A collection of various resources specific to each county

Parish Registers, Census, Directories, Maps, etc.

England Counties

  • Bedfordshire
  • Berkshire
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Cheshire
  • Cornwall
  • Cumberland
  • Derbyshire
  • Devon
  • Dorset
  • Durham
  • Essex
  • Gloucestershire
  • Hampshire
  • Herefordshire
  • Hertfordshire
  • Huntingdonshire
  • Kent
  • Lancashire
  • Leicestershire
  • Lincolnshire
  • London
  • Middlesex
  • Norfolk
  • Northamptonshire
  • Northumberland
  • Nottinghamshire
  • Oxfordshire
  • Rutland
  • Shropshire
  • Somerset
  • Staffordshire
  • Suffolk
  • Surrey
  • Sussex
  • Warwickshire
  • Westmorland
  • Wiltshire
  • Worcestershire
  • Yorkshire
    (divided into "thirdings" - known as Ridings)
    • West Riding
    • East Riding
    • North Riding

Lots of county related books.
County directories, censuses
and history books.

Wales Counties

  • Anglesey
  • Breconshire
  • Caernarvonshire
  • Cardiganshire
  • Carmarthenshire
  • Denbighshire
  • Flintshire
  • Glamorgan
  • Merionethshire
  • Monmouthshire
  • Montgomeryshire
  • Pembrokeshire
  • Radnorshire

Scotland Counties

  • Aberdeenshire
  • Angus
  • Argyll
  • Ayrshire
  • Banffshire
  • Berwickshire
  • Bute
  • Caithness
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Dumfriesshire
  • Dunbartonshire
  • East Lothian
  • Fife
  • Forfarshire
  • Inverness-shire
  • Kincardineshire
  • Kinross-shire
  • Kirkcudbrightshire
  • Lanarkshire
  • Midlothian
  • Moray
  • Nairnshire
  • Orkney
  • Peeblesshire
  • Perthshire
  • Renfrewshire
  • Ross & Cromarty
  • Roxburghshire
  • Selkirkshire
  • Shetland
  • Stirlingshire
  • Sutherland
  • West Lothian
  • Wigtownshire

An old parish register recording
baptisms, marriages and burials.

When we study British genealogy, we refer to the original divisions of Britain, for it is within these divisions that the records were created. Some definitions are required to avoid confusion.

  • The United Kingdom:
    • The full title is
      The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
      (Note that the country of Ireland is not included in the UK. It is a separate country in its own right).

  • Great Britain:
    • Comprises the countries of England, Wales and Scotland, together with some off shore islands, namely, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
      (Note that no part of Ireland is included in Great Britain).
      Note that although there is a collective term "British", we are really English, Welsh or Scottish. Neither "Britain" or "UK" is a country. A country of origin for our ancestors, and even today, would be either England, Wales or Scotland.

  • For the sake of British genealogy, we therefore refer to the countries and islands that comprise Great Britain.
    • England
    • Wales
    • Scotland
    • The Isle of Man
    • The Channel Islands

  • Great Britain is divided into...
    • Countries of England, Wales & Scotland
      each of which has its own nationality (English, Welsh and Scottish)
      the countries are divided into...
      • Counties
        each of which has a County Town (a capital)
        counties are divided into...
        • Hundreds or Wapantakes
          which are divided into...
          • Parishes


County names often, but not always, have the term "shire" as part of the name. Shire means county. Therefore, unlike in the USA, we never use the word "county" as part of the name. There is no such name as "Nottinghamshire County". It is just plain "Nottinghamshire". There is just one exception - Durham is known as "County Durham". It's all down to our terminology, for example:

  • "Nottingham County" would be wrong
  • "County Nottingham" would be wrong
  • "Nottinghamshire County" would be wrong
  • "Nottinghamshire" would be correct
  • "The County of Nottingham" would be correct, although the term is not in common use.

The traditional counties, as listed here, were so until 1974, with later changes occurring in the 1990s. This is why, for genealogy purposes, we use the old traditional counties. The original records relate to these traditional counties.

Think of a county town as being the "capital" of a county. It is not always the largest town in the county, although is often so. Counties that include the word "shire" usually (but not always) have a county town as part of the name. For example Gloucester is the county town of Gloucestershire, and Nottingham is the county town of Nottinghamshire. Chester is the county town of Cheshire, and Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire. The exceptions (in England) are:

  • Berkshire
    there is no town named "Berk"
  • Hampshire
    there is no town called "Hamp" - but there is a town called Southampton, (South Hamp Town) which is where the "hamp" comes from, and indeed, the county used to be known as Southamptonshire
  • Shropshire
    there is no town named "Shrop" - but historically there was a place called Salop, which is why Shropshire is still often known as "Salop" today.
  • Wiltshire
    there is no town named "Wilt".

Hundreds and Wapantakes

Counties are divided into sub divisions known as Hundreds (or Wapantakes). These terms and divisions are not in common use today. But you will encounter them in historical records. Many books relating to counties, such as county directories of the early to mid 1800s are divided into Hundreds, and then towns and villages in alphabetical order within them. Although the Hundreds are not in common use today, many of them are still electoral districts, for example Broxtowe and Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire.


Each county is divided into parishes. A parish is a community that was set up in early Norman times in England. Norman lords were each given the responsibilty of the land and people within their parish. Each of them built a parish church (most of them in the 1100s) and most of these parish churches survive today. In 1538 instructions were given to keep registers of all baptisms, marriages and burials in each parish church. These records form an extremely important reference for our family history studies.

Some older towns had several ancient parishes, for example in London, Bristol and Nottingham. As towns and cities grew, many of the old town parishes were further sub-divided into new parishes (each with its own parish church), most of which were founded between 1830 and 1900.

Other Divisions

OK.... there had to be a complication. In 1837 a new type of district was introduced. This coincided with the civil registration of births, marriages and deaths. (Note, not baptisms or burials which were still recorded, along with most marriages, in churches). These new Registration Districts did not coincide exactly with county boundaries. The early censuses were conducted under the county and hundred system, but those after 1841 were organised by the same Registration Districts as births, marriages and deaths. That's why, in the censuses, some towns and villages show up "out of county".

Copyright ©2004 Rod Neep