Is one of the western counties of England, and a county palatine; bounded on the north by the Irish sea, and the counties of Lancaster and York; on the east by Derby and Stafford; and on the south by the county of Salop; and on the west by the counties of Flint and Denbigh. Its extreme length, from the hundred of Wirral to the confines of Yorkshire, is about 58 miles; its breadth, from north to south, about 30 miles, and the acreage of the county about 676,000. Its soil, generally speaking, is composed of clay and sand: the former prevailing in the hundreds of Broxton, Wirral, and Macclesfield, and the latter in the hundreds of Eddisbury, Northwich, Nantwich, and Bucklow. Large tracts of peat moss and black moor land exhibit themselves in that part which lies upon the confines of Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Cheshire was celebrated some centuries ago for the great extent of its forests and heath lands. Its principal forests were those of Delamere, or Mara and Mondram, Wirral, and Macclesfield; all of them well supplied with timber. The forest of Delamere must have been of great extent, not less than fifty townships being within its boundary: within the last two centuries it contained upwards of 11,000 acres, the soil consisting chiefly of gravel and white sand - 2000 acres were inclosed, pursuant to an act of parliament passed in 1812, and the land now sustains thriving plantations of various timber. Some of the rising grounds, in the neighbourhood of the old and new pales, which have been detached by royal grants from the forest land, are much indebted for their rising beauty to the taste and expenditure of Thomas Cholmondley, Esq. and Nicholas Ashton, Esq. whose plantations are as extensive as they are useful and adorning.
The general appearance of the county is that of a plain, and is, for the most part, a flat country, whence it has obtained the name of the Vale Royal of England. On the eastern side is a range of mountainous country, connected with the Derbyshire and Yorkshire hills, of about 25 miles in length and 5 in breadth, extending from near Congleton to the north-eastern extremity of the county. From Macclesfield, in a north-western direction, the surface is irregular and hilly, but continues of that description no further than Alderley, about six miles from Macclesfield. On the Shropshire sides the surface is likewise broken and irregular; and about ten miles east from Chester is another range of hills, between the rivers Dee and Mersey, extending about twenty-five miles from Malpas, on the south side of the county. About a mile to the south of Altrincham rises an elevated tract of ground, called Bowden Downs, which extends a considerable distance from east to west; its wetsern extremity being covered with the wood of Dunham Park.
Although it is stated that the general appearance of this county is flat, it must not be thence inferred to be deficient in varied beauty and picturesque landscape, as partial topographers have unfairly written - on the contrary, various parts of Cheshire possess high claims to the notice of the artist, and the admirer of diversified scenery; and from the several prominences may be contemplated nature clothed both in magnificent and simple garbs. Wirral boast many delightful marine views: the prospect of the Welch coast, from Park-gate and its neighbourhood, is interesting, and includes the venerable ruins of Flint Castle, the town of Flint, Holywell, &c.;while the active scenery, produced from vessels in the coasting and coal trades, continually passing to and fro, gives a lively and pleasing colouring to the picture.The vicinities of Macclesfield, Astbury, Nantwich, Sandbach, Bunhill, Kelsall-Hill, and from the summit of Beeston, afford prospects extensive and luxuriant. The view from Halton is also very wide, enriched by the meanderings of the Mersey; and the eye is carried over a large district of Lancashire. From Beeston the Vale Royal of the county is seen in all its beauty, highly cultivated and spotted woods and coppices; in the distance are the towering Welch mountains, and the estuary of the Dee gives a pleasing perspective to the whole. From other elevations, besides those of Mowcop, Alderley Edge, Bucklow Hills, the hills of Shuttingslow, and at Frodsham, may be enjoyed a visual banquet of no ordinary excellence and interest.
