Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for HERTFORDSHIRE, or Herts

HERTFORDSHIRE, or Herts, an inland county; bounded, on the NW, by Beds; on the N, by Cambridgeshire; on the E, by Essex; on the S, by Middlesex; on the SW, by Bucks. Its outline is very irregular; but may be described as ovoidal, extending from NE to SW, pretty regular in the NE half, but very much indented in the SW half. Its E boundary, from about the middle southward, is traced by the rivers Stort and Lea. Its greatest length is about 35 miles; its greatest breadth is about 27 miles; its circuit is about 135 miles; and its area is 391, 141 acres. Its general appearance, though not strictly picturesque, is diversified and very pleasant. A portion of the Chiltern hills is in the NW and the W, and has elevations of 904 feet at Kensworth, and 664 at Little Offley. A range of high ground strikes from the neighbourhood of Kings-Langley toward Berkhampstead and Tring; andin many parts, commands extensive views. Another high ridge goes from St. Albans, in a north-westerly direction, toward Market street; and several other ridges run nearly parallel with this, from the vicinity of Sandridge, Wheathampstead, and Whitwell. Vantagegrounds in the S command charming views over Middlesex, to the hills of Surrey; and scenes around Ware, North Mimms, Watford, Berkhampstead, Hemel-Hempstead, and other places, are very beautiful. Much amenity also is given to even the more common landscapes by parks, groves, and the prevalence of high live hedges, intermixed with fine trees. The chief rivers are the Lea, the Rib, the Beane, the Quin, the Colne, the Ver, the Maran, and the New River. Mineral springs are at Barnet, Clothall, Northaw, and Watton. Small pendicles on the NW and N border consist of upper greensand and gault; the great bulk of the county, from end to end, consists of chalk; and a considerable tract, along the SE and the S, contiguous to Essex and Middlesex, consists of lower eocene formations, chiefly London clay and plastic clay. A very small proportion of the area is waste or common; a fair proportion is under wood; and the rest, excepting what is occupied by towns, buildings, ways, and water, is all arable. The prevailing soils are loam and clay; and the former occurs in almost all varieties, more or less intermixed with chalk or sand. Arthur Young, who estimated the area at 302, 080 acres, classified it into 142, 720 of loam, 5, 120 of rich loam, 90, 240 of clay, 46, 720 of chalk, and 17, 280 of poor gravel. The farms commonly range from 150 to 400 acres; and are held either yearly, or on lease of seven to fourteen years. Wheat, yielding from 25 to 40 bushels per acre, barley, yielding about 32 bushels, oats, turnips, clover, and sainfoin are the chief crops grown. The grass lands are used more for hay than for pasturage. Many orchards are in the SW, and produce chiefly apples and cherries. The cattle are principally of the Suffolk, Hereford, Devon, and Welsh breeds. The sheep are mostly Southdowns and Wiltshires, or a breed between the Cotswolds and the Leicesters; and they number about 277, 000, and yield about 6, 000 packs of wool. The horses, for farm work, are the Suffolk punches and a few Lincolns. Hogs, from the adjoining counties, either pure or crossed, are fed on most farms. The principal trade is in corn and malt; a chief employment of labouring females is straw plaiting; and some manufacture is carried on in cotton, silk, woollen, and paper. The Grand Junction canal traverses the SW; and the Lea navigation goes from Hertford, along the E, toward the Thames. The Eastern Counties railway goes partly along, partly near the E border, and sends off branches to Buntingford and Hertford. The Great Northern railway goes along the centre, past Barnet, Hatfield, Welwyn, and Hitchin; and sends off one branch from Hatfield to St. Albans, and another from Hitchin, along the N border, to Royston. The Hertford and Dunstable railway goes from Hertford westward into Beds. The Northwestern railway traverses the SW border, past Watford, Berkhampstead, and Tring; and sends off two branches from Watford to St. Albans and Rickmansworth, and a short one from Boxmoor to Hemel-Hempstead. The roads have an aggregate of about 1, 520 miles. Hertfordshire contains 132 parishes, parts of 4 other parishes, and an extra-parochial tract; and is divided into the boroughs of Hertford and St. Albans, and the hundreds of Braughin, Broadwater, Cashio, Dacorum, Edwinstree, Hertford, Hitchin, and Odsey. The act of 1844, for consolidating detached parts of counties, severed from Hertfordshire a tract of 2, 810 acres. The registration county excludes 31, 558 acres of the electoral county; includes 65, 750 acres of adjoining electoral counties; comprises altogether 428, 143 acres; and is divided into the districts of Ware, Bishop-Stortford, Royston, Hitchin, Hertford, Hatfield, St. Albans, Watford, Hemel-Hempstead, and Berkhampstead. The capital town is Hertford; the towns which, in 1861, had upwards of 2, 000 inhabitants, are Hertford, St. Albans, Hitchin, Ware, Bishop-Stortford, Watford, Tring, Hemel-Hempstead, and Berkhampstead; the market towns, besides these nine, are Barnet, Royston, Hatfield, Baldock, Hoddesdon, Stevenage, Rickmansworth, and Standon; and there are about 450 villages and hamlets. The chief seats are Hatfield House, Cashiobury, Ashridge, Gorhambury, Grove Park, Panshanger, Tittenhanger, Moor Park, Balls