*"Shires" and "Counties"

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BobWard
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"Shires" and "Counties"

Post by BobWard » 08 Mar 2017 02:58

I have an extensive number of ancestors from the U.K. I have a question for you U.K. folks regarding the usage of the term 'shire" as it is used in places like "North Yorkshire". I have been adding "County" to the end of such PLACE names, i.e., "North Yorkshire County".

I suspect that I am being superfluous in adding "County" after such place names. From what I can gather, the term "shire" is essentially equivalent to a "county" in the U.S. I have been adding "County" after "Shire" names so that my U.S. relatives will understand that places like "North Yorkshire" are the same as a "County" in the U.S.

So, to be more technically accurate, should I remove the "County" term after all the "xxxxxshire" names that I have in my PLACE records?

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by RSellens » 08 Mar 2017 06:23

Hi Bob,
Irrespective of the county name containing 'shire' or not at the end, in my own view in the UK we don't normally include the work 'county' as part of the place name, it only tends to be used when referring to bodies/organisations. So for example, Essex is the county and just referred to as that in the place, but you have 'Essex County Council' as the local government name, same goes for Kent and Sussex.
I think in the US, you actually tend to have the word County as a formal part of the place name from my experience (i.e. 'Orange County' is the actual place name, and not just Orange, for example).

Richard

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by StevieSteve » 08 Mar 2017 06:56

Though there is County Durham, used to distinguish county and city.

That format's more common in Ireland and Northern Ireland e.g. County Dublin, County Down and more

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by Gowermick » 08 Mar 2017 07:10

Bob,
I would just like to add to Richards comments. There are a few occasions when we do add County to the title, like County Durham to distinguish it from the City of Durham, or because they are part of Northern Ireland such as Country Antrin. County Down etc.

Furthermore, we even drop the Shire from some who officially have it , such as Devonshire, which we normally refer to as simply Devon or Somersetshire which is usually contracted to Somerset

You may also come across other contractions, and whilst most are obvious, like Wilts for Wiltshire, Hants for Hampshire, you may get thrown by Salop which is an ancient contraction for Shropshire.

As for the Ridings of Yorkshire, they are not normally used in modern addresses, but there is no harm in adding them, if it helps, for genealogical purposes.

Just to confuse you further, nowadays, Sussex is also also split, into East Sussex and West Sussex and are normally used in modern addresses. When this practise started, I'm not sure.

Sorry if this complicates things for you, but that's just how it is :D :D
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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by tatewise » 08 Mar 2017 08:53

If that isn't confusing enough, then there is London, which often uses Middlesex as its 'county' in older place names.
More recently you will come across City of London for the very central area, County of London for a larger area, and Greater London that includes the surrounding suburban areas.
Also the postal address of a place is not always the same as its administrative county, e.g. some outer regions of Greater London have their postal address in the home county of Essex or Kent.

As well as all that, there have been many county boundary changes for demographic and administrative reasons, and new modern counties created such as West Midlands.

I know it is confusing, but perhaps that is why we are called quaint old England.

There is a very good List of counties of the United Kingdom in Wikipedia, subdivided for each of the countries England, Northern Ireland, Scotland & Wales, giving the dates they changed, with links to more detailed history for each country, and lists of abbreviations and nicknames.

You will probably be aware that since 1837 all Birth, Marriage, Death, and Census records are registered in GRO Districts whose place names do not always coincide with administrative or postal addresses.
See Wikipedia Registration district and GENUKI Civil Registration UK and Ireland.
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history ~ tatewise ancestry

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by E Wilcock » 08 Mar 2017 09:03

Excellent replies -
fh is excellent to in that it allows one to record both the historical name and the current standard

But OP - I am a Brit and I took the policy decision in my previous software always to enter the full word for the county. So I type in Warwickshire and not the abbreviation Warwicks, Berkshire and not Berks. It is a bit of a bother but it made it clear.

We have the same problem with USA place names. I only discovered yesterday after fruitless searching for a record, that there is an Iowa City as well as Iowa state and a European official had confused the two.

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by E Wilcock » 08 Mar 2017 09:21

As a personal reflection on American and UK English. It is questionable whether the English term County is the equivalent of the same word used in the USA. A county in USA is a subdivision of a State. In the UK it was the unit of local government immediately below the central government.

For many people historically, their county of birth had an enormous personal significance. Being born in Yorkshire made one a Yorkshireman (and qualified to play cricket for Yorkshire). The Wars of the Roses were between the Dukes of Lancashire and Yorkshire. Being born in some counties seems to have more significance than others - Shakespeare was born in Warwickshire. Drake sailed from Devon (Devonshire)
Our County probably has the same significance as being born in a State in the USA, thinking of oneself as a Californian or a Texan?

It is trumped however by coming from a notable city. My father came from Liverpool - never thought of himself as coming from Lancashire. And now it is Merseyside anyway.

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by StevieSteve » 08 Mar 2017 09:54

<pedantry>
Lancaster & York
</pedantry>

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by Gowermick » 08 Mar 2017 10:24

tatewise wrote:If that isn't confusing enough, then there is London, which often uses Middlesex as its 'county' in older place names.
More recently you will come across City of London for the very central area, County of London for a larger area, and Greater London that includes the surrounding suburban areas.
Not forgetting south of the River (Thames), where parts of Surrey and Kent also formed part of London. :D

This all has significance when searching through censuses of course. In older censuses, a town may be shown as part of Middlesex, Surrey or Kent, but in later censuses, shown as part of London.

When widening your search from Town to County, putting the wrong term into the search engine may throw up unexpected results or none as the case may be!
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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by johnmorrisoniom » 08 Mar 2017 12:13

A lot of what is called "London", is actually in the city of Westminster. London is often referred to as "The Square Mile" , a reference to it's original size.

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by dewilkinson » 08 Mar 2017 12:32

All the above is accurate information. I like to record addresses as they were at the time. As a policy I record things like Yorkshire, Lancashire but also as Devon and Somerset as shire bit of these has never really been used. As Mike said a bit quaint.

As has been mentioned Middlesex covered a lot of what we would now know as London. Prior to 1890 London was just the City of London, the rest was in Middlesex, Essex, Kent and Surrey. In 1890 the county of London was created and lasted until 1965 when Greater London was formed swallowing up even more of some of the traditional counties.

To confuse things even more we also have Unitary Authorities such as Peterborough, which administratively stands alone but for ceremonial and legal aspects, such as the courts, is in Cambridgeshire. The same applies to a lot of Greater London, e.g. Kingston-upon-Thames is in Greater London for administrative reasons, but still in Surrey for ceremonial reasons.

All very confusing. I would advise getting some historical maps so you can see where the county boundaries were, As E Wilcock said, UK counties are not like USA counties, they are more equivalent to States but don't have legislative powers.

Best of luck
David Wilkinson researching Bowtle, Butcher, Edwards, Gillingham, Overett, Ransome, Simpson, and Wilkinson in East Anglia

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by TimTreeby » 08 Mar 2017 13:56

I suggest that everyone reads these notes regarding Counties and how formed http://www.gazetteer.org.uk/notes.php as there is a lot of difference between a "Historic County" (eg. Lancashire, Middlesex etc) which has never been abolished or boundaries changed and an "Administrive County" (E.g. Mersyside).

It also explains how/what/where different documents even from the same period may use a different County Name even for the same place, depending on the context of the document.

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by trevorrix » 08 Mar 2017 23:01

dewilkinson wrote:I would advise getting some historical maps so you can see where the county boundaries were.
http://maps.familysearch.org
Trevor Rix

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by victor » 09 Mar 2017 00:03

County boundary changes were made in 1974 when these became known as administration counties. On top of this some places which were in one county has been moved to another county when the administration county was started.
Since 1974 some of these administration counties have also been changed with new names.
I prefer to stick to the old pre-1974 boundary names as I regard these as still in existence and are the real counties. Lets say a 1900 address in Sheffield (for example) which was in West Yorkshire. After 1974 that became South Yorkshire. It is incorrect to give the 1900 address as Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

When it comes to the three Ridings I always give the correct Riding name as there are places of the same name in more than one Riding. For example Hessle, East Riding. There is an Hessle, West Riding. The first is near Hull and the second near Wakefield. There are quite a few place names like this

Victor

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by BobWard » 09 Mar 2017 03:23

Thanks for all the replies. Yes, that does sound a little complex over there.

In the U.S. we are pretty much city/town, township, county, state.

I think I will remove the "County" term from all my U.K. "shire" locations.

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by kbella » 10 Mar 2017 18:20

I've run into this dilemma numerous times with my husband's ancestry. First, he and numerous relatives were born in and around Todmorden - variously in WRY, West Yorks, Yorkshire West Riding, etc. At one time (at least) the boundary changed so that "Tod" was in Lancashire, then, I believe, it changed back again? (For an American, this was very confusing; in California, it is usually just city, county, state.)

Also, I have found many sources for other family members in that area that record the place(s) as Yorkshire Lancashire, or Yorkshire and Lancashire.

I try to record sources as written, but sometimes have to make a judgement call for clarity. I want everyone to understand where something happened; if our British relatives get their knickers in a twist, I remind them I'm doing the work! :D

I have the same problems with my mother's Irish ancestry, to a lesser degree. Sometimes events were recorded as in the registration district, but sometimes as the parish or townland, so with no descriptor it can look like a different place altogether. And then there is always the source that says Donegal Tyrone <sigh>.

I have noticed lately that some websites are "standardizing" place names, leaving off some or all of the descriptors such as County, Township, etc. I'm not sure it is a good thing, but it is easier for data entry to just have commas separating everything.

Isn't genealogy fun?
Kathleen

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by davidf » 10 Mar 2017 19:20

(England) Local Government reorganisation in 1974 has a lot to answer for! I suspect reorganisations in Scotland (introduction of Regional Councils) and Wales ("new counties") cause similar problems. Irish partition also causes its own problems.

I was once trained in data analysis, so am very reluctant to see the same place have two or more entries in a database (e.g Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham pre 1974; Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland 1974-1996; Stockton-on-Tees now). They are the same place so in a database should be the same item - makes statistical analysis so much easier!

Yet to say someone was born in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham in 1980 is clearly "wrong" - just as saying born in Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland in 1911 is "wrong"!

I personally try to standardise on the pre-1974 description, although I find it hard to follow through when it comes to London where I sort of follow the pre 1965 naming with the Inner boroughs being (County of) London and the outer boroughs being "towns" in Surrey, Kent, Essex etc. I am still working through the FHv6 ability to standardise place names.

Then of course Belfast is in both County Antrim and County Down in Northern Ireland (also sometimes called Ulster even though some counties of the historic Irish province of Ulster are (post 1922) in the Republic of Ireland).

Non-UK researchers also need to be very suspicious of "Post Towns" a modern address such as:
#### Cottage
Bellingham
HEXHAM
NE48 ###

Is most certainly not in Hexham (the Post Town)! Bellingham (pronounced approx Belling-Jam) is a rural village in Northumberland (a County) in the North East of England about 10 miles (16km) from the market Town of Hexham. And the "NE" in the Postcode (zip code) stands for Newcastle not North East! Postal Addresses are very much for the convenience of the Royal Mail not for Genealogists!

Two useful sites for getting your mind around postal addresses are:
http://www.sitemap.co.uk - use "Smart Search" (using a place name or a postcode) and then when you get to a map notice the link at the bottom "Click here to convert coordinates." The coordinates will include Lat & Long and Postcode.
http://www.royalmail.com/find-a-postcode - which will give a post code given an address (and an address given a postcode)

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by BillH » 10 Mar 2017 21:01

I have noticed lately that some websites are "standardizing" place names, leaving off some or all of the descriptors such as County, Township, etc. I'm not sure it is a good thing, but it is easier for data entry to just have commas separating everything.
My view is that this is not a good idea. The problem is that without the descriptors, it is impossible to tell what is really being said.

For example: Faribault, Minnesota, USA

Is that the township of Faribault or the county Faribault. To confuse even more, Faribault Township is not in Faribault County.

Another: Blue Earth, Minnesota, USA

Is that the town of Blue Earth or the township of Blue Earth? Again, Blue Earth city is not in Blue Earth Township.

To confuse things even further, not every state has counties. In some states, many of the towns are independent and don't reside in counties. Also, not every state uses townships. You don't know how many times I've tried to find a place not knowing if it was a town, a township, or a county.

So, I always use the word County after a county name and Township after a township name so that I can tell them apart. Very often there is a town in a township with the same name as the township.

This may apply more to the US than in the UK, but I find it is always helpful to be precise.

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by AdrianBruce » 10 Mar 2017 21:35

BillH wrote:... The problem is that without the descriptors, it is impossible to tell what is really being said. ...
Absolutely agree. Some American (for example, but I'm sure there are issues elsewhere) genealogists are quite emphatic that their sequence is "Place, county, State, United States" and seem to think that statement suffices, no need for the addition of words like "County". The problem is that while they may understand what is written, the reader may not. I'll bet that most "normal" people outside the US will interpret "Pasadena, Los Angeles, California, United States" as describing a suburb of the City of LA, whereas the LA in question is actually intended to be Los Angeles County.

I promise that I only omit the descriptor words when (a) the place is unique or (b) the source doesn't make it clear whether it's (say) Barthomley village, Barthomley parish or Barthomley township. Well, that's my intention, although the road to hell, etc, etc. (NB "Hell is a locale in Riverside County, California, United States" ;) )
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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by Gowermick » 10 Mar 2017 22:33

AdrianBruce wrote: (NB "Hell is a locale in Riverside County, California, United States" ;) )
'Hell' is also a place in Grand Cayman :D :D
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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by kbella » 10 Mar 2017 23:35

I agree. I wasn't promoting the idea, just reporting what I had seen.

And just to add to the list, four of the 50 American states use "Commonwealth" as part of their names, and Louisiana uses parishes instead of counties.

The world is a right mess when it comes to places and their names, so all we can do is try and be consistent in our own ways and for our own purposes.
Kathleen

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by BillH » 11 Mar 2017 00:11

Kathleen,

I figured you were just reporting what you had seen not that you were suggesting that method.

And just to confuse things even more... Alaska doesn't have counties or parishes, they have boroughs. :D

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by kbella » 11 Mar 2017 05:31

Good grief - thank goodness my bunch didn't go there - I have enough to deal with. :lol:
Kathleen

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by Peter Collier » 14 Mar 2017 00:00

I would say that _____shire County would be odd to British eyes, since shire and county are (more or less) synonymous. However, your work needs to be accessible to the people who are going to read it. If including the word "county" achieves that and removes ambiguity, then go for it.

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Re: "Shires" and "Counties