Yorkshire, England


Yorkshire, a maritime county in the N of England, much the largest of the English counties, nearly as large as Wales, and exceeds considerably the combined areas of the two next largest counties, Lincolnshire and Devonshire. It is bounded on the NW by Westmorland, on the N by Durham, on the NE and the E by the North Sea, on the S by Lincolnshire, Notts, and Derbyshire, on the SW by Cheshire, and on the W by Lancashire. Its boundary with Durham is the river Tees, with most of Lincolnshire the river Humber, and with most of Lancashire and Westmorland a lofty mountain watershed. Its outline is that of an irregular quadrangle. Its greatest length from E to W is about 120 miles, its greatest breadth from N to S is 90 miles, its circuit is about 400 miles, of which 120 are coast, and its area is 3,882,848 acres. The NE coast, from the Tees to Flamborough Head, is rocky and bold, rising into cliffs of various altitudes up to 800 feet. The interior thence westward to a great central vale extending southward from the Tees to the head of the Humber, is partly tableau, a series of vales, successive ranges of hills, and a great aggregate of elevated moorland. The E coast, all southward from the vicinity of Flamborough Head, is low and flat, and very much of it has suffered considerable denudation by the sea. The interior thence westward, to the width of from 10 to 20 miles, continues to be low and flat, and it then rises into a broad long range of wolds, extending southward to the vicinity of the Humber, and separating the low eastern tract from the great central valley. The W half of the county is exceedingly diversified; forms onward to Leyburn, Otley, Bradford, and Sheffield a rich diversity of vales, rising-grounds, and hills; exhibits thence to the W boundary increasing boldness of feature, with massive mountains and soaring summits; and possesses a great deal of highly picturesque scenery. A considerable section in the NW ranks with the Lake region of Westmorland and Cumberland in attractions of mingled beauty, romance, and sublimity, and the highest mountains there rise to altitudes of from 2300 to 2600 feet above sea-level.

The chief rivers are the Tees, the Esk, the Hull, the Swale, the Wiske, the Ure, the Ouse, the Nidd, the Foss, the Wharfe, the Derwent, the Aire, the Calder, and the Don. Igneous rocks are very sparse. Stratified rocks, with only one or two slight exceptions, form the entire county, and, in a general view, have their axis of elevation nearly coincident with most of the W boundary, and inclined thence to the eastward. Magnesian limestone forms a considerable tract in the NW, between Giggleswick and Kettlewell, and a narrow belt along the W side of the great central valley, all southward from the vicinity of Bedale. Yoredale rocks, or upper limestone shales, form two large tracts to the N and to the S of the NW magnesian limestone tract. Millstone grit forms an extensive region in all the W, at the extreme N to the extreme S, comparatively narrow in the N, but expanding to great width as it approaches and crosses the valley of the Wharfe. Coal measures form a great tract around Bradford, Barnsley, Dewsbury, Leeds, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Pontefract, Sheffield, and Rotherham, and extend continuously into Derbyshire and Notts. Trias rocks form all the great central valley, from the Tees continuously southward into Notts and Lincolnshire, and, though with varying breadth of belt, are uniformly new red or Bunter sandstone along the W side of the valley, and new red or Keuper marl and sandstone along the E side. Lias rocks form a considerable belt along nearly all the E side of the trias rocks, from the mouth of the Tees curvingly southward with slight interruption all the way to the Humber. In the Middle Lias are found large beds of iron ore; the Cleveland main seam is thickest and most valuable at its northerly outcrop at Eston Nab, where it is from 10 to 12 feet thick. A vast industry has been developed in connection with the working of the iron ore, the centre of which is Middlesboro.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5
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Archives and Libraries

East Riding of Yorkshire Archives and Local Studies
County Hall
East Riding of Yorkshire
HU17 9BA

The County Record Office
Malpas Road
North Yorkshire
Tel: 01609 777585
Fax: 01609 777078

West Yorkshire Archives Service


Old map of North East Yorkshire circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)

Old map of North West Yorkshire circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)

Old map of South East Yorkshire circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)

Old map of South West Yorkshire circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)

Parish Records

Findmypast, in conjunction with various Archives, Local Studies, and Family History Societies have the parish records online for most of Yorkshire.


Yorkshire, being the largest county by far, is split into four Ridings. As there are so many towns and parishes within the county we have listed them on the separate Riding pages:

Ainsty of York, East Riding, North Riding, West Riding.

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