In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Wiltshire like this:
Wiltshire (or Wilts), co. in SW. of England, bounded NW. and N. by Gloucestershire, E. by Berks and Hants, S. by Hants and Dorset, and W. by Somerset; greatest length, N. and S., 53 miles; greatest breadth, E. and W., 37 miles; area, 866,677 ac., pop. 258,965. The county is divided into 2 divisions by the Vale of Pewsey extending E. and W., the northern principally a fertile flat rising near the N. border in the direction of the Cotswold Hills, the southern a varied district broken by downs and intersected by fertile and well-watered valleys. ...
To the northern division belong the Marlborough Downs, and in the southern division is Salisbury Plain. The principal rivers are the Upper Avon, flowing SW. to the Bristol Channel; the Lower Avon (with its tributaries the Wiley, Nadder, and Bourne), flowing S. to the English Channel; and the Kennet, flowing E. to the Thames. The greater part of the surface is kept in pasture, devoted in the northern division to grazing and dairy farming, and in the southern division to the rearing of sheep. Wiltshire is famous for its bacon and cheese. (For agricultural statistics, see Appendix.) The geological strata are principally cretaceous, forming part of the central chalk district of England. Ironstone is abundant. The principal mfrs. are woollens and carpets at Bradford, Trowbridge, Westbury, and Wilton; cutlery and steel goods at Salisbury; ironfounding at Devizes; and ropes and sacking at Marlborough. The locomotive and carriage works of the Great Western Railway are at Swindon, and near Downton is the College of Agriculture. Wiltshire is especially remarkable for the number and variety of the memorials of antiquity left by Britons, Romans, Saxons, and Danes, the chief of these being the megalithic remains of Stonehenge and Avebury. The county contains 29 hundreds, 340 pars, and parts of 7 others, the parl. and mun. bor. of Salisbury (1 member), and the mun. bors, of Calne, Chippenham, Devizes, and Marlborough. It is mostly in the diocese of Salisbury. For parl. purposes it is divided into 5 divisions - viz., Northern or Cricklade, North-Western or Chippenham, Western or Westbury, Eastern or Devizes, and Southern or Wilton, 1 member for each division; its representation was increased from 4 to 5 members in 1885.
For an overview of how the county has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern of Wiltshire -- but you should check this covers the area you are interested in.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Wiltshire | Map and description for the county, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 08th March 2014
Click here for more detailed advice on finding places within A Vision of Britain through Time, and maybe some references to other places called "Wiltshire".