Suffolk, a maritime county, bounded on the N by Norfolk, on the E by the German Ocean, on the S by Essex, and on the W by Cambridgeshire. Its boundary line, along most of the N, is the rivers Little Ouse and Waveney; along most of the S, the river Stour; along part of the W, the river Lark. Its greatest length from E to W is about 50 miles, its greatest breadth from N to S is 30 miles, its length of coast is 50 miles, and its circuit is about 212 miles. The area of the ancient county is 952,709 statute acres. The administrative county, which includes the civil parishes of Ballingdon, Haverhill, and part of Bulmer in Essex, and the parish of All Saints, Newmarket, in Cambridgeshire, and which loses parts of the civil parishes of Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, and St Cuthbert and St Mary, Thetford, in Norfolk, has an area of 947,724 statute acres; population of the ancient county, 371,235; of the administrative county, 361,790. The coast consists largely of crag and clay cliffs, with fine views. The interior is mainly level, has few considerable elevations, and rises in the extreme NW into a chalk ridge. The chief streams, besides those on the boundaries, are the Blythe, the Alde, the Deben, the Gipping, the Orwell, and the Bret. Lower eocene rocks, chiefly London clay, form a small tract in the S, to the E and SE of Sudbury, another small tract around Saxmundham, and a narrow belt along the coast to the S of Aldborough; upper tertiary rocks, chiefly crag, form a considerable belt on the seaboard, all to the S of Lowestoft; and upper chalk rocks form all the rest of the area. Brick clay and chalk are the only minerals of any note. The soils are very various, and pass from the heaviest clay, through strong fertile loams, to the lightest sand. Agriculture is advanced and skilful. The long fallow for barley is practised on the clay lands, and the four-course shift is followed for turnip lands. The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats, rye, pulse, buckwheat, turnips, carrots, tares, cole-seed, clover, and sainfoin, and minor crops are chicory, hemp, and hops. Farms are large, but many estates are small, and leases from seven to fourteen years are common. The cows are a light red polled breed and rich milkers. The sheep are chiefly of the Norfolk and Southdown breeds.
The horses are chiefly "the Suffolk punches," well adapted to farm work. The manufactures include cotton, silk, velvet, linen, woollen, horse-hair, paper, cocoa-nut matting, chemical manures, agricultural implements, railway plant (at Ipswich), gun-cotton (at Stowmarket), making on a large scale, and coach and ship building. Coprolites are found in large quantities, and gun flints for export are still manufactured at Brandon. The fisheries on the coast are important, and immense quantities of herring and mackerel are taken by the Suffolk fishermen.
View the full transcript
Archives and Libraries
For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.
List of Registration Districts in Suffolk from 1837 to 1974.
Directories & Gazetteers
The Historical Directories web site have a number of directories relating to Suffolk online, including:
Kelly's, Pigot, Slater, etc.
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Suffolk is available to browse.
Old map of Suffolk circa 1848 (Samuel Lewis)
Old map of Suffolk circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Suffolk papers online:
- The Ipswich Journal
- East Suffolk Mercury and Lowestoft Weekly News
- Bury and Norwich Post
- Bury Free Press
Parishes and places
The towns and parishes have now been moved to a separate page.
The population of Suffolk in 1801 was 214,404; 1811, 233,963; 1821, 271,541: 1831, 296,317; 1841, 315,073; 1851, 337,215; 1861, 337,070; 1871, 348,869; 1881, 356,893; 1891, 374,781; and in 1901, 373,353, consisting of 181,846 males and 191,507 females.
The population in 1901 was, East Suffolk, 255,800 - males, 124,166; females, 131,634. The population of West Suffolk was 117,553 - males, 51,680; females, 59,873.
The population in 1911 of East Suffolk (including the county borough of Ipswich), was 277,155, viz.:- males, 135,431, and females, 141,724; and West Suffolk, 116,905, viz.:- males, 57,945, and females, 58,960.