History of Lancashire

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Main article: Lancashire
The Red Rose of Lancaster is the county flower of Lancashire, and a common symbol for the county.
Lancashire in 1832 (click to enlarge)

The History of Lancashire begins with its establishment as a county of England in 1182, making it one of the youngest of the historic counties of England.

Early history[edit]

In the Domesday Book, some of its lands had been treated as part of Yorkshire. The area in between the Mersey and Ribble (referred to in the Domesday Book as "Inter Ripam et Mersam") formed part of the returns for Cheshire.[1][2] Although some have taken this to mean that, at this time, south Lancashire was part of Cheshire,[2] it is not clear that this was the case, and more recent research indicates that the boundary between Cheshire and what was to become Lancashire remained the river Mersey.[3][4][5] Once its initial boundaries were established, it bordered Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire, and Cheshire.

Lancashire takes its name from the city of Lancaster, whose name means 'Roman fort on the River Lune',[6] combining the name of the river with the Old English cæster, which referred to a Roman fort or camp.[7] The county was established some time after the Norman conquest when William the Conqueror gave the land between the Ribble and the Mersey, together with Amounderness, to Roger de Poitou. In the early 1090s Lonsdale, Cartmel and Furness were added to Roger's estates to facilitate the defence of the area south of Morecambe Bay from Scottish raiding parties, which travelled round the Cumberland coast and across the bay at low water, rather than through the mountainous regions of the Lake District. Though the Pipe Rolls of 1168 refer to a county of Lancaster, that indicated merely the north of present Lancashire. True, the rest had broken away from Cheshire, but it had become a separate territorial division, "'twixt Ribble and Mersey." When the fusion did take place, "Lancastershire" and not "Lancashire" was the first title and, in the time of Henry VIII, Leland, the antiquarian, was still using it.[8] Lancashire became the preferred designation, as a syncope of Lancastershire.

The county was divided into the six hundreds of Amounderness, Blackburn, Leyland, Lonsdale, Salford and West Derby. Lonsdale was further partitioned into Lonsdale North, which was the detached part north of Morecambe Bay (also known as Furness), and Lonsdale South. Each hundred was sub-divided into parishes. As the parishes covered relatively large areas, they were further divided into townships(not shown on map) that were more similar in size to parishes in counties in the south of England. Outside of the administration of the hundreds were the boroughs. Prior to the Municipal Corporations Act there were relatively few boroughs in the county. But following the act, 22 towns were incorporated up to 1862 as the county became more populous due to the continuing industrial revolution.

Administrative boundary changes[edit]

Districts and county boroughs of Lancashire in 1961
Lancashire in 1961 with districts shown and county boroughs marked
County boroughs
  1. Burnley
  2. Preston
  3. Rochdale
  4. Barrow-in-Furness
  5. Blackpool
  6. Blackburn
  7. Southport
  8. Bury
  9. Bolton
  10. Oldham
  11. Wigan
  12. Manchester
  13. Salford
  14. Bootle
  15. St Helens
  16. Liverpool
  17. Warrington

The modern administrative county is now rather smaller than that of the historic county due to significant local government reform. On 1 April 1974 the Furness exclave was transferred to the new county of Cumbria,[9] the south east went to Greater Manchester and the south west became part of Merseyside.[10] Warrington and surrounding districts including the villages of Winwick and Croft and Risley and Culcheth were annexed to Cheshire. A part of the West Riding of Yorkshire near Clitheroe, was transferred to Lancashire also.

In 1998 Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen became independent of the county as unitary authorities, but remained in Lancashire for ceremonial purposes, including the provision of fire, rescue and policing.

Although the county town of Lancashire is considered to be Lancaster, the county council is seated in the city of Preston.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Morgan (1978). pp.269c–301c,d.
  2. ^ a b Sylvester (1980). p. 14.
  3. ^ Harris and Thacker (1987). write on page 252:

    Certainly there were links between Cheshire and south Lancashire before 1000, when Wulfric Spot held lands in both territories. Wulfric's estates remained grouped together after his death, when they were left to his brother Aelfhelm, and indeed there still seems to have been some kind of connexion in 1086, when south Lancashire was surveyed together with Cheshire by the Domesday commissioners. Nevertheless, the two territories do seem to have been distinguished from one another in some way and it is not certain that the shire-moot and the reeves referred to in the south Lancashire section of Domesday were the Cheshire ones.

  4. ^ Phillips and Phillips (2002). pp. 26–31.
  5. ^ Crosby, A. (1996) writes on page 31:

    The Domesday Survey (1086) included south Lancashire with Cheshire for convenience, but the Mersey, the name of which means 'boundary river' is known to have divided the kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia and there is no doubt that this was the real boundary.

  6. ^ Copley, Gordon K. (1963). Names and places: With a Short Dictionary of Common or Well-known Place-names. Phoenix House. p. 19. 
  7. ^ Matthews, C.M. (1977). Place Names of the English-Speaking World. Encore Editions. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-684-15424-4. 
  8. ^ http://www.british-towns.net/en/level_2_display_ByL1.asp?GetL1=133
  9. ^ George, D., Lancashire, (1991)
  10. ^ Jones, B. et al., Politics UK, (2004)


  • Crosby, A. (1996). A History of Cheshire. (The Darwen County History Series.) Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Phillimore & Co. Ltd. ISBN 0-85033-932-4.
  • Harris, B. E., and Thacker, A. T. (1987). The Victoria History of the County of Chester. (Volume 1: Physique, Prehistory, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and Domesday). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-722761-9.
  • Morgan, P. (1978). Domesday Book Cheshire: Including Lancashire, Cumbria, and North Wales. Chichester, Sussex: Phillimore & Co. Ltd. ISBN 0-85033-140-4.
  • Phillips A. D. M., and Phillips, C. B. (2002), A New Historical Atlas of Cheshire. Chester, UK: Cheshire County Council and Cheshire Community Council Publications Trust. ISBN 0-904532-46-1.
  • Samuel Tymms (1837). "Lancashire". Northern Circuit. The Family Topographer: Being a Compendious Account of the ... Counties of England 6. London: J.B. Nichols and Son. OCLC 2127940. 

External links[edit]