OXFORDSHIRE IS an Inland county, bounded on the north by Warwickshire and Northamptonshire, on the east by Buckinghamshire, on the south by Berkshire, and on the west by Gloucestershire. The river Charwell separates Oxfordshire from Northamptonshire on the north-east, while the county of Warwick lies contiguous to the north-west. This county is of a very irregular figure : near the centre, it. is not more than seven miles across; yet in the more northern part, at no great distance, its diameter is 38 miles; proceeding northward it assumes the resemblance of a cone, and terminates at what is called the Three-shire Stone in a complete point or apex. Its greatest length is 48 miles, and its circumference about 130, containing about 450,000 acres of land.
NAME and ANCIENT HISTORY.This county receives its name from the city of Oxford, generally supposed to have been derived from the Saxon word Oxenfurd, a ford or passage for oxen over the river here ; some writers, however, have supposed the name of the city was Ousford, a ford over the Ouse. Oxfordshire was anciently inhabited by the Dobuni; but on the invasion of Britain by the Romans, it became a part of the province termed BRITANNIA PRIMA. During the Heptarchy, it belonged to Mercia, and suffered greatly from the Danes ; and the most memorable battles are those which were fought between that people and the English, in 914, at Hook or Hogsnorton, in which the latter were entirely defeatedand the Yorkists and Lancastrians, in 1469, in which Edward IV. was made prisoner by the Earl of Warwick. A Roman military way leads into this county, pointing towards Ulchester; and the present village of Dorchester is built on the site of the station DUROCORNOVIUM. The greatest curiosity of this county, besides its University, is the magnificent seat of Blenheima gift of the British parliament to the great Duke of Marlborough, on account of his signal victory over the French at Blenheim, in Germany.
SOIL and CLIMATE, PRODUCE and MANUFACTURES.The soil of Oxfordshire may be considered, for the most part, extremely fertile, yielding abundant crops of corn and grass; it is naturally dry, and entirely exempt from fens, hogs and stagnant waters. The north corner is chiefly strong deep land, partly arable and partly pasture ; the south-west contains the forest of Whichwood, a great part of which is wood-land , about Oxford the soil is varioussome parts of it being light and sandy.and others deep & rich ; on the banks of the Thames the soil is chiefly in pasture. There are not any high hills in this county, except the Chiltern hills ; the rest are only gentle eminences, which tend to vary the landscape without obstructing tillage. The system of agriculture is in general good ; the Norfolk husbandry is well understood, and is in prevalent practice. On the grass farms much cheese is made, of a good quality, though in general of the thin kind called toasting cheese. The cows are principally of the old Gloucester kind, and the South-down sheep are now beginning to exclude the long-woolled breed; many boars are fed for the purpose of making brawn and sausages, which form a considerable article of trade at Oxford and other parts of the- county. The chief MANUFACTURES are those of blankets, at Witney; shag, at Banbury; and of gloves and polished steel at Woodstock. The employment of the female poor, on the south side of the county, is lace-making; and on the north, spinning wool. The PRODUCTS are chiefly those common to midland counties; the hills yield ochre, pipe-clay, and foreign earths. CLIMATE ;The air of this county is reckoned as healthy as that of any other in England, and the quick and limpid Streams render it clear and wholesome. It is colder upon and near the Chiltern hills than in other parts, but not more severe than is conducive to health, and the invigorating and bracing the system.
RIVERS and CANALS.The rivers of Oxfordshire form the most pleasing features of it; natural historians have stated their number at not less than three score and ten. Each valley of length has its stream, and no district in England is better watered than this. The Thame, the Isis, the Charwell, the Evenlode, and the Windrush, claim the first rank; but the great pride of the county is that confluence ot the former two which constitute the magnificent THAMES. The Charwell rises in Northamptonshire, enters Oxfordshire near Claydon, and falls into the Thames or Isis a little below Oxford. The Evenlode rises in the north-east part of Worcestershire, enters Oxfordshire near the shires stone, and falls into the Thames about four miles below Oxford. The Windrush rises in the Cotswold hills, in Gloucestershire; enters Oxfordshire near Burford, and, passing Witney, falls into the Thames five miles to the west of Oxford. The Thame rises near Tring, in Hertfordshire; and, crossing Buckinghamshire, touches the borders of Oxfordshire at Thame. CANALS:The Birmingham canal is of immense importance to Oxfordshireimmediately connecting London, through Oxford, with Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, and with the Wednesbury collieries. This canal commences at Longford, in the northern extremity of Warwickshire, on the edge of the Coventry canal, and joins the Isis at Oxford.
The diocese of Oxford is in the province of Canterbury, and is included in the Oxford circuit. The county is divided into 14 hundreds, and subdivided into 280 parishes ; containing one city and county-town (Oxford), and 11 other market-towns. The whole county returns nine members to parliament, viz. two for the SHIRE, two each for the CITY of OXFORD, the UNIVERSITY, and WOODSTOCK, and one for BANBURY ; the present representatives of the shire are, William Henry Ashurst, and John Fane, Esquires.
POPULATION.According to the census of 1821, there were houses inhabited in the county, 25,594 ; uninhabited, 531; and houses building, 245. The number of families then resident in the county was 28,841, comprising 68,817 males, and 68,154 females; total, 136,971; 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 thirty prior to the year 1811, and one to fifty 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 79,000in 1750, 92,400in 1801, 113,200in 1811, 123,200and in 1821, 139,800. The increased population in the 50 years, from the year 1700, was 13,400from 1750 to 1801, the increase was 20,800from 1801 to 1811, the Increase was 10,000and from 1811 to 1821 the augmented number of persons was 16,600: the grand total in-crease in the population of the county, from the year 1700 to the census of 1821, being about 60,800 persons.