Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for DURHAM, or Durhamshire

DURHAM, or Durhamshire, a maritime county in the north-east of England; bounded, on the N, by Northumberland; on the E, by the German ocean; on the S, by Yorkshire; on the W, by Westmoreland and Cumberland. Its boundary line, along the north, is chiefly the rivers Derwent and Tyne; along the south, chiefly the river Tees. Its outline is somewhat triangular; one side extending east-north-eastward, another south-ward, another west-north-westward. Its greatest length, from east to west, is about 40 miles; its greatest breadth, from north to south, about 35 miles; its circuit, about 140 miles; its area, 622, 47 6 acres. The surface, for the most part, is either mountainous, hilly, or undulated. The western angle is crossed by the chain of uplands known as the backbone of England; and presents a bleak, moorish, and barren appearance. The tract next to that angle is traversed by ribs from the backbone, -lateral and lower ranges of hill, spreading in various directions; and it shares much in the sterility of the extreme west, yet has strips of good land and fine scenery along the courses of the principal streams. The central tracts are pleasantly varied with hill and dale, and include some beautiful and fertile valleys. The eastern tract is more champaign, yet abounds in swells, vales, and dells, and embosoms many a picturesque spot. The coast or sea-board is generally bare and tame, -much of it destitute of any interesting feature, -other parts redeemed from dreary monotony mainly by the outbreak of ravines and glens; and it presents no considerable headland except the bold and nearly insulated one at the town of Hartlepool. The main streams are the Tyne, the Wear, and the Tees; the chief tributary streams are the Derwent, to the Tyne, and the Skerne, to the Tees; and the secondary or minor affluents are the Urpeth, the Brown. ey, the Sleekburn, the Gaunless, the Bedburn, and many brooks or becks. Magnesian limestone forms the coast from South Shields to Hartlepool; new red sandstone extends thence southward to the Tees, and westward up the lower part of the Tees valley; a coal formation, connected with the coal-fields of Northumberland and Yorkshire, occupies a space of about 25 miles by 10 in the cen . tral and northern parts of the county; and millstone grit, shale, sandstone, and carboniferous limestone, severally or variously occur in the west. Dykes of basalt or green-stone cross the coal measures, and extend to the sea; and these, in many parts, have charred the contiguous coal into cinder, and effected much change on sulphur and other minerals. The limestone is 70 feet thick near Sunderland, and fully 300 feet deep at Hartlepool; and it serves to be quarried, serves to be calcined, serves for polishing as marble, and yields galena and a few fossils. The coal presents no fewer than about 40 beds, from 3 to 10 feet thick; and is worked, in one place near Painswick to the depth of 1,800 feet. The number of coal pits, in 1859, in South Durham was 141, -in North Durham and Northumberland, 142; and the amount of output from them was 16, 001, 125 tons. Ironstone is worked at Chester-le-Street and other places; and in 1589, the produce of iron ore was 370, 339 tons, -the number of iron-works, 18, -the number of furnaces, 62. Lead also has been obtained, in the western tracts, to the amount of about 8, 000 tons a year.

