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. Remains exist of Salcey, Whittlebury, and Rockingham forests, and produce oak, ash, beech, elm, and various kinds of underwood. The chief manufactures are shoes, boots, lace, malt, malt liquors, agricultural instruments, and paper.
According to the census returns issued in 1893, the chief occupatione of the people of the county were:Professional, 4370 males and 3361 females; domestic, 891 males and 15,603 females; commercial, 9962 males and 251 females; agricultural, 23,199 males and 381 females; fishing, 1 male; industrial, 60,401 males and 29,169 females; and "unoccupied," including retired business men, pensioners, those living on their own means, and others not specified, 16,421 males and 77,303 females; or a total in the county of 115,245 males and 117,068 females. The number of men employed in the leading industries was as follows:Boots and shoes, 25,796; agricultural labourers, 16,377; and general labourers, 4496. The chief occupations of women weredomestic service, with a total of 12,666; boots and shoes, 10,338; and millinery and dressmaking, 4426. There were also in the county 228 blind persons, 206 deaf, 115 deaf and dumb, and 1452 mentally deranged.
The Nen is navigable for small craft up to Northampton; and the Welland, along the boundary with Lincolnshire, up to Stamford. The Grand Junction Canal traverses the county, about 25 miles south-east-by-southward, from Braunston to Cosgrove; makes a junction in the NW with the Oxford Canal; sends off a branch from Middleton to the Nen at Northampton; sends off another branch from Cosgrove, along the border, past Stony Stratford; and gives communication, through its connections, with the country around Birmingham, the Trent and the Mersey navigations, and the navigation of the Thames. The Grand Union Canal begins in the Grand Junction Canal near Daventry; runs northward into Leicestershire, to the Leicester Canal; and sends off a branch to Market Harborough. Most of the railways in the county have been noticed in the article on Northampton; another railway (part of the G.W. system) not noticed there runs along the SW verge from the vicinity of Banbury, past Kings Sutton and Aynho; another (part of the L. & N.W. system) goes across the SW wing from Banbury to Brackley, toward Buckingham; another (the main line of the L. & N.W.R.) comes in from the neighbourhood of Rugby, and goes south-east-by-eastward, past Watford, Weedon, Blisworth, and Ashton, toward Bletchley; another L. & N.W. line comes in from Leicester at Market Harborough, and goes south-south-eastward, past Kettering and Wellingborough, toward Bedford; another (belonging to the G.N.R.) runs curvingly across the NE wing, from Stamford to Peterborough; another of the G.N.R. lines comes in from York at Tallington, and goes south-eastward, chiefly alongside of the previous line, to Peterborough; another deflects from the last in the neighbourhood of Werrington, and goes north-eastward, past Peakirk into Lincolnshire, toward Boston; and another (belonging to the L. & N.W.R.) going from Rugby, past Market Harborough and Rockingham to Stamford, though running chiefly within Leicestershire and Rutland, impinges on parts of Northamptonshire, and serves for all its NW border.
