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Rutland, and Roxburghshire, and Ross-shire

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Alexander Howard
1324169.  Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:44 am Reply with quote

It is interesting that so many of my favourite counties are those few which begin with an R.

Rutland used to be known more usually as 'Rutlandshire'. It is a little jewel: not the smallest county in the land but the fourth smallest: West Lothian, Kinross-shire and wee Clackmannanshire are smaller. If you suffer congenital Anglo-centricity then it is the smallest in England. In a past series Stephen Fry claimed this was the Isle of Wight at low tide - well if you are talking about local government areas named 'counties' then Wight is small but the most peedie would be the City of London. Best then to stick with real counties and not the moment's plastic impositions that borrow the name.

The Dukes of Rutland live in Leicestershire, not Rutland. The composer Rutland Boughton was born in Buckinghamshire, which suggests his parents were confused (but of course Somerset Maugham was born in Paris not Somerset and the Earls of Belmore, whose Christian names alternate across the generations between 'Somerset' and 'Armar' sic have not lived in Somerset nor Armagh). He was once one of the country's favourite composers but is now largely forgotten.

That is all before I get onto the county itself, and the other R-shires.

 
GuyBarry
1324172.  Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:59 am Reply with quote

Alexander Howard wrote:
well if you are talking about local government areas named 'counties' then Wight is small but the most peedie would be the City of London.


The City of London is not a county for local government purposes; as a local government unit it is sui generis. The City of London is, however, the smallest of the 48 ceremonial counties of England.

The smallest local government unit with the powers of a county council is, I believe, Rutland.

Quote:
Best then to stick with real counties and not the moment's plastic impositions that borrow the name.


There are (at least) three different divisions of England into counties. The county structure you're referring to is that of the "historic" or "traditional" counties. The definition of "county" for local government purposes is different from that, and the definition of "ceremonial county" (areas for the purposes of the Lieutenancies Act) is different again.

I'm sure it's all been discussed here before at length but Wikipedia gives a reasonably good account of the differences.

 
suze
1324182.  Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:27 am Reply with quote

If you were to use the forum search to look for previous discussions of the smallness of counties, you would find that the good husband has done the topic to death and beyond. I don't insist that you actually do it!


The Burgh of Roxburgh ceased to exist in 1460. If it did still exist, it would by now be a suburb of Kelso. But once Roxburgh had disappeared the capital of Roxburghshire was removed to Jedburgh, so why was not the county renamed?

 
Alexander Howard
1324198.  Thu Jun 13, 2019 2:27 pm Reply with quote

The Burgh of Roxburgh was destroyed in 1460 by Mary of Guelders, the newly widowed Queen of King James II, who had been killed by an exploding cannon before the walls of Roxburgh.

For much of its history the town was held by the English. Earlier Roxburgh had been on the border of the kingdoms, as recounted by Henry of Huntingdon, but at some point more land was ceded to Scotland.

It is a lot more peaceful there since the unnatural division of Britain was healed.

Kincardine is another burgh which has disappeared, but there is still Kincardineshire. There's more to a county than the town which first named it. (Perth seems to be named from its county rather than the other way round.)

 
Big Martin
1324219.  Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:47 am Reply with quote

Why no Bristol in the first list? It was made a separate county back in 1373. Isn't over 600 years long enough to count?

 
GuyBarry
1324222.  Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:42 am Reply with quote

I tried to find out the answer to this on the Association of British Counties' website, as precisely the same question had occurred to me. The question appears in its FAQ list:

"Arenít some towns and cities (e.g. Bristol, Haverfordwest) counties in their own right?"

Unfortunately the link containing the answer is broken. Perhaps AH would care to enlighten us. Edward III's charter explicitly states:

Quote:
We have conceded to our beloved burgesses of our town of Bristol and to their heirs and successors in perpetuity that the town of Bristol with its suburbs and precincts shall henceforth be separate from the counties of Gloucester and Somerset and be in all things exempt both by land and by sea, and that it should be a county by itself, to be called the county of Bristol in perpetuity, and that the burgesses and their heirs and successors should have in perpetuity within the town of Bristol and its suburbs and precincts certain liberties and exemptions and enjoy them fully and use them as is more fully contained in the said charter.


It's certainly older than some of the so-called "traditional" counties of Scotland and Wales.

 
Jenny
1324304.  Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:06 pm Reply with quote

Hull, where I grew up, was "the city and county of Kingston Upon Hull".

 
GuyBarry
1324362.  Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:35 am Reply with quote

Big Martin wrote:
Why no Bristol in the first list? It was made a separate county back in 1373. Isn't over 600 years long enough to count?


I think I may have found the answer now: Bristol was a so-called county corporate, the first to be so created. The Association of British Counties apparently doesn't include them in its list of "historic counties" even though Bristol probably has a better claim than most - and unlike the others, Bristol's county status has now been reinstated for ceremonial purposes.

Wikishire, which is a guide to Britain and Ireland based on the ABC's list of counties, places Bristol in both Gloucestershire and Somerset, with the original course of the Avon as the boundary, although it concedes that "few cartographers have sought definitively to mark the boundary between the two within the city".

 
suze
1324426.  Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:20 am Reply with quote

The good husband is telling me that the counties corporate were never really considered as "real counties". Some of them were ridiculously small to be so considered, notably the County Corporate of the City of Canterbury which included only that area inside the historic walls and so was but one third of a square mile in area.

Bristol got special treatment when the counties corporate were abolished, and became both a ceremonial county and subsequently a county borough. If you can't sleep some time, see post 234690 in which the good man has far more to say on the matter.

 
GuyBarry
1324430.  Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:53 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
The good husband is telling me that the counties corporate were never really considered as "real counties". Some of them were ridiculously small to be so considered, notably the County Corporate of the City of Canterbury which included only that area inside the historic walls and so was but one third of a square mile in area.

Bristol got special treatment when the counties corporate were abolished, and became both a ceremonial county and subsequently a county borough. If you can't sleep some time, see post 234690 in which the good man has far more to say on the matter.


Thanks! Bristol is different from all the others for one obvious reason: there is no county that completely surrounds it. I presume that one of the motivations for making it a county of its own was that it wasn't clearly part of either Gloucestershire or Somerset. And the other "counties corporate" followed Bristol (with the exception of the even more anomalous City of London). You can argue that the county of Bristol was sui generis when it was created and hence that the existence of "counties corporate" elsewhere in the country is irrelevant.

Given that Bristol successfully campaigned to have its ceremonial county status restored in 1996 when Avon County Council was abolished, I would have thought that the case for treating Bristol as one of the "historic counties" is unanswerable. (And I am in no way biased by the fact that I was born there :-))

 
Alexander Howard
1325838.  Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:30 pm Reply with quote

Ross-shire (at last). One of my favourite places - along with Roxburghshire, Rutland and Radnorshire. Roscommon is pretty nice too.

The map of Ross-shire looks as if someone has been careless with a shotgun. The reason is Cromartyshire - once a small county on the Black Isle, it got involved in the dangerous politics of the Stewart Era - the hereditary sheriff fell out of then back into favour and was compensated on his return by the inclusion in his shire of all his family lands, which were scattered across Easter Ross and Wester Ross. The best map is, again, on Wikishire:
https://wikishire.co.uk/map/#/centre=57.808,-4.781/zoom=10

Maps do not do justice to a place like Ross-shire. It is a shire to be experienced. You get lost in the vastness of it - and can be amazed that on a crowded island there are still places where you might stand on a mountain top or in a glen and see not another human being nor habitation wherever you look.

Then there are the saddles between forbidding peaks that are really passes between one glen and another, not barring but joining and both forbidding and welcoming - but I might just be talking bealachs.

 

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