Northamptonshire or Northampton, an inland county, bounded on the NE by Leicestershire and Rutland, on the N by Lincolnshire, on the E by Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, and Bedfordshire, on the SE by Buckinghamshire, on the S and SW by Oxfordshire, and on the W by Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. Its outline is oblong and irregular, and extends from NE to SW. Its boundaries in some parts are traced by streams, but in general are artificial. Its greatest length is 70 miles, its greatest breadth is 25 miles, its circuit is about 215 miles, and its area is 641,992 acres. Population in 1801, 131,525; in 1821, 163,097; in 1841, 199,228; in 1861, 227,704; in 1881, 272,555; and in 1891, 302,183. The area of the administrative county includes part of tha civil parish of Fletton and part of the civil parish of Woodstone, in the ancient county of Huntingdon, but excludes part of the civil parishes of Warkwith, St Martin, Stamford Baron, and Little Bowden, which are included in the administrative counties of Oxford, Leicester and Lincoln respectively has an area of 639,541 acres, and had in 1891 a population of 299,508. The surface of the county is pleasantly diversified with moderate elevations; includes, near its W border, a part of the watershed between the eastern and western seas; rises nowhere higher than about 800 feet above sea-level; is all adapted either to tillage or to pasture; and presents, in general, a verdant aspect, with rich interspersions of wood and mansions. The loftiest heights are in the W, in the vicinity of Daventry; a range of tolerable elevation extends along the NE border, from Braybrooke to Wakerley; another range, of less marked character, nearly connects the hills around Daventry with the Braybrooke and Wakerley range; and several minor ranges occur in the SW. The chief streams are the Nen, the Welland, the Bedfordshire Ouse, the Warwickshire Avon, the Cherwell, and the Learn. About one-half of the entire area, including all the higher grounds, most of the tract along the Nen to the vicinity of Oundle, and some intervening tracts, consists of lias formations, variously sand, upper lias clay, marlstone, and lower lias clay and lime; most of the rest of the area consists of lower oolitic formations, variously corn-brash, forest marble, Bradford clay, Bath oolite, fuller's earth, and inferior oolite; and a tract of about 7000 acres in the extreme NE consists of alluvial matters, and is part of the Bedford Level or Great Fen. Good building stone is quarried at Barnack, Brackley, and Kingsthorpe; a sort of roofing-slate is quarried at Colleyweston ; and clay and lime abound. at Dunston, Kingsthorpe, and other places. Mineral or petrifying springs occur in Astrop, Higham Ferrers, Northampton, Baunds, Rothwell, Stanwick, and Wellingborough.
The soil in most parts is a stiff loam, in some localities cold and wet, in others friable and fertile, whitish to the S of Northampton, blackish to the S of Market Harborough, brownish or reddish on the NW border; but the soil of the fen-tract in the NE is a well-reclaimed, well-worked, and highly productive humus. Estates are large, farms average-from 150 to 200 acres, and the farm-buildings are middle-rate. Wheat, barley, oats, rape, turnip, beans, pease, and grasses are the principal crops, and hemp is grown in the fens.
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Archives and Libraries
Ancestry.co.uk, in association with the Northamptonshire Record Office, have images of the Parish Registers and Bishop's Transcripts for Northamptonshire online.
For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.
List of Registration Districts in Northamptonshire from 1837 to 1974.
Directories & Gazetteers
The Historical Directories web site have a number of directories relating to Northamptonshire online, including:
Kelly's, Pigot, Slater, etc.
Transcript of the description of Northamptonshire from Pigot & Co.'s Directory of Northamptonshire, 1830.
A listing of the Hundreds and Liberties in Northamptonshire, with the parishes contained in them.
Old map of Northamptonshire circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)
Old map of Northamptonshire circa 1848 (Samuel Lewis)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Northamptonshire papers online:
Parishes and places
The towns and parishes have now been moved to a separate page.