The administrative county of Northampton contains 301 entire civil parishes and parts of seven others, the soke of Peterborough contains twenty-nine entire civil parishes and parts of three others, and the county borough of Northampton contains five entire civil parishes. The administrative counties of Northampton and the soke of Peterborough include four municipal boroughs, exclusive of the county borough of Northampton, viz.:Brackley, Daventry, Higham Ferrers, and the city of Peterborough. The administrative county has one court of quarter sessions and nine petty sessional divisions. The county borough of Northampton, and the liberty of the soke of Peterborough have each a separate court of quarter sessions and a separate commission of the peace. The ancient county contains 288 entire ecclesiastical parishes or districts, with parts of ten others, most of which are in the diocese of Peterborough. For parliamentary purposes, the ancient county is divided into four divisions, known as the Northern, Eastern, Mid, and Southern divisions respectively. It also includes the parliamentary borough of Northampton and part of the parliamentary borough of Peterborough. The county is further divided into the hundreds of Chipping Warden, Cleley, Corby, Fawsley, Greens Norton, Guilsborough, Hamfordshoe, Higham Ferrers, Huxloe, Kings Sutton, Nassaburgh or Peterborough liberty, Navisford, Nobottle Grove, Orlingbury, Polebrook, Rothwell, Spelhoe, Towcester, Willybrook, and Wymersley. The registration county is divided into the districts of Brackley, Towcester, Potterspury, Hardingstone, Northampton, Daventry, Brixworth, Wellingborough, Kettering, Thrapston, Oundle, and Peterborough. The county town is Northampton; a city and parliamentary borough is Peterborough; other towns with more than 2000 inhabitants are Wellingborough, Kettering, Daventry, Oundle, Towcester, and Brackley; and there are about 400 smaller towns, villages, and hamlets. The chief seats are Boughton House, Wakefield Lodge, Burghley House. Castle Ashby, Althorp Park, Deene Park, Easton House, Salcey Lodge, Barton Seagrave Hall, Apethorpe Hall, Eydon Hall, Farming Woods, Guilsborough Hall, Aynho Park, Lady Anne's House, Kelmarsh Hall, Hazlebeech Hall, Laxton Hall, Lilford Hall, Overstone Park, Peterborough Palace, Watford Court, Ashby St Leger's Lodge, Ashby St Leger's Manor House, Badby House, Courteenhall Hall, East Carlton Hall, Great Addington Manor House, Milton House, Parkview, Stanford Hall, Sulby Hall, Wicken Park, Woodford House, Canons Ashby, Cranford Hall, Fawsley Park, Astrop House, Biggin Hall, Blatherwycke Park, Bragborough Hall, Brixworth Hall, Buckby Hall, Charlton Lodge, Cotterstock Hall, Cottesbrooke, Hall, Delapré Abbey, Dingley Park, Drayton House, East Haddon Hall, Ecton Hall, Edgcote House, Evenley Hall, Finedon, Fineshade Abbey, Glendon Hall, Billing Hall, Great Oakley Hall, Kingsthorpe Hall, Knuston Hall, Lamport Hall, Marston Trussell Hall, Mears Ashby Hall, Morton Pinkney Manor, Moulton Grange, Naseby Woolleys, Newnham Hall, Norton Hall, Orlingbury House, Paston Hall, Pipewell Hall, Rockingham Castle, Rushton Hall, Sholebrook Lodge, Southwick Hall, Spratton Hall, Stoke Park, Thenford House, Thorpe Hall, Upton Hall, Wadenhoe House, Welton Place, Westwood House, Whilton Lodge, and Yardley Gobion House.
Northamptonshire is governed by a lord-lieutenant and custos rotulorum, and a county council of 17 aldermen and 51 councillors. It is in the midland judicial circuit and in the diocese of Peterborough. The assizes are held at Northampton, and quarter sessions at Northampton and Peterborough. The Government Prison is at Northampton. The liberty of Peterborough is governed by a lord-paramount and custos rotulorum, and about 40 magistrates. The headquarters of the county police are at Northampton. Under the Local Government Act of 1888 the county of Northampton and the soke of Peterborough (with the exception of the borough of Northampton, which forms an administrative county in itself) became for the purposes of the act distinct administrative counties, each governed by a county council. The council for Northamptonshire meets at Northampton. The council for the soke of Peterborough consists of a chairman, 10 aldermen, and 30 councillors, and has its meetings at Peterborough.
