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. It greatest length is about 39 miles; its greatest breadth is about 27 miles; its circuit is about 135 miles, and its area, according to the returns furnished by the Ordnance Survey Department, is 406,161 statute 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, and in 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. Vantage-grounds to 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 beauty 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 consists 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.
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Archives and Libraries
For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.
List of Registration Districts in Hertfordshire from 1837 to 1974.
Directories & Gazetteers
The Historical Directories web site have a number of directories relating to Hertfordshire online, including:
Kelly's, Pigot, Slater, etc.
A listing of the Hundreds in Hertfordshire, with the parishes contained in them.
Land and Property
There is a searchable transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873
Old map of Hertfordshire circa 1848 (Samuel Lewis)
Old map of Hertfordshire circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Hertfordshire newspapers online:
- Hertford Mercury and Reformer
- Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser
- Watford Observer
Parishes and places
The towns and parishes have now been moved to a separate page.
The Visitations of Hertfordshire, 1572 and 1634. Edited by Walter C. Metcalfe, F.S.A. is available on the Heraldry page.