Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, or Bucks

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, or Bucks, an inland county; bounded on the NW and N by Northamptonshire; on the NE by Beds; on the E by Beds and Herts; on the SE by Middlesex; on the S and SW by Berks; and on the W by Oxfordshire. It has an irregular outline; but forms, on the whole, a slender oblong, lying N and S. Its only natural boundaries are the river Thames, dividing it from Berks, and a few miles of other streams, dividing it from parts of other counties. Its greatest length is 53 miles; its greatest breadth, 27 miles; its mean breadth, about 18 miles; its circumference, 138 miles; its area, 466,932 acres. Its surface, in the north, is gently undulated; in the centre, comprises the rich vale of Aylesbury, watered by the Thame; and in the south, includes part of the Chiltern hills, about 16 miles broad, with summits from 683 feet to 904 feet high. The chief rivers are the Thames, the Thame, the Ouse, the Colne, the Ousel, and the Wick. Lias rocks occupy a small tract on the NW border, adjacent to Brackley; oolites, successively lower, middle, and upper, occupy most of the county from the northern boundary to lines a little south of Stoke-Hammond and Aylesbury; cretaceous rocks, successively lower greensand, upper greensand, and chalk, the last much the broadest, occupy most of the country thence to the southern boundary; and rocks of the lower eocene occupy a tract on the southern border around Farnham. Fuller's earth on the eastern border, and some tolerable marble near Newport-Pagnell, are the chief useful minerals.

The soils include sandy, marly, and clayey spots; but principally range from rich loam to poor chalk. Little land is waste; and much is disposed in dairy pasture. Farms average about 200 acres; and few exceed 400. Approved rotations are followed on most of the arable ands; and wheat, barley, oats, sainfoin, and beans are grown even on parts of the Chilterns. Commons, of some extent, are at Wickham, Iver, and Stoke; and heaths at Fulmer and Great Harwood. Beech and oak are the principal timber; and the former, called in Saxon "buccen," gave name to the county. Woods are plentiful on the Chilterns, in Whadden-chase, and around Brill. Much butter and some cream-cheese are made for the London market; the cattle are chiefly Hereford and Yorkshire shorthorns; and the sheep, variously Dorsets for Lambs, Southdowns for mutton, and mixed Gloucester and Leicester for wool. Berkshire hogs are reared numerously on the dairy farms; many calves also are fattened there for veal; and about £20,000 worth of ducks is sent annually to London. The chief manufactures are threadlace, straw-plait, woodenware, and paper. The Great Western railway crosses the south-eastern tract; and sends off branches to Eton and Thame. The Northwestern railway runs for 25 miles in the NE; and sends off branches to Aylesbury and toward Bedford; the Buckinghamshire railway commences on the Northwestern at Bletchley; crosses the north-western tracts, past Buckingham, toward Banbury; and sends off a branch toward Oxford. The Aylesbury railway traverses the central tracts from Aylesbury to the Buckinghamshire and Claydon. The Grand Junction canal traverses the north-eastern tracts, somewhat parallel to the Northwestern railway, from the vicinity of Tring to the vicinity of Stony Stratford; and sends off branches to Wendover, Aylesbury, and Buckingham.

The county contains 199 parishes, parts of 6 other parishes, and 4 extra-parochial tracts; and is divided into the hundreds of Ashendon, Aylesbury, Buckingham, Burnham, Cottesloe, Desborough, Newport, and Stoke. The registration county takes in tracts from adjoining counties, but gives off to them larger tracts; comprises 402,616 acres; and is divided into the districts of Amersham, Aylesbury, Buckingham, Eton, Newport-Pagnell, Winslow, and Wycombe. The boroughs are Aylesbury, Buckingham, Great Marlow, and High Wycombe. The market-towns are Amersham, Aylesbury, Beaconsfield, Buckingham, Chesham, Colnbrook, Fenny-Stratford, Great Marlow, High Wycombe, Ivinghoe, Olney, Princes-Risborough, Slough, Stony Stratford, and Winslow. The chief seats are Stowe, Bulstrode, Wotton, Hampden, Penn, Eythorp, Dropmore, Morton, Aston-Clinton, Ashridge, Lillies, Ditton, Halton, Dorton, Harleyford, Westhorpe, Thornton, Chequers, Claydon, Winchendon, Wooburn, Shardeloes, Padbury, Stoke, Weston-Underwood, Iver, Little Missenden, Little Marlow, Great Brickhill, Newlands, Gayhurst, Tyringham, Bradenham, Hanslope, Wilton, and Langley. Property, as assessed in 1815, £662,872; in 1843, £827,890; in 1851, £875,350; in 1860, £917,738.

The county is governed by a lord-lieutenant, a high sheriff, about sixty deputy lieutenants, and about 220 magistrates. It is in the Home military district, and the Norfolk judicial circuit. The assizes and the quarter sessions are held at Aylesbury. The police force comprises 120 men for the county at large, and 8 for the boroughs of Buckingham and Wycombe; and is maintained at a cost of about £10,398. The county jail is at Aylesbury; and there is a borough jail in Buckingham. The number of crimes committed, in 1864, was 268; of persons apprehended, 184; of depredators and suspected persons at large, 834; of houses of bad character, 82. Three members are sent to parliament by the county at large; and five by the four boroughs. County electors in 1868, 6,126. The county is in the diocese of Oxford; and constitutes an archdeaconry. The amount of poor-rates for the registration county, in 1863, was £90,109. The number of marriages, in 1866, was 1,028,-of which 180 were not according to the rites of the Established Church; of births, 5,098,-of which 285 were illegitimate; of deaths, 2,910,-of which 1, 160 were at ages under 5 years, and 81 at ages above 85. The places of worship, in 1851, within the county proper, were 226 of the Church of England, with 64,231 sittings; 56 of Independents, with 11,091 s.; 72 of Baptists, with 16,796 s.; 8 of Quakers, with 1,183 s.; 81 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 13,023 s.; 36 of Primitive Methodists, with 4,509 s.; 3 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 648 s.; 1 of Lady Huntingdon's Connection, with 140 s.; 1 of Latter Day Saints, with 100 s.; 11 of isolated congregations, with 1,488 s.; and 4 of Roman Catholics, with 527 s. The schools were 195 public day schools, with 13,743 scholars; 280 private day schools, with 5,305 s.; 352 Sunday schools, with 26,085 s.; and 21 evening schools for adults, with 424 s. Pop., in 1801, 108,132; in 1821, 135,133; in 1841, 156,439; in 1861, 167,993. Inhabited houses, 34,909: uninhabited, 1,320; building, 286.

The territory now forming Buckinghamshire, was inhabited, in the ancient British times, by the tribes Cassii, Ancalites, and Dobuni; it was included, by the Romans, first in their province of Britannia superior, afterwards in that of Flavia Cæsariensis; and it formed part of the Saxon kingdom of Mercia. The county made a great figure in the civil war of the time of Charles I.; took the lead in raising arms against the king, and in swaying the action of parliament; and was, for some time, the headquarters of the king's forces. Remains or traces of ancient camps and entrenchments, variously British, Roman, and Saxon, occur at Wycombe, Danesfield, All-Hollands, Cholsbury, Hawridge, Hedgerleydean, Mendenham, and Ellesborough. Icknield-street came in from Dunstable, and went past Andover and Princes-Risborough into Oxfordshire; Watling-street went past Fenny-Stratford and Stony-Stratford; and Akeman-street went across the north. Ancient castles stood at Buckingham, Castlethorpe, Lavendon, Whitchurch, and several other places; but have all disappeared. Remains exist of Abbeys at Medmenham and Notley, of a priory at Missenden, of nunneries at Burnham and Ivinghoe, of monastic colleges at Ashbridge and Eton, and of a monastic hospital at Newport-Pagnell; but all remains of 14 other monasteries and 9 other hospitals, which once existed, are extinct. Eight churches show ancient Norman features; and two others are good specimens of ancient English. The county gives the title of Earl to the family of Hampden-Hobart.

(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: Buckinghamshire AncC
Place: Buckinghamshire

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