The territory now forming Northamptonshire was inhabited by the ancient British Coritani; was included by the Romans in their province of Flavia Cæsariensis; formed part of the Saxon kingdom of Mercia; was known at Domesday as Northamtunescire; and then included what is now Rutland. Many remarkable events have occurred in it, and are noticed in our articles oil Northampton, Naseby, Edgcott, Fotheringay, Borough Hill, and other places where they happened. Ancient camps, variously British, Roman, Saxon, and Danish, are at Burnt Walls, Borough Hill, Arbury Banks, Castle Dykes, Irthlingborough, Raynesbury, Huntsborough, Hardingstone, Passenham, Berrymount, Guilsborough, Ringstead, Bound Hill near Lilbourne, and Castle Hill near Sulgrave. Roman stations were at Burnt Walls or Borough Hill, Chipping Warden, Towcester, Lilbourne, and Castor. The Roman Watling Street comes in on the S at Stony Stratford; goes north-north-westward past Towcester, Borough Hill, and Lilbourne; and proceeds thence beyond the county to an intersection of the Fosse Way at High Cross. The Port way deflected from Watling Street within the county and went to Backgrounds and Aynho. Ermine Street crosses the NE wing of the county from the neighbourhood of Castor to Stamford. Roman pavements have been found at Great Welden, Cotterstock, Thorpe, and Stanwick; and Roman coins and other Roman relics have been found in very many places. Old castles are or were at Fotheringay, Barnwell, Brackley, Northampton, Barton Seagrave, Rockingham, and other places. Queen Eleanor's crosses are at Delapré Abbey and Geddington, and others were at Braunston and Brackley. Abbeys, priories, friaries, nunneries, and monastic hospitals were numerous, and some of them have left considerable remains. An old cathedral is at Peterborough, and old churches with interesting features are at Barnack, Barnwell, Brackley, Brington, Brixworth, Castor, Earls Barton, Fotheringay, Glinton, Higham Ferrers, Northampton, Oundle, Spratton, Twywell, Wellingborough, and Whiston.
According to the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885 the following are the Parliamentary Divisions of Northamptonshire, each of which returns one member to the House of Commons:
Northern Division (population, 46,718) includes the following:Kettering (part of)Barford, Barton Seagrave, Beanfield Lawns, Burton Latimer, Carlton (East), Corby, Cottingham, Cranford (St Andrew), Cranford (St John), Desborough, Geddington, Grafton Underwood, Gretton, Middleton, Newton, Oakley (Great), Oakley (Little), Rockingham, Rushton, Stanion, Warkton, Weekley, Weldon (Great), Weldon (Little); OundleArmston, Ashton, Apethorpe, Barnwell (All Saints), Barnwell (St Andrew), Benefield, Blatherwick, Bulwick, Collyweston, Cotterstock, Deenethorpe, Deene, Duddington, Easton-on-the-Hill, Fineshade, Fotheringay, Glapthorne, Harringworth, Hemington, Kingscliffe, Laxton, Lilford-cum-Wigsthorpe, Luddington (part of), Lutton (part of), Nassington, Oundle, Pilton, Polebrook, South-wick, Stoke Doyle, Tansor, Thorpe Achurch, Thurning (part of), Wadenhoe, Wakerley, Warmington, Winwick, Woodnewton, Yarwell; ThrapstonAddington (Great), Aldwinckle (All Saints), Aldwinckle (St Peter), Brigstock, Clapton, Denford, Hargrave, Islip, Lowick, Baunds, Ringstead, Slipton, Sudborough, Thrapston, Tichmarsh, Twywell, Woodford ; Martin's, St (Stamford Baron)Ashton, Bainton, Barnack, Pilsgate, St Martin's (Stamford Baron), Southorpe, Thornhaugh, Ufford, Wansford, Wittering, Wothorpe; PeterboroughAilsworth, Borough Fen, Castor, Deeping Gate, Etton, Eye, Glinton, Gunthorpe, Helpstone, Marholme, Maxey, Newborough, Northborough, Paston, Peakirk, Peterborough, Peterborough Precincts, Sutton, Upton, Walton, Werrington; Stamford, municipal borough (the part in Northamptonshire).
Eastern Division (population, 65,501) includes the following : Wellingborough Addington (Little), Bozeat, Chelveston-cum-Caldecott, Doddington (Great), Earl's Barton, Easton Mauditt, Ecton, Finedon, Grendon, Hardwick, Harrowden (Great), Harrowden (Little), Higham Ferrers (part of), Higham Park, Irchester, Irthlingborough, Isham, Mear's Ashby, Newton Bromshold, Orlingbury, Rushden, Stanwick, Strixton, Sywell, Wellingborough, Wilby, Woollaston; Kettering (part of)Broughton, Cransley, Kettering Pytcheley.
Mid Division (population, 48,794) includes the following:Bowden (Little)Arthingworth, Ashley, Bowden (Little), Brampton Ash, Braybrooke, Clipstone, Dingley, East Farndon, Hazlebeech, Hothorpe, Kelmarsh, Maidwell, Marston Trussell, Naseby, Oxenden (Great), Sibbertoft, Stoke Albany, Sulby, Sutton Bassett, Thorpe Lubenham, Welford, Weston-by-Welland, Wilbarston; NorthamptonAbington, Althorp. Billing (Great), Billing (Little), Boughton, Brafield-on-the-Green, Brington, Brixworth, Bugbrooke, Castle Ashby, Chapel Brampton, Church Brampton, Coaton, Cogenhoe, Cold Ashby, Collingtree, Cottesbrooke, Courteenhall, Creaton (Great), Creaton (Little), Dallington, Dehton, Duston, East Haddon, Floore, Guilsborough, Hackleton, Hanging Houghton, Hannington, Hardingstone, Hariestone, Harpole, Heyford (Nether), Heyford (Upper), Holcot, Holdenby, Hollowell, Horton, Houghton (Great), Houghton (Little), Kingsthorpe, Kislingbury, Lamport, Milton, Moulton, Moulton Park, Overstone, Piddington, Pitsford, Preston Deanery, Quinton, Ravensthorpe, Boade, Rothersthorpe, Scaldwell, Spratton, Teeton, Thornby, Upton, Walgrave, Weston Favell, Whiston, Wold, Wootton, Yardley, Hastings; Daventry (part of)Lilbourne, Stanford, Claycoton, Yelvertoft, Elkington, Barby, Kilsby, Crick, Winwick, West Haddon, Long Buckby, Watford, Ashby (St Leger's) ; Kettering (part of)Draughton, Glendon, Harrington, Faxton, Rothwell, Orton, Loddington, Thorpe Malzor, Mawsley; Northampton, municipal borough.
Southern, Division (population, 46,627) includes the following :BrackleyAppletree, Aston-le-Walls, Astwell and Falcutt, Aynhoe, Boddington (Lower), Boddington (Upper), Brackley (St James), Brackley (St Peter), Chalcombe, Chippingwarden, Croughton, Culworth, Edgcott, Evenley, Eydon, Farthinghoe, Greatworth, Helmdon, Hinton-in-the-Hedges, Kingsutton, Marston (St Lawrence), Middleton Cheney, Moreton Pinkney, Newbottle, Badstone, Steane, Stoneton, Stuchbury, Sulgrave, Syresham, Thenford, Thorpe Mandeville, Warkworth, Whitfield; TowcesterAbthorpe, Adstone, Alderton, Ashton, Blakesley, Blisworth, Bradden, Cold Higham, Cosgrove, Easton Neston, Furtho, Gayton, Grafton Regis, Greensnorton, Hartwell, Litchborough, Maidford, Pattishall, Passenham, Paulerspury, Plumpton, Potterspury, Shutlanger, Silverstone, Slapton, Stoke Brueme, Tiffield, Towcester, Wappenham, Weedon Loys, Whittlebury, Wicken, Woodend, Yardley Gobion; Daventry (part of)Badby, Braunston, Brockhall, Byfield, Canon's Ashby, Catesby Abbey, Charwelton, Daventry, Dodford, Everdon, Farthingstone, Fawsley, Hellidon, Newnham, Norton, Preston Capes, Staverton, Stowe-Nine-Churches, Weedon Beck, Welton, Whilton, Woodford-cum-Membris.
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.
We have transcribed the entry for Northamptonshire from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1848 (Northamptonshire)
- Kelly's Directory of Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire, and Northamptonshire, 1914
A listing of the Hundreds and Liberties in Northamptonshire, with the parishes contained in them.
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Northamptonshire is available to browse.
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: