In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Isles of Scilly like this:
Scilly Islands, island-group at the entrance of the English Channel, 25 miles SW. of Lands End, 3500 ac., pop. 2320; P.O., T.O., called Scilly. The islands constitute a parish of Cornwall, and are in the Western or St Ives Parliamentary Division of that county. They are about 30 miles in circumference and number 140, but only six of them are of any importance, viz., St Mary's, Tresco, St Martins, St Agnes, Bryher, and Samson. Hugh Town (St Mary's) is the seat of government, which is managed by 12 of the principal inhabitants who constitute the Court of Twelve. ...
The inhabitants are engaged in raising and exporting early vegetables for the London market, in the fisheries, and in sea-faring pursuits. (For shipping statistics, see Appendix.) The islands rise steeply from the sea, and have proved very dangerous to mariners. On St Mary's Island and on Bishop Rocks are lighthouses, with revolving and fixed lights seen 17 and 16 miles. The Scilly Islands are supposed to have been the Cassiterides of the Greeks, and the Sillinse of the Romans. After the withdrawal of the Romans they were occupied by a Celtic population, who have left stone circles, kistvaens, cromlechs, and other remains. In the 10th century they were annexed to Saxon England by Athelstan. During the Civil War they held out for the King, afforded temporary shelter to Prince Charles, and were captured by Blake. They now form part of the Duchy of Cornwall.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Isles of Scilly has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Isles of Scilly. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Isles of Scilly and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Isles of Scilly in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 19th June 2013
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