year. 

By the latest arrangement the dates of the 
Assizes in the eight Circuits are respectively about 
the middle of January (Winter) middle of May 


(Summer) and middle of October (Autumn). 
Except in Lancashire, Glamorganshire, Devon, 
Bristol, Suffolk, and Sussex, the Autumn Assize 
is for criminal business only. There is an ad- 
ditional assize, for Lancashire and Yorkshire only, 
in May. 

In the winter and summer two judges are 
usually assigned to each circuit, except the Welsh 
circuits, to each of which only one is sent, the 
judges of the two Welsh circuits meeting and 
sitting together in the counties of Cheshire and 
Glamorgan. In the autumn the arrangements 
are irregular. 

From time to time various groupings have been 
tried. In 1876 power was given to the Crown, 
by an order in council, to unite certain counties 
for the holding of the Winter Assizes ; and in 1879 
similar power was given for consolidating the 
business of several counties at the Spring Assizes. 
This system of grouping was found to be attended 
with great inconvenience to litigants, witnesses 
and others, who were kept waiting at long dis- 
tances from their homes. 

In 1897 a scheme was promulgated for holding 
full vSummer and Winter Assizes in all circuits ; 
for an Autumn circuit in which only criminal 
business could be taken, except in Manchester, 
Liverpool, Leeds, and Swansea, where civil cases 
might also be tried ; and for an Eastern Circuit 
for both kinds of business in Manchester and 
Liverpool, and criminal in Leeds. A later amend- 
ment of the schedule gave an Autumn Assize to 

Since 1878 the Crown has been empowered to 
deprive any county of the privilege of having 
assizes held within it. To some of the smaller 
county towns which very largely depend upon 


the Assizes for their importance, the loss of this 
ancient privilege would mean a very substantial 
depreciation in their property values ; little 
wonder, therefore, that the prospect of such 
deprivation fills them with dismay. Even a busy 
town like Stafford demurs to be superseded by 

In Kent, Assizes were formerly held at East 
Greenwich, Dartford, Milton-next - Gravesend, 
Sevenoaks, Rochester, Maidstone, and Canterbury. 
In the time of Richard II. the assizes were held 
most frequently at Canterbury, and it was one 
of the grievances of Jack Cade and his followers 
that they had to travel from the farthest parts of 
West Kent into the east to attend the sessions of 
the peace ' ' causing men some five days' journey, 
and they desired for the better administration of 
justice it should be divided into two parts." 

Maidstone, once but of little repute, became the 
assize town after the Restoration. Canterbury 
(a county in itself) is, of course, the ecclesiastical 
capital of Kent, and Maidstone is now the county 
town. The cathedral city prefers that Maidstone 
should enjoy the privilege of carrying out execu- 

The other corner county, Cornwall, also 
hesitates between its cathedral town, Truro, and 
Bodmin with its gaol, as to which is really the 
county town. Launceston was the ancient capital 
of the Duchy the office of Constable of Laun- 
ceston Castle is still in existence. 

Maiden Assize is the name given to one in which 
no criminal is brought to trial ; formerly when the 
laws were more draconian and bloodthirsty, the 
name applied when no criminal was left for 
execution. Such naturally occurred more fre- 
quently in the less populated counties, as in 


Anglesey, Monmouth, and Montgomery. There 
was a custom on such occasions to present the 
judge with a pair of white gloves, and the judge's 
attendants in some counties (as Yorkshire, where 
the occasions were extremely rare) claimed glove 
money till these fees were abolished some fifty 
or sixty years ago. 

The giving of white gloves at a maiden assize 
is a piece of symbolism of Teutonic origin. Not 
only was the practice observed when no criminal 
had been called upon to plead ' ' called upon by 
name to hold up his hand " but prior to the 
seventeenth century such prisoners as had re- 
ceived pardon after condemnation were accus- 
tomed to present gloves to the judges. 

Those pardoned men who taste their prince's loves, 
As wedded to new life, do give you gloves. 

In olden times when a sentence of outlawry 
was reversed, the culprit attended the court per- 
sonally and presented gloves to the judges. 

The judges do not sit in virtue of their position 
as judges of the High Court of Justice, but as 
commissioners specially sent down ; and the 
arrangement is such that there is a General 
' Gaol Delivery " that is, a clearance of pris- 
oners awaiting trial, at least three times a year. 


The Lord Lieutenant was a military officer first 
appointed (it is believed) under Henry VIII., to 
preserve order in his county ; and as such he suc- 
ceeded to the powers and duties of Sheriffs and 
Justices of the Peace, as well as those of special 
Commissioners of Array. Under succeeding 
Tudor sovereigns, the office grew into permanence, 
and appointments thereto remain in the hands of 
the crown. 

Another ancient office, though quite distinct, 
is usually joined with the Lord Lieutenancy that 
of Custos Rotulorum. The duties of this office 
are to keep the county records (as the records of 
Sessions) and involve the appointment of the 
Clerk of the Peace, and the power of recommending 
to the Great Seal the names of fit and proper 
persons to be inserted in the Commission of the 
Peace for the county. The Lord Lieutenant is 
at the head of the county magistracy. 

Though the Lord Lieutenant now heads the 
county organisations, his office cannot compare 
in antiquity with that of Sheriff. In the matter 
of precedency too, the Sheriff claims to come before 
the Lord Lieutenant, and an instance is recorded 
of a duke who had been Lord Lieutenant forty 
years, apologising to the Sheriff for having in- 
advertently taken precedence of him. 

The office of Sheriff is of far more ancient 
foundation than that of Lord Lieutenant, which 


(according to Strype) was first established in the 
third year of Edward VI. to suppress the ' ' routs 
and uproars " then active in most of the counties, 
during the religious ferment of the early stages of 
the Reformation. It might be supposed the 
sheriffs already possessed sufficient power for that 
purpose ; but the means then adopted to restore 
tranquillity were not well calculated to be popular 
among the people among the extraordinary 
measures taken at that time it was ordered that 
no drum was to be struck or pipe sounded ; all 
plays were forbidden ; and in the churches of 
Devonshire and Cornwall, Lord Russell was to 
take down every bell in a steeple save one, so as 
to prevent a peal being rung. The times were 
certainly out of joint when Lord Lieutenants were 
first called into being. They seem, on the face of 
it, to have been emergency officers, whose appoint- 
ments became permanent. 

Lord Lieutenants of Counties appear to have 
come into existence somewhere about the middle 
of the sixteenth century ; they succeeded the 
Commissions of Array, which the Crown in earlier 
times had been accustomed to issue. The earliest 
of these appointments are to be recognised in the 
Commissions ' de arraiatione et capitaneo 
generali contra Francos " issued, for a large range 
of counties of the kingdom, to the Dukes of 
Norfolk and Suffolk, and to the then Lord Russell, 

in 1545- 

Blackstone, however, says, " About the reigns 
of King Henry VIII. and his children, Lord Lieu- 
tenants began to be introduced as standing re- 
presentatives of the Crown to keep the Counties 
in military order ; for we find them mentioned as 
known officers in the statute 4 and 5 Philip and 
Mary, chap 3, though they had not been long in 


use, for Camden speaks of them (in the Britannia) 
in the time of Queen Elizabeth, as extraordinary 
magistrates constituted only in times of difficulty 
and danger." 

This earliest known appointment by name is 
that of ' ' the Erie of Bedford, appointed their 
Highnes Lieutenant of the Counties of Dorset, 
Devon, Cornewall, and their Citie of Exeter, the 
I7th daie of March, the fourth and fifth yeares of 
their Majesties raignes." 

The said Lieutenant is directed to have with 
him his Commission, his Instruction, and his 
Letters, and to depart forthwith to his charge with 
all diligence. He is to give orders for the raising 
of beacons and the control of same ; to muster the 
men within his lieutenancy with their armour and 
weapons ; to call the gentlemen of the shire to- 
gether, and view their retinues of serving-men ; 
to classify them as able horsemen and footmen, and 
to appoint fitting captains to lead each body ; to 
view the horses fit for military service, and to 
appoint the places at which the troops are to 
muster when called upon. All dangerous landing 
places along the coast are to be noted, and the 
inhabitants are to be called upon to provide de- 
fences of ' trenches and bulwarks of earth " 
at such places ; while the inland dwellers are to 
furnish sufficient numbers to man these defences, 
providing each man with ten or twelve days' 

The Lieutenant, if an enemy should land which 
is too strong for the local forces to contend with, 
is to withdraw his men to some place of ad- 
vantage, destroying his trenches, cutting down 
trees and breaking the bridges behind him, and so 
impeding the advance of the invaders till aid can 
be sent him. In all towns diligent watch is to 


be kept ; all seditions and dangerous rumours are 
to be strictly suppressed. In fact, it is laid 
down as the direct duty of the Lieutenant to take 
all measures for the due observance of the statutes 
regulating the musters of properly armed and 
equipped men, liable to serve the Crown in the 
defence of the country ; and he is particularly en- 
joined ' ' to keepe the shire in good order and quiet, 
especiallie at the tyme of levying the subsidie." 

Such were the instructions of ' Marie the 
Queen," in 1558. Similar instructions were given 
by Queen Elizabeth in June 1574, when the King 
of Spain was making a threatening demonstration 
against this country from the opposite shores of 
the Low Countries. 

To ensure that there shall be no lack of men 

' trained in feates of warre," nor any deficiency 
in their proper " furniture of amor," ' certaine 
honest chosen captens " possessing the necessary 
knowledge are to be appointed to the divers 
counties " there to teach and traine the people 
to understand how to weare their armour, use 
their weapons and doe such like thynges. . . . 
upon every holiday in the afternoone, in sundrie 
places to be chosen, meete for two or three moneths 
space " ; at which the grave and discreet gentle- 
men of the county are "to be present and at- 
tendant for conservation of peace and good will." 
The shrewd Elizabeth enclosed with her in- 
structions a schedule, so that no one liable should 
escape from ' such assessments and appoint- 
ments " ; in fact the Lieutenant is expected to 

' augment the number of horsemen by meanes of 
putting in execution the intente of the saide 
schedule." And in this matter the Lieutenant's 
advice is sought for further means of augmenting 
the force of the shires, either in footmen or in 


horsemen, or in armour and weapons, ' ' amongste 
the meaner sorte of farmers that be of secreat 
wealth and never before charged with service 
as the gentlemen be." 

In committing the care and government of the 
aforementioned counties of Devon and Cornwall to 
the Earl of Bedford, ' ' because they lie upon the 
Sea-coast," the adjoining counties of Dorset, 
Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire are 
ordered to give them any necessary aid and suc- 
cour in time of danger, as are also the opposite 
coasts of South Wales. Nothing further calls 
for attention except that the Instructions contain 
a price list of the ' ' Armour and Artillerie " then 
in use the ' armour of a dimi-lance " being 
valued at 545. 4d. ; a corslett, 303. ; " a currier 
complet," i6s. 8d.: ' a harquebush," 8s.; "a 
dagge complet," i6s. 8d. ; "a bowe of ewe," 
2s. 6d. ; " liverie of arrowes and shafte," 22d. ; 
morris pike, 2s. ; halberd, 6s. 8d. ; a black bill, 
i6d., etc., etc. 

A regular standing army was unknown in early 
England ; independent of the forces of feudalism 
the Fyrd was the only body of professed warriors. 
Previous to the reign of Henry VIII. probably 
from the time of Edward I. to protect the realm 
from invasion or domestic insurrection, it was usual 
for the sovereign to issue Commissions of Array, 
under authority of various Acts of Parliament, all 
of which were repealed in the reign of James I. 
Under these Commissions officers were sent into 
each county to array, that is, to set in military 
order the inhabitants of every district. It was 
provided that no man should be compelled to go 
out of the kingdom at any rate, and not out of the 
county except in cases of urgent necessity. In 
the Tudor period Commissions of Array were 


superseded by Commissions of Lieutenancy, al- 
though Charles I. afterwards issued a Commission 
of Array to call out the Fyrd. This revival was 
resisted as illegal, and in 1642 it was ordered that 
Lord Lieutenants were to be appointed by Parlia- 
ment, because he alone could call out the Militia 
by which name the Fyrd, or national defensive 
force, had now come to be known. Every free- 
man between the ages of 15 and 60 was not only 
liable to serve, but to provide his own equipment 
according to his social status ; and to enforce the 
latter obligation in ancient times an Assize of 
Arms was held at certain periods, for the inspection 
of arms, armour, and other war material for per- 
sonal equipment, in manner similar to that sug- 
gested in the Schedule just quoted. 

The records of the Militia musters in olden times 
are very meagre, but the force was called together 
in 1539, and for the Armada panic in 1588. It is 
difficult to find with any degree of certainty what 
part the Militia took in the Civil War (from 1641). 
In recent times the Militia has been embodied 
again and again during the Peninsular and 
Waterloo campaigns, in the Crimean War, 1854 6, 
and as late as the South African War. This 
ancient corps then became a sort of Special Reserve. 

In the course of centuries the Fyrd considered 
as an auxiliary force, has had many different 
names the General Levy, the Trained Bands, 
the General Militia, Armed Associations, Volun- 
teers, and lastly the Territorials. 

The standing army was established in the reign 
of Charles II., but the Militia finally became a 
body of voluntary recruits, trained for home de- 
fence, and who served for pay. The contingent of 
each county was prescribed by statute, based on the 
size of its population, and if the quota was not forth- 


coming voluntarily, a ballot of its able-bodied 
men might be enforced. Formerly the Militia was 
officered by the Lord Lieutenant and those ap- 
pointed by him, but all high military authority 
has been vested, since 1871, in the Crown. 

In his military capacity the Lord Lieutenant, 
till the Army Regulation Act of 1871, was re- 
sponsible for the efficiency of the Militia. Those 
powers and jurisdictions relating to the recruiting 
of the Militia by ballot, should that course have 
to be adopted, continued. The effect of recent 
enactments, however, has been to abolish the 
Lord Lieutenancy as a great military office. 

The appointment of Lords Lieutenants in Eng- 
land dates from (cir) 1549 * m Ireland only from 

The Lord Lieutenant is a great personage, 
usually a peer or large land-owner placed at the 
head of the county government, combining in him- 
self the civil office of Custos Rotulorum and the 
military post of crown representative associated 
with the armed forces of the county. The 
military duties have shrunk to little more than 
mere patronage and ceremonial while in the other 
capacity the Lord Lieutenant may, if it should be 
necessary, preside at a general sessions of the 

As mentioned elsewhere, each of the Ridings of 
Yorkshire has a separate Commission of Lieu- 
tenancy, as a county in itself. In 1660 Charles 
II. granted a Commission of Lieutenancy to the 
city of London giving the Commissioners similar 
powers to those possessed by the Lords Lieutenants 
of Counties ; and by them the City Train Bands 
were remodelled and increased. 

To each county there are a number of Deputy 
Lieutenants. The office of Deputy Lieutenant 


was also part of the organisation for national de- 
fence, but now it is little more than a social dis- 
tinction, though the appointments and quali- 
fications are regulated by the Militia Act, 1882. 
At least twenty must be appointed for each county 
if there are so many therein qualified ; the quali- 
fication requires that a Deputy lieutenant must 
be a peer, or a peer's heir, resident in the county ; 
or the possessor of landed estate valued at not less 
than 200 a year, or of a similar income derived 
from personalty within the United Kingdom. 
These deputies are appointed by^the Ix>rd lieu- 


Every place bearing the term ' ' shire " as part 
of its proper name is not a shire in the sense of 
being a county division. The Anglo-Saxon 
' Scir " has had, at various times, divers mean- 
ings ; it has not only signified a county, province, 
or district, but it came to be used in the sense of a 
boundary, or any object marking a boundary ; as 
" Shire-oak." 

While giving some consideration to these, it 
may not be out of place to deal with those de- 
tached outliers of territory which used to give old 
county maps such a puzzling appearance. 

There is a Shire-oak near Stonnal, Staffordshire, 
but it is a mile or two from the Warwickshire 
boundary ; and a Shire-oak near Worksop, near 
the boundary of Notts and the West Riding of 
Yorkshire. Shirbourn, literally " the boundary 
brook," divides Coventry from the parish of 
Allesley ; there are other places in the country 
similarly named and for the same reason. Shire 
Ditch, again, on the Malvern Hills, marks the 
boundary between Worcestershire and Gloucester- 

The spot at which three or more counties come 
together has always been more or less a wonder 
place, a place to be marked and noted, a spot that 
was somehow distinguished above its surround- 
ings. It was something to be able to stand in 
three counties at once. In the old prize-fighting 


days there was the spot near Birmingham, 
known as Three Shire Oak, at which the 
counties of Warwick, Worcester, and an isolated 
part of Salop came together, and provided a 
favourite place for pitching the ring, because 
when the constables of one county put in an 
appearance, there was a choice of two others 
through which the disturbed sportsmen could 
make their escape to quieter quarters. 

The spot where the four counties of Warwick, 
Stafford, Leicester and Derby come together is 
known as No Man's Heath, and boasts a licensed 
rendezvous called " The Four Counties Inn." 

If a thing is to be particularised and noted it 
must be named ; so what more natural than the 
bestowal of proper names upon sudh spots. As 
boundary stones have been in use from the most 
remote times pillars of stone and border stones 
are mentioned in the Bible, and in Anglo-Saxon 
times such landmarks were known here as hoar- 
stones (now often corrupted into whorestones, 
warstones, and so on) we get the place name 
Three Shire Stones in several parts of England. 
It is the name of the meeting-point of Lancashire, 
Cumberland, and Westmoreland (seven miles 
west of Ambleside) ; of the junction of Cheshire, 
Derbyshire, and Staffordshire (2 miles north of 
Flash) ; and of the meeting-point of Gloucester- 
shire, Somerset, and Wilts (a few miles north of 
Bath). Near Cleeve Prior, where the shires of 
Worcester, Gloucester and Warwick come to- 
gether is the Three Shires Elm. Four Shire Stones, 
again, is where the four counties of Worcester, 
Warwick, Oxford, and Gloucester meet, near to 
Moreton Henmarsh. 

The modern town of Mossley is in Lancashire, 
Yorkshire and Cheshire, and the three municipal 
wards are named respectively after the counties. 


When the first great Reform Bill came to be 
passed, a rectification of the frontiers had to be 
made for electoral purposes, to overcome the 
difficulties arising from detached portions of some 
counties lying within the confines of other ter- 
ritorial counties. A few years later, other legal 
and administrative anomalies, which naturally 
attached to isolated fragments of a county lying 
away in some " foreign " area, were remedied by 
the Statute 7 and 8 Victoria c. 62, which generally 
made them parts of the counties by which they 
were respectively surrounded. 

No more absurd instance of this inconvenient 
arrangement could be found than that of Ely 
Place, Holborn, which was supposed to be ID the 
county of Cambridge the locality having 
anciently been the " inn " of the Bishop of Ely, 
the tenements known as " Ely Rents," though 
within the liberties, franchises, and jurisdiction 
of the City of lyondon, long remained a ' ' peculiar " 
jurisdiction of the Bishop of Ely, and was there- 
fore accounted " part of the city of Ely in the 
county of Cambridge." 

