In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Bedfordshire like this:
Bedfordshire, or Beds, a midland co. of England, bounded by the cos. of Northampton, Cambridge, Herts, and Bucks. Greatest length, N. and S., 30 miles; greatest breadth, E. and W., 20 miles; area, 29,983 ac.; pop. 149,473. The surface is mostly flat, varied in the S. by a spur of the Chiltern Hills, and in the NW. by a range of chalk hills. The chief river is the Great Ouse, with its affluent the Ivel. The country along the banks of the Ouse and other streams is highly verdant and luxuriant. ...
The greater part of the surface is under tillage; indeed, agriculture, it is said, is further advanced here than in any other English county. On the heavy soils the principal crops are wheat and beans. The sandy and chalky soils of the middle districts are well adapted for horticultural husbandry, and vegetables are extensively grown for the markets of London, Cambridge, &c. There is excellent grazing ground in the SE., this co. being noted for its breeds of sheep and cattle. (For agricultural statistics, see Appendix.) The principal mfrs. are agricultural implements and straw-plait for hats. Bedfordshire contains 9 hundreds, 134 pars. and 2 parts, the parl. and mun. bor. of Bedford (1 member), and the mun. bors. of Dunstable and Luton. It is almost entirely in the diocese of Ely. For parliamentary purposes it is divided into 2 divisions, viz., Northern or Biggleswade. and Southern or Luton, 1 member for each division.
For an overview of how the county has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern of Bedfordshire -- but you should check this covers the area you are interested in.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Bedfordshire | Map and description for the county, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 09th December 2013
Click here for more detailed advice on finding places within A Vision of Britain through Time, and maybe some references to other places called "Bedfordshire".