Park, Hoo, Redbourn House, Ash Park, Bedwell Park, Beechwood Park, Claremont, Dell Row, Gadesbridge, Hartsbourn House, Brockett Hall, Lockleys, Haughton, Holywell Hill, Stort Lodge, Theobalds, Wormleybury, Albury Hall, Albury House, Aldenham, Annables, Ashlyns, Aspendon Hall, Ayot House, Bayfordbury, Bennington, Brickendonbury, Briggins Park, Brookmans, Broxbournebury, Champneys, Cheshunt, Childwick, Cokenatch Park, Coles Park, Corneybury, Dane-End House, Danesbury, Digswell House, the Frythe, Gaddesden Park, Gilston Park, Hadham Park, Hamels Park, Heaton Park, Hexton House, High Canons, Hormeadbury, Julians, King's Walden, Knebworth House, Lamer House, Marden Hill, Much Hadham, Mount Pleasant, New England, Newsell's Park, North Mimms Park, Oaklands, Offley, Old Organ Hall, Osborne Park, Palmer's Lodge, Potterells, Rickmansworth House, Rothamsted Hall, St. John's Lodge, Stagenhoe, Tewin Water, Tolmes, Tring Park, Ware Park, Woodhall Park, Woodside, Woolmers, Wyddial Hall, Yardley, and Yew House. Real property in 1815, £583, 657; in 1843, £849, 794; in 1860, £930, 516, -of which £38 were in fisheries, £530 in canals, and £3, 594 in gas works. The county is governed by a lord-lieutenant, a high sheriff, about 55 deputy lieutenants, and about 280 magistrates; and is in the home military district and judicial circuit. The assizes and the quarter-sessions are held at Hertford. The police force, in 1862, comprised 6 men for Hertford borough, at a cost of £416; 7 for St. Albans, at a cost of £549; and 92 for the rest of the county, at a cost of £8, 258. The crimes, in 1862, were 11 in Hertford, 29 in St. Albans, and 202 in rest of the the county; the persons apprehended, 6 in Hertford, 17 in St. Albans, and 164 in the rest of the county; the known depredators or suspected persons at large, 109 in Hertford, 110 in St. Albans, and 1, 652 in the rest of the county; the houses of bad character, 20 in Hertford, 20 in St. Albans, and 193 in the rest of the county. The county jail is at Hertford, and a town jail is in St. Albans. One member is sent to parliament for Hertford, and three for the county. There are ten pollingplaces; and Hertford is the place of election. The county constituency, in 1868, was 6, 228. The entire county is in the diocese of Rochester. The Poor rates for the registration county, in 1863, were £102, 890. Marriages in 1862, 1, 001, -of which 129 were not according to the rites of the Established church; births, 5, 757, -of which 372 were illegitimate; deaths, 3, 199, -of which 1, 156 were at ages under 5 years, and 87 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 10, 322; births, 55, 405; deaths, 33, 246. The places of worship within the electoral county in 1851, were 162 of the Church of England, with 55, 193 sittings; 47 of Independents, with with 1, 900 s.; 2 of Unitarians, with 250 s.; 46 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 8, 530 s.; 14 of Primitive Methodists, with 1, 212 s.; 6 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, with 795 s.; 8 of isolated congregations, with 795 s.; 2 of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, with 105 s.; 5 of Latter Day Saints, with 442 s.; and 4 of Roman Catholics, with 455 s. The schools were 244 public day schools, with 17, 507 scholars; 310 private day schools, with 5, 866 s.; 236 Sunday schools, with 20, 584 s.; and 12 evening schools for adults, with 225 s. Pop. in 1801, 97, 393; in 1821, 129, 731; in 1841, 156, 660; in 1861, 173, 280. Inhabited houses, 34, 893; uninhabited, 1, 563; building, 1 93. The territory now forming Hertfordshire was chiefly possessed, prior to the Roman invasion, by the Cassii or Cattieuchlani; became part of the Roman Flavia Cæsariensis; and was divided, in the Saxon times, between the East Saxon and the Mercian kingdoms. The Danes, in the time of Alfred, menaced it by going up the Lea, but were checked by the diverting of the Lea's waters into another channel. William the Conqueror's march through it was checked and modified by the Abbot of St. Albans. The barons, in the time of Edward II., encamped at Wheathampstead. Many of the ringleaders of the insurrection under Wat Tyler were executed at St. Albans, where the King, with a guard of 1, 000 men, attended. Two sanguinary battles, in the war of the Yorkists and the Lancastrians, were fought, in 1455 and 1461, at St. Albans. An early exploit of Cromwell, when he was yet only captain of his own troop of horse, consisted in seizing the high sheriff of the county on his way to St. Albans to denounce the parliamentary men as traitors.- The Roman roads, Watling street, Icknield street, and Ermine street, traverse the county. Roman stations were at Vernlam and Brockley hill; and Roman camps at other places. Roman coins have been plentifully found at Newcells and Ashwell. A Danish camp is at Ravensburgh; and barrows are at Stevenage and Widford. Old castles are at Hertford, Berkhampstead, Kings-Langley, Bishop-Stortford, Rye-House, and Standon. Ancient monastic edifices are at St. Albans, Ware, Royston, Sopwell, Rownea, and Cheshunt; a Templars' preceptory was at Temple-Chelsing; and old churches are at Baldock, Royston, Kensworth, Tewin, and AyotST. Lawrence.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "an inland county"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 2nd order divisions")
Administrative units: Hertfordshire AncC
Place: Hertfordshire

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