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The historic counties of Wales are sub-divisions of Wales. They were used for various functions for several hundred years,but for administrative purposes have been superseded by contemporary sub-national divisions, some of which bear some limited similarity to the historic entities in name and extent. They are alternatively known as ancient counties.
|County||Welsh name||Population (most recent)|
|Glamorganshire||Sir Forgannwg or Morgannwg1||1,288,309|
|Carmarthenshire||Sir Gaerfyrddin or Sir Gâr2||187,568|
|Cardiganshire||Sir Aberteifi or Ceredigion)2||72,992|
|Flintshire||Sir y Fflint2||60,012|
|Merionethshire||Sir Feirionnydd or Meirionnydd)2||38,310|
The 1535 Laws in Wales Act had the effect of abolishing the marcher lordships within and on the borders of Wales. In the border areas, several were incorporated in whole or in part into English counties. The lordships of Ludlow, Clun, Caus and part of Montgomery were incorporated into Shropshire; and Wigmore, Huntington, Clifford and most of Ewyas were included in Herefordshire.
The historic counties established by 1535 were used as the geographical basis for the administrative counties, governed by county councils, which existed from 1889 to 1974. The historian William Rees said, in his "Historical Atlas of Wales": (published 1959) "... the boundaries of the modern shires have largely been determined by the ancient divisions of the country. The survival of these ancient local divisions within the pattern of historical change constitutes a vital element in the framework of the national life and helps to preserve its continuity."
The Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844 abolished several enclaves. One of these, Welsh Bicknor (Llangystennin) was an exclave of Monmouthshire between Gloucestershire and Herefordshire and was transferred to Herefordshire. Two townships of the ancient parish of Cwmyoy were also exclaves of Herefordshire. Bwlch Trewyn was transferred to Monmouthshire, whereas the other, Ffwddog (identified using the English variant Fothock on older maps), was not.
The Herefordshire township of Litton and Cascob (in the parishes of Cascob and Presteigne), was transferred to Radnorshire.
The Denbighshire township of Carreghofa (in the parish of Llanymynech) was transferred to Montgomeryshire.
The exclaves of Flintshire, called English Maelor and Marford and Hoseley were left untouched.
The territory which became Monmouthshire was part of the Welsh kingdoms of Gwent and Glywysing and later, after the Norman conquest of southern Wales, of the Welsh Marches. Although the original Laws in Wales Act of 1535 specifically stated the lands making up Monmouthshire were from the 'Country or Dominion of Wales', the Laws in Wales Act 1542 added Monmouthshire to the Oxford circuit of the English Assizes rather than falling under the Court of Great Sessions in Wales. According to historian John Davies, this arrangement was the cause of the erroneous belief that the county had been annexed by England rather than remaining part of Wales.In later centuries, some English historians, map-makers, landowners and politicians took the view that Monmouthshire was an English rather than a Welsh county, and references were often made in legislation to "Wales and Monmouthshire". The position was finally resolved by the Local Government Act 1972, which confirmed Monmouthshire's place within Wales.
The Local Government Act 1888 created a parallel system of administrative counties based on the historic counties in 1889. Additionally, certain boroughs were deemed to be county boroughs, outside the administrative counties (Cardiff and Swansea in 1889, Newport in 1891 and Merthyr Tydfil in 1908). As a result of 85 years of local government boundary changes, the boundaries of the administrative counties became increasingly different to the historic counties, until they were abandoned altogether for a different system of local government in 1974.
The Local Government Act 1972 has led to a lot of confusion. It replaced the administrative counties created in 1889 with eight new administrative counties in 1974. The existing Lieutenancy areas were also redefined to use the newly created local government areas, defined by the act as "counties." Furthermore, use of the historic counties as postal counties was stopped by the Royal Mail in 1975 and those historic counties were no longer shown on maps. However, in spite of widespread misunderstanding, the Local Government Act 1972 never abolished the historic counties. Indeed, the Department of the Environment made this very clear in a statement it issued on 1 April 1974:
" The new county boundaries are solely for the purpose of defining areas of...local government. They are administrative areas, and will not alter the traditional areas of Counties (the historic counties), nor is it intended that the loyalties of people living in them will change."
The eight new administrative counties were themselves replaced in 1996 by the current principal areas of Wales, but modified versions were retained for Lieutenancy as the preserved counties.
The vice counties, used for biological recording throughout Great Britain and Ireland since 1852, are largely based on historic county boundaries. They ignore all exclaves and are modified by subdividing large counties and merging smaller areas into neighbouring counties. The static boundaries make longitudinal study of biodiversity easier.
The historic counties of Wales are included in the Index of Place Names (IPN) published by the Office for National Statistics. Each "place" included in the IPN is related to the historic county it lies within, as well as to a set of administrative areas. The Historic Counties Trust has published demographic statistics for the historic counties of the UK from the 2011 United Kingdom census including a comparison of population and population density in the historic counties of England and Wales between the 1901 United Kingdom census and the 2011 United Kingdom census and a comparison of the number of Welsh speakers in the historic counties of Wales between the 1911 United Kingdom census and the 2011 United Kingdom census.
The Welsh Marches is an imprecisely defined area along the border between England and Wales in the United Kingdom. The precise meaning of the term has varied at different periods.
The Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 were parliamentary measures by which Wales was annexed to the Kingdom of England, the legal system of England was extended to Wales and the norms of English administration were introduced. The intention was to create a single state and legal jurisdiction. The Acts were passed during the reign of King Henry VIII of England, who came from the Welsh Tudor dynasty.
