Counties of the United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom has 92 counties or shires. The British counties are the oldest extant national divisions in the world.

Where a distinction has to be made with statutory "counties" so called for administrative purposes, the counties are variously known as historic counties, traditional counties or ancient or geographical counties[1].

The counties have no administrative function, existing as geographical and cultural areas. Most of the counties have an existence stretching back to the Middle Ages and almost all of the English counties have been established for over a thousand years. Even the relatively young Highland shires, only 450 years old as such, have a much older existence as geographical and cultural areas.

In this time many activities many activities and much social understanding and local identity has grown up intertwined with the counties, and so they have become a vital part of British and Irish culture.

Until the late twentieth century, administrative functions have been carried on using the counties' boundaries or approximations to them, and so centuries of public records have been organised county by county, for which reason an understanding of the counties is vital for genealogical and historic research.

List of the counties

County Area Principal towns in the county
Aberdeenshire 1,950 square miles Aberdeen, Ellon, Fraserburgh, Huntly, Inverurie, Peterhead, Turriff
Anglesey 276 square miles Beaumaris, Amlwch, Holyhead, Llangefni, Menai Bridge
Angus (Forfarshire) 889 square miles Forfar, Dundee, Arbroath, Brechin, Carnoustie, Kirriemuir, Montrose
Antrim 1,175 square miles Belfast, Antrim, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Carnlough, Larne, Portrush
Argyll (Argyllshire) 3,110 square miles Lochgilphead, Campbeltown, Dunoon, Inveraray, Oban, Tobermory
Armagh 512 square miles Armagh, Newry
Ayrshire 1,129 square miles Ayr, Cumnock, Irvine, Kilmarnock, Kilwinning, Largs, Saltcoats, Troon
Banffshire 641 square miles Banff, Buckie, Dufftown, Keith, Macduff, Portsoy
Bedfordshire 465 square miles Bedford, Biggleswade, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Luton, Sandy
Berkshire 722 square miles Reading, Abingdon, Bracknell, Maidenhead, Newbury, Windsor, Wokingham
Berwickshire 457 square miles Greenlaw, Coldstream, Duns, Eyemouth, Lauder
Brecknockshire (Breconshire) 743 square miles Brecon, Builth Wells, Hay-on-Wye, Llanwrtyd Wells, Talgarth
Buckinghamshire 745 square miles Aylesbury, Buckingham, High Wycombe, Milton Keynes, Slough
Buteshire 225 square miles Rothesay, Brodick, Lochranza, Millport
Caernarfonshire 480 square miles Caernarfon, Bangor, Conwy, Llandudno, Porthmadog, Pwllheli
Caithness 618 square miles Wick, Castletown, Halkirk, Thurso
Cambridgeshire 820 square miles Cambridge, Ely, Chatteris, March, Cambridgeshire, Whittlesey, Wisbech
Cardiganshire 815 square miles Cardigan, Aberystwyth, Lampeter, New Quay, Tregaron
Carmarthenshire 1,095 square miles Carmarthen, Ammanford, Kidwelly, Llandovery, Llanelli, St Clears
Cheshire 1,027 square miles Chester, Birkenhead, Crewe, Macclesfield, Runcorn, Stockport, Wallasey
Clackmannanshire 48 square miles Clackmannan, Alloa, Dollar, Tillicoultry, Tullibody
Cornwall 1,349 square miles Bodmin, Truro, Camborne, Falmouth, Newquay, Penzance, Redruth, St Austell
Cromartyshire 370 square miles Cromarty, Ullapool
Cumberland 1,516 square miles Carlisle, Brampton, Keswick, Penrith, Whitehaven, Workington
Denbighshire 640 square miles Ruthin, Abergele, Denbigh, Llangollen, Wrexham
Derbyshire 1,029 square miles Derby, Ashbourne, Buxton, Chesterfield, Ilkeston, Matlock, Swadlincote
Devon 2,405 square miles Exeter, Plymouth, Barnstaple, Newton Abbot, Paignton, Tavistock, Tiverton, Torquay
Dorset 980 square miles Dorchester, Poole, Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Weymouth, Wimborne Minster
Down 950 square miles Downpatrick, Bangor, Holywood, Newcastle, Strangford
Dumfriesshire 1,063 square miles Dumfries, Annan, Gretna, Langholm, Lockerbie, Moffat, Sanquhar
Dumbartonshire 241 square miles Dumbarton, Alexandria, Clydebank, Cumbernauld, Helensburgh, Kirkintilloch
Durham 1,015 square miles Durham, Gateshead, Darlington, Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees, Sunderland, Washington
East Lothian (Haddingtonshire) 267 square miles Haddington, Dunbar, East Linton, North Berwick, Tranent
Essex 1,542 square miles Chelmsford, Basildon, Brentwood, Colchester, Harlow, Romford, Southend-on-Sea, Stratford
Fermanagh 715 square miles Enniskillen, Belleek, Irvinestown
Fife 504 square miles Cupar, Dunfermline, Burntisland, Cowdenbeath, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy, St Andrews
Flintshire 640 square miles Mold, Connah's Quay, Buckley, Flint, Holywell, Prestatyn, Rhyl, St Asaph
Glamorgan 845 square miles Cardiff, Swansea, Barry, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath, Pontypridd
Gloucestershire 1,225 square miles Gloucester, Bristol, Cheltenham, Cirencester, Stroud, Tewkesbury
Hampshire 1,622 square miles Winchester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Basingstoke, Bournemouth, Newport
Herefordshire 833 square miles Hereford, Bromyard, Kington, Ledbury, Leominster, Ross-on-Wye
Hertfordshire 727 square miles Hertford, St Albans, Hatfield, Hemel Hempstead, Stevenage, Watford
Huntingdonshire 359 square miles Huntingdon, Ramsey, St Ives, St Neots, Yaxley
Inverness-shire 4,211 square miles Inverness, Fort William, Kingussie, Newtonmore, Portree
Kent 1,555 square miles Maidstone, Canterbury, Bromley, Dover, Folkestone, Greenwich, Rochester
Kincardineshire 380 square miles [[[Stonehaven]], Banchory, Inverbervie, Laurencekirk
Kinross-shire 73 square miles Kinross, Milnathort
Kirkcudbrightshire 899 square miles Kirkcudbright, Castle Douglas, Dalbeattie, New Galloway
Lanarkshire 879 square miles Lanark, Glasgow, Coatbridge, Carluke, East Kilbride, Hamilton, Motherwell
Lancashire 1,880 square miles Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, Barrow-in-Furness, Bolton, Warrington
Leicestershire 800 square miles Leicester, Coalville, Hinckley, Loughborough, Lutterworth, Melton Mowbray
Lincolnshire 2,646 square miles Lincoln, Boston, Grantham, Grimsby, Louth, Scunthorpe, Skegness, Stamford
Londonderry 816 square miles Londonderry, Coleraine, Limavady
Merioneth 780 square miles Bala, Barmouth, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Dolgellau, Harlech, Tywyn
Middlesex 285 square miles London, Brentford, Westminster, Ealing, Enfield, Harrow, Potters Bar, Staines, Twickenham
Midlothian (Edinburghshire) 362 square miles Edinburgh, Bonnyrigg, Dalkeith, Musselburgh, Penicuik
Monmouthshire 530 square miles Monmouth, Newport, Abergavenny, Blackwood, Chepstow, Cwmbran, Tredegar
Montgomeryshire 780 square miles Montgomery, Llanidloes, Machynlleth, Newtown, Welshpool
Morayshire (Moray, Elginshire) 476 square miles Elgin, Fochabers, Lossiemouth, Forres, Rothes
Nairnshire 200 square miles Nairn, Auldearn, Cawdor
Norfolk 2,044 square miles Norwich, Cromer, East Dereham, Great Yarmouth, Hunstanton, King's Lynn
Northamptonshire 984 square miles Northampton, Peterborough, Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough
Northumberland 2,018 square miles Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Alnwick, (Berwick-upon-Tweed), Hexham, Morpeth
Nottinghamshire 825 square miles Nottingham, Mansfield, Newark-on-Trent, Retford, Southwell, Worksop
Orkney 376 square miles Kirkwall, Balfour, Stromness
Oxfordshire 756 square miles Oxford, Banbury, Bicester, Carterton, Henley-on-Thames, Thame, Witney
Peeblesshire 548 square miles Peebles, Innerleithen, West Linton
Pembrokeshire 655 square miles Pembroke, Fishguard, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Tenby, St David's
Perthshire 2,493 square miles Perth, Blairgowrie, Callander, Coupar Angus, Crieff, Kincardine, Pitlochry, Rattray
Radnorshire 485 square miles Presteigne, Knighton, Llandrindod Wells, New Radnor, Rhayader
Renfrewshire 245 square miles Renfrew, Barrhead, Greenock, Johnstone, Kilmacolm, Paisley, Port Glasgow
Ross-shire 3,089 square miles Dingwall, Alness, Invergordon, Stornaway, Tain
Roxburghshire 666 square miles Jedburgh, Hawick, Kelso, Melrose, Roxburgh
Rutland 152 square miles Oakham, Cottesmore, Uppingham
Selkirkshire 267 square miles Selkirk, Galashiels
Shetland 551 square miles Lerwick, Baltasound, Scalloway
Shropshire 1,343 square miles Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Market Drayton, Oswestry, Telford, Whitchurch
Somerset 1,640 square miles Taunton, Bath, Bridgwater, Glastonbury, Wells, Weston-super-Mare, Yeovil
Staffordshire 1,171 square miles Stafford, Lichfield, Stoke-on-Trent, Wolverhampton, Cannock, Walsall
Stirlingshire 447 square miles Stirling, Bridge of Allan, Denny, Falkirk, Grangemouth, Kilsyth
Suffolk 1,489 square miles Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Bungay, Felixstowe, Haverhill, Lowestoft, Sudbury
Surrey 758 square miles Guildford, Brixton, Croydon, Egham, Farnham, Kingston upon Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Wandsworth, Wimbledon, Woking
Sussex 1,458 square miles Chichester, Bognor Regis, Brighton, Crawley, Eastbourne, Hastings, Horsham, Worthing
Sutherland 2,028 square miles Dornoch, Brora, Durness, Golspie, Helmsdale, Lairg, Tongue
Tyrone 1,260 square miles Omagh, Cookstown, Dungannon, Strabane
Warwickshire 885 square miles Warwick, Birmingham, Coventry, Nuneaton, Rugby, Solihull, Stratford-upon-Avon
West Lothian (Linlithgowshire) 120 square miles Linlithgow, Armadale, Bathgate, Bo'ness, Broxburn, Livingston, Whitburn
Westmorland 783 square miles Appleby, Ambleside, Kendal, Kirkby Lonsdale, Windermere
Wigtownshire 487 square miles Wigtown, Newton Stewart, Stranraer, Whithorn
Wiltshire 1,370 square miles Salisbury, Chippenham, Devizes, Marlborough, Swindon, Trowbridge, Warminster
Worcestershire 738 square miles Worcester, Dudley, Evesham, Great Malvern, Halesowen, Kidderminster, Stourbridge
Yorkshire 6,066 square miles York

East Riding: Kingston upon Hull, Beverley, Bridlington, Driffield, Filey, Hornsea

North Riding: Middlesbrough, Northallerton, Redcar, Scarborough, Whitby

West Riding: Bradford, Leeds, Sheffield, Wakefield, Halifax, Harrogate

See also

Notes and References

  1. Census Report, 1891 (General Register Office)

External references