LINCOLNSHIRE, a maritime county, bounded on the north by the broad estuary of the Humber; on the east, by the North Sea, and by the wide arm of it called the Wash; on the south, by the counties of Cambridge, Northampton, and Rutland; and on the west, by those of Leicester, Nottingham, and York. It extends from 52° 40' to 53° 43' (N. Lat.), and from 0°. 21' (E. Lon.) to 0° 57' (W. Lon.); and contains 2748 square miles, or 1,758,720 statute acres. Within its limits are 72,964 houses inhabited, 2246 uninhabited, and 454 in progress of erection; and the population amounts to 362,602, of which number 181,758 are males.
The county was included in the territory of the Coritani, and, subsequently, in the Roman division of Britain called Britannia Prima. From the remains of the Romans still in existence, it is evident that those conquerors not only considered the district of importance, in the state in which they found it, but also made considerable efforts towards removing the natural disadvantages, which have in a great degree disappeared before the more successful exertions of later ages. During the Anglo-Saxon era it formed a part of the kingdom of Mercia; its northern portion, the division of Lindsey, being wrested from that kingdom by Edwin of Northumbria. Christianity seems to have been introduced here soon after the conversion of that sovereign, by the Romish missionary, Paulinus, who, according to Bede, after completing the great work of conversion in Northumbria, came into the northern part of Mercia; converted Blecca, then governor of Lincoln; and baptized many people of this district in the river Trent. The see of Sidnacester, which is known to have comprised the province of Lindsey (although the site of Sidnacester itself is a subject of dispute among antiquaries) was established in 678, and continued until the eleventh century. The territory forming this county, owing to its locality, was particularly exposed to the incursions and ravages of the Danes, who wreaked their sanguinary fury upon it with especial frequency and violence.
Lincolnshire is included in the diocese of Lincoln, and province of Canterbury, and comprehends the archdeaconries of Lincoln and Stow, each containing several deaneries, and together comprising 609 parishes. It is divided into three grand "Parts;" namely, Lindsey, which is by much the largest, including nearly one-half of the county; Kesteven, which forms the south-western part; and Holland, the south-eastern; and each of these districts is subdivided into several hundreds or wapentakes. The county contains the city of Lincoln; the borough and market towns of Boston, Grantham, Grimsby, and Stamford; and the market-towns of Alford, Barton-upon-Humber, Bolingbroke, Bourne, Caistor, Donington, Epworth, Falkingham, Gainsborough, Glandford-Brigg, Holbeach, Horncastle, Kirton, Louth, Market-Deeping, Market-Rasen, Sleaford, Spalding, Spilsby, Long Sutton, Swineshead, Tattershall, Wainfleet, and Wragby. Under the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, four knights are returned for the shire, two being for the Parts of Lindsey, and two for the Parts of Kesteven and of Holland; two citizens are returned for the city of Lincoln, and two burgesses for each of the boroughs, except Grimsby, which sends only one. Lincolnshire is within the Midland circuit, and the assizes are held at Lincoln, where stands the county gaol.
The surface of Lincolnshire may be divided into the lowland tracts, comprising about 776,960 acres; the heaths, about 118,400; the Wolds, about 234,880; and a fourth portion having no distinguishing feature. The soils, besides other varieties in different situations, comprise clay, sand, loam, chalk, and peat, which are all found in extensive districts. The extreme flatness of the Lincolnshire coast, together with the slight fall of the rivers in the lower part of their course, and the consequent sluggishness of their waters, which terminate in estuaries at the two extremities of the county, occasioned the formation, in remote ages, of very large marshes, occupying the whole eastern side of the county, and being upwards of a third of its area. The improvement of the marshes attracted even the attention of the Romans, by whom works were constructed to carry off the superabundant waters; and since that period numerous undertakings have been accomplished under commissions and legislative enactments, made in different reigns, from the Anglo-Saxon era to the present time. The effect of these, by cleansing the channels and improving the outfalls of rivers, by constructing canals, sluices, and drains, and by raising embankments, has been to convert about 180,000 acres of unprofitable fen into firm arable and grazing land, a vast portion of which may be classed amongst the richest and most productive in the kingdom. Rape is very extensively cultivated, more especially in the fens and lowlands; it is chiefly applied to the feeding of sheep. The woad grown is upon the deep rich loams, and frequently on the saline maritime levels; and as the plant thrives best on soil that has been under grass, pasture land is commonly broken up for its cultivation. The common artificial grasses are red and white clover, trefoil, lucerne, and sainfoin, with various kinds of hayseeds. Onions are cultivated in the Isle of Axholme. But the rich grazing-lands of Lincolnshire are its distinguishing feature, in an agricultural point of view; they are to be found on a loamy clay, sometimes very stiff, but of uncommon fertility, and occupy a considerable portion of the county. The circumstance of the tides which come up the Trent, Ouse, Don, and other rivers that fall into the Humber, being exceedingly muddy, has given rise to the peculiar practice of warping, which is performed by letting in the water over the level lands at high tide, whereby the muddy particles, provincially called warp, are deposited, and then permitting the water to run off again at the ebb, by means of canals and sluices.
The two principal breeds of cattle are the Lincolnshire short-horned and the Leicestershire long-horned, the former of which is generally preferred. In the vicinity of Falkingham is a dun-coloured breed, said to have been originally brought from the Isle of Alderney; and in different parts are a few cattle of other breeds and crosses. The chief objects of the farmer being breeding and fattening, there are no dairies except for private use and the supply of the neighbouring markets with butter. The two prevailing kinds of sheep are the native Lincoln and the Leicester, the latter of which has become very general: it is computed that not less than 2,400,000 sheep are usually kept in the county. A considerable number of horses is bred, especially in Holland Fen; about Normanby, Barton, &c., many saddle and coach horses are reared, and on the Wolds some of the finest blood horses in the kingdom, greater attention being paid to them here than even in Yorkshire or Durham. Many thousand acres are occupied as rabbitwarrens in the county; and numerous flocks of geese are kept in the low fenny tracts, though not to the same extent as formerly. Few branches of manufacture are carried on. A good deal of flax is spun and woven into linen in the neighbourhood of Normanby and Barton; and in Holland Fen the female population spin flax, and, about Falkingham, flax and hemp. At the port of Gainsborough, besides ship-building, which is an important branch of business, a considerable quantity of rope and coarse hemp sacking is made.
The principal rivers are, the Trent, the Welland, the Witham, and the Ancholme. The Trent, after having separated the tract called the Isle of Axholme from the great body of the county, unites with the Ouse in forming the large estuary of the Humber; it is navigable up to Gainsborough for merchant vessels of considerable burthen, and for barges in all the rest of its course along the border of Lincolnshire. The Welland enters the county on the south, and divides into two branches, one of which proceeds south-by-east to Wisbech, in the county of Cambridge, apparently in the natural channel of the stream; while the other continues a sluggish course through an artificial bed to Spalding, below which town, after being enlarged by the waters of the Glen, it empties itself into Foss-dyke Wash, to the south of Boston. The Witham rises near South Witham, about ten miles north of Stamford, and falls into the ocean at Boston Deeps. The Ancholme rises in the Wolds near Market-Rasen, and empties itself into the Humber, from which it has been rendered navigable as high as Bishopbridge. The large bay, or estuary, called the Wash, into which the rivers passing through the immense tracts of fen land in the south-eastern parts of the county are disembogued, is for the most part extremely shallow, and full of shifting sands. An artificial navigation was cut in 1788, along the course of the Witham, from Boston to Lincoln, whence the line is continued by the Fossdyke canal to the Trent; and a canal from the river Witham, at Sleaford, to Boston, was finished in 1796. The Grantham canal, completed also in 1796, at an expense of about £100,000, extends from Grantham, through the north-easternmost part of Leicestershire, to the Trent, near Holme-Pierrepoint, being 33 miles in length. A navigable canal has been formed from Horncastle to the river Witham, at Dog-dyke, near Tattershall; and another from Louth to the sea at Tetney.
The Roman stations were, Ad Abum, supposed to have been at Winterton; Aquis, at Aukborough; Bannovallium, at Horncastle, or Ludford; Causennæ, at Ancaster, or Great Ponton; Crococolana, at Brough; Lindum, at Lincoln; and Vainona, at Wainfleet. Remains of Roman buildings, and various miscellaneous relics, have been found on the sites of these different stations; and some remains of minor importance have been discovered at Scampton, Torksey, Stow, Gainsborough, Caistor, Well, Gedney-Hill, Whaplode, Pinchbeck, Sleaford, Little Ponton, and Denton. The British Ermin-street, which was afterwards used by the Romans, enters the county to the west of Stamford, and about five miles to the north of Lincoln has a branch diverging from it in a north-western direction to Doncaster: another branch from the Ermin-street, about six miles north of Stamford, proceeded towards Ad Pontem, in its way to Southwell and Bawtry. The Fosse-way, beginning on the coast, not far from Ludborough, is visible from Ludford to Lincoln, also forward to Brough, and beyond that place in its course towards Newark. The British road called the Salt-way branched from the Ermin-street near Ponton, and ran by Denton into Leicestershire. There are remains of other British trackways, particularly of one running from Horncastle towards Caistor and the Humber. The Old Sea Bank is supposed to have been constructed by the Romans, to protect the district of South Holland from inundation; and the large drain called the Car-dyke, signifying the "fen dyke," is ascribed to the same people; it extends from the river Welland, on the south side of the county, to the Witham, near Lincoln, and is sixty feet wide, with a broad flat bank on each side.
Prior to the Reformation, there were 108 religious houses, including five alien priories, five houses of the Knights Templars, five colleges, and fourteen hospitals; the principal remains are those of the abbeys of Bardney, Barlings, Crowland, and Swineshead, of Semperingham Priory, and of Thornton College. The most remarkable ancient castellated buildings remaining, either wholly or in part, are the castles of Tattershall, Torksey, Lincoln, and Falkingham; and there are similar remains at Horncastle, Caistor, Somerton, Stamford, Scrivelsby, Bolingbroke, Pinchbeck, and Pilham; to which may be added Moor, Kyme, and Hussey towers. Of the castles of Bourne and Sleaford, only the earthworks now exist. There are ancient encampments near Brocklesby, Hibalston, Broughton, Roxby, Winterton Cliffs, Aukborough, Yarborough, South Ormsby, Burwell, Stamford, Gainsborough, Winteringham, Humington, Ingoldsby, Castle-Charlton, Burgh, Brough, and Barrow. In the parishes of Tetney, Fulstow, and the vicinity, are some blow-wells, or flowing pits of clear water, about thirty feet in depth; the discharge of which is very powerful. The division of Lindsey gives the title of Earl to the family of Bertie; and that of Holland confers the dignity of Baron upon the family of Fox.