Here is a list of 52 such anomalies, compiled 
mainly from maps in Lewis's Topographical 
Dictionary : 

Part of Situate in Town or Village 

Berks Oxford Shilton 

Berks Oxford little Farring'n 

Berks Wilts 

Bucks Northants 

Bucks Oxford Caversfield 

Derby Leicester Ravenstone 

Derby Leicester 

Derby Leicester 

Devon Dorset Thorncombe 



Part of 

Situate in 
























Radnor (Wales) 



























Town or Village 


Little Compton 





S. Ambersham 




Grays (near) 

Welsh Bicknor 




Clent & Broom 








Part of Situate in Town or Village 

Worcester Gloucester Iccomb 

Worcester Gloucester Evenload 

Worcester Gloucester Cutsdean 

Worcester Gloucester Blockley 

Worcester Hereford Edvin Loach 

Worcester Oxford 

Worcester Stafford Dudley 

Worcester Gloucester and Shipston 


Worcester Gloucester & Daylesford 

The map of Scotland, too, often shows the en- 
clave, fragments of Cromarty and Banff being 
dotted about other neighbouring counties. 

The whole of Halesowen was not included in 
Salop. It is a large parish of several townships, 
one of which was in Worcestershire as its name, 
Warley Wigorn, testifies. But it did not con- 
sist of one piece ; it was cut up into small patches 
and scattered among the townships of Oldbury, 
Langley, and Warley Salop, which were in Shrop- 
shire : some of these pieces were mere fields ; some 
were larger and themselves enringed portions of 
Shropshire, so that on the smaller scale Ordnance 
Maps it was scarcely possible to distinguish the 
boundaries of the two counties. 

It will thus be seen the limits of the shires have 
not been inviolably unchangable. As a matter of 
fact county boundaries have been altered by legal 
process from time to time, by transfers, and 
otherwise. Extensions and consolidations for 
convenience of local government have demanded 
that detached and outlying districts should be 
transferred to a nearer centre of administration. 
The list just given, of counties that once had 


separated fragments lying in the midst of neigh- 
bouring counties, is probably, by no means an 
exhaustive one. 

The Thames is always considered the dividing 
lire between Essex and Kent. But at Woolwich 
a small portion of the ancient manor lies on the 
opposite coast, in Essex probably apiece recovered 
in olden times from the encroachments of the tide. 
On the other hand Chalk and Higham near Gravesend 
were anciently accounted parts of Essex. The 
Isle of Dogs, in Middlesex, has been claimed, but 
by what authority is unknown, as part of Kent. 

It would be impossible to give all the instances 
in which county boundaries are known to have 
been altered. The present boundaries of Staf- 
fordshire by no means coincide with the limits 
recorded in Domesday Book. The boundary 
between Westmoreland and Cumberland, accord- 
ing to ancient surveys of manors, was not along 
the existing line of demarcation, the former 
county having evidently gained some time or 
other at the expense of the latter. 

The names of several places in England have 
the terminal " shire," which are not counties, 
but which probably represent ancient lordships. 

In Northumberland are to be found Norham- 
shire, Islandshire, and Bedlington shire, detached 
portions of the patrimony of St. Cuthbert. They 
were formerly included as parcel of the Palatinate 
of Durham. Norhamshire, a ward of over twenty 
thousand acres near the Tweed, formed till 1844 
a detached portion of the county of Durham. 
Islandshire, another Northumberland ward, con- 
taining some twenty-eight thousand acres, in- 
cludes the Fern Islands, and also formed at one 
time a detached part of Durham county. Bed- 
lingtonshire is a ward of over eight thousand four 


hundred acres, consisting of Bedlington parish, 
situated on the river Blythe, five miles south- 
east of Morpeth. 

Hexhamshire (locally known as " the shire ") 
is a division of Hexham parish in south North- 
umberland ; of the 24,000 acres in the parish it 
embraces nearly 19,000 which once constituted 
a county palatine, comprising the parishes of 
Hexham, Lee St. John, and Allendale. This 
area was anciently governed by the Bishops of 
Hexham it was in the year 684 St. Cuthbert 
was called to rule over this now long obsolete 
diocese. Subsequently it passed as a barony to 
the see of York, and in the reign of Elizabeth 
was annexed to Northumberland. 

Besides these, Northumberland also contains 
Bamboroughshire, near the ancient castle and 
capital of the kings of Northumbria ; and the 
Shire Moor at Backworth, near North Shields. 

In the county of York are Hallamshire, Howden- 
shire, Richmondshire, and AUertonshire. Hal- 
lamshire is an ancient lordship of the southern 
division of the West Riding, mentioned in Domes- 
day Book as Hallam. Its boundaries are now 
difficult to determine, but they are generally sup- 
posed to embrace the parishes of Sheffield and 
Ecclesfield. Howdenshire is a wapentake (and 
now a parliamentary division) in the East Riding. 
Richmondshire contains the five Wapentakes of 
Gilling East, Gilling West, Hang East, Hang 
West, and Halikeld; roughly speaking it is 
bounded on the north by the river Tees, on the 
south by the river Ure, on the west by Westmore- 
land, and on the East it reached about as far as 

AUertonshire is the name of another Wapen- 
take in the North Riding. 


The application of the term ' ' shire " to these 
northern districts originated in the Middle Eng- 
lish period, probably with the monks, who seem 
to have employed it to denote certain undefined 
localities or regions that never had any exact 
geographical existence. 



For upwards of a thousand years the whole 
realm has been so divided for its better govern- 
ment that there is no part of the kingdom which 
does not lie within some county. 

Besides the geographical counties, of which 
there are forty in England and twelve in Wales, 
there are counties corporate, certain towns or 
cities with lands and territories, having liberties 
and jurisdiction by grant from the king ; as the 
county of Middlesex annexed to the city of 
London by Henry I ; as the county of the city 
of York (tempo Henry VIII.) , of the City of 
Chester (Elizabeth), of the cities of Bristol, Glou- 
cester, Norwich, Worcester, etc., and the county 
of the town of Kingston-upon-Hull, and others. 

Centuries before that modern invention, the 
' county-borough," was heard of, certain cities 
and towns in this country enjoyed the privilege 
of ranking as counties in themselves. They 
were " counties corporate," distinct from the 
geographical counties in which they were situate 
they all lay, with the possible exception of 
Berwick-upon-Tweed, within the defined limits 
of territorial counties. 

This superior status had been acquired by 
virtue of county privileges conferred upon them, 
generally as a mark of the royal favour in former 
times. Still, though the two classes of counties 


are generally considered to be on the same footing 
in strict theory of law, they are in no way so in 
actual practice. 

The legal constitution of these privileged places 
has been thus set forth : 

' There are counties corporate otherwise called 
counties of cities or towns which are certain 
cities and towns, some with more, some with less 
territory annexed, to which out of special grace 
and favour the kings of England have granted the 
privilege to be counties of themselves and not to 
be comprised in any other county ; but to be 
governed by their own sheriffs and other magis- 
trates so that no officers of the county at large 
have any power to intermeddle therein." 

As counties corporate constitute no part of the 
counties in which they are locally situate, so they 
had formerly in general no share in voting for the 
members to serve for those counties in parliament. 
However, thirteen of the number were latterly 
included within their respective counties, so far 
as regards the right of election for knights of the 
shire ; and this tendency has been largely followed 
in the later Redistribution Acts. 

Nineteen old towns have been so distinguished, 
most of them cities. London was a county by 
prescription at the Norman Conquest ; the others 
have been separated from their parent counties 
since that epoch. 

Bristol, formerly part of Gloucestershire, was 
invested with independent jurisdiction by a 
charter 47 Edward III., which is the earliest in- 

York was made a county by Richard II.; Lin- 
coln, Norwich, and Newcastle-on-Tyne, by Henry 
IV. ; Hull, Nottingham, Southampton, and 
Coventry, by Henry VI.; Canterbury and Haver- 


fordwest by Edward IV.; Gloucester by Richard 
III ; Chester by Henry VII.; Exeter by Henry 
VIII.; Lichfield by Mary ; Poole by Elizabeth ; 
Carmarthen and Worcester by James I. 

From its position on the boundaries of two king- 
doms, Berwick-upon-Tweed was the scene of fre- 
quent conflicts prior to the union of England and 
Scotland under James I. The town itself was in- 
cluded under the English crown in the reign of 
Edward IV. ; and although it was made an in- 
dependent town by Edward VI., and referred to 
separately in national and legal documents, it 
was still considered to belong to England. The 
town is still defended by fortifications, which, 
though out of date, form an agreeable promenade. 
Edward I. granted Berwick a charter of incor- 
poration, and James I., by a new charter, conferred 
on the corporation the seignory of the town and 
3,077 acres of land within the borough. 

It will be observed that two of these corporate 
counties have been carved out of Northumberland 
(Berwick and Newcastle) ; two out of Yorkshire 
(York and Hull) ; and two out of Gloucestershire 
(Gloucester and Bristol). Kent has lost the area 
of Canterbury, Cheshire of Chester, Devon of 
Exeter, Staffordshire of Lichfield, Lincolnshire 
of Lincoln, Norfolk of Norwich, Notts of Notting- 
ham, Hampshire of Southampton, and Worcester- 
shire of Worcester. 

The county of Hull, or rather Kingston-upon- 
Hull, include s a strip of land five miles westward 
from the town. 

The " city and county of the city of Lincoln " 
comprises the city together with four adjacent 
villages ; the remainder of Lincolnshire, which is 
the second English county according to area, is 
divided into three parts, namely Lindsey, Kest- 
even, and Holland. 


Poole, in Dorsetshire, created a separate juris- 
diction under the style and title ' ' the County of 
the Town of Poole," by charter dated 23rd June, 
1568, is the smallest of the class, and no assizes are 
held there. 

Coventry was re-annexed to Warwickshire in 
the reign of Victoria. 

Only two towns of this status are in Wales, 
namely Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, and 
Carmarthen. There are none in Scotland, but 
Ireland has nine of them, namely Dublin, Carrick- 
fergus, Cork, Drogheda, Galway, Kilkenny, 
Limerick, Waterford, and (since 1663) London- 

It is interesting to note that the term ' ' county 
borough " was applied to Carmarthen in an old 
document of William III. the earliest known use 
of the name. 

There are also three counties of special status, 
known as Counties Palatine ; namely Lancaster, 
Chester and Durham. Ely possesses certain 
royal franchises, and is sometimes erroneously 
described as a county Palatine. 

Counties Palatine were probably erected at first 
because they were adjacent to an enemy's country, 
as were Durham and (perhaps) Lancaster to 
Scotland, and Chester to Wales ; that the in- 
habitants might have administration of justice at 
home, and remain there to secure the county from 

These Counties Palatine are reckoned among 
the superior courts, and are privileged as to pleas, 
so that no inhabitant of such counties shall be 
compelled by any writ to appear or answer out 
of the same, except for error, and in cases of 


A Tudor chronicler, says that in the time of 
Edward III. Lancaster, Durham, and Ely, and 
Hexhamshire in the western part of Northumber- 
land, were reputed counties palatine ; also Chester, 
created so by the Conqueror, who gave these 
earldoms " to be held as freely as the king held 
his crown," and " by this supremacy of liberty " 
he made himself barons which might assist him in 

The legal status of the County Palatines is 
fully defined in Stephen's Commentaries : 

Three counties, viz.. Chester, Durham, and Lancaster, are counties 
palatine. The two former are such by prescription or immemorial 
custom, or at least are as old as the Norman Conquest ; the latter was 
created a county palatine by King Edward III., in favour of Henry 
Plantaganet, first earl and afterwards Duke of Lancaster : whose 
heiress being married to John of Gaunt the King's son, the franchise 
was greatly enlarged and confirmed in parliament, to honour John of 
Gaunt himself ; whom, on the death of his father-in-law, the King had 
also created Duke of Lancaster. 

Counties palatine are so called a palatio, because the owners thereof, 
the Earl of Chester, the Bishop of Durham, and the Duke of Lan- 
caster, had formerly in those counties jura regalia as fully as the king in 
his palace ; regalem potestatem in omnibus, as Bracton expresses it. 

They might pardon treasons, murders, and felonies ; they ap- 
pointed judges and justices of the peace ; all writs and indictments 
ran in their names, as in other counties in the King's ; and all offences 
were said to be done against their peace, and not as in other places, 
contra pacem domini regis. As to which indeed it may be remarked 
that by the antient law, in all peculiar jurisdictions, offences were said 
to be done against his peace in whose court they were tried : in a court 
leet, contra pacem domini ; in the court of a corporation, contra pacem 
ballivorum ; in the sheriff's court or tourn, contra pacem vice comitis. 

These palatine privileges are similar to the independent regal 
jurisdictions usurped by the great barons on the continent during the 
weak and infant state of the first feodal kingdoms in Europe. 

Take the palatinate of Chester by way of example. 
The only part of Wales found assessed to the 
English King in Domesday Book was the region 
of Mold and Flint, which then formed part of the 
great county palatine of Chester. For the Con- 
queror had made over this portion of the Welsh 
Marches to Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, with 
and some of it apportioned into counties, the 


leave to add to his palatinate as much territory 
as he could conquer from the Welsh ; and he had 
carried his annexations as far as Rhuddlan Castle. 

At that time the Chester palatinate also in- 
cluded the part of Lancashire lying between the 
Mersey and the Ribble ; but this was afterwards 
transferred to the county palatine of Lancaster, 
at its creation by Edward III. ; a little earliei 
when Wales was being subjugated by Edward I., 
Flintshire portion had been taken out of the 
county of Chester, though the Sheriff of Flint was 
to attend before the justice of Chester and bring 
his accounts to the Exchequer of Chester. 

Tersely and succinctly the further history of the 
English Palatinates is thus given in Stephen's 
Commentaries : 

It is also to be remarked, that of the counties palatine none of them 
now remain in the hands of a subject. For the earldom of Chester, as 
Camden testifies, was united to the crown by Henry III., and has ever 
since been one of the titles of the sovereign's eldest son ; and the palatine 
jurisdiction of Durham which was long vested in the bishop of Durham 
for the time being, was taken from him by 6 and 7 Will IV. c. 19., 
(amended by 21 and 22 Viet c. 45) and vested as a separate franchise 
and royalty in the crown. 

As to the county palatine or duchy of Lancester, it was the pro- 
perty of Henry Bolingbroke, the son of John of Gaunt, at the time 
when he wrested the crown of King Richard II., and assumed the 
title of Henry IV. But he was too prudent to suffer his duchy to be 
united to the crown ; lest if he lost the one he should lose the other also. 
For as Plowden and Sir Edward Coke observe, ' ' he knew he had the 
duchy of Lancaster by sure and indefeasible title, but that his title to 
the crown was not so assured : for that after the disease of Richard II., 
the right of the crown was in the heir of Lionel Duke of Clarence, second 
son of Edward III. ; John of Gaunt, father to this Henry IV., being 
but the fourth son. 

" Harry of Lancaster/* when he became King 
in 1399 was naturally anxious to have his Duchy 
to fall back upon if he should lose the crown, so 
he obtained an Act of Parliament which prevented 
the lands which go with the Duchy from being 
merged or mixed with the lands which go with the 
crown. The Crown lands were surrendered by 


George III. on his accession in return for a fixed 
salary as King, but by virtue of this old Act of 
Henry IV. re-enacted several times the re- 
venues of the Duchy of Lancaster, which are de- 
rived from property not only in Lancashire, but 
in other parts of the country, remain a source 
of private income to the King. In 1913 their 
value to the King was 61,000. 

The origin and nature of the peculiar privileges 
belonging to the Palatinate of Lancashire are 
curious and interesting. In John of Gaunt, fourth 
son of Edward III., and so called from being born 
at Ghent, was revived, by declaration of Parlia- 
ment in 1362, the title of Duke of Lancaster. 
Several royalties were further conferrred upon 
him by his father, including to the County 
of Lancaster the dignity of a Palatinate. The 
terms in which the royal patent was granted are 

" We have granted for ourselves and our heir (John) that he shall 
have, during life, within the county of Lancaster, his Court of Chancery 
and writs to be issued out under his seal belonging to the office of 
Chancellor ; his justices both for holding the pleas of the crown, and for 
all other pleas relating to common law, and the cognizance thereof, 
and all exactions by his writs and offices within the same : and all other 
liberties and royalties relating to the County Palatine, as freely and 
fully as the Earl of Chester is known to enjoy them within the county 
of Chester." 

The King's next care was to establish a Court 
entitled the Duchy Court of Lancaster for the 
administration of all matters affecting the pos- 
sessions under the Duchy. 

In London, at Lancaster Place, Strand, this 
Court is now held, and from thence issue all 
patents and commissions of office or dignities, 
and all orders or grants relative to the revenues 
and limits, and all acts of authority within the 


On the site of the Palace of the Savoy was the 
ancient residence of the Dukes of Lancaster. It 
was so magnificent that according to Knighton, 
there was no mansion in the realm its equal in 
stateliness and beauty. John of Gaunt lived at 
the Savoy in almost regal state. 

Under Henry V. the prerogatives, privileges 
and possessions of the Duchy of Lancaster, held 
by his father, Henry confirmed, and with the 
sanction of Parliament it was directed that the 
liberties and franchises of this Duchy should be 
maintained and exercised for ever, and that the 
seal of the Duchy should have force without re- 
clamation of the King, or of his officers, and be 
used for ever in the business of the Duchy. 
Further, ' ' possessions in hereditary right of the 
King were separated from the Crown and incor- 
porated in the Duchy of Lancaster to be ad- 
ministered by the officers of the Duchy." Again, 
under Henry V. and Henry VI., the possessions 
of the Duchy of Lancaster were added to, and 
validity of independent administration extended. 

The attainder of Henry VI. by Edward IV. 
declared the Duchy of Lancaster forfeited to the 
Crown. Nevertheless, an Act was passed " to 
incorporate the Duchy of Lancaster, to continue 
the County Palatine, and to make the same, parcel 
of the Duchy ' vested ' in whole in King Edward 
IV., and his heirs Kings of England for ever, but 
under separate guiding and governance from the 
other inheritances of the crown." 

In the reign of Henry VII. another Act was 
passed to resume such part of the Duchy lands as 
had been dismembered from it in the reign of 
Edward IV. and to vest the whole " in the King 
and his heirs for ever as amply and largely, and in 
like manner, form, and condition, separate from 


the crown of England, and possessions of the same, 
as the three Henrys and Edward IV. or any of 
them had and held the same." 

Henry VIII. very much impaired the revenues, 
by his gifts and grants to favourites, and otherwise, 
but all the possessions were restored under Mary. 
From the reign of Elizabeth the Duchy of Lan- 
caster has been considered one of the richest gems 
in the Crown of England, and the Sovereigns 
have borne the title of Duke of Lancaster, 
enjoying ' ' the most famous princliest, and state- 
liest of inheritances." But for state purposes 
the Duchy has been kept quite distinct from the 
regal revenues and possessions. 

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is a 
statesman who changes with the Government 
and holds office by letters patent, taking pre- 
cedence (if not a peer) next after the Chancellor 
of the Exchequer. 

The Chancellor of the Duchy, as such, has next 
to nothing to do. The Vice Chancellor presides 
over the Chancery Court which was left to the 
Duchy even by the clean-sweeping Judicature 
Act, and the management of the estates is done 
by a staff of receivers and solicitors and surveyors. 
When he has made an appointment to any vacant 
county court judgeship within the limits of the 
Duchy, the Chancellor has done the most, if not 
quite all, of what he has to do, and the office has 
in the past been held by some politician of emin- 
ence but of a mind better at the principles than 
the details of statesmanship. Nowadays the 
Chancellor of the Duchy often fills in his time with 
unclassified administrative work. 

Although this county palatine came directly 
under the Crown, it retained all its privileges, and 
it was not until the last century that the ad- 


ministration of justice was assimilated to that of 
the rest of England. 

With regard to the Isle of Ely, we may observe (says Stephen) 
that this was never a county palatine, though some times erroneously 
called so. It was, however, a royal franchise ; the Bishop of Ely 
having been formerly entitled, by grant of King Henry I., to jura 
regalia within the district, whereby he exercised a jurisdiction over all 
causes, as well criminal as civil. But by 6 and 7 Will IV. c. 87 (amended 
by 7 Will. I V. and I. Viet. c. 53) this secular authority of the bishop 
was taken away and vested in the Crown. 

There were formerly two other counties palatine, 
Pembrokeshire and Hexhamshire (the latter now 
united with Northumberland), but these were 
abolished by Parliament ; the former in 27 Henry 
VIII. the latter in 14 Elizabeth. At the former 
period, moreover, the powers before mentioned 
of owners of counties palatine were abridged ; the 
reason for their continuance, says Stephen, having 
in a manner ceased. 

And in recent times, alterations have taken 
place in regard to the administration of justice 
in the counties palatine, which have assimilated 
them in that matter to the rest of England. Thus 
by ii Geo. IV. and I Will. IV. c. 70 the jurisdiction 
of the court of session of the county palatine of 
Chester was abolished, and that county was sub- 
jected in all things to the jurisdiction of the 
superior courts at Westminster ; and by the 
Judicature Act, 1873, the jurisdictions of the 
Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster and of the 
Court of Pleas of Durham were transferred to the 
High Court of Justice by that Act established. 



In the counties the two inferior courts of the 
land are the Court of Quarter Sessions, with 
criminal jurisdiction, and the modern County 
Courts for civil cases. They are the principal 
of the inferior courts. 

In the Court of Quarter Sessions we may recog- 
nise the modern form of the judicial powers of the 
old Shire-moot. We have seen that formerly the 
judicial function was largely exercised by the 
Sheriff, the King's representative, one of the three 
officials who originally presided over that assem- 
bly. Then as the importance of the Sheriff 
waned, his judicial powers passed in a large 
measure to the Justices of the Peace. 

At first these newer officials exercised no 
judicial authority at all ; and even when they did 
it was only in their corporate capacity. Justices 
of the Peace seem to have been appointed in the 
first instance to enforce the carrying out of the 
oath of peace, which the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury laid upon the land in the reign of Richard I. 

Afterwards they were elected in the Shire Court, 
but at the beginning of the reign of Edward III 
they were nominated by the Crown. This is the 
system which now holds good, the Crown appoint- 
ing on the advice of the Lord Chancellor, who acts 
on the recommendation of the Lord Lieutenant 
of each county. 


In time the Justices of the Peace came to be 
numbered among the most important officials of 
the kingdom. Gradually the care of all matters 
concerning the countryside the rural areas out- 
side the cities, boroughs, and corporate towns- 
came to be placed in their hands ; beginning with 
the remedial efforts necessitated by the deplor- 
able state into which the country had fallen, 
through the Black Death (1348-9) ; going on to 
the administration of the poor laws of the Tudor 
Period ; and coming gradually into the control 
of all matters relating to local government. 

Magistrates give their services gratuitously, 
and have jurisdiction within a certain area, gener- 
ally acting for the neighbourhood in which they 
reside ; as custodians of the King's peace they 
preserve order, put down disturbances, and act 
as judges in minor cases. 

In 1888 the county magistrates were largely re- 
lieved of their old administrative duties, but left 
in possession of their judicial functions. 

These judicial duties fall into two groups ; the 
Appellate, or the hearing of appeals from Petty 
Sessions ; and the Original, or the trial of offences 
too serious for the courts of summary jurisdiction 
to deal with, but not serious enough to demand 
trial before a judge of Assize. 

The Sessions, as their name would imply, are 
held four times a year*, for the trial of lesser 
criminal cases in each county ; most of the large 
towns, too, hold them, in which the judge, a bar- 
rister appointed for the purpose, is known as the 
Recorder. In the counties the Court is held 
before the Justices of the Peace, of whom one is 

"The first whole weeks after October n, December 28, March 31. 
and June 24. These Sessions may be adjourned from time to time 
and from place to place 


elected permanent Chairman, and acts as Judge, 
though he usually consults the others as to the 
sentence. Murders, manslaughters, and other 
very serious cases cannot be tried before these 
courts, and have to be reserved for the Assizes. 

The procedure of this court is very similar to 
that observed at the Assizes. At the com- 
mencement of the Sessions all the cases go before a 
Grand Jury, and the trial takes place before a 
common jury. 

A pungent eighteenth century satire on the 
functions of this court is contained in some ' ' I,ines 
on a Country Quarter Sessions " : 

Three or four parsons, three or four squires, 
Three or four lawyers, three or four liars ; 
Three or four parishes bringing appeals 
Three or four hands, and three or four seals ; 
Three or four bastards, three or four whores- 
Tag, rag, and bobtail, three or four scores ; 
Three or four bulls, three or four cows 
Three or four orders, three or four bows ; 
Three or four statutes not understood, 
Three or four paupers praying for food ; 
Three or four roads, that never were mended, 
Three or four scolds and the Session is ended. 

Not the least important county functionary is 
the Coroner, whose office is both ancient and 
honourable he is so called because he deals 
wholly and exclusively with the king and crown, 
and yet he was the only county official not ap- 
pointed by the crown, being elected (generally for 
life) by the body of freeholders. 

There are about ten Coroners to each county, 
in addition to a number of Borough Coroners. 

For the object of local taxation, says the learned 
Stephen, the division into counties is of practical 
effect and importance ; "for as each parish is 
subject to a rate for relief of the poor, so is every 
county to a county rate, which is levied on the 
occupiers of land within the county under the 


authority of various acts of parliament and 
applied to many miscellaneous purposes." But 
as the allocation ard spending of most of this 
money was in the hands of the Court of Quarter 
Sessions, a nominated and unrepresentative body, 
here was an instance of ' taxation without 
representation," which called for the attention 
of the reformer at an early period of reforming 

When the great majority of the population 
lived in the country, as they did up to the eight- 
eenth century, the power of the country gentry, 
or ' ' squires," was enormous. 

For thirty years the subject of the adminis- 
tration of county affairs by authorities in some 
degree representative of the inhabitants of the 
rural districts and the country towns and villages 
was constantly before the public, the topic being 
discussed over and over again among Chambers 
of Agriculture and similar bodies. A Bill intro- 
duced in 1852 proposed to ignore the Quarter 
Sessions and give the control of county business 
to boards elected by the Guardians of the Poor. 
A more vigorous attempt to place county govern- 
ment on a sound footing was made in 1871, when 
it was proposed to consolidate the rate and in- 
stitute parochial boards, whose chairmen were to 
elect from among themselves a certain number 
(to be fixed by the justices) of parochial re- 
presentatives for each petty sessional division. 
The Magistrates in Quarter Sessions were to elect 
from among themselves a number of members 
equivalent to the total number of parochial re- 
presentatives. Of course a property qualification 
was to be necessary in both the former of 30 
rateable value ; in the latter of 40 per annum. 


There were other proposals at various dates for 
the constitution of County Boards, and it was 
generally noticeable that it was almost invariably 
sought to represent two interests the 
' ratepayers," by which term the smaller occupiers 
were denoted, and the " magistrates" who were 
then commonly supposed to be representative of 
the owners. Although the ultimate aim of 
occupier and owner might be identical, namely the 
economical and efficient administration of county 
affairs, it was felt that their views and their in- 
terests would probably not always coincide the 
absentee owner, for instance, might be a source 
of trouble in the working of such a system ; and 
the justices again were an utterly irresponsible 
body, the nominees of a higher authority, equally 
non-representative. Of the many crude pro- 
posals none became law ; in the meantime the 
principle of free and direct election gathered 
strength in the public mind. Public opinion 
gardually shaped itself into a demand for the free 
and unfettered choice of men who were anxious 
and qualified to conduct the public business of the 
neighbourhood in which they resided, whatever 
their status or their calling whether they were 
magistrates, peers, clergymen, yeomen, manu- 
facturers, farmers, or tradesmen, it mattered not so 
long as they were animated by the proper public 

The reforming ideas of the nineteenth century 
could no longer tolerate the administration of 
county affairs by a non-elective body. That the 
control of the county police, the management of 
main roads, and other matters necessitating the 
expenditure of public moneys, compulsorily con- 
tributed in the shape of rates, should be in the 
hands of the county magistrates, came to be re- 


garded as unsatisfactory. So in 1888 the Local 
Government Act was passed constituting an 
elective authority called the County Council 
to whom these powers were transferred, and many 
new ones added. 

For the better local governance of the country- 
side, and in further vindication of the great English 
principle, no taxation without Representation, 
the County Councils were created. These popu- 
larly elected bodies were to be chosen every three 
years, to consist partly of County Councillors and 
partly of aldermen elected by the council gener- 
ally from their own body, but not so of necessity, 
power being given to the councils to go outside 
in the exercise of their choice. 

1888 County Councils established in England 
and Wales (London being made a separate 

1889 County Councils established in Scotland ; 

1898 County Councils set up in Ireland. 

The great towns had long demanded and ob- 
tained a reformed municipal government. But 
the outside rural districts, the villages and the 
towns too small to command a perfect system of 
local government of their own, had been adminis- 
tered by the county magistrates. These adminis- 
trative areas, as they were called, had varied very 
much in their size and needs, according as the 
county could be classified as agricultural od as 

In the latter the density of population and 
corresponding wealth, contrasted widely with 
the difficulty of raising adequate sums from the 
rates in the former wherewith to provide for the 
public requirements of the area. Thus the manu- 
facturing county of Lancashire was found with 
an area very little in excess of that of Hampshire, 


to have nearly six times the population, and 
more than five tunes the rateable value. 

The towns maintained their independence of 
the county, the larger boroughs in absolutely 
every detail of local autonomy, and the smaller 
municipalities generally in those matters which 
are considered vital to the principle of local self- 
government. Sixty-four towns in England and 
Wales which had attained to a population of about 
fifty-thousands and upwards, were endowed with 
the fuller powers of the first category and were 
styled County-Boroughs. 

Originally the basis of population put down for 
a county borough was 150,000, which was reduced 
to 100,000, and finally to 50,000. It is not sur- 
prising that County Councils which have suffered 
the dismemberment of their areas, where the most 
populous and prosperous of units have grown into 
county boroughs, have complained of the hardship 
inflicted on them, the county authority being left 
with a residue of a poor rural population scarcely 
able to provide the money for the necessities of 

London which had always occupied a different 
position from that of other towns in the kingdom, 
was provided with its own County Council con- 
sisting of 138 members, and having jurisdiction 
over the district till then governed by the Metro- 
politan Board of Works, a body which was there- 
upon abolished. Of course the city (that small 
area in the heart of London, the population of 
which did not reach the standard set up for a 
county-borough) was left in the enjoyment of its 
ancient form of government by Lord Mayor and 

The Act of 1888 undoubtedly made a great 
advance in the form of efficiency of English pro- 


vincial government, the strength of which, as 
compared say with France, is the comparative 
freedom from central authority, each County 
Council being in essence a provincial parliament. 

With our usual fear of sudden and violent change 
and our preference for compromise, the control of 
the police and other matters relating to the ad- 
ministration of justice within the county area, was 
vested in a Standing Joint Committee of Quarter 
Session and the County Council. 

Between the County Courts of the present day 
and the early Sheriff's Court there is no historical 

The modern County Courts came into existence 
in 1846 at which date England was divided into 
fifty-six circuits, each containing a certain number 
of district courts, which are held at the principal 
towns in each circuit. Over each circuit is ap- 
pointed a Judge, chosen by the lyord Chancellor 
from among barristers of at least seven years' 
standing, and who is addressed as " Your 
Honour." The principal cases tried in these 
courts are claims for debts under 50, and civil 
cases in which the amount of damages does not 
exceed 50. New functions may be, and are, 
added, from time to time. Courts are held at 
short intervals and the Judge has the assistance 
of a registrar and other officers. A jury of five 
persons may be summoned if the amount claimed 
exceeds 5, and either of the suitors so wish. 
The procedure is simple and inexpensive, and it 
is essentially a " poor man's court." 

' These antient courts (says Stephen, tracing 
the history of the Shire Courts) retain at the pre- 
sent day nothing of their former consequence, and 
are not now entrusted with the administration of 


justice. The County Courts of modern in- 
stitution have been nevertheless established in 
reference to the old territorial division, there being 
for each county one of these courts held in one or 
more places within its limits ; also, as regards 
crime, the trial is, as the general rule, conducted in 
the county wherein the offence is alleged to have 
been committed ; and such trials take place either 
before the judges and commissioners of Assize, 
on their periodical circuits, or else before the 
justices of the peace for the county at their 
Quarter Sessions." 

Cornwall and Devon have peculiar courts of 
law, of ancient privilege, for the administration 
of justice among the tin-miners. They are called 
Stannary Courts (from the Latin stannum, tin) 
and are held before the Lord Warden and his sub- 
stitutes, officers of the royal Duchy. 

An independent jurisdiction was given by 
William the Conqueror to the Cinque Ports, which 
were erected into a sort of palatinate, with a 
Lord Warden invested with civil, military, and 
naval jurisdiction. Each of the five ports had 
its own corporation of twelve jurats with peculiar 
powers and privileges ; but within the last century 
the ancient organisation of the Cinque Ports has 
been broken up, to bring the towns into line with 
modern forms of government. 

In the bestowal of this Conqueror's privilege 
may be traced the foundations of the Royal Navy, 
" the senior service," as a recognised national 
force. Before the Tudor period the monarch 
relied on the service of fifty-seven vessels, each 
carrying twenty-one men and a boy, which ships 
had to be provided by the Cinque Ports, free of 
expense for fifteen days but only after they 
had received forty days' notice from the Crown. 


When a greater force was required ships were hired 
from merchants at home, or even from foreign 
ports such as Dantzig, Hamburg, and Genoa. 
When the Spanish Armada was tackled in Eliza- 
beth's time, this country sent out 176 ships carry- 
ing 14,992 men, but of these only 34 ships and 
6,225 men belonged to the Crown. 

According to the Report of the Commissioners 
for revising and digesting the civil affairs of the 
Navy, issued in 1805, there was a sort of naval 
force in existence in the time of Henry VII., but 
it was not known as the Royal Navy it was 
mainly the obligatory contribution of the Cinque 

In 1883 an Act to reform municipalities abolished 
42 ancient Courts of Record, but four times that 
number still exist, though some of them do not 
exercise their jurisdiction. Abingdon, for in- 
stance, has jurisdiction in personal actions up to 
10, but its jurisdiction has been in abeyance since 
1836 : Andover and Banbury courts have juris- 
diction to 40 : Bedford Court has been in abey- 
ance since 1789 ; but these rights are not lost by 
mere non-user. Some courts like the Barmote 
of High Peak had chartered jurisdiction relating 
to mining rights ; but this, and the Barmote of 
Wirksworth are now regulated by statute. 

Bristol court possesses the power of foreign 
attachment ; at Cambridge the Chancellor's Court 
had a wide jurisdiction, though since 1856 its 
powers in criminal matters have been largely cur- 
tailed, and it has since practically fallen into 
disuse. At Liverpool there is a Court of Passage 
which still carries on an extensive business. In 
London the Mayor's Court is an ancient court of 
record ; and there is also the Court of Husting 
with a special jurisdiction in cases of debt and 


Another peculiar jurisdiction belonging to the 
city of London is that of the Chamberlain's Court, 
dating from the time of Edward VI. It was 
instituted to determine disputes between masters 
and apprentices, the judges being the Chamberlain 
and Vice-Chamberlain of the city. 

Salisbury has by prescription a Bishop's Court 
with civil jurisdiction, but no trial has taken place 
in it since 1816, and it has been in abeyance since 

Arundel Court has not exercised jurisdiction 
since 1798, or Beaumaris since 1779, and the last 
trial in Bath Court of Record took place in 1821. 
The Banbury Court had its procedure revived by 
the late Sergeant Talfourd when he was Recorder 
of that town. Birmingham affords the last in- 
stance of the grant of a local court by royal charter, 
Queen Victoria favouring that borough in this 
respect in 1838. The Recorder of Birmingham is 
still judge of that privileged court, though it has 
not held a session for many years past. 

Like Cambridge, Oxford University has a 
Chancellor's Court with exclusive criminal juris- 
diction, where the defendant is a member of the 

The Hundred Courts have practically all dis- 
appeared ; the well-known Salford Hundred Court, 
notwithstanding its name, does not come down to 
us in unbroken succession from its ancient pre- 
cursor of that name. It is a court of record which 
has been established by statute in substitution for, 
and as an amalgamation of, two ancient courts, 
the Salford Hundred Court and Manchester Court 
of Record. 

These few instances will suffice to give the reader 
a faint idea of the ancient courts possessing a local 
jurisdiction, and their status at the present day. 



The geographers not unnaturally group the 
counties according to position. In the first group 
are placed the four northern counties which lie 
east and west of the Pennines, two on one side, 
two on the other, all having a sea-board, though 
Westmoreland has not much to boast of. North- 
umberland, lying between the Tweed and the 
Tyne, consists very largely of sloping moors 
between the Pennines and the sea, but 
the poorness of the land is more than made 
up for by the possession of one of the largest coal- 
fields in Great Britain. The county of Durham, 
on the same slope towards the North Sea, lies 
between the Tyne and the Tees ; it also is rich in 
prolific coal measures and other mineral wealth, 
which find an outlet through the Wear and the 
Tees. On the other side of the divide the 
county of Cumberland has its scenery boldly 
dominated by mountain and lake here are the 
highest mountains in England interspersed with 
fifteen of its largest lakes and diversified by the 
moorland waste of the Pennines and the fertile 
valley of the Eden. Westmoreland is also a 
county of mountain, moorland, and lake, and 
with the previously named county constitutes one 
of the rainy regions of England. As a part of 
Northumbria, Westmoreland was once known as 


The counties of the Humber basin include not 
only Yorkshire to the northward, but the four 
others southward, drained by the Trent, namely 
Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and 
Staffordshire. Yorkshire comprises the basin of 
the Ouse ; it is the largest county in England and 
ranks third in point of population ; Lancashire 
coming first, and Middlesex second. Over on 
the continent may be found kingdoms less in size, 
and much inferior in wealth. The Vale of York 
is the largest in England. In the North Riding 
are the elevated Yorkshire moors ; in the East 
Riding the Yorkshire Wolds ; and in the West 
Riding are found the coal and iron, and the great 
woollen manufacturers, which have filled it with 
populous towns and made it one of the busiest 
and richest districts in the world. 

The county of Nottingham is a flat rolling 
country along the lower Trent, whose memories 
of old romance in Sherwood forest are now fading 
fast before the industrial advances of its rapidly 
developing coalfield. Derbyshire, with its tors 
and peaks, its grand caverns hollowed in the lime- 
stone cliffs, and its rounded hills cut by wild glens, 
has been called the English Switzerland ; it pos- 
sesses river scenery alorg the Dove and the Der- 
went that can scarcely be surpassed in any Alpine 
region. With the delightful region of this lime- 
stone formation is sometimes associated the pre- 
valence of the distressing disease, goitre, locally 
known as Derbyshire Neck, and commonly at- 
tributed to an excess of lime and magnesia in the 

Leicestershire, the smallest of the Midland 
counties, is composed chiefly of the valley of the 
Soar, and belongs to the Central Plain of England, 
across which an extensive view is obtainable from 


the uplands of Charnwood Forest, the only 
elevated land within its boundaries. 

Staffordshire is a Midland county with twin 
coalfields ; that of the north has bred the Pot- 
teries, that of the south, with its famous ten-yard 
seam, has produced the Black Country. These 
two famous industrial regions are separated by a 
fertile belt of pleasant agricultural country, which 
is never recognised as characteristically 

' Staffordshire." 

Lancashire and Cheshire belong to the basins of 
the Ribble and the Mersey, and lie between the 
western slopes of the Cumbrian and Pennine 
mountains and the Irish Sea. In North Lan- 
cashire the peninsula of Furness is cut off by 
Morecambe Bay. South Lancashire has the super- 
ficial aspect of barren moorland, but beneath the 
surface lies one of the richest coal-cellers in the 
kingdom, and hence this county has become the 
greatest of England's industrial centres, the 
enormous traffic of its cotton manufactures finding 
every necessary facility of waterway in the river 
Mersey. Lancashire has been known as the 
Cotton County since the early seventeenth century. 
Geographically it is the most artificially con- 
structed county in the kingdom, no natural con- 
nection binding together isolated Furness in the 
north, the region between Morecambe Bay and 
the Ribble anciently known as Amunderness, and 
the southern region formerly known officially as 

' Between Ribble and Mersey." Furness was 
originally part of the Strath-clyde Welsh king- 
dom ; Amunderness lorg counted as an outlying 
district of Yorkshire ; and the southern part, under 
the old names of Blackburnshire and Salfordshire, 
belonged to the county palatine of Chester. Not 
till the time of Henry III. were all the lands of 


Lancashire resumed by the Crown and made into 
an administrative whole, Edmund Crouchback 
then being created Earl of Lancaster. 

Cheshire consists of a low and rather flat plain 
with a light soil, drained by the Mersey, the 
Weaver, and the Dee ; from its luscious grasslands 
come the famous Cheshire cheese and other forms 
of dairy produce ; from its inexhaustible mines 
of rock-salt it has been dubbed the " salt-cellar 
of England." 

The six west-midland counties in the basin of 
the Severn form a group ; namely Shropshire, 
Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, 
Herefordshire and Monmouthshire. The last 
two, which lie west of the Severn, were included 
in the government of Wales till the time of Henry 
VIII. ; Warwickshire is in the basin of the Avon, 
the largest tributary of " fair Sabrina." 

Shropshire lies amongst the upper waters of 
the Severn ; one part of it belongs to the Welsh 
group of mountains, another to the Plain of 
Cheshire, and a third part belongs to the Central 
Plain. Across the western edge of Shropshire 
is to be seen the earthen dyke erected between 
the Dee and the Wye, by Offa, King of Mercia, in 
779, to mark the Welsh frontier. Then the 
Salopian plain begins to rise into humps and 
domes that stretch westward, till they merge into 
the higher peaks of the Welsh mountains. 

The county of Worcester is a broad rich valley 
bordered on each side by a range of hills ; on the 
west by the lovely Malverns, and on the east, the 
Clent Hills the latter, the first interruption of 
the great Central plain standing up a thousand 
feet in the centre of England, and dividing three- 
ways the waters of the Trent, the Thames, and the 
Severn. The north-east corner of this fruitful 


garden-county joins up to, and takes upon itself 
the barren nature of, South Staffordshire's 
laborious wastes. 

Warwickshire, fair, pleasant, and ' very 
English " in its hedgerow scenery, belongs to the 
Central Plain, and is the " heart of England." 

Gloucestershire occupies the lower Severn valley, 
a fine fertile stretch between the rugged heights of 
Dean Forest on the west, and the rich grazing 
slopes of the Cotswolds on the east. 

The county of Hereford is filled by the larger 
part of the basin of the Wye, one of the loveliest 
rivers in England ; while Monmouthshire, the 
English county which is most Welsh, occupies 
most of the basin of the Usk. It is through the 
latter also that, as the poet expresses it, the Wye 
" slides with all her beauty into Eternity." 

The East-Midland counties, or counties of the 
Wash, comprise Lincolnshire, Rutland, Northamp- 
tonshire, and Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, and 

Lincolnshire is the second largest of the English 
counties, though only half the size of Yorkshire. 
The part called the Uplands is laid out for pasture ; 
while the Fenland, now mostly drained and given 
up to tillage, is a fine corn-land. Because ancient 
Lincolnshire, with its vast expanse of fens and 
marshes, could provide abundance of fish and 
wild fowl it became a land of monastic foundations, 
the county of noble abbeys. It contains about 
700 parishes. 

Rutland, the smallest of English counties, has 
a population only equal to that of a little market- 
town. To its south is Northamptonshire, a long 
slip of land which borders on nine other counties 
no other touches so many as this. 


Huntingdonshire is another very small county ; 
it belongs to the low level of the Fens and once 
contained Whittlesea Mere, the largest sheet of 
water outside the Lake District ; but this has been 
drained and is now added to our Anglian corn- 
fields and pasture lands. 

Bedfordshire belongs to the basin of the 
" slow-winding Ouse," and though it contains 
much pastureland, it probably has, in proportion 
to its size, more ploughed land than any other 
English county. 

Cambridgeshire also belongs to the basin of the 
Great Ouse, which divides it into two districts ; 
the south, occupied by grassy chalk downs of the 
Gog Magog Hills ; and the north, that part of the 
Fenland which retains its old name, the Isle of Ely. 

Hereabouts we have the flat marshy region known 
as the Bedford Level, comprising the greater part 
of the Fens the whole Isle of Ely, about 90 
square miles of Hunts, nearly 100 of Norfolk, 47 
of Suffolk, I2j of Northants, and the south-east 
portion of Lincolnshire, making 703 square miles 
in all. Two cuts of canals, the Bedford Rivers, 
Old and New, have been constructed from the 
borders of Huntingdonshire through the Isle of 
Ely, to confluence with river Stoke ; the New River 
is ipo feet wide, the Old 70 feet, and both are 
navigable for upwards of twenty miles. A large 
area of land has been reclaimed for cultivation, 
and though the expenditure has been vast, the 
results have been worth it. The work was under- 
taken early in the seventeenth century by the Earl 
of Bedford aided by the celebrated Dutch engineer, 
Sir Cornelius Verm uy den, in the face of great 
opposition ; the usual outcry against "foreigners " 
being raised. 


The whole of this low-lying area, known as the 
Fens, at one time extended to 2,000 square miles, 
which tradition says was first overflown by the 
sea during an earthquake in the year 368. It 
long after remained an inland sea in winter, and a 
noxious swamp in summer, and has been drained 
gradually by the successive efforts of the Romans, 
the Saxons, and the monks of the Middle Ages. 
Drainage works on a larger scale were undertaken 
in the reign of Henry VII. by Morton, bishop of 
Ely, and later a drainage act was passed by the 
advice of Lord Burghley in 1601. Since the 
making of the Bedford Level, similar works have 
been undertaken in 1807, when Rennie made 
the Great Level, and again in 1844 when the 
Middle Level was made. Notwithstanding which, 
great inundations occurered in 1862 and in 1877. 

The three Eastern counties include Norfolk 
and Suffolk (the two generally known as East 
Anglia), and Essex in the basin of the Thames. 
Though Norfolk is the fourth largest county in 
England, it is scarcely as large as the North 
Riding of Yorkshire. The eastern part is so flat 
that its rivers spread out into wide lakes and 
marshes, called " Broads," which are the home 
of many wild fowl. Like Suffolk, it is a good 
wheat-growing country. The latter county is also 
famous for its sheep and cattle, and a short strong 
horse known as the Suffolk Punch. Norfolk was 
once our greatest manufacturing county, and its 
commercial integrity in olden times gave us the 
word ' ' sterling " a sterling pound was a reliable 
weight of bullion according to the standard of the 
Easterling merchants trading there. If the 
ancient parish churches of Norfolk and Suffolk 
are found to be excessively large for the villages 
they now serve, it must be remembered that before 
the Black Death these villages were thriving towns. 


' England has greater counties " than Essex, 
sings A. S. Cripps, but 

Their place to hers is small. 
Low hills, rich fields, calm rivers, 
In Essex seek them all. 

Omitting Essex, the counties which may be 
grouped in the Thames basin are, on the northern 
bank, Middlesex, Hertford, Buckinghamshire, and 
classic Oxfordshire ; on the southern side, Kent, 
Surrey and Berkshire. 

The county of Middlesex is the smallest but 
one of the English counties ; it is more populous 
than Yorkshire, though Yorkshire is twenty times 

Hertfordshire is a pleasant county which sends 
its waters down long gentle slopes to the lower 
lands of Middlesex and Essex ; the I^ea flowing 
through the centre, from west to east, and then 
forming the boundary between this county and 

Buckinghamshire contains the Chiltern Hun- 
dreds, at one time covered with forests of beech 
and oak, but now either cultivated or laid out in 
pasture ; also the rich Vale of Aylesbury, which 
sends large supplies of milk and butter to the 
London markets. 

Oxfordshire and Berkshire are divided by the 
winding waters of the Thames. In the latter 
is situated the Vale of the White Horse, where 
King Alfred fought the battle of Ashdown, broke 
the power of the Danes, and kept England a 
Christian land the memory of all which is pre- 
served in the immense figure of a horse carved on 
a green hillside, its bold outline remaining visible 
century after century, so long as the chalk is kept 
" scoured " of the grass, by the proud men of the 


Surrey, divided into two parts by the North 
Downs, is a pleasant land of hill and dale, noble 
parkland, and wide spreading heath, all within 
easy reach of the Londoner. 

Kent has a boundary line of sea and river on 
three sides ; on the west, the fourth side, it is 
entered by the North Downs, which become 
broader and broader, till they terminate in two 
sea-ends, known respectively as the North Fore- 
land and the South Foreland. The county has 
three well-marked districts ; the high upland of the 
Downs ; the centre which grows hops, corn, and 
cherries ; and the low marshy districts which are 
characteristic of both its north and its south 

Kent as " a sea-salted, wind- vexed promon- 
tory " sticking itself out into the sea, has been 
curiously compared with the county of Fife in 
the sister kingdom of the north both were made 
the landing-places of early missionary monks 
of whose enterprise we have reminders in the 
ancient cities of Canterbury and St. Andrews ; 
and more curious still both have for a coat of arms 
a white horse over the legend, " Invicta " the 
watchword of an unconquerable spirit common to 
the two. 

The four southern counties comprise Sussex, 
Hants, Wilts, and Dorset. 

Sussex is divided into three well-marked belts, 
the Weald, the South Downs, and the narrow 
strip of coast. The Weald was once covered 
with dense masses of forest, though it is now 
mostly under tillage. The South Downs are a 
range of broad, round-backed hills, grass-grown 
to the top, and famous for their mutton pro- 
ducing qualities. The sheltered coast-line is well 
dotted with sea-side resorts. 


Hampshire is a large, fertile and well-wooded 
county between the Thames Valley and the 
English Channel. In the north the Hampshire 
Downs run eastward where they divide into the 
North Downs of Surrey, and the South Downs of 
Sussex. By the British it was called Gwent, ' ' the 
country of downs." 

The four counties of South-east England, the 
corner from Kent to Hants, is a pleasant land of 
the old Saxon Weald, the rolling Downs, and the 
chartered marshes of ancient Romney : 

' ' I'm in love with all these three, 
The world and the Marsh and the Down Countrie ; 
Nor I don't know which I love the most 
The Weald or the Marsh or the White Chalk Coast." 

Wiltshire is entirely an inland county, " of 
billowy surface," consisting of upland tracts and 
table-land that send waters away to the Thames, 
to the Severn, and the English Channel. The 
largest of its pastoral chalk downs is Salisbury 
Plain, a bleak stretch of greensward occupying 
nearly 300 square miles. The highest of its 
chalk hills is Inkpen-Beacon, which rises where the 
three counties of Wiltshire, Hampshire, and 
Berkshire meet, and from which point four ranges 
strike out the Chilterns running into the East 
Anglian Heights, the North Downs towards 
Surrey and Kent, the South Downs towards 
Sussex, and in opposite direction the Downs of 

Dorsetshire is another chalky county of small 
population. Between the North Downs and the 
South Downs of Dorset lies the Trough of Poole, 
a barren waste that yields nothing but blue clay, 
large quantities of which are sent to the Stafford- 
shire Potteries. 


The three south-western counties are Somerset, 
Devon, and Cornwall the last-named, however, 
repudiates the name county and styles itself a 

Somerset is a county of very varied aspect, its 
hills and dales, its dark woods and clear streams, 
presenting landscapes of ever-changing charm and 
diversity. On the west a branch of the Exmoor 
runs out of Devonshire ; in the middle are the 
Quantock Hills ; and on the east are the Mendips, 
whose rocks yield to the miner lead, copper, and 

lyovely Devonshire, or " leafy Devon," is the 
land of glowing colour, with its red earth and 
masses of green foliage ; its azure sky and purplish 
seas ; its cliffs of pink and grey marble, lighted up 
by ferns, and flowers, and softened by graceful 
creepers ; where villages nestle amidst orchards, 
and pretty cottages are gay with bushy myrtles 
and climbing fuchsias ; where busy vales alternate 
with great silent moors, and never a scene presents 
itself that fails to charm the eye of the beholder. 
In the north is Exmoor, in the south Dartmoor, 
and between these two gloriously natural wilds, 
lies a broad, beautiful, and well-cultivated plain, 

Cornwall, sometimes called West Wales, 
stretches out like a horn of land with stern and 
rocky coasts, into a wild and stormy sea. The 
river Tamar, which divides it from Devon, makes 
almost an island of it ; and in other ways it is as a 
county apart. 

The counties have even been classified by the 
statistical seismologist, from which it would 
appear that the most " unshakable counties " are 
Northumberland and Durham, which are prac- 
tically immune from earthquake. The county 
most subject to seismic disturbance is said to be 


Hereford, for in the cathedral city alone over 
200 chimneys were fractured in the earthquake of 

Wales in area is about one-twelfth of Great 
Britain, and one-seventh the size of England. 
Its twelve counties may be divided into two equal 
groups, six in North Wales, and six constituting 
South Wales. 

Anglesey, the island county, joined to the main- 
land by bridges, is the only one in Wales which 
can be described as low and flat. Carnarvonshire, 
opposite to it, is the most elevated, not only in 
Wales, but in South Britain, containing Snowdonia, 
which is literally the Hill of Snow. In shape it 
is a long headland of the hardest and oldest rocks, 
which seems to hold half the western sea in its 

Denbighshire, containing the romantic Vale of 
Llangollen, is the delightful Wild Wales of George 
Borrow. Flintshire, though small in area, is 
rich in minerals ; its deposits of coal, iron, lead, and 
zinc have attracted a dense and busy population. 

Montgomeryshire is the most thinly populated 
county in Wales, notwithstanding that it possesses 
mines of lead and copper ,'and quarries of stone and 

When the Lordships Marcher passed away under 
the reforming hand of Henry VIII., and the 
ancient feudal territories were made into new 
Welsh counties like Denbighshire and Mont- 
gomeryshire, or were tacked on to already existing 
Welsh or English shires, they became subject 
to English law. As the lords clung to many of 
their feudal privileges, difficulties afterwards arose 
in dealing with Welsh " manors." One place, 
Dinas Mawddwy, had ani nteresting history. Its 
former immunities from English law made it the 


resort of thieves and adventurers, and the doings 
of the red-haired robbers of the Mawddwy make a 
lurid chapter in Welsh history. Henry VIII. 
tacked on this Alsatia to the county of Merioneth, 
but the wild natives did not appreciate the customs 
of " shire ground," and expressed their feelings 
by hanging a judge, Baron Owen, when he rode 
on circuit there. 

Merioneth is very beautiful, but very rainy. 
It is one of the most sparsely populated counties 
in England and Wales, and contains a larger area 
of mountain land than any other. This fact im- 
pressed the I7th century author of " Le Fidele 
Conducteur pour le Voyage d' Angleterre," who 
writes that " Merioneth is composed entirely of 
mountains. These are so high and so close to- 
gether that the shepherds guarding their flocks 
on the heights, who can talk with ease among 
themselves from one mountain top to another, 
must spend a day's journey if they wish to meet 
and embrace those with whom they converse in 
this way." 

Cardiganshire sweeps with a crescent of moun- 
tains along the open bay to which it gives its name, 
and into which the rugged capes of Pembroke- 
shire stand out further. Here is Milford Haven, 
the grandest natural harbour in Great Britain, 
with sea-room to protect the whole British navy, 
and so land-locked as to shelter it from every wind 
that blows. The population of Pembroke is not 
entirely Welsh there is a district called Little 
England-beyond-Wales, in which a colony of 
Flemings was settled by Henry I. 

Radnorshire, on the eastern slopes of the Plin- 
limmon range, is mostly bleak upland and marsh, 
and the least populous part of South Britain. 
Brecknockshire, or Brecon, is also inland, and 
thinly populated. 


Glamorganshire, which can be described as a 
microcosm of Wales, is the most populous and 
most wealthy of all its counties and is second in 
point of size. The Vale of Taff is the busiest in the 
world, with its iron-works, coal-mining, smelting 
furnaces, and other allied industries. Carmarth- 
enshire, the largest of the Welsh counties stands 
partly in this busy industrial region and shares 
in its wealth. 

To memorise the names of all the English 
counties, when such an exercise was thought to be 
educational, the following Hexameter was con- 
structed : , 
, Nor cum-dur : we la-york : che-de : not-linc : 
shrop-staf-le-nit norf : 

Her-wor-war-northa : Bed Mnt-camb-suff : mon- 
gl-6xfo-buck-hert-ess : 

Som-wilt-berk-Middlesex : corn-dev-dors-hamp- 
Surrey-Kent Suss. 

Such as are contiguous southward are unjoined, 
as in we la. 

Such as are contiguous eastward are hyphened, 
as che-de. 

This absurd metrical verse was used as an ' ' aid 
to memory " in the public schools of the country 
a century ago ; it is given in Grey's ' ' Memoria 
Technica " and Lowe's ' ' Memories." 


Although earlier in these pages it has been 
declared that the term ' province " has no 
obvious meaning in this country, it cannot be said 
that we fail to recognise " provincialism," in the 
sense of that unsophistication which comes of 
living remote from the centres of art and culture. 

The phrase, ' He comes from the Shires," 
implies provincialism, when used by Londoners 
and residents of the home counties, and is gener- 
ally applicable to the natives of the inland shires 
and those more remote from the capital. There 
is said to exist an old and deep-rooted antagonism 
between the Saxon and Jutish kingdoms of the 
south east, and the Anglian kingdoms of Mercia 
and the north, which exhibits itself in the use of this 
and similar phrases, expressive of contempt and 
pity for inferior manners and morals. In Norfolk 
and Suffolk, however, which were distinctly of 
Anglian origin, the half-educated people, ignorant 
of geography, describe other parts which they 
believe less blessed and less advanced than their 
owrj, as ' ' down in the sheers." The East Anglian 
always adopts the tone of contempt when he speaks 
of a " sheere's man." The people of Norfolk, 
Suffolk and Essex almost invariably allude to 
their portion of England as " the three counties," 
and all the rest as " the shires." 

At one time the shires were considered by East 
Anglians the extremest limit of civilisation. " Oh 


no, my son he ain't a-gooin* tew India he's a- 
gooin' father than that ; he's a'gooin' inter the 

The true Sussex man, again, divides the land 
into two great divisions Kent and Sussex are 
one, all the rest of the country are " the shires." 
Such is the attitude of mind assumed by the spirit 
of local patriotism in various parts of the kingdom. 

The ' ' home counties " are those containing and 
surrounding London, as Middlesex, Essex, Kent, 
Surrey, and sometimes Hertfordshire and Sussex, 
and thus in the legal world the " home circuit " 
of the judges of assize, is that having the capital 
for its centre. 

During the Civil War a combination was formed, 
called the Associated Counties, the object of which 
was to keep the war out of these districts and to 
raise a force for the Parliamentarian faction. 
These counties were Essex, Cambridge, Norfolk, 
Suffolk, and Hertford (1642), and subsequently 
Huntingdon and Lincoln. 

In former days any man who had not the good 
fortune to be born in the counties close around 
London was dubbed a Shire-man, and when be- 
trayed by his mode of speech, was regarded as next- 
door to a foreigner. 

A " man from the shires," especially from those 
north of London was one who was regarded as a 
' ' provincial," as a slow, stupid fellow. Pro- 
vincialism implies the inferior standard of culture 
that comes of a remoteness from the capital ; 
as on the other hand the derivation of such words 
as "civility" and "urbanity" implies the 
superior influences of town life. 

At the present day, however, there is a tend- 
ency towards absorbing the vitality of the pro- 
vinces, and turning it into a superficial smart- 


ness, into the sterility of mere Cockney assurance. 
At the best, this could only eventuate in a glut 
of ability at the centre, and a dreary waste of plod- 
ding mediocrity in the provinces. 

In the phrase " shire horse" we have fairly 
good evidence that at a comparatively early 
period the word " shire" connoted the country- 
side, as it was that royal judge of horseflesh, 
Henry VIII., who ordered the breeding of ' ' strong 
horses in the English shires " ; and to that end 
imported Turkish and Spanish stallions to improve 
the native stock. 

In each county often existed a separate and 
distinct group of thought; and life was largely 
conditioned by the distance of one county from 
another, in a time when travelling was difficult 
and intercommunication rare. 

To the most casual observer a difference is 
always noticeable between the manners of the 
natives of the north and those of the southern 
counties' folk. Whether it arises from a closer 
association with continental peoples, or whatever 
the cause, there is always a more polished and 
pleasanter manner with the southerners than with 
north-country people. The northerner is noticed 
to be brusque, abrupt, and even outwardly rude 
in his manners, though on closer acquaintance it 
may be found that the rudeness is more apparent 
than real, that beneath the surface many sterling 
good qualities are to be found. 

The harshness of the northerner is more than 
compensated for in the grit of the Lancastrian, 
whose natural shrewdness, of a more disinterested 
nature than that of the Yorkshireman, has pro- 
duced the proverb " What Lancashire thinks 
to-day, England thinks to-morrow." 


It has been sought to divide England into two 
parts by drawing a line westward, from the mouth 
of the Trent ; to claim distinctive characteristics 
for those north and south of this line of demarca- 
tion. Thus a Canadian authority on Emigration 
has said that 95 per cent, of the failures among 
English settlers in Western Canada came from 
the counties south of such a line. On the other 
hand an eminent Oxford authority on literature 
has declared that no one born north of the Trent 
could hope to become a master poet. These vague 
generalities are scarcely worth consideration. 
But it must be recognised that between the 
northern and the southern counties there was the 
wide belt of ancient Mercia, and the Mercian tem- 
perament while free of all Celtic influences was 
given a double Teutonic strength by the infusion 
of so much Danish blood. This is the true 
ethnological dividing line. 

The subject of provincial dialects is too wide 
to be dealt with here, but of most countrymen 
" men from the shires " it may truly be said, 
" Thy speech betrayeth thee." 

The Northumbrian burr, or " cinder in the 
throat " has been supposed to be the last trace of 
the mode in which the Saxons pronounced words 
beginning with R as when Ripon was pronounced 



Some counties have acquired a reputation for 
what they produce, or are supposed to have pro- 
duced ; others from the typical characteristics 
by which its inhabitants are recognised in the 
popular mind. Some have a traditional re- 
putation for one thing, some for another, and thus 
a county-name becomes a distinguishing adjective. 

To honour first human culture, we may start 
with the patriotic avouchment of the soldier-hero- 
poet, Rupert Brooke 

For England's the one land I know, 
Where men with Splendid Hearts may go ; 
And Cambridgeshire, of all England, 
The Shire for Men who Understand. 

To which rival counties might retort that such 
eminence is largely an imported virtue, a virtue 
to which all the other shires make willing con- 

All north-countrymen are proverbially" long- 
headed and cannie," but Yorkshire men stand out, 
even among them for cuteness The traditional 
Yorkshire motto is said to be 

See all, hear all, say nowt ; 
Eat all, drink all, pay nowt ; 
And if tha does owt for nowt, 
Do it for thisen. 

In slang " a Yorkshire warehouse " stands for 
a shop or business-place where the customer is 
likely to be cheated or overreached. To " put 


Yorkshire on a man," is to overreach him in a 
deal. ' Born in Scotland and bred in York- 
shire would cheat the devil," says another pro- 

A Yorkshireman's coat of arms, according to 
an old saying, consists of " A flea, a fly, and a 
magpie " a flea, because it will bite anybody, 
and so will a Yorkshireman ; a fly, because it will 
drink with anyone, and so will a Yorkshireman ; 
and a magpie because it will chatter with anyone, 
and so will a Yorkshireman. Another version 
substitutes a flitch of bacon for the magpie 
' because it is no good till it is hung." 

The burlesque blazonry of this heraldic jest is 
described in Notes and Queries (Seventh Series, 
1888) ; beneath this amusing description is 
printed : 

A Yorkshire Man's Coat of Arms. 

A magpy behold, and a Fly and a Flea, 

And a Yorkshireman's qualifications you'll see ; 

To Backbite and Spunge, and to Chatter amain. 

Or anything else, Sir, by which he can gain. 

The Horse shews they Buy few, though many they steal. 

Unhanged, their worth nought, does the gammon reveal, 

But let Censure stand by, and not bias the Mind 

For Others as bad as the Yorkshire you'll find. 

In explanation of the rhyme it may be added 
that in the arms are included " a ham pendant," 
and a ' ' Demi-horse " for a crest ; the motto be- 
neath the whole being " Qui capit ille habet." 

Nor is the sister county considered to be far be- 
hind in the attribute of business cunning. 
" Lancashire law, no stakes, no draw," is a saying 
to avoid the payment of a debt when only verbally 

County nicknames in the shape of epithets have 
been applied to the natives of various counties 
from a variety of reasons, more or less cogent 
generally less ; as, being characteristically de- 


scriptive, oftener in a contemptuous sense than 
otherwise ; or, in derision of some characteristic 
product of the place. 

Here are specimens 

" Buckinghamshire bull-dog." 

" Cambridgeshire Camel." 

" Cheshire Cat." 

" Cheshire chief-of-men." 

" Devonshire prowe " (?) proud. 

' ' Dorsetshire gobbler." 

" Essex calf." 

' ' Gloucestershire a Cotswold lion " (i.e., a sheep) 

" Hampshire hog." 

" Herefordshire broadhorn." 

" Hertfordshire hedgehog." 

" Huntingdon sturgeon." 

" Kentish long-tail." 

" Leicestershire bean-belly." 

" Lincolnshire bag-pipe." 

' ' Middlesex hay digger " (or clown) 

" Norfolk dumpling." 

' ' Northampton snob " (or cobbler) 

" Nottingham lamb " (i.e,, a rowdy) 

" Rutland white hare." 

" Somersetshire Chewton bunny." 

' ' Suffolk Silly Suffolk." 

" Wiltshire moonraker." 

" Yorkshire tyke" (tyke may mean a sharp dog, or 
contrariwise, a clownish rustic. The word 
" tyke" is derived from the Celtic tiac " a 
ploughman ") 

Sometimes these " pious opinions" of county 
attributes are put into rhyme 

Cheshire for men, 
Berkshire for dogs, 
Bedfordshire for naked flesh, 
And Lincolnshire for bogs. 
Derbyshire for lead, 
Devonshire for tin, 
Wiltshire for hunting plains, 
And Middlesex for sin. 

Another county rhyme runs in this wise 

Nottingham full of hogs ; 
Derbyshire full of dogs ; 
Leicestershire full of beans ; 
Staffordshire full of queans ! 


Staffordshire people spell the last word 
' queens," of course. Here is another rhyme 
of county comparisons 

Hampshire hogs ; Berkshire dogs ; 
Yorkshire bite ; London white. 

Yet another is 

Bedfordshire bull- dogs, 
Hertfordshire hedgehogs, 
Buckingham^ great fools ! 

The origin of the phrase, " Grinning like a 
Cheshire cat " has never been satisfactorily ex- 
plained. It is a fact that Cheshire cheeses were 
once moulded in the shape of a cat, bristles being 
inserted to represent the whiskers. But what was 
a Cheshire cat ? In the coat-armour of Hugh 
Lupus, the mighty earl of Chester, there occurred 
a wolf's head, which might possibly have been 
mistaken for that of a grey cat. But a " cat's 
face " was more probably seen in the arms of the 
city of Chester which empales the lions of England. 
The old armorists always drew this emblem like a 
leopard, and as it was affronte or full-faced, it 
might easily have been mistaken for a grinning 

Lincolnshire men, and sometimes also the fen- 
men of the contiguous counties, were nicknamed 
' yellow bellies," or ' ' frogs," from the amphibious 
kind of life they led. " The drone of the Lin- 
colnshire bagpipes" this instrument was in- 
digenous to East Anglia long before Scotia knew it 
which was Falstaff's simile for melancholy, is 
supposed to be a cryptic reference to the croak- 
ing of its frogs. 

It is said to be a biological fact that Lincoln- 
shire folk have a head which in size is noticeably 
below the average dimensions of English skulls ; 


but this cannot satisfactorily be connected with 
habits of environment. 

In explanation of the epithet " moon-raker," 
a local legend tells of a Wiltshire farmer's wife 
who took a rake to rake the reflection of the moon 
from the river, under the delusion that it was a 
cream cheese. 

In Bishop Hall's Vigidemiarum (Oxford 1753) 

to depart 

He gives me leave, and thanks, too, in his heart. 
Two words for monie, Darbyshirian wise ; 
(That's one too manic) is a naughtie guise. 
Who looks for double biddings to a feast 
May dine at home for an importune guest. 

To be " Derbyshire wise " is not to need two 
biddings to a feast in Bishops Hall's time the 
hospitality of the Derbyshire people would not 
allow them to take a first refusal. 

A local couplet says 

Derbyshire born and Derbyshire bred. 
Strong in the arm and weak in the head. 

This the natives naturally regard as libellous, 
and say the correct version in the vernacular 
ends " wacken in th' yed:" that is, wide-awake 
in the head. 

' Hertfordshire kindness " is an ironical ex- 
pression, signifying a kindness one does to himself, 
or a good turn rendered for a good turn received. 
Fuller in his " Worthies" explains the proverb 
as a mutual return for favours received ' It 
being observed that the people in this county at 
entertainments drink back to them who drink to 
to them." Swift in the second Dialogue of his 
' Polite Conversation " uses the phrase 

Neverout. My Lord, this moment I did myself the honour to drink 

to your lordship. 
Lord Smart. Why then that's Hertfordshire kindness. 


A feeble kind of wit has sometimes tried to pun 
on Shire names. 

' Stafford law " is a slang expression for beating 
with a staff. Or, put in another form, one who 
has ' ' had trial in Stafford Court " is one who had 
received a sound cudgelling for his pains. 

To " go to Bedfordshire " is baby-talk for go 
to bed. 

He who has a troublesome cough is humorously 
dubbed " a native of Berkshire." 

There is a saying current in Cambridgeshire that 
' The bailiff of Bedford is coming." It is applic- 
able to the River Ouse, which runs through Bed- 
ford, because when it is swollen with rain and over- 
flows its banks it generally causes an inundation, 
bringing down suddenly abundance of water. 
By this saying persons are warned to drive off 
their cattle, lest they should be impounded by the 
' bailiff of Bedford," or, in other words, drowned. 

A number of counties affect pet-names, and 
some have acquired nick-names. ' Of all elo- 
quence a nickname is the most concise," says 

Hampshire, trading on the supposed derivation 
of its name from the Saxon " ham." boasts itself 
the " Home-shire of England," claiming to be the 
" Cradle of Saxon rule in England." 

The Isle of Wight, though legally a part of this 
county, holds itself aloof from it, and exhibits an 
old prejudice against " overners " or " overers " 
from the mainland. Then the gibe against the 
island is that it never produced " a good horse, 
a wise man, or a pretty woman." That's as may 
be. But it is a fact that the female population 
is remarkably below that of the opposite sex, and 
in a proportion not known elsewhere. 


Berkshire is sometimes " Breezy Berks" and 
sometimes " the Royal county," because it con- 
tains Windsor Castle, the ancient residence of 
a long line of sovereigns. Than " in Berkshire 
beechen woods " where could royalty find more 
soul-reposing privacy ? 

Shakespeare's county is ' woody Warwick- 
shire," and is still beautiful with the noble rem- 
nants of the Forest of Arden. 

' That shire which we the Heart of England 
well may call," according to Michael Drayton, is 

Warwickshire is divided into the Arden and the 
Feldon by the river Avon. North of the river 
is the woodland remnant of the ancient Forest of 
Arden ; south of it is the Feldon or open country, 
from which the trees were all felled when civilisa- 
tion dawned. 

' Warwick woods are sweet," sings John 

Buckinghamshire is rightly called ' Beechy 
Bucks," containing as it does, among other charm- 
ing woodland resorts of like character the famous 
Burnham Beeches it is a county of many charms 
for picknickers, and within easy reach of the great 

Norfolk has been described as one big goose- 
green interspersed with villages and hamlets. 

' High Suffolk," or the woodlands, is the in- 
land portion of that county famous for its ex- 
cellent butter. 

Whether it boasts of the distinction or not, Rut- 
land is the smallest county ; and it was not alto- 
gether inappropriate that there should have been 
published in 1746 " Tom Thumb's Map of Rut- 


Nottingham is the county of " Merrie Sher- 
wood," where beneath the greenwood tree the bold 
Robin Hood and the heroic Cceur-de-Lion played 
their legendary pranks in the picturesque days of 
old ; and where those bygone days of chivalry 
and romance are still recalled by the presence of 
the series of stately homes popularly known as 
" the dukeries." 

Devonshire is justly allowed to be " the Shire 
of sea-kings," having emblazoned on the roll of 
fame the names of so many of her gallant sons 
Drake, Grenville, Raleigh, Frobisher, Hawkins, 
Davis, the Gilberts, and not a few others of lesser 
note. These were the sea-dogs who made the 
spacious times of Queen Elizabeth so glorious, and 
laid the foundation of England's sea-power. 

Middlesex, though originally a Kingdom, is 
the smallest but one of all the English counties ; 
though Yorkshire be more than twenty times 
larger, it is more populous than the northern 
1 county of broad acres," because it contains 
the greater part of the vast metropolis. Middle- 
sex is sometimes referred to as " rural London." 

Macaulay declared " An acre in Middlesex is 
better than a principality in Utopia." 

Cornwall is the " delectable duchy " and enjoys 
the proud distinction of being a duchy in itself, 
and a royal one to boot. 

It is the English Riviera. The native poet 

I love thee, Cornwall, and will ever 
For why ? thine equal knew I never ! 

Another Cornish poet sings of 

A sweet soft breeze by Cornish seas, the blue Atlantic gleaming 
The rugged cliffs, the fishing skiffs that lazily lie dreaming. 

So much for its climate. Concerning its soil 
we have the sayirg 


Cornwall will bear a shower every day. 
And two on Sunday. 

The ancient kingdom of Cornwall, which is be- 
lieved to have stretched inland far enough to in- 
clude a portion of Somerset, had a long line of 
kings, most of them Christian and in deadly an- 
tagonism to the pagan West Saxons ; among them 
were Cador, Blederic, Ivo, and Bletius. 

Legend hath it that a tract, now submerged forty 

fathoms beneath the waves, once connected 

Land's End with the Scilly Isles. This was the 

' sweet land of Lyonesse," the mythical country 

from which came good King Arthur. 

The last Earl of Cornwall was John of Eltham, 
youngest son of Edward II. In the following 
reign Cornwall became a duchy the first in Eng- 
land by act of parliament, Edward the Black 
Prince being invested Duke of Cornwall by the 
ceremony of conferring a wreath, a ring, and a 
silver rod. Since that time the title Duke of 
Cornwall has successively devolved to the heir 
apparent of the King of England. 

Somerset, ' the land of home and shrine," 
has been called " the most English of counties." 
Its story is the epitome of English history ; its 
lake-dwellings at Glastonbury go back beyond 
the ancient Britons, and its legend of Joseph of 
Arimathea has its roots in the Christian era ; 
it was there Saxon Alfred broke the Danes, and 
Monmouth's pathetic rabble were scattered ; 
nowhere have fact and legend, down to the days 
of Pickwick and Beau Nash, mingled themselves 
so pleasantly to the English taste, than in the 
history of " rare Somersetshire." 

Zummerzet vor zeen'ry vair, 
Of water, wood and land ; 
Zummerzet where volk do speak 
Zo volk can understand. 


The characteristics of the sister county, Dorset, 
are said to be ' ' homeliness and humbleness," 
where boastfulness has given way to lovableness ; 
its pastoral charms and rural simplicity live in 
the hearts of the nation, or at least the reading 
portion of it, as the delightful Wessex country 
of the great novelist, Thomas Hardy. The Dorset 
dialect has a literature of its own. 

Cheshire, the gateway of North Wales, obviously 
took its name from the county-town. There is a 

Chester of Castria took the name 
As if that Castria was the same. 

Between Cheshire and Lancashire there appears 
to exist an affinity which may, or may not, be the 
outcome of their adjacency. In modern times 
this is expressed in the similarity of many of 
their industrial pursuits, but in olden times it 
possibly had its roots in the identity of theii 
feudal obligations. This is shown in the old 
recruiting ballad of King Henry V., at the time of 
Agincourt, which begins with 

Go call up Cheshire and Lancashire. 

In this he King was making no invidious com- 
parisons between the martial spirit of the various 
counties ; he was merely making the first call on 
his own personal royal appanages, for he was. 
Duke of Lancaster, and Earl of Chester and Derby. 

Flintshire is the smallest of the Welsh counties, 
and Glamorganshire contains Cardiff, the Welsh 

Carnarvonshire is a county of watering-places 
and Monmouthshire a county of castles and abbeys, 
Cardiganshire has a hinterland behind the pic- 
turesque shores of Cardigan Bay that, not un- 
deservedly, has been called the Garden of Wales. 


Pembrokeshire, or at least the southern portion, 
has been called Little England beyond Wales, 
owing to the settlement of a colony planted there 
by Henry I. in the I2th century though it was 
not a colony of Englishmen but of Flemings ! 

Radnorshire was called by Thomas Fuller a 
' chequered county," on account of the striking 
contrast presented by the fruitfulness of the 
eastern and southern parts, and the roughness and 
unevenness of the mountains to the north and 

A county sometimes lends its name to a com- 
modity, or a quality, or even to an operation. 
' Staffordshire blue " is another name for 
Wedgwood blue, a characteristic hue of the 
famous ware produced in that county. 

' Kentish fire " is rapturous applause, or 
' three times three and one more." The ex- 
pression originated (says Brewer) with Lord 
Winchelsea, who proposed the health of the Earl 
of Roden, on the I5th August, 1834, and added, 
" Let it be given with the Kentish fire." In 
proposing another toast he asked permission to 
bring his Kentish Artillery into action again. 

Chambers' Encyclopaedia states that the phrase 
arose from the protracted cheers given in Kent 
to the No-Popery orators in 1828-9. 

Lore and Legend of the marvellous kind not in- 
frequently enter somewhat largely into these 
county attributes. 

The lore of Kent is extensive, and its legends 
are many ; as might be expected from the im- 
portance of its position. It even boasts, like 
Ireland, a saint who charmed away its snakes, 
and ordained that even imported ones should die 
there. Thus the I5th century chronicler, William 
Caxton : ' ' Thanatos, that is Tenet, is a ylonde 


besydes Kent and hath the name Thanatos, of 
deth of serpentes, for ther ben none. And the 
erth thereof sleeth serpentes yborn in other londes. 
There is a noble corn land and fruitful. It is 
supposed that this ylonde was haalowed and 
blessed by St. Austyn the first Doctour of English- 

Kent, by its situation, was always the gateway 
of invasion which always came from the ancient 
east ; through it also ran the highway of com- 
munication between this country and the outside 
world. Its legendary lore is therefore not with- 
out allusion to this great historic fact. 

A "Kentish man " and a " man of Kent " are not 
quite the same thing. The former is applied to one 
resident in West Kent ; but a man of Kent is one 
born east of the Medway. These men went out 
with green boughs to meet the Conqueror, and 
obtained in consequence a confirmation of their 
ancient privileges from the new king. They 
called themselves the"Invicti" (the unconquered) . 

This fanciful claim of the easterlings to set 
themselves up above their brethren of the west is, 
it is needless to say, quite baseless. East Kent 
from its position often formed the British van- 
guard, and bore the brunt of every invader's 
attack ; but the boast that the ' ' men of Kent " 
were never conquered cannot be substantiated. 

The earliest bishoprics were generally co-ex- 
tensive with the kingdoms ; the two sees of Can- 
terbury and Rochester denote that for a time at 
least there were separate rules in east and west 
Kent. The terms East and West Kentings were 
preserved until the fall of the Saxon monarchy. 

When the Conqueror marched from Dover 
towards London he was stopped at Swansconope 
by Stigand at the head of the Men of Kent, all 


with oak boughs on their brawny shoulders, pre- 
sented as emblems of peace, on condition of his 
preserving inviolate the Saxon laws and customs 
of Kent ; or else they were ready to fight unto the 
death for them. William agreed to their terms. 
From this arose the traditional distinction be- 
tween the Men of Kent and Kentish Men ; the 
former being the Jutish " Invicti " of the eastern 
division, the latter the dwellers between Rochester 
and London, a more mixed population, owing to 
the incursions of many settlers. The Saxon 
Chronicle has allusions under date 853 and 865 
to the " Men of Kent " fighting in Thanet (that 
is, in East Kent) against the Danish pagan in- 
vaders. Under date 902 and 999 mention is 
made of forces in West Kent under the name of 
Kentish men. These distinctions evidently 
existed before the Norman Conquest and the sur- 
vival of Gavelkind Tenure and other Free Kentish 
customs lends some colour to the legend. 

" The tailed men of Kent " was an epithet of 
derision once applied to the inhabitants of this 
county. At first it appears to have originated 
with, and been confined to, the Kentish family of 
Le Chat, one of whom cut off the tail of Becket's 
horse as the great churchman was riding through 
Stroud (Rochester). The saint's vicious assail- 
ant, says the legend, was excommunicated, and 
his posterity cursed with " long tails." 

Judging by the various literary allusions to it, 
the legend had a wide-spread popularity. Thus 
Andrew Marvel in " The Loyal Scot " 

For Becket's sake, Kent always shall have tails. 


As Becket, that good saint, sublimely rode 
Headless of insult, through the town of Strode. 

In Drayton's " Polyolbion " we read 

Kent first in our account doth to itself apply. 
Quoth he, this blazon first I<ong tails and liberty. 

The Golden Legend says that Augustine and 
his followers were pelted out of Strode in Kent 
with the ' ' tayles of thorneback or lyke fysshes," 
in consequence of which the saint invoked judg- 
ment on the inhabitants. The discerning critic 
says this episode really took place at Cerne in 
Dorsetshire, and is " another story " altogether ; 
anyway the men of Strode were said to be born, 
not with fishes' tails, but horses' tails. 

In the reign of Queen Elizabeth Kent was so 
notorious for highway robbery, that the word 
Kent came to signify a " nest of thieves." As 
thus, Taylor the Water Poet (1630) 

Some bookes are arrogant and impudent ; 
So are the thieves in Christendome and Kent. 

Coming down to the present day, Kent is claimed 
as " the real Dickens county." What says the 
great novelist himself of the county he loved so 

1 ' Kent, Sir everybody knows Kent apples, cherries, hops and 


As an Englishman's feeding is not the least 
part of his life, it is by no means surprising that 
certain counties have acquired a reputation, some- 
times of a doubtful kind, in the domain of food 
production and culinary achievement. 

Where are to be found such high merit of tooth- 
someness as in Devonshire cream and Kentish 
cobs ? of culinary perfection as in Yorkshire 
pudding and Norfolk dumplings ? of fine breeding 
as in White-faced Hereford cattle, Black Berk- 
shire pigs, or in Lincolnshire sheep (except in the 
latter case of " improved Leicesters.") or of fine 


feeding as in a Hampshire hog or a Durham ox ? 
Sometimes the pride of productiveness cry- 
stallises into rhyme 

The Downs are sheep, the Weald is corn, 
You be glad you are Sussex born. 

Of sheep, however, no one county possesses 
the monopoly of excellence. The " White 
Dorsets," with their twisted horns, and the " Old 
Norfolks," with faces black or mottled, have some 
claim to fame, while ' Shropshires " and 
' ' Hampshires " are by no means out of the 

A " Norfolk capon " is a red herring ; and the 
nickname certainly contains an implied com- 
pliment to the Yarmouth fishery. The ' ' Norfolk 
dumpling " is also very humble fare, consisting of 
a ball of dough and yeast boiled about twenty 
minutes, and lighter than the " Sussex pudding " 
of plain boiled paste. ' Cheshire cheese " has 
a well-deserved world fame won for it by the rich 
pastures of the Vale Royal of England ; and if 
' Dorset butter " is not widely known outside the 
metropolis, it is because the Londoner in his 
millions would not be without his " best Dosset." 

There is a dialect song of the " Four counties " 
which enumerates their characteristic products 
in this rollicking chorus 

Dorset gives us butter and cheese, 

Devonshire gives us cream, 
Zummerzet's zyder zure to please 

And set your hearts a-dream ; 
Cornwall from her inmost soul, 

Brings tin for the use of man, 
And the four of 'em breed the prettiest girls 

So damme, beat that if you can ! 

Everybody has heard of Cornish pasty, baked 
in the shape of a torpedo, and containing a re- 
markable number and diversity of ingredients 


pork, rabbit, beef, kidney, potatoes, parsley, 
onions, bacon, and what not. Hence the saying 
' The devil will not come into Cornwall for fear 
of being put into a pie." 

Of Essex it was written by John Norden in 

" This shire is moste fatt, frutefull, and full of profitable 
thinges, exceeding (as farr as I can finde) anie other shire, for the 
general! comodities, and the plentie." 

Says old Thomas Fuller, ' In Kent are all 
things that are to be found elsewhere, but more 
and better." It is ' ' the garden of England," 
or at least one of them ; and is generally allowed 
the boast, " No hops like Kentish hops." 

Some counties have their names associated with 
some characteristic product. ' Worcestershire 
weeds " are elm-trees, which grow as prolifically 
in that county as oaks in Sussex or aspens io 
Berkshire. And Essex, like Worcestershire, can 
show its elm trees, noble in size and graceful in 
contour, by the thousand. 

About the close of the sixteenth century certain 
English products had begun to acquire quite a 
national reputation for the excellence of their 
quality. These were mostly foodstuffs, and 
among them were Suffolk milk, Cambridge butter, 
and Gloucestershire cheese. For ham there was 
no place like Hampshire, and for pasties none 
could compare with those of Cornwall. Notting- 
hamshire was famous for its ales, and Bedford- 
shire for its malt. Essex had a reputation for its 
calves, and Lancashire for its kine. Leicester- 
shire produced the finest beans. There was no 
wheat so white as that of Middlesex, and no pears 
so juicy as those of Worcestershire. Cheshire 
was widely known for its salt, and Lincolnshire 
less so for its eels. Incidental to these re- 


putations a Bedfordshire man was dubbed a 
' Malt-horse," a L,iecestershire man a ' ' Bean- 
belly," and a Hampshire man a " Hog." 

Dr. King, a culinary authority of the seven- 
teenth century, descanting on ' The Art of 
Cookery," sang 

Cornwall squab pie, and Devon white-pot brings ; 
And Leicester beans and bacon, food of kings. 

Of the last-named dish it may not be out of 
place to quote an anecdote which shows the high 
estimation in which it is held by some palates, not 
necessarily Leicestershire, but certainly critical. 

When the I/>rd Mayor, sheriffs, aldermen, etc., 
of the City were once seated round the table at a 
public and splendid dinner at Guildhall, John 
Wilkes called out, ' ' Mr. Alderman Boydell, shall 
I help you to a plate of turtle or a slice of the 
haunch ? I am in reach of both, Sir." ' Neither 
the one nor t'other, I thank you, Sir," replied the 
alderman. ; " I think I shall dine upon the beans 
and bacon which are at the end of the table." 
' Mr. Alderman Moreley," continued the cham- 
berlain, " which would you choose, Sir, venison 
or turtle ? " " Sir, I will not trouble you for 
either ; for I believe I shall follow the example 
of my brother Boydell, and dine on beans and 
bacon," was the reply. On this second refusal 
the old chamberlain rose from his seat, and, with 
very much astonishment in his countenance, curled 
up the corner of his mouth, cast his eyes round the 
table, and, in a voice as loud and articulate as he 
was able, called " silence ! " which being obtained 
he thus addressed the chief magistrate, who sat 
in the chair : ' My Lord Mayor, the wicked 
have accused us of intemperance, and branded us 
with the imputation of gluttony. That they may 


be put to open shame, and their profane tongues 
be from this day and date utterly silenced, I 
humbly move that your Lordship is the proper 
officer to record on our annals that two aldermen 
of the City prefer beans and bacon to either turtle 
soup or venison." 

Kent brewed famous ales even before it grew 
hops. Giraldus Cambrensis eulogised Kentish 
ale so long ago as the time of Henry II. During 
the reign of Henry VI. this particular brew was 
the subject of a curious edict which forbade any 
man in the county to make more than 100 quarters 
of malt into ale for his own use at one time. To 
this singular regulation has been attributed the 
fact that the vast quantities of ale found in the 
cellars of the gentry of the county at the time of 
Jack Cade's rebellion, which began in Kent, went 
far to foment and increase the boldness and 
ferocity of the rioters. 

It is not often that a well-known fare has its 
demerits crystallised into a proverb, but Suffolk 
has achieved that distinction. The stony cheese 
upon which the farmers of this county fed their 
labourers in the eighteenth century was declared 
by the poet Bloomfield ' too hard to bite." 
Hence arose the saying, " Hunger will break 
through stone walls or anything except Suffolk 
cheese." In " Suffolk White " (its famous breed 
of sheep) perhaps the present-day county may be 
allowed to have redeemed its character, and 
there was certainly no sturdier breed of English 
steeds than the old " Suffolk Punches." 

More than one county claims to be the ' ' Garden 
of England," to say nothing of the Isle of Wight's 
pretensions in this direction. The strongest 



rivals for the distinction are Kent and Worcester- 
shire, both hop-growing districts and both famous 
for their orchards. 

The characteristics of a county may sometimes 
be inferred from the spirit of its Folk Songs. In 
1893 The lyeadenhall Press (London) issued a useful 
pioneer work of its kind," English County Songs." 



Local independence in the shires has begot local 
pride, and throughout the centuries has en- 
couraged that form of local patriotism which 
expresses itself in developing local institutions 
with all the strengthening characteristics of a 
native individuality. 

Local patriotism crystalises quite as frequently 
around the county of one's nativity as it does 
around one's native city ; as witness the existence 
in London, and other great cities, of " County 
Associations," instituted for the regular assembling 
of inhabitants drawn from some particular shire, 
just for the simple pleasure of a social intercourse 
that recalls the familiar places and faces of a 
well-remembered childhood. And nothing in 
life, perhaps, is more pleasurably reminiscent than 
to live again, if only for a brief space, within sound 
of one's native dialect, with its characteristic 
twang and all its peculiarities of intonation ! 

Mr. Thomas Hardy, the eminent novelist, in 
addressing the Society of Dorset men in London, 
said : ' ' No more curious change has come 
over London social life of late years than the rise 
of that almost total disregard of provincialism 
among its constituents and casual sharers which 
nowadays pervades the city. 

' In former times an unfamiliar accent was im- 
mediately noted as quaint and odd even a 


feature of ridicule in novels, memoirs, and con- 
versations of the date. So that, while it was 
the aim of every provincial, from the squire to 
the rustic, to get rid of his local articulation at 
the earliest moment, he now seems rather to 
pride himself on retaining it being, in fact, 
virtually encouraged to do so." 

Dorset is the scene of Hardy's immortal 
' Wessex " stories, and as the readers of his 
great play ' The Dynasts " are aware, Dorset 
has played its part in the drama of reality, for 
Dorset people were very nearly concerned in the 
Napoleonic wars, as they had been at an earlier 
era with the Spanish Armada. Indeed, in every 
epoch Dorset men have been in the forefront of the 
nation's most honourable achievements. To its 
natives the county is " Dorset dear." 

In London a number of the English County 
Societies have recently amalgamated for increased 
social and patriotic facilities. Those already 
affiliated include The Royal Society of St. George, 
East Anglians, Cornish, Cumberland and West- 
moreland, Channel Islanders, Devonians, Glouces- 
tershire, Hampshire, Men of Kent, and Kentish 
Men, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Surrey, Somerset 
Men, Men of Sussex, Vectensians (Isle of Wight), 
Warwickshire Folk, Wiltshiremen, and Worcester- 

There is the Society of Dorset Men in London 
and a few others outside the affiliation. Then 
there is the Surtees Society, with its headquarters 
at Northallerton, a learned literary body which 
concerns itself with everything relating to the 
history and social life of those parts of England 
and Scotland between the Humber and the 
Firth of Forth on the East, and the Mersey and 


Clyde on the West, " a region which constituted 
the ancient kingdom of Northumbria." This 
Society was founded in 1834 an( i has published 
many volumes. 

' County Feasts," as they were formerly called, 
have been regularly established in I/mdon from 
the earliest decades of the seventeenth century. 
Some counties Devon and Cornwall, for instance, 
are perhaps more clannish than others, but 
numbers of them have not failed to cultivate 
their local patriotism by instituting in the city 
of their adoption, wherever it may be, some kind 
of annual re-union for the renewing of old mem- 
ories, for recalling the fondly remembered scenes 
of a by-gone youth in some distant shire. 

God gave all men all earth to love, 
But since our hearts are small 
Ordained for each one spot should prove 
Beloved over all. 

Mr. Hilaire Belloc, who has made Sussex all his 
own, says " Note you, many kingdoms and 
counties are prodigal of their names, because their 
names are of little account and in no way sacred, 
so that one will give its name to a cheese and 
another to a horse, and another to some kind of 
ironwork or other, and another to clotted cream, 
or to butter, and another to something ridiculous, 
as to a cat with no tail. But it is not so with 
Sussex, for our name is not a name to be used like 
a label and tied on to common things, seeing that 
we were the first place to be created when the world 
was made, and we shall certainly be the last to 
remain " and then somewhat inconsistently with 
such proud and prejudiced patriotism he adds 
" there are only two things in Sussex which 
Sussex designs to give its name to, and the first 
is the spaniel, and the second is the sheep." 


