The county probably originated as one of the districts of the Kingdom of Northumbria, the town of Hexham then being the seat of a bishopric. It later lost its privileges, and became considered part of County Durham.
In the early 12th century, Henry I of England decided to weaken the power of the prince bishops of Durham by removing parts of their realm. In doing so, he elevated Hexhamshire to county status, with Hexham as its county town.
Hexhamshire remained a county until 1572, when it was incorporated into Northumberland by Act of Parliament, by 14 Eliz. 1 c. 13 ("An Act for the annexing of Hexhamshire to the Countye of Northumberland"). At the same time, the district was transferred from the see of Durham to the see of York, where it remained until 1837.
In modern use, Hexhamshire is a name of a civil parish south of Hexham. The parish covers a large but mostly sparse area, including the villages of Dalton and Whitley Chapel, Broadwell House, and Hexhamshire Common. The civil parish was formed in 1955 by the union of the Hexhamshire High Quarter, Hexhamshire Middle Quarter and Hexhamshire West Quarter parishes. Hexhamshire Low Quarter, to the north was merged in 1 April 2011.
- "Parish population 2011". Retrieved 2 July 2015.
- Journal of the House of Lords May 1572
- Journal of the House of Commons May 1572
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved 4 October 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "The Northumberland (Reorganisation of Community Governance) Order (No.1) 2011" (PDF). Lgbce. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
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