A stiff loam, very fertile, extends from the mouth of the Tees toward Hartlepool; a poor thin clay extends thence, along the coast, to within a few miles of Sunder-land; a loamy or a rich clay lies along much of the sides of many of the streams; a dry friable loam, sometimes shallow and poor, sometimes deep and rich, covers many of the hills, across the whole county west of Bishop-Auckland and north of Barnard Castle; and other soils, ranging through all sorts of clay, loam, sand, and gravel, on to sheer, thin, moorish peat, occupy other parts. About three-sevenths of the entire area are in tillage; about two-sevenths are in pasture; and a large proportion of the remainder is moor or mountain waste. The gardens and the orchards are not remarkable; but there are some fine oak woods. Agriculture is secondary to mining and manufactures; and has not undergone so much improvement as in some other counties; yet, on the whole, is in a tolerably advanced condition. Approved new practices in it have been encouraged and promoted on the estates of the great landowners, who still maintain a degree of the old feudal influence over their tenants; particularly on the Londonderry, the Lambton, the Raby, the Ravensworth, and the Bishopric estates. Farms, on these properties, average from 150 to 200 acres; and are held at from 25s. to 30s. per acre for inferior or middle-rate land, and at from 40s. to 80s. for the best land. Draining has been effected to a great extent, and at large cost. The farms, in the uplands, pay only from about 10s. to 16s. per acre, exclusive of rates; are managed generally on the two-crop and fallow system; and realize from 20 to 30 bushels of oats, or from 12 to 20 bushels of wheat per acre. Farms on the light soils along the coast are managed generally on a four-course system; and obtain good returns of potatoes, turnips, beans, and some other crops. The cattle are a large superior breed, called the Durham short-horns, capable of fattening well; and an ox of them has been found to weigh upwards of 3, 800 lbs.; while the cows give from 25 to 30 quarts of milk daily for several months. The Cheviot sheep walk the uplands; and the Tees-water sheep, a good, short-horned, long-woolled breed, walk the lowland pastures; and the numbers of the two breeds in the county are estimated at about 230, 000, yielding 7, 000 packs of wool. Farm buildings, on the average, are of middlerate character; and a bread called maslin, a mixture of wheat and rye, is a common diet. The number of farmers, in 1859, was 4, 363; while the number of persons employed severally in other principal occupations, were 28, 300 in coal-mining., 6, 200 in iron-working, 2, 628 in lead-mining, 3, 938 in ship-building, 1, 208 in the making of engines and machines, 4, 378 in shoemaking, 1, 145 in woollen and worsted manufacture, 1, 500 in hemp and flax-working., 514 in carpet-making, 1, 117 in the manufacture of chemicals, and 479 in paper-making. Trout abounds in the rivers; salmon also is caught; and dog-fish, seal, porpoise, gram-pus, conger-eel, pilchard, herrings, cod, ling, haddock, whiting, sole, turbot, and mackerel are found in the sea off the coast. The main line of railway for the east coast of Britain traverses the county through nearly its greatest length and its most populous tracts; the Newcastle and Carlisle railway traverses part of its northern border; numerous railways, to Consett, to Wolsingham, to Barnard-Castle, to Stockton, to Hartlepool, to Sunderland, to South Shields, and to other places, traverse its interior, in connexion with the main line and with one another, so as to form a net-work of communication from all the principal parts of the coast to the principal parts in the west; and the line of railway to Westmoreland and Lancaster connects, at Barnard-Castle, with a line running thence eastward along all the southern border. The principal roads also are plentiful and good.

The county comprises 73 parishes or parochial chapelries, parts of two others, and 5 extra-parochial places; and it is divided into North and South for parliamentary representation, and into the wards of Chester, Darlington, Easington, and Stockton for civil administration. A detached tract formerly belonging to it, near Easingwold, is now included in Yorkshire; another detached tract formerly belonging to it, around Bedlington, is now included in Northumberland; and a large detached tract formerly belonging to it, near Berwick, and divided into Norhamshire, Islandshire, and Holy Island, or Fern Islands, is also now included in Northumberland. The registration county is considerably more extensive than the political or electoral county; comprises 754, 183 acres; and is divided into the districts of Darlington, Stockton, Auckland, Teesdale, Weardale, Durham, Easington, Houghton-le-Spring, Chester-le-Street, Sunderland, South Shields, and Gateshead. The boroughs in it are Durham, Gateshead, Hartlepool, South Shields, Stockton, Darlington, and Sunderland; and other towns are Barnard-Castle, Bishop-Auckland, Chester-le-Street, Darlington, Houghton-le-Spring, Seaham-Harbour, West Hartlepool, Wolsingham, Staindrop, Stanhope, Sedge-hill, Middleton-Teesdale, and Consett. The number of minor towns, villages, and hamlets is upwards of 300. The principal seats are Raby Castle, Auckland Castle, Wynyard, Gibside, Lambton Castle, Lumley Castle, Ravensworth Castle, Oxwell Park, Twizel, Truir, Wilton Castle, Whitburn, Blackwall Grange, Bedburn, Bradley, Brancepeth, Castle Eden, Cocken, Coxhoe, Croxdale, Eggleston, Elemore, Greenwell, High Barns, Hilton Castle, Redworth, East Morton, Newton, Shincliffe, Stanhope, Trindon, Walworth, Whitehill, Whitworth, and Windleston. Real property in 1815, £885, 180; in 1843, £1, 668, 986; in 1851, £1, 679, 938; in 1860, £2, 339, 717, -of which £516, 926 were in mines, £8, 672 in quarries, £56, 870 in iron-works, £297, 301 in railways, and £16, 492 in gas-works.

The county, as already noted in our article on the city, was formerly governed by the bishop; but it is now governed by a lord-lieutenant, a high sheriff, 19 deputy lieutenants, and about 200 magistrates. It is in the north military district, and in the northern judicial circuit; and it constitutes an archdeaconry, with four deaneries, in the diocese of Durham. The assizes and the quarter-sessions are held at Durham. The police force for Durham city, in 1862, amounted to 13 men, maintained at a cost of £788; for Gateshead borough, 33 men, at a cost of £1, 891; for Hartlepool, 12 men, at a cost of £605; for South Shields, 35 men, at a cost of £2, 085; for Sunderland, 80 men, at a cost of £5, 713; for the rest of the county, 228 men, at a cost of £13, 460. The crimes committed were 24 in Durham city, 51 in Gateshead, 15 in Hartlepool, 35 in South Shields, 115 in Sunderland, and 233 in the rest of the county; the persons apprehended were 24 in Durham, 34 in Gateshead, 15 in Hartlepool, 35 in South Shields, 109 in Sunderland, and 209 in the rest of the county; the depredators and suspected persons at large were 377 in Durham, 87 in Gateshead, 145 in Hartlepool, 137 in South Shields, 467 in Sunderland, and 2, 070 in the rest of the county; and the houses of bad character were 85 in Durham, 35 in Gateshead, 43 in Hartlepool, 14 in South Shields, 91 in Sunderland, and 115 in the rest of the county. Two members are sent to parliament for each of the two county divisions; two each for the boroughs of Durham and Sunderland; one each for the . boroughs of Gateshead, Hartlepool, Darlington, Stockton, and South Shields. Electors for the north division, in 1868, 6, 042; for the south division, 7, 263. There are 18 polling-places; and Durham is the place of election for the north division, Darlington, for the south division. Poor-rates of the registration county, in 1862, £143, 374. Marriages in 1860, 4, 474, -of which 1, 457 were not according to the rites of the Established Church; births, 21, 782, -of which 1, 176 were illegitimate; deaths, 11, 116, -of which 5, 079 were at ages under 5 years, and 208 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 41, 359; births, 192, 237; deaths, 109, 214. The places of worship, in 1851, in the political county, were 169 of the Church of England, with 66, 319 sittings; 4 of the Presbyterian church in England, with 2, 417 s.; 10 of the United Presbyterian church, with 4, 133 s.; 25 of Independents, with 9, 069 s.; 21 of Baptists, with 4, 442 s.; 9 of Quakers, with 2, 505 s.; 3 of Unitarians, with 540 s.; 192 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 43, 079 s.; 19 of New Connexion Methodists, with 4, 759 s.; 113 of Primitive Methodists, with 21, 277 s.; 20 of the Wesleyan Association, with 5, 812 s.; 7 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 1, 715 s.; 5 of isolated congregations, with 1, 170 s.; 2 of Latter Day Saints, with 48 s.; 20 of Roman Catholics, with 4, 502 s.; and 2 of Jews, with 116 s. The schools were 287 public day schools, with 29, 763 scholars; 550 private day schools, with, 19, 468 s.; 490 Sunday schools, with 47, 771 s.; and 34 evening schools for adults, with 569 s. Pop. in 1801, 149, 384; in 1821, 193, 511; in 1841, 307, 963; in 1861, 508, 666. Inhabited houses, 84, 807; uninhabited, 42, 40; building, 594.

The territory now constituting Durhamshire was inhabited by the Brigantes or "hill people;" afterwards formed part of the Roman Maxima Cæsariensis; and afterwards was included in the Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. It mainly lay for a time between the Northumbrian provinces of Deira and Bernicia, being then for the most part a forest; yet belonged more properly to Deira than to Bernicia. These two provinces were first separate, then united, then again separate; and they precipitated upon the Durham territory much of the evils which arose both from their own vicissitudes and from Danish invasion. Two bishoprics were founded in Bernicia, toward the close of the 7th century, -at Hexham and at Lindisfarne; while the bishopric of York included Deira; yet both of the Bernician bishoprics became extinct, or rather transferred their seat, through Chester-le-Street, to Durham, with the effect of making that city the permanent centre of prelatic rule over all Durhamshire and Northumberland. The new bishopric, as noted in our article on the city, acquired extraordinary powers during the Norman period, became a county-palatine, and maintained itself very much in the manner of a kingdom. The bishops suffered calamity most by frequent incursions of the Scots; but they convoked parliaments, raised armies, maintained fortalices, and levied taxes very much as if they had been sovereigns, and were able generally to repel the enemy or to subdue him. But, in 1640, during the parliamentary war, a Scottish army took possession of Northumberland and Durham, obliged the then bishop to flee to Stockton, thence to York and London, never to return; and drove all the affairs of the diocese into a state of abeyance till 1660.-The Roman Watling-street went northward, through the county, by way of Wolsingham; and sent off a branch from Lanchester, through Chester-le-Street, to South Shields. Roman stations were at Brandon-camp, Pierce-bridge, Binchester, Lanchester, Ebchester, Castle's-camp, and Maiden-castle. The chief architectural antiquities are Barnard-castle, Auckland-castle, Brancepeth-castle, Evenwood-castle, Hilton-castle, Lumley-castle, Raby-castle, Ravensworth-castle, Whilton-castle, Durham-castle, Durham-cathedral, Auckland church, and remains of Jarrow priory, Finchale priory, and Nesham nunnery.

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

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a maritime county"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 2nd order divisions")
Administrative units: County Durham AncC
Place: County Durham

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