But if among the common things be reckoned 
iron, then the best of that commonplace but useful 
metal was made in this county for quite a century 
or two before the coal-smelted iron of Stafford- 
shire became famous. Sussex ironwork, especi- 
ally in the shape of old bygones, such as fire-backs, 
is much sought after by connoisseurs. Our ex- 
travagant eulogist, Mr. Belloc, while ignoring 
the ' ' iron-age " of that southern county, calls 
Sussex " the captain ground and head county of 
the whole world " which surely is county 
patriotism in excelsis. 

Sussex generally is proudly patriotic in a quieter 
way, as for centuries it shared with its more pro- 
minent neighbour the honours and the respon- 
sibilities long attaching to the Cinque Ports, two 
of which are in the county. 

Dover, Sandwich, and Winchelsea, 
Ronmey and Rye, the five ports be. 

Nowhere does county patriotism burn more 
fiercely than in Nottinghamshire, the county of 
Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest. Here the 
territorial spirit has bred the famous Notting- 
hamshire Archers who fought together so long ago 
as 1138, when under Peverel, Lord of Nottingham, 
and custodian of the castle, they fought at the 
Battle of the Standard and in the next century 
at Falkirk and Bannockburn. In the I4th 
century they were conspicuous for their bravery 
at NevilTs Cross, Cressy and Poictiers, but exactly 
five centuries ago, at Agincourt, they fought for 
the first time on record as Sherwood Foresters, 
their flag being described by Drayton, the Eliza- 
bethan poet : 

Old Nottingham, an archer clad in green, 
Under a tree, with his drawn bow that stood, 

Which in a chequered flag far off was seen : 
It was the picture of bold Robin- Hood. 


County patriotism may be commendable when 
it gives us a New Hampshire in the United States, 
or another Cornwall at the Antipodes, but when 
it seeks to exalt itself by the depreciation of a 
neighbouring county it assumes a form of county 
consciousness which makes little appeal. 

Pride leads to self-comparisons, and not in- 
frequently engenders rivalry. The local rivalries 
of various counties are amusing in the peculiar 
forms they assume. 

If size alone gave the pre-eminence, Yorkshire, 
' the county of broad acres " would be an easy 

County rivalries are wide-spread, as indeed are 
other local jealousies ; and they find many modes 
of expression. One in the Midlands is parti- 
cularly invidious without suggesting any reason 
for making the comparison " It shines like 
Worcestershire against Gloucestershire " is a 
saying decidedly esoteric on the face of it though it 
may have its explanation in the river that flows 
through both of them. 

Substitute the names of almost any two adjacent 
counties for those of Cornwall and Devon in the 
following doggerel, and it will pass current as 
the expression of local rivalry in almost any part 
of England 

Cornwall was Cornwall when Devon was a pup, 
Cornwall will be Cornwall when Devon's busted up. 

The natives call Devon " the Queen of the 
English Counties." 

There is a Cheshire proverb expressive of pro- 
vincial pride ' ' Better wed over the mixon than 
over the moor " ; that is, an alliance with a family 
close at home (mixon is a local term for a dung 
heap) is more desirable than one over the moor- 
lands of Staffordshire, through which the long road 


to London wound its way. It was a feeling upon 
which old gentry acted by contracting inter- 
marriages to perpetuate ancient friendships. 

By the contrasting epithets ' Lancashire 
Witches" and " Cheshire Cats," the eighteenth 
century beaux of the former county were said 
to toast the ladies of these neighbouring shires. 

Cheshire largely comprises the " Vale Royal 
of England," where cows are more in evidence 
that cats. 

A man with little fight in him is said to be " as 
valiant as an Essex lion," an " Essex lion " being 
an innocent calf. To this depreciatory reference 
the local retort is 

Essex you say, is famed for calves ; 

We thank you really for your pains, 
For this you prove in our behalves 

We're famous most for head and brains. 

As Essex is a flat marsh-drained region, it is 
easy to interpret ' Essex stile " as the nick- 
name for ' ditch." Thus the local proverb 

Essex stiles, 
Kentish miles, 
Norfolk wiles, 

Many a man beguiles, 

Essex is flat, though Norfolk and Lincolnshire 
on the whole are flatter ; but its Saltings, as those 
marshes along the Thames Estuary are called, 
give a healthier glow and a fiercer appetite than 
any inland moorland. It has been dubbed the 
Cinderella County " : yet its poets are eulogistic- 
England has greater counties, 

Their place to hers is small. 
Low hills, rich fields, calm rivers ! 

In Essex seek them all 
Essex, where I that found them 
Did but lose them all. 

Essex men are popularly supposed to be " much 
married men." The theory is that they commonly 


take wives from outside their own county, and that 
the Essex marshes are particularly fatal to 
married women, the result being that Essex men 
frequently have a succession of wives some five 
or six, and instances of double that number have 
been recorded. 

Properly understood the phrase ' ' Silly Suffolk" 
is not derogatory. The adjective does not connote 
foolishness, but holiness. The term applied origin- 
ally was ' ' selig," the Saxon word for sacred ; and 
the county was " Selig Suffolk " because in olden 
times it was renowned for the number and beauty 
of its churches. " Silly Suffolk," however, is 
the term which has captured the popular fancy, 
and as William Hazlitt says, ' ' a nickname is the 
hardest stone the devil can throw at a man." 

The self-sufficiency of the small self-contained 
and locally administered areas is seen in the 
diversity of local custom, but in none more so 
than in the absence of any common or national 
standard in a matter so important as that of 
weights and measures. At one time the weights 
and measures varied in some detail or other, in 
nearly every county in England ; till, in the 
interests of trade, uniformity of standard had to be 
enforced by Act of Parliament some 30 or 40 years 

In different markets so common a commodity 
as butter was sold by the pound which was 
reckoned variously as containing 16, 17, 18 or 
20 ounces, according to the custom of the locality. 
In the era of the flail before the threshing machine 
was thought of, 24 sheaves of coin were called a 
thrave in the northern counties ; in some parts 
half that number, or if of wheat, were so called. 


To formulate rules or systems of reckoning 
would be impossible though the method of com- 
putation by scores seems to have been one more 
generally favoured. In weight this was evidently 
done to assimilate the reckoning with the ' ' long- 
hundred-weight " of 120 pounds ; in Cheshire, 
for instance, it was easy to reckon that cheese 
at sixpence a pound was sixty shillings a hundred- 
weight, and 60 a ton. In the sale of wheat alone 
some 25 local weights and measures are in use ; 

12 different bushels, 3 different hundredweights, 

13 different pounds, 10 different stone, and 9 
different tons. A quarter of oats may mean 
anything from 304 Ibs. to 5281bs. 

Troy Weight, still in use for the more precious 
commodities, is really London Weight, its name 
being derived from Troy-novant, the ancient name 
of the capital. While this weight prevailed in the 
strictly commercial circles of London, that known 
as Avoirdupois was good enough for the rest of 
the country. Avers is an old French word for 
goods in general, and poise means weight ; so that 
Avoirdupois was the weight in use for all goods 
and chattels of ordinary daily dealings. 

In the old days a varying standard mattered 
but little, the transactions being almost entirely 
local. But it would not be wise nowadays to 
encourage this spirit of individuality, the best 
interests of a commercial country with a world- 
wide trade imperatively demanding a common 
and uniform standard of weights and measures. 
This is where the self-sufficiency of Shiredom fails. 


The ancient counties, being merely geographical 
districts, had neither banners nor corporate seals. 
On the formation of County Councils a few years 
back, the new authorities were sorely exercised 
to discover satisfactory and appropriate armorial 
insignia. The county having had no corporate 
existence was not capable of bearing arms. A 
city or town which was a county in itself, or a 
duchy like Cornwall, of course possessed armorial 

There were spurious arms in plenty. The 
topographers of the last few centuries had often 
adorned their works with the arms of the ancient 
earls ; and ' ' heraldry shops " and other irres- 
ponsible persons published sheets of ' county 
arms," which were generally those of some prin- 
cipal town, or referrable to the arms of the first 
or some distinguished earl ; but in every case they 
were unauthorised and quite wrong. 

To many counties it was easy to attach certain 
fanciful designs which might be appropriately (if 
illegally) used as badges. 

Such unauthorised designs had in many cases 
already found their way on to the buttons of 
county constabulary, and elsewhere that a dis- 
tinguishing county badge had become neces- 

Most County Councils at their formation 
avoided the fees which amount to upwards of 76 


demanded by the College of Heralds for a legal 
grant of arms, and with praiseworthy economy, 
supplied themselves with bogus armorial bearings. 
The approved method of arriving at the desired 
result seems to have been to appropriate, with 
some slight modification, the arms of the county- 

Thus we find Cumberland using a travesty of 
the arms of Carlisle, Westmoreland an imitation 
of the Appleby arms, and Devonshire a per- 
version of those of Exeter. The same unscrupu- 
lous methods of appropriation were followed by 
Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and 
many others. Berkshire just altered the seal 
of Reading, and Bedfordshire the seal of Bedford, 
while that of Dorset County Council was suggested 
by the seal of Melcome Regis. Lancashire worked 
up the arms of the town and duchy of Lancaster ; 
Cheshire altered to its own taste the arms of the 
earldom of Chester. Hampshire seized upon the 
arms of Southampton, and just by way of variety 
reversed the colours. 

By way of Heraldic novelty Wiltshire intro- 
duced Stonehenge into its coat armour, and 
Nottinghamshire went one better by blazoning a 
lace-making machine upon its shield. And so 
the game of inventing sham heraldry went merrily 
forward at the epoch when the modern County 
Councillor brought the new enlightenment into 
an expectant world. There were others who, 
with a spice of originality, sought for the local 
emblems of old tradition to work up into heraldic 
charges, which they no doubt thought could be 
adopted with some claim to armorial appropriate- 

To the mind which had first to grapple with the 
problem, it naturally occurred that Kent would 


find an appropriate emblem in the White Horse 
of Hengist the same charge is found in the arms 
of Hanover. With equal confidence Lancashire 
adopted the Red Rose, and Yorkshire the White 
Rose, the rival emblems of the two great Plan- 
tagenet houses. 

The White Horse of Kent naturally recalls the 
name of ' ' White Surrey," the horse which, ac- 
cording to Shakespeare, Richard III. had saddled 
for the field of Bosworth. It has been suggested 
that the name of Crookback's charger had nothing 
to do with the county of Surrey, the misleading 
word being simply Chaucerian spelling of Syria 
(Surrie) that it was customary to speak of a 
' white Syria horse " just as it was to speak of 
a " Barbary roan " an explanation which is in- 
genious, if not convincing. The badge of the 
old Earls of Surrey was a White Horse, and it is 
to-day one of the supporters to the shield of the 
Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Arundel and Surrey. 
The proper badge of the county of Surrey is a 
White Horse holding an acorn in its mouth ; or, 
alternatively a Swallow. 

The Red Rose of Lancashire is the Rose of Pro- 
vence, assumed by the earls and dukes of Lancaster. 
The White Rose of York was the badge of the 
Dukes of York, derived from the alliance with the 
De Cliffords, and borne by the latter family in 
memory of Rosemundia (the Rose of the World ") 
Clifford, the mistress of Henry II. 

Northumbria's floral emblem is sung thus by 
the local poet 

Northumbria's emblem, O tender the hue, 
Of its chalice at eve and dawn dimmed with dew. 
Aloof on the mountain and crag-crested fell. 
Northumbria's emblem, the bonnie bluebell. 


The so-called arms of Cornwall (fifteen bezants) 
are simply the device of the ancient earls of Corn- 
wall. This coat of a field sable with fifteen 
bezants in pale 5, 4, 3, 2, i, or, was borne by 
Condurus the last earl of Cornwall of British blood 
in the time of William I. Mr. Rodway contends 
that there should be ten bezants in pale, and 
that really they are Poix (peas) from the arms of 
Richard, Earl of Cornwall and Poic-tou. 

Dugdale's Baronage begins a list of the mythical 
earls of Cornwall with Gorlois, who held the 
earldom in the time of Uther-Pendragon, King of 
the Britons. The King quarelled with, and slew 
Gorlois, for the sake of his wife, Igerna, whom he 
afterwards married, and who thus became the 
mother of the famous King Arthur. 

For many of these interesting items of heraldic 
lore we are indebted to Mr. Alfred Rodway, the 
well-known Birmingham herald ; he also names, or 
suggests, the following list of appropriate emblems 
which might be used as county cognisances. 

For Bedford, a Black Eagle, derived from the 
De Courci family ; for Berks, a Wheat-sheaf and 
Sickle, from the Hungerford family ; for Devon, a 
Blue Dragon or Lion rampant, from the De 
Redvers family ; for Rutland, a Horse-shoe, from 
the De Feirars family ; and for Westmoreland, a 
Dun Bull, which was the badge of the old earls. 

In quite a number of instances the county 
cognisance has been borrowed from the armorial 
bearings of its titular earl, or of some landed noble 
who has been lorg and closely associated with its 
history. Legends and proverbs have even grown 
up associating the name, or the arms of some 
dominating family, with the county on whose soil 
they have so long been settled. 


Bucks finds an appropriate emblem in a White 
Swan, gorged and chained proper, the badge of 
the Mandevilles, derived from the Fitz-Sweyns 
(Swans) and afterwards used by the Staffords, 
dukes of Buckingham. Cheshire has its Garb 
or Wheat-sheaf, borrowed from the arms of 
Ranulph de Blondeville, Earl of Chester. Glou- 
cestershire has the Keys of St. Peter, a Boar's 
head, and also the arms of the De Clares who were 
Earls of Gloucester "Or. three chevrons gules." 
Leicestershire claims a Castle, and a Pimpernel 
Flower (of five leaves); the Castle being liar's 
Castle, the Pimpernel belonging to Robert Fitz 
Pernel, Earl of Leicester. 

Essex appropriately displays Three Seaxes 
(Saxon swords) and Middlesex also fittingly adopts 
a Seaxe ; Hunts rejoices in a Huntsman, a Buck, 
and a Dog, either a rebus, or allusive to Robin 
Hood, Earl of Huntingdon. Notts emblazons 
a Bugle-horn, stringed proper, also evidently com- 
memorative of bold Robin Hood. Oxon shows 
an Ox fording a River, and Cambridge displays a 
Bridge over the Cam. Lincolnshire is represented 
by a Golden Fleur de Lys, the badge of the Virgin, 
patron of the diocese ; Norfolk by the Crowns of 
St. Edmund, the old banner sometimes used by 
East Anglia ; Durham by the cross of St. Cuthbert, 
its patron ; and Cumberland by a Saltire, the cross 
of Cospatric. For Dorset there is an ancient 
Galley, and the same for Monmouthshire, although 
the latter sometimes adopts the Red Rose of 
Lancaster. Northants borrows the device of its 
county-town, a Castle between two lions rampant ; 
and lastly, Northumberland sometimes displays 
the Bear of Bernicia. 

There was not any, but that more or less 
Something had got, that something should express. 


sang Michael Drayton. Thus in his ' ' Agincourt " 

Stout Warwickshire, her ancient badge, the Bear ; 

Wor'ster, a Pear-tree laden with the fruit ; 
A Golden Fleece, and Hereford doth wear ; 

Stafford, a Hermit in his holely suit ; 
Shropshire, a Falcon tow'ring in the air ; 

And for the shire whose surface seems most brute, 
Derby, an Eagle, sitting on a root, 

A swathed Infant holding in her foot. 

A legendary Earl of Warwick was called Arth' 
that is, " the Bear," because he was so strong of 
limb ; when a mighty giant came against him he 
slew him by just pulling up a tree by the roots, 
stripping it of its branches, and using it as a club. 
This is one version of the origin of the Bear and 
Ragged Staff ; more probably the derivation is 
from one Urso d' Abitot. 

Shakespeare alludes to the ragged staff as the 
cognisance of his native county in ' ' 2nd Part 
of Henry VI.," V. i. 

Now, by my father's badge, old Neville's crest 
The rampant bear chained to the ragged staff. 

The Worcestershire device, ' A Pear-tree 
fructed " is said to have been borne by its bowmen 
at Agincourt. Drayton in his Polyolbion has the 

"Quoth Worcestershire again, 'and I will squint the pear'," 

And Leland ("Collectanea") describing the 
properties of the shires of England, commences 

The property of every shire, 
I shall tell you and ye shall hear 
Herefordshire, shield and spear 
Worcestershire, wring the pear. 

In the coronation year of George V. a con- 
troversy arose concerning the Worcestershire 
county arms. It was suggested by the Standing 
Joint Committee that a new county badge should 


bear the nondescript blazonry of the Malvern 
Hills in the back-ground, and a pear-tree and a 
river ; and that the three black pears should be 
given up because they rightly belonged to the city 
of Worcester and not the county. The suggestion 
almost needless to say, was not received at all 
favourably. The Pear of Worcester seems to 
have been derived from the old Benedictine 
quarter of the city known as Pirie. 

Herefordshire boasts two symbols, the Golden 
Fleece and the Shield and Spear ; the latter being 
the attributes of Deo Herr, an old Teutonic leader. 
It will be recalled that Here-ford signifies the 
' army ford," the crossing where shield and spear 
were brought into play. 

Staffordshire uses the Stafford Knot, like two S's 
interlaced, the family badge of that noble house, 
clearly a misappropriation of a personal cognisance 
to corporate uses ; just as Warwickshire adopted 
the Bear and Ragged Staff, once the insignia of 
the great earls of Warwick. 

A second Staffordshire badge is a Hermit, 
commemorative of the legendary St. Bertelin, a 
disconsolate prince who retired from the world 
and took up his abode in " the wilderness of 
Bethney," now the site of Stafford ; of which town 
he is the patron saint. 

Proud Salop boasts a Golden Falcon, a Leo- 
pard's Head, and a White I/ion. The recent 
grant of arms to the County Council gives the 
leopard's head ; the others are Yorkist badges 
borrowed from the Earl of March (i.e, .the Welsh 

As previously noted (Chapter VIII.) the Earls of 
Derby took their title from West Derby in Lan- 
cashire, the earldom being a secondary title to 
the Duchy of Lancaster ; and the badge of the 


Eagle and Child, otherwise the Bird and Bantling, 
has no reference whatever to the County, but 
belongs to the Stanley family (Earls of Derby), 
who derived it from the Lathoms. A silly legend 
has been manufactured for this badge, but Mr. 
Alfred Rodway is distinctly of opinion that it came 
originally from the Kilchecks or Kilchicks, and 
was really a rebus on the name of that family. 

The badge directly allusive to the derivation of 
the name Derby, as it is given in Chapter VIII., 
is " a deer emparked " ; manifestly a rebus. 

According to popular tradition the Hampshire 
badge of a Rose and Crown was granted by Henry 
V. to certain troops, raised in this county, for the 
gallantry they displayed at the Battle of Agin- 
court, in 1415. More correctly, the badge should 
be Three Roses, two argent, one gules. The 
county uses the same as Southampton, the coat 
assigned by Tudor heralds to Bevis of Hampton 
and ' ' three lions passant were the arms of 
Bevis bold." 

The battle of Agincourt, if we accept the dictum 
of Drayton, was prolific in devices which are not 
otherwise familiar. 

A silver tower Dorset's red banner bears 

The Cornish men two wrestlers had for theirs. 

We read also that Sussex " bore a black lion 
rampant, sore that fled, with a field arrow darted 
through the head." 

The men of Surrey appeared with ' ' cheeky 
blue and gold, which for brave Warren their first 
earl they wore " ; while the Devonshire band were 
distinguished by " a beacon set on fire." The 
cognisance of Somerset was ' ' a virgin bathing in a 
spring;" and the men of Gloucestershire ap- 
propriated their city's arms, " In gold, three 


bloody chevernels." The Londoners and Middle- 
sex men " as one, were by the red cross and 
dagger known " ; and the men of Essex marched 
under Queen Helena's image for that she, the 
British wife of the Emperor Constantine, was the 
founder of Colchester. Cambridgeshire flaunted 
' a bay upon a mountain, watered with a 
shower " ; 

Suffolk, a sun half risen from the brake, 
Norfolk, a triton on a dolphin's back. 

The Wiltshire warriors appeared under " a 
crowned pyramid :" : 

Berkshire, a stag under an oak that stood, 
Oxford, a white bull wading in the flood. 

Above the men of Rutland waved ' ' an ermine 
ram," and those of Leicestershire carried aloft 
' a bull and mastiff righting for the game." The 
county of Bedford exhibited " an Eagle perched 
upon a Tower" ; Northamptonshire, " a Castle 
seated high, supported by two Lions " ; and 

Huntingdon, a youthful hunter with a chaplet crowned. 
In a py'd lyam leading forth his hound. 

by ' ' lyam " may be understood a leash. This 
device is not so unfamiliar, nor is the one at- 
tributed to ' Old Nottingham," namely ' an 
archer clad in green, under a tree, with his drawn 
bow." Also for Hertfordshire we have the canting 
device of " two harts that in a river play " ; and 
the lore of another county is recalled by the em- 
blazonry on the Kentish streamer, of " a wood, 
out of whose top an arm that held a sword," 
and " above only one word, Unconquered." 
(see p. 235). As Hertford in Saxon was Heort-ford 
or Harts'-ford, the arms of the town are " a hart 
couchant in water " and the county badge is some- 
times a White Hart, and sometimes a " Red 
Hart fording a brook, and a Castle. " 


For Lincolnshire a ship was ' most neatly 
limned, in all her sails, with flags and pennons 
trimmed " : Yorkshire had ' ' a flaming lance," 
while the device of the sister county, Lancashire, 
was ' ' through three crowns three arrows smeared 
with blood." 

Cheshire had ' ' a banner square and broad, 
whereon a man upon a lion rode " : Westmore- 
land's device was " a ship wracked, lying fired 
upon the sand " : Durham's uplifted standard 
bore her proud ecclesiastical charge of "a mitre 
crowned with a diadem." For the two farthest 
counties, the fighting men of Cumberland unfurled 
their blazonry of ' an armed man," and the 
Northumberland borderers theirs of ' ' two lions 
fighting " both devices deeply significant of the 
amenities of life in that disturbed region. 

If there is a quarter to which one would natur- 
ally look for all those popular symbols traditionally 
associated with a county, it is surely to the regi- 
mental badges of a territorial army, employed 
thereon to identify each regiment with the locality 
of its origin. But the search would be very largely 
in vain, most of these military badges recording 
regimental achievements on the field of action, 
rather than territorial origin. 

A study of the official chart of army badges 
published by Messrs. Gale and Polden, Aldershot, 
is exceedingly disappointing in this respect. An 
expert herald, like Mr. Alfred Rodway, can dis- 
cover on it little or nothing of " local " interest. 
The commonest device introduced is the ancient 
Dragon of the Saxon and other Counts of the 
various districts in England, all, of course, derived 
from the Roman Dragon of Red Gold. 


The Wessex Dragon was Red Gold 

The Northumbrian Red 

The Cymric (Cumberland) Red 

The Warden of the Marches Red 

The Mercian* Gold 

The Dyved (Pembroke peninsula) Green 

The Devonian Yellow 

The Sussex Black 

The Sussex Dragon is that of the old Counts ot 
the Saxon Shore, and the Dragon of the Lords 
Warden of the Marches is that of the Roman duke 
of Britain (Dux Brittanarium). The Roman 
standard-bearer was called, from this standard, 
" draconarius." Mr. Rodway observes that although 
the Norman (de Redvers) who was made Earl of 
Devon is said to have borne a Yellow Dragon, 
it was probably the old Red Dragon of the Cymri 
brought from Scotland by the third Cymric wave 
when they conquered the Damnonian peninsula 
and Siluria. 

Harold displayed a Dragon banner at Hastings, 
and as late as Henry III. it was a royal standard. 

By the exercise of diligent care and keen in- 
sight, the long association of other emblems with 
local insignia might, perhaps, be traced. For 
instance, a connection between the Bear of 
Bernicia, with the Bear on Edward I.'s seal for 
Berwick-on-Tweed, might possibly be established. 
The old coins of the Bretwaldas bore the crude 
impression of a Bear. The prevalence of this 
symbol is really remarkable, being discernible in 
the shield of Penarth (the last syllable of which 
is arth, from the Greek Arcturus, ' a bear ") 
and the arms of the Ardens (Arthens). The same 
quadruped is heraldically persistent in dozens 
of other instances in which the place-name or the 
sur-name of the ruler will frequently be found to 
betray the traditional connection. 


Few of the Welsh counties have authentic 
badges, but the Three Golden Eagles of Carnar- 
vonshire are significant of the imperial origin of 
Carnarvon in Segontium, the most westerly 
station of the Romans, and one visited by the 
Emperor Constantine. The ancient name of the 
town, Cser Custeint apparently indicates some 
connection with this Emperor. The Eagle tower 
of the castle is claimed as a Roman vestige. 

Michael Dray ton in hij stirring poem, 
' Agincourt," quotes the Eagles of Carnarvon, 
and also fits each of the other eleven Welsh 
counties with a battle standard. The poet gives 
to Pembroke a Boat being rowed by a Lady in a 
great Bay, no doubt allusive to the magnificent 
harbour there : to Cardigan, a Mermaid sitting on 
a Rock : to Denbighshire, a Neptune with his 
three-forked Mace : and to Carmarthen, a Rood 
whereon an Old Man leans and points at a star 
doubtless intended for Merlin, " namer of the 
town." To Glamorgan he appropriates ' a 
Castle high, from which a Flame shoots up into the 
sky " ; to Monmouth, Three Crowns imperial, 
supported with three armed arms : to Brecknock, 
a Warlike Tent upon whose top perches a Watch- 
ful Cock ; to Radnor, a Mountain of high ascent, 
thereon a Shepherd keeping his flock : to Flint- 
shire, a Workmaid, in her summer weed, with 
Sheaf and Sickle : to Montgomeryshire, a Prancing 
Steed ; and, lastly introducing the most character- 
istic of all the Welsh animals, Merioneth is given 
Three Dancing Goats against the Rising Sun. 
These, if not according to all the canons of 
heraldry, show some fertility of imagination. 


That the " county family " is still a power in 
the land is apparent from one of the most recent 
pieces of legislation, whereby the control and 
welfare of the newly created Territorial Army 
has been committed, not to the democracy which 
constitutes the great bulk of it, but to the county 
magnates, whose high social position is presumed 
to carry more weight, than mere numbers could 
do, in any movement of national voluntary effort. 
It is a testimony to the dominating influence 
of county patronage that it has been deliberately 
preferred, as a foundation on which to establish a 
national army, to the broad-bottomed basis of 
popular patriotism. And in actual experience 
has not the administration of the great Territorial 
Army by the invaluable Territorial County 
Associations proved an unmitigated success, even 
under the stress of a great war ? Also in the 
great public schools and universities there are 
invariably established officers' Training Corps, the 
assumption being that the youths at these in- 
stitutions belong to the " ruling class," and are 
fitted by birth or status to hold positions of au- 

The official dignitaries of the county are the 
Ix>rd Lieutenant, the High Sheriff, and the Justices 
of the Peace. The limits of their jurisdiction 
are always accurately known, for the county 
boundary is the most enduring of English divisions. 


For a long time it has been customary to 
select the ruling powers of a county from its 
resident nobility and gentry ; as a rule the lyord 
Lieutenant from the former, and the High Sheriff 
from the latter. 

Though " Shrievalty expenses" are (or have 
been) notoriously high, as a rule it is the ambition 
of the English country gentlemen to serve this 
honourable office one year of his life. 

To be High Sheriff and ' ' ride in a golden 
coach " ; to look forward to having it recorded 
on monumental tablets in the parish church that 
Johannes Such-a-one, armiger, had been " high 
sheriff of this county in such and such a year " ; 
this has been the most frequently cherished ideal 
of many a noveau riche attempting to found a 

The claim to the distinction of being accounted 
a county family was in former days founded on 
documentary evidence substantiating the undis- 
turbed possession of real estate over a number of 
generations. But the rule is much relaxed in 
these days of commercial competition, when the 
mere holding of real estate is rot so profitable as 
it was, and when an industrial plutocracy is 
generally ready to buy out the impoverished old 
landed families. To buy an estate, settle upon it, 
and for the holder (in the first or the second genera- 
tion) to have filled the office of High Sheriff, is 
now almost sufficient to confer the status of a 
county family. 

" County society" is typical for its class ex- 
clusiveness. Till recent times even the com- 
mission of the peace was supposed to be reserved 
by them for the squirearchy, and in the eighteenth 
century the " justice of mean degree " was not to 


be tolerated. Not only was nomination made, 
or suggested, by the judges of assize, for the office 
of High Sheriff, but also^for suitable additions to 
the county magistracy. But this was when an 
enormous power was wielded in every branch of 
local government by nominated bodies when 
in fact, there was a recognised ruling class, and 
the democracy was as yet inarticulate. As yet 
the elective principle had not been allowed to 
keep pace with the ever-growing requirements of 
modern local government. 

When the fictionist has sought to create the 
ideal country gentleman, he has invariably de- 
picted him as dutifully responsive to every de- 
mand the ' ' county " makes upon him to the 
calls upon his time, his purse, his resources. For 
instance, that delightful character, Sir Roger de 
Coverley, Steele and Addision's conception of the 
perfect country gentleman of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, is a justice of the quorum as a matter of 
course, and one who fills the chair at quarter- 
sessions with dignity and marked ability. We 
learn, too, that he has served his turn as sheriff 
and ' ' rode in procession at the head of a whole 
county, with music before him, a feather in his hat, 
and his horse well-bitted." We could expect 
nothing less of the worthy knight, who is held up 
to us as the model of the fine old English gentle- 

Tennyson illustrates the old county stock in his 
" Sea Dreams," presenting the type in 

Sir Aylmer Aylmer, that almighty man, 
The county god 


Saw from his windows nothing save his own, 


and who belonged to 

These old pheasant-lords, 
These partridge- breeders of a thousand years, 
Who have mildewed in their thousands doing nothing 
Since Egbert. 

The foolish Justice Shallow of Shakespeare is 
not intended to be a fair sample of the county 
magistracy which, for centuries, has upheld the 
dignity and reputation of Quarter Sessions- 
Mastering the lawless science of our law, 
That codeless myriad of precedent. 

The highest type of a pure blooded territorial 
family is traditionally supposed to be the Norfolk 
Howards ; and from that legendary reputation, a 
witty slang applied their name to the worst kind 
of blood-sucking body vermin. In which con- 
nection it is curious and amusing to note that, 
in 1863, a person named Bugg actually changed 
his name by legal process to Norfolk-Howard. 
The duchy of Norfolk has been held by the 
Howards for a long period, and they are descended 
from several ancient princes who inherited the 
earldom and duchy. 

All the same, the Howards are not of the ancient 
Norman nobility. Ancient lineage, the real old 
families, are oftener found among the gentry (and 
sometimes even among the peasantry) than in the 
peerage ; and there are Saxon families in several 
counties who can trace their pedigrees beyond the 
Conquest. The ancient Norman nobility were 
practically exterminated by the thirty years' 
Wars of the Roses, and when Henry VII. called his 
first parliament there were only twenty-nine 
temporal peers to be found. Of these twenty- 
nine but five remain. 


It is interesting to note that one county, Lan- 
caster, has left its name to a foreign title of 
nobility. The Counts of Lancastro are an ille- 
gitimate branch of the royal house of Portugal, 
deriving descent from George de Lancastro, natural 
son of King John II. The name was assumed in 
remembrance of the descent of the royal Portu- 
guese family from John of Gaunt, duke of Lan- 
caster, through his daughter Philippa, wife of 
King John I. 

The ' ' County family " tradition of Old England 
is to be traced in many of the social conventiona- 
lities of Virginia and other southern states, where 
the ideas of caste distinction belonging to Eliza- 
bethan and Stuart times prevail, in a modified 
form, to this day. 

Leaving aside these antiquated prejudices, the 
worthier influences of English shire government 
are to be recognised wherever the Englishman has 
settled himself abroad in the newer parts of the 
world. Wherever the English language is spoken 
and the English flag is flying overhead, in the 
most distant parts of the world, we find the idea 
of the Shire prevails the Commonwealth of 
Australia has its shire and borough areas, and the 
great western dominion of Canada just as natura- 
lly divides its provinces into counties, though 
strangely enough, while in the United States the 
Sheriff, most ancient of local functionaries, re- 
mains the most prominent of executive officers, in 
the Colony the authorities have invented, as an 
intermediary through which the provincial legis- 
latures may deal with each county area, an official 
known as the County Warden. 


The great fact observable is, that the idea of the 
Shire is always present. And in the working of 
this idea we see the orderly mind of the English- 
man, wherever he is placed, beginning with the 
small immediate practicalities of local govern- 
ment, and growing to the great ; proceeding quite 
logically, with the confidence acquired, from the 
simple to the complex, from the concrete to the 
abstract ; basing his idea of statecraft on the en- 
during motives of religion, national defence, the 
mutuality of civic life, and the common weal. 


America, allusions to 

36, 105, 267 

Angel-cyn 31 

Angles 245, 30, 50, 74 

Arrays, military ... 169 173 

Assizes 103, no, 124, 153, 

16068, 196 7 

' ' Associated Counties "... 221 

Barmote 204 

Bedford level 211 12 

Belgae 389. 40, 424 

Bernicia 24, 26, 28, 57, 255, 261 

Berwick 62, 187, 261 

Bishop's Court 205 

Boadicea 45 

Borders, see Marches 

Borsholder 109 

Borough-towns 145 6 

Bretwalda 29, 261 

Brutus 44, 76, 86 

Burghal Centres 78,115 

Caractacus 46 

Cassivelaunus 37 8 

Central Criminal 165 

Chamberlain's Court ... 205 
Chancellor's Court ... 204 5 
Church, its influences 

64, 98, 107 8, m, 128 9 

Cinque Ports 203 4 

Comotes 69 

Communal interests ... no 
Constables ... 109 10, 158 

Coroner 197 

Count (title) 94 5, 97 

County Borough 201 

County Keeper 124 

Court of Passage 204 

Cymbeline 45 

Danegeld *" 

Danlelagh, Danelaw ......' 70 

Danes, Danish influence 

2 . 30. 33. 556. 
58, 60, 65, 92, 

102, 213, 232 

Deman, Doomsman ... 108 
Durham 26, 57, 79t 93', 255 

Ealdorman, Elderman 

52 5. 945. no 12, 
122 130, 131 140 

Enge 30 

"English" 30 i 

Exchequer 131 140, 143, 150 

Family bond, or tie of Kinship 
84, 89, 95, 100 i, 106 

Farm (or Feorme) 132 

Fens 212 

Folk Moot 106, 112, 119, 142 
' ' Forty-shilling Freeholder " 

X 44 5 
Fyrd (Ancient Militia) 

loo, 127 30, 1734 

Headborough 109 

Hereditary office 68, 95, 123 
Home Counties ... 162, 221 
Hundred, Hundred Courts 

7'. 99 ii. IQ 6. 
1089, 113 14, 
126, 129, 138, 141, 
157. 205 

Hustings 112, 204 

Hwiccas 28, 54. 77 




Ina's Laws 

. 25 

Jury, Jurors 1134. I2 5 7. 

154, 156, 202 

Jury, Grand 197 

Jutes (Goths) 23, 28, 30, 50, 74 

Knights of the Shire 

113, 141, 149 

Lathe 101 

Lindsey 24, 53, 103, 187 
London 27,31,44,53,117 21, 
150, 164, 175, 200 
Lord Lieutenant 

130, 168 176, 195, 263 

Lord Mayor 119 21 

Lothian 58, 59, 61, 63 4 

Magistrates 110,125,157,169, 
171, 175, 189, 
195 6, 198,263 
Marches and Borderlands 

25, 27. 58 63, 70 2, 
93, 98, 124, 189, 
217 8, 262 

Military Service 34, 128 30, 
170, 174, 260, 263 

Militia 174 5 

Motes (or Moots) 106, 109, 112 

National Assembly 

106, in 12, 131, 142 
Normans, Norman influence 

30, 32 3, 60, 87, 129 
Norwegians 65 

Offa 29, 53, 209 

Old Sarum 27 


Pale (Irish) 73 

Parliament 66 7, in 13, 

141. 143 
Parish (or Priests' Shire) 

99, 116, 128, 210 

Pendragon 49, 254 

Phoenicians 41, 76 

Picts 64, 86, 88 

Posse Comitatus 12930 

Pseudo Shires 

54, 87, 182, 206, 208 

Quarter Sessions 

104, 195, 205, 266 

Rape 102 

Recorder 196,205 

Ridings 103, 149, 163, 175, 183 
Royal Navy 204 

Saxonia 55 

Saxons 24.29,30,33,74 

SaxonShore 49 

Scots 64 

Shire Court 

106, 112 14, 126, 142, 195 
Shire Reeve (or Sheriff) 

63. 65, 72, 92, 94, 
102, 107 8, no, 

122 159,169,195, 

Sheriff-geld 132 

Soke 102 4 

Standing J oint Committee 

202, 256 

Stannary Court 203 

Strathclyde 27, 59, 208 

Tallies (Exchequer receipts) 134 
Tithing (Decennary) 

99101, 108 9, 116 

Trithing 103, 120 

Troglodytes 77 

Troy-novant 44,250 



Under Sheriff 

Vills, royal 




Wapentake 102, 183 

Wards 101,178,182 

Welsh (influences) 

32, 52, 54. 57. 76, 189 
Wessex ... 29, 30, 51, 52, 

57. 74. 92, 244 

Winchester 31, 117 

Witan 99, 102, in 12, 131 

Printed in England for Heath Cranton Limited 
by Allison and Bowen Limited, Stafford 

JS Hackwood, Frederick William 
The story of the shire