Lancashire, a maritime and northern county, bounded on the N by Cumberland and Westmorland, on the E by Yorkshire, on the S by Cheshire, and on the W by the Irish Sea. A portion of it in the NW, forming Furness, is detached from the main body by Morecambe Bay and a tongue of Westmorland. The Duddon estuary for 8 miles forms the boundary with Cumberland; the watershed of the backbone of England, throughout a large aggregate, forms the boundary with Yorkshire; and the river Mersey, throughout its whole extent, forms the boundary with Cheshire. The shape of the county is exceedingly irregular. The S part is not far from being a four-sided figure of about 44 miles by 40; but the-N part consists chiefly of two irregular oblongsthe one contiguous with the S part, over a connecting distance of 10 miles, and measuring about 20 miles by 12the other the detached section of Furness, measuring, with islands belonging to it, about 28 miles by 13 1/2. The total greatest length, from NW by N to SE by S, is about 87 miles; the greatest breadth is about 43 miles; the circuit, not including minor sinuosities, is about 295 miles; and the area is 1,207,605 acres. About 100 miles of the circuit line are low coast, marshy or sandy, and, 119,438 acres of the area are foreshore. The only islands are those at the SW of Furness, the largest of which is Walney. The surface of Furness is partly low seaboard, partly a series of fertile vales, but for the most part rises into the bold hills, the rugged mountains, and the romantic breaks and upland gorges of the Lake country, and culminates in the Old Man of Coniston, 2577 feet high. The surface of the other N oblong also rises from low seaboard to high interior, but has heights much less lofty and much less rugged, and is crossed, nearly through the centre, by the valley of the Lune, one of the most charmingly beautiful valleys in England. The W part, or nearly one-half of the rest of the county, is low and flat, chiefly fertile plain, showing indications of comparatively recent submersion by the sea, and interspersed with marsh land and mosses. The E part exhibits diversity of contour, includes much undulated landscape, rises into moor and mountain toward the boundary with Yorkshire, and contains, at or near that boundary, a number of summits ranging from 1545 to 1803 feet in altitude. All the E border is more or less upland, and it rises to greater heights about the middle than in the N and in the S.
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Archives and Libraries
Cumbria Record Office and Local Studies Library, Barrow
140 Duke Street
We have an extensive collection of parish register transcripts available online. See the Lancashire parish registers page.
Ancestry.co.uk, in association with Lancashire Archives, have images of the Parish Registers for Lancashire online.
For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.
List of Registration Districts in Lancashire from 1837 to 1974.
Directories & Gazetteers
The Historical Directories web site have a number of directories relating to Lancashire online, including:
Kelly's, Pigot, Slater, etc.
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Lancashire is available to browse.
Old map of North Lancashire circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)
Old map of South Lancashire circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Lancashire newspapers online:
- Blackburn Standard
- Burnley Express
- Lancashire Evening Post
- Lancaster Gazette
- Burnley Gazette
- Preston Chronicle
- Burnley Advertiser
- Burnley News
Parishes and places
The towns and parishes have now been moved to a separate page.