The principal rivers of Cheshire are the Dee, the Mersey, the Weaver, the Bollin, the Dane, the Wheelock, the Peover, and the Tame. Besides these, there are other inconsiderable streams, which either rise in or wash the lands of this county, and are tributary waters to the other rivers; as, the Gowy, the Betley, the Ashbrook, the Biddle, the Birkin, the Croco, the Walwern, the Mar, the Grimsditch, and the Flookersbrook. Cheshire is also noted for its beautiful sheets of water called meres, lakes, and pools; among these is the noble COMBERMERE, more than a mile in length, giving name to Combermere Abbey. Chapel-mere and Moss-mere are fine pieces of water, in front of Cholmondley Castle. The other meres are Bar mere, Quoisley-mere, Rosthern-mere, Bag-mere, Pick-mere, Oak-mere, Mere Pool, &c. The principal canals of this county are, the Duke of Bridgewaters, which was commenced in 1761, the communication between Manchester and Liverpool opened in 1772, and the whole finished in 1776; the Grand Trunk canal, the act for cutting which was passed in 1766; the Ellesmere canal, the act obtained in 1793; the Chester and Nantwich canal (now united with the Ellesmere) obtained its act in 1772, and was completed in 1776; and the Peak Forest canal, which obtained the sanction of government in 1794. These grand works of labour and art afford uninterrupted and cheap intercourse between the towns of Chester, Liverpool, Manchester, &c.; besides communicating with the north of England, Staffordshire, Shropshire, and adjacent counties.
The viens of metal which have been discovered and worked in this county, are those of copper and lead, at Alderley Edge, where also, in 1807, was found cobalt; lead and copper ore have likewise produced profit from the mines at Mottram; and those metals, as well as iron, have been found in other parts, though in veins not rich enough to inspire speculation. Coal is found in great plenty in numerous parts of the county, particularly on its north-east side, in the townships of Adlington, Bollington, Hurdsfield, Norbury, Pott-Shrigley, Poynton, Worth, &c.; these collieries supplying Manchester, Macclesfield, Stockport, &c. with this article, now so essential to manufacturing purposes. One of the most extensive collieries in the kingdom is at Dennah, near Park-gate, the property of Sir Thomas S. M. Stanley, Bart.
SALT and CHEESE have been considered as the chief staple commodities of this county, both of them being exported to a great amount. The annual average weight of rock salt for exportation, for the purpose of fish curing, &c. sent down the Weaver for the last twenty years is estimated at upwards of 55,000 tons; and the annual average of white salt, for the like period, has been about 140,000 tons, chiefly for exportation, the fisheries and colonies. The principal pits are at Wheelock, Lawton, Roughwood in Leftwich, Middlewich, Anderton, Betchton,near Northwich, Nantwich, and Frodsham. These several works give employment to upwards of 3000 hands. The quantity of cheese taken off by the London market annually, is said to be upwards of 14,000 tons - Bristol and York 8000 tons, besides large quantities sent to Scotland, Ireland, &c.; added to which, the home consumption and immediate well populated neighbourhood must take off considerable quantities. In 1823, it is stated , about 94,000 cows were kept in Cheshire, but this number is evidently erroneous, being insufficient to the production of the immense weight of cheese made in this county; without taking into account the consumption of milk, cream, and butter. The other productions of this prolific county are potatoes, which are cultivated to much advantage; corn, millstones, timber, &c. The present members serving in parliament for the county of Cheshire are Wilbraham Egerton, Esq. and Davies Davenport, Esq. There are also twomembers returned for the city of Chester, being all that the county sends to parliament. The diocese of Chester comprehends all Cheshire and Lancashire, and various parts of Westmoreland, Cumberland, Yorkshire, Denbighshire, and Flintshire; is divided into two archdeaconries, and the county apportioned into seven hundreds, viz. BROXTON, BUCKLOW, EDDISBURY, MACCLESFIELD, NANTWICH, NORTHWICH, and WIRRAL. It contains 101 parishes, 1 city, 11 market towns, and 670 villages.
POPULATION. - According to the parliamentary returns for 1821 there were houses inhabited 47,094, uninhabited 1,212, and houses building 414. The total number of persons living in the county in the year 1700 was 107,000 - in 1750, 131,600 - in 1801, 198,100 - in 1811, 234,600 - and in 1821, 132,952 males and 137,146 females, total of the last named year 270,098 persons. The increase of population in the 50 years from 1700 was 24,600, from 1750 to1801 the increase was 66,500, from 1801 to 1811 the increase was 36,500, and from 1811 to 1821 the increase number of persons was 32,498, the grand total increase of population in the county, from the year 1700 to the census of 1821, being 160,098 persons.