The historic counties of England are areas that were established for administration by the Normans, in many cases based on earlier kingdoms and shires created by the Anglo-Saxons and others. They are alternatively known as ancient counties, traditional counties, former counties or simply as counties. In the centuries that followed their establishment, as well as their administrative function, the counties also helped define local culture and identity. This role continued even after the counties ceased to be used for administration after the creation of administrative counties in 1889, which were themselves amended by further local government reforms in the years following.
Brecknockshire, also known as the County of Brecknock, Breconshire, or the County of Brecon is one of thirteen historic counties of Wales, and a former administrative county. Named after its county town of Brecon, the county is mountainous and primarily rural.
Montgomeryshire, also known as Maldwyn is one of thirteen historic counties and a former administrative county of Wales. It is named after its county town, Montgomery, which in turn is named after one of William the Conqueror's main counsellors, Roger de Montgomerie, who was the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.
Flintshire is a county in north-east Wales, bordering the English county of Cheshire to the east, Denbighshire to the west and Wrexham County Borough to the south. It is named after the historic county of Flintshire which has notably different borders. Flintshire is considered part of the Welsh Marches and formed part of the historic Earldom of Chester and Flint. The county is governed by Flintshire County Council which has its main offices in County Hall, Mold.
Monmouthshire, also known as the County of Monmouth, is one of thirteen historic counties of Wales and a former administrative county. It corresponds approximately to the present principal areas of Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent, Newport and Torfaen, and those parts of Caerphilly and Cardiff east of the Rhymney River.
Flintshire, also known as the County of Flint, is one of Wales' thirteen historic counties, and a former administrative county. It mostly lies on the north-east coast of Wales.
Politics of England forms the major part of the wider politics of the United Kingdom, with England being more populous than all the other countries of the United Kingdom put together. As England is also by far the largest in terms of area and GDP, its relationship to the UK is somewhat different from that of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The English capital London is also the capital of the UK, and English is the dominant language of the UK. Dicey and Morris (p26) list the separate states in the British Islands. "England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, and Sark.... is a separate country in the sense of the conflict of laws, though not one of them is a State known to public international law." But this may be varied by statute.
The Maelor is an area of north-east Wales along the border with England. It is now entirely part of Wrexham County Borough.
Shropshire was established during the division of Saxon Mercia into shires in the 10th century. It is first mentioned in 1006. After the Norman Conquest it experienced significant development, following the granting of the principal estates of the county to eminent Normans, such as Roger De Montgomery and his son Robert de Bellême.
The counties of the United Kingdom are subnational divisions of the United Kingdom, used for the purposes of administrative, geographical and political demarcation. The older term, shire is historically equivalent to county. By the Middle Ages, county had become established as the unit of local government, at least in England. By the early 17th century, all of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland had been separated into counties. In Scotland shire was the only term used until after the Act of Union 1707.
The Counties Act 1844, which came into effect on 20 October 1844, was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom which eliminated many outliers or exclaves of counties in England and Wales for civil purposes. The changes were based on recommendations by a boundary commission, headed by the surveyor Thomas Drummond and summarized in a schedule attached to the Parliamentary Boundaries Act 1832. This also listed a few examples of civil parishes divided by county boundaries, most of which were dealt with by later legislation.
Gwent was a medieval Welsh kingdom, lying between the Rivers Wye and Usk. It existed from the end of Roman rule in Britain in about the 5th century until the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century. Along with its neighbour Glywyssing, it seems to have had a great deal of cultural continuity with the earlier Silures, keeping their own courts and diocese separate from the rest of Wales until their conquest by Gruffydd ap Llywelyn. Although it recovered its independence after his death in 1063, Gwent was the first of the Welsh kingdoms to be overrun following the Norman conquest.
Gwent is a preserved county and a former local government county in south-east Wales. It was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, and was named after the ancient Kingdom of Gwent. The authority was a successor to both the administrative county of Monmouthshire and the county borough of Newport.
The history of local government Wales in a recognisably modern form emerged during the late 19th century. Administrative counties and county boroughs were first established in Wales in 1889. Urban and rural districts were formed in 1894. These were replaced in 1974 by a two-tier authority system across the country comprising eight counties and, within them, thirty-seven districts. This system was itself replaced by the introduction of 22 single-tier authorities in 1996.
Administrative counties were subnational divisions of England used for local government from 1889 to 1974. They were created by the Local Government Act 1888, which established an elected county council for each area. Some geographically large historic counties were divided into several administrative counties, each with its own county council. The administrative counties operated until 1974, when they were replaced by a system of metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties under the Local Government Act 1972.
The Sunday Closing (Wales) Act 1881 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was one of the Licensing Acts 1828 to 1886. It required the closure of all public houses in Wales on Sundays. The Act had considerable political importance as a formal acknowledgement of the separate character of Wales, setting a precedent for future legislation and decisions. It was repealed in 1961.
The England–Wales border, sometimes referred to as the Wales–England border or the Anglo–Welsh border, runs for 160 miles (260 km) from the Dee estuary, in the north, to the Severn estuary in the south, separating England and Wales.
The Lost Lands of Wales, a minor political idea of the mid 1960s, called into question the status of areas along the east side of the England–Wales border which its proponents regarded as Welsh. The idea was propounded by the Lost Lands Liberation League, and related to parts of the counties of Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire.