Pigot & Co's Directory of Northamptonshire, 1830

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE.

THIS county lies obliquely across the middle of England, and is in contact with more surrounding ones than any other in the kingdom. To the north and north-west it has the counties of Lincoln, Rutland and Leicester, from the two former and part of the latter of which it is separated by the river Welland; to the west it has Warwickshire, to the south Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, to the east Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, with a small point of Cambridgeshire. Its greatest length is 60 miles, and its breadth only about 25 ; its circumference has been variously laid down, from 125 miles to 216; and the superficial area of the whole has been computed at 550,000 acres - the late authorities, referred to in the returns 16 parliament, state it at 617,000.

NAME and ANCIENT HISTORY. - This county takes its name from the town of ‘Northampton;’ so called, it is said by some, from its situation on the north side of the river Anfona or Neu - though others infer that it was so named in contra-distinction to Southampton. The inhabitants of this county, in the time of the Romans, were a part of the Coritani,- and during the Saxon heptarchy, Northamptonshire belonged to the kingdom of Mercia. Two Roman roads crossed this county - the ‘Walling street’ in its broadest part, and a vicinal road in its narrowest.

SOIL and CLIMATE, PRODUCE and MANUFACTURES.- Northamptonshire is almost proverbially regarded as a fine and pleasant county, interspersed with many noblemen's and gentlemen's seats. Its greatest defect is the scarcity of fuel; yet it still possesses some considerable remains of its old forests, particularly those of Rockingham in the north-west, and of Salcey & Whittlebury in the south. By the construction of the Union canal, coals have, however, been introduced into the county from the Trent; and they are also obtained from Lynn, in Norfolk, by means of the Nen. Of the 6l7,000 acres (before-mentioned), 290,000 are said to be arable, 235,000 pasturage, and about 86,000 uncultivated, including the woodlands; within the latter, however, numerous deer, horses, cattle and sheep are fed ; great numbers of the cattle and sheep are afterwards fattened on the rich grazing-land of the county, and sent to the London markets. The prevailing system of husbandry is grazing, and several of the farmers are justly noted for their skilful management of land and stock. The surface of the county is particularly advantageous for cultivation, as it possesses neither dreary wastes nor rugged mountains, but is every where sufficiently regular for all the purposes of husbandry and tillage. CLIMATE : - The air of Northamptonshire is esteemed equal if not superior to that of any county in the kingdom, and to this is ascribed the circumstance of so many of the nobility and gentry having seats in it; Nordern, in his account of it, says, "so full is it of gentry, that it may he called the herald's garden" There is, however, a small tract of country, called ' Fenland,' about Peterborough, which is often overflowed by great falls of water from the uplands, in rainy seasons; but the inhabitants do not suffer the water to continue a sufficient time on the ground, even in winter, to affect the salubrity of the air. The PRODUCTS of Northamptonshire are in general the same with those of other farming counties: horned cattle and other animals are fed to extraordinary sizes, horses, of the large black breed, are also reared; and many sheep are grazed on the high grounds : wood for dyers' use is cultivated in some parts. The MANUFACTURES of this county are not by any means of importance : in some of the towns, silk stockings are woven, and in others, lace-making and wool-spinning give employment to the female working class.

RIVERS and CANALS. - In the important article of water, the county of Northampton may justly boast that it is entirely and completely independent; for, of the six rivers which flow through or intersect it, every one originates within its boundaries - and not a single brook, however insignificant, runs into it from any other district. The principal rivers are the Nen, the Welland, the Ouse, the Avon, the Leam and the Charwell. The northern branch of the Nen springs from Chapel-well, at Naseby; and the western from Hartwell, near Staverton; & both uniting at Northampton, form no inconsiderable river,which, after traversing the whole length of the county, falls into the ‘Lynn deeps,’ in Norfolk. The Welland rises at Sibertoft, and leaves the county after flowing the short space of four miles ; it then pursues a course of nearly 50 miles, during which it becomes navigable at Stamford, and at length tails into the ' Foss-dyke wash,' near Boston. The Ouse has its source near Brackley; and, falls into the German ocean at Lynn. The Avon, or Lesser Avon, commences its course at Avon-well, near Naseby; and, flowing in a westerly direction, passes into Warwickshire. The Leam, which rises from tlie village of Hellidon, is immediately joined by other rills, with which it hastens into Warwickshire; and, having given name to the two villages of Leamington, meets the Lesser Avon - and the junction forms the celebrated AVON, which ultimately loses itself in the Severn. The Charwell springs near Charwelton, and finishes its career at the city of Oxford, where it resigns its identity to the noble Thames. CANALS : - The first artificial canal that rendered any benefit to this county was the Oxford, which passes on the western verge of it, and at Braunston joins the Grand Junction canal. The Union canal proceeds north from Northampton, in its course to near Market Harborough, to which there is a cut; and, after passing the Soar, joins that river near Leicester, and thus has an easy communication with the Trent.

Northamptonshire is in the province of Canterbury and diocese of Peterbourgh, in the Midland circuit. It is divided into 20 hundreds, which are subdivided into 336 parishes ; containing one city (Peterborough), one county-town (Northampton), and ten other market-towns,-.. The whole county returns nine members to parliament, viz. two each for PETERBOROUGH, NORTHAMPTON, BRACKLEY, and the SHIRE, & one for HIGHAM FERRERS; the present representatives of the shire are Viscount Althorp and Wm. Ralph Cartwright, Esq.

POPULATION. - According to the census of 1821, there were houses inhabited in the county, 32,503; uninhabited, 527; and houses building, 179. The number of families then resident in the county was 35,552; comprising 79,575 males, and 82,908 females ; total, 162,483; and by a calculation made by order of government, which included persons in the army and navy, for which was added after the ratio of about one to 30 prior to the year 1811, and one to 50 for that year and the census of 1821, to the returns made from the several districts, the population of the county, in round numbers, in the year 1700, was 119,500 - in 1750, 123,300 - in 1801, 130,100 - in 1811, 146,100 - and in 1821, 165,800. The increased population in the 50 years, from the year 1700, was 3,800- from 1750 to 1801, the increase was 12,800- from 1801 to 1811, the increase was 10,000 - and from 1811 to 1821, the augmented number of persons was 19,700; the grand total increase in the population of the county, from the year 1700 to the census of 1821, being about 46,300 persons.