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The home counties are the counties of South East England and the East of England that encircle London, but do not include the capital city itself. There is no exact definition of the term and the composition of the home counties is sometimes a matter of debate.
Origin of the term 
The term is believed to have originated in the 19th century, and is possibly derived from the Home Circuit of the itinerant Assize Court. The first use of the exact term "home counties" (rather than home circuit) cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1898.
There is no official definition of the "home counties". However, the term has been used in legislation and the administration of the armed forces during the twentieth century as follows:
- 1908: The Home Counties Division of the Territorial Force comprised units recruiting in Middlesex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
- 1920: The London and Home Counties Electricity District consisted of the counties of London and Middlesex; and parts of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey.
- 1924: The London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee, covering the London Traffic Area: London, Middlesex, and parts of Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey.
- 1926: The Home Counties (Music and Dancing) Licensing Act regulated activities in all parts of Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey within 20 miles of the City of London or City of Westminster.
- 1938: Green Belt (London and Home Counties) Act limited development in parts of Middlesex, Kent, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Essex, Berkshire and Hertfordshire.
- 1948: The Home Counties Brigade was formed to administer the infantry regiments of the City and County of London, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex.
|County||1851 Post Office Directory||1908 Home Counties Division||1920 London and Home Counties Electricity District||1924 London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee||1926 The Home Counties (Music and Dancing) Licensing Act||1938 Green Belt (London and Home Counties) Act||1948 Home Counties Brigade||1995 Valuation Office Rating Manual|
|Middlesex||Absorbed into London 1965|
(East & West)
See also 
- "Country, County and Town: Patterns of Regional Evolution in England" by Alan Everitt in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Vol. 29, (1979), pp. 79-108.
- 1851 Post Office Directory of the Six Home Counties covered Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex.