Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for SOUTHAMPTONSHIRE, Hampshire, or Hants

SOUTHAMPTONSHIRE, Hampshire, or Hants, a maritime county; bounded, on the N, by Berks; on the E, by Surrey and Sussex; on the S, by the English channel; on the W, by Dorset and Wilts. It includes Hayling and Portsea islands, scarcely separated from the mainland, and the Isle of Wight, separated by the Solent. Its outline is not far from being rectangular. Its greatest length, south-south-westward, is 66 miles; its greatest breadth is 42 miles; its circuit is about 225 miles; and its area is 1,070,216 acres. The surface of the Isle of Wight is proverbially picturesque, and will be found sufficiently noticed in the articles on the Isle's parishes, and on all its principal localities. The surface of the mainland sections exhibits a pleasing variety of hills, valleys, undulating grounds, plains, and forest. A range of downs extends west-north-westward, from boundary to boundary, by Odiham, Basingstoke, and Kingsclere; is from 2 to 3 miles broad; and attains, near its W end, an altitude of about 900 feet. Another range of downs extends nearly in the same direction, about 10 miles further S; is, for the most part, about 4 miles broad; and has several summits about or above 900 feet high. A third range extends in a southward direction, from the vicinity of the first range between Odiham and Basingstoke, to the vicinity of the second range near Petersfield. Portsdown hill, an isolated eminence, 7 miles long, 1 mile broad, and about 450 feet high, extends from E to W, along the N sides of Langstone and Portsmouth harbours. A high moorish tract forms most of the section northward of the N downs; a great tract of broken low tableau, variously heath, common, swell, and vale, forms most of the area westward of the southerly range of hills; a low tract, gently sloping to the shores, forms most of the area southward of the hills and of the low tableau; and the tract of New Forest, noticed in a separate article, forms a large section in the SW. The chief streams are the Enborne, the Blackwater, the Wey, the Titchfield, the Hamble, the Itchin, the Anton or Test, the Beaulieu, and the Avon. Chalk rocks occupy much the larger portion of the county, through the centre, from E to W; and rocks of newer formation than the chalks occupy nearly all the sections in the N and in the S. Fossils are very plentiful, and made large contributions to the early advances of geognostic inquiry. Chalk is extensively calcined for manure; and much clay is obtained for the uses of the potter.

The soils, for the most part, take their character from the chalk rocks; but they include a large aggregate of various kinds of loams, and a considerable aggregate of peat. About 900,000 acres are arable land, meadow, or good pasture; and about 98,000 are forest. Agricultural practice in some parts is good, but in most parts inferior. Wheat produce varies from meagreness to abundance. Barley, after turnips, averages about 35 bushels per acre Oats average about 38 bushels; rye, about 18. Pease and beans are precarious. Hops are grown, over an aggregate of about 1,368 acres, in the E. Irrigated meadows, chiefly on the margins of streams, are of great extent, and generally yield from 30 to 36 cwt. of hay per acre. Honey is very extensively produced on the slopes and skirts of the downs, and less extensively in most other parts. Alderney cattle are in great request. Southdown sheep, with some white-faced natives, amount to about 580,000, and yield about 7,600 packs of wool. Horses are smalland hardy. Farms run mostly from 200 to 500 acres on the best lands, and from 500 to 2,000 on the chalk; and are mostly let from year to year. Estates, in general, are large. Manufactures comprise paper, silk, sacking, shaloons, druggets, linseys, woollens, malt, iron, and coarse pottery; but are not aggregately of great extent. Railways traverse all sections of the county, and are well ramified in the most important. The turnpikes, in 1835, had an aggregate length of 810 miles; and the roads of all kinds for wheeled carriages, in 1839, had an aggregate length of 3,199 miles.

The county contains 313 parishes, parts of 4 others, and 39 extra-parochial tracts; and, exclusive of boroughs, is cut into 14 divisions. The act of 1844, for consolidating detached portions of counties, severed from Hants 2,618 acres. The registration county takes in 29,723 acres from contiguous electoral counties; gives off 39,161 acres; comprises altogether 1,061,608 acres; and is divided into 25 districts. The boroughs are 10; the other towns with each more than 2,000 inhabitants, 6; the market-towns, 23; and the smaller towns, villages, and hamlets, about 1,050. The chief seats include Osborne, Stratfieldsay, Avington, Beanlieu, Amport, Rosehill, Appuldurcombe, Somerley, Eaglehurst, Alresford House, Heron Court, Highclere, Hurstbourne, Broadlands, Chissel, Bartley, Elvetham, Highcliffe, Grantham House, Hackwood, Cranbury, Walhampton, Panltons, Dogmersfield, and Cufnells; and amount altogether to about 150. The county is governed by a lord lieutenant, 10 deputy-lieutenants, and about 420 magistrates; and is in the SW military district, the W judiciary circuit, and the diocese of Winchester. The assizes and the quarter sessions are held at Winchester; the county jail is at Winchester; borough jails are at Portsmouth and Southampton; and separate police forces are at Winchester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Basingstoke, Newport, and Romsey. The police force for the rest of the county, in 1864, comprised 264 men, at an annual cost of £21,621; the crimes committed were 570; the persons apprehended, 457: the known depredators and suspected persons at large, 5,211; the houses of bad character, 255. The county, exclusive of the boroughs, is cut into two divisions, N and S, for sending each two members to parliament. Electors, in 1865, of the N div., 4,185; of the S div., 5,677. The poor rates for the registration county in 1863, were £229,493. Marriages in 1863, 3,861,-of which 740 were not according to the rites of the Established Church; births, 15,384,-of which 846 were illegitimate; deaths, 9,221,-of which 3,251 were at ages under 5 years, and 280 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 34,447; births, 133,932; deaths, 86,645. The places of worship within the electoral county, in 1851, were 389 of the Church of England, with 135,720 sittings; 116 of Independents, with 29,945 s.; 69 of Baptists, with 13,459 s.; 6 of Quakers, with 859 s.; 6 of Unitarians, with 1,775 s.; 80 of Wesleyans, with 15,384 s.; 58 of Primitive Methodists, with 5,811 s.; 40 of Bible Christians, with 4,160 s.; 8 of the Wesleyan Association, with 1,064 s.; 1 of Independent Methodists, with 50 s.; 3 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, with 567 s.; 1 of Brethren, with 100 s.; 1 of the New Church, with 60 s.; 15 of isolated congregations, with 1,970 s.; 1 of French Protestants, with 250 s.; 2 of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, with 342 s.; 7 of Latter Day Saints, with 645 s.; 13 of Roman Catholics, with 2,276 s.; and 2 of Jews, with 237 s. The schools were 487 public day schools, with 39,906 scholars; 1,021 private day schools, with 18,054 s.; 576 Sunday schools, with 44,828 s.; and 32 evening schools for adults, with 669 s. Real property in 1815, £1,240,547; in 1843, £1,661,447; in 1860, £2,033,444,-of which £925 were in quarries, £300 in mines, £15 in ironworks, £755 in fisheries, £753 in canals, £4,625 in railways, and £9,863 in gasworks. Pop. in 1801, 219,290; in 1821, 282,897; in 1841, 354,682; in 1861, 481,815. Inhabited houses, 86,428; uninhabited, 3,738; building, 626. Pop. of the registration county in 1851, 402,046; in 1861, 456,654; Inhabited houses, 84,948; uninhabited, 3,659; building,

The territory now forming Hants belonged to the ancient British Belgæ; was included by the Romans in their Britannia Prima; and formed part of the Saxon Wessex. The chief events in its subsequent history are noticed in our articles on Silchester, Basing, Winchester, Portsmouth, and Southampton. Ancient British remains are at Silchester, Beacon hill, Winclesbury, and Arreton down. Roman stations were at Silchester, Andover, Winchester, Bittern, Porchester, and Broughton; and Roman roads went from some of these stations to others, and to Old Sarum. Roman camps, or traces of them, are in about 20 places; Saxon camps, at 3; and Danish camps, at Danebury hilland in the Isle of Wight. Old castles, or remains or traces of them, are in about 12 places; old abbeys, at 5; old priories and other monasteries, at 21; and interesting old churches, at 14.

(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: Hampshire AncC
Place: Hampshire

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