Hampshire, England


Hampshire, Hants, or Southamptonshire, 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 Dorsetshire and Wiltshire. 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 1,037,764 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 geology. Chalk is extensively calcined for manure, and much clay is obtained for pottery.

The soils, for the most part, take their character from the chalk, but they include a large aggregate of various kinds of loams, and a considerable aggregate of peat. Agricultural practice in most parts is good, and it is one of the most fertile counties in England. 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. Alderney cattle are in great request. The sheep are chiefly Southdown, with some white-faced natives. Horses are small and hardy. Pigs are fed in the forests, and the county is well known for its bacon. Farms run mostly from 200 to 500 acres on the best lands, and from 500 to 2000 on the chalk. Estates, in general, are large.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5
View the full transcript

Archives and Libraries

Hampshire Record Office
Sussex Street,
SO23 8TH
tel 01962 846154,
fax 01962 878681
Email:email form

Church Records

We have a database containing transcripts of marriage records for some parishes in Hampshire.

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

List of Registration Districts in Hampshire from 1837 to 1974.

Directories & Gazetteers

The Historical Directories web site have a number of directories relating to Hampshire online, including:
Kelly's, Pigot, Slater, etc.

Historical Geography

A listing of the Hundreds and Liberties in Hampshire, with the parishes contained in them.

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Hampshire (County Southampton) is available to browse.


Old map of Hampshire circa 1848 (Samuel Lewis)

Old map of Hampshire circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Hampshire newspapers online:

Parishes and places

The towns and parishes have now been moved to a separate page.


The population of Hampshire was, in 1801, 219,290; 1811, 246,514; 1821, 282,897; 1831, 313,976; 1841, 354,682; 1851, 245,370; 1861, 481,815; 1871, 524,836; 1881, 575,409; 1891, 611,425; and in 1901, 717,164. The population of the county in 1911 was 862,485, viz.:- County, 433,604; Bournemouth County Borough, 78,677; Portsmouth County Borough, 231,165; Southampton County Borough, 119,039.

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitations of Hampshire, 1530, 1575, & 1622-34 is available to view on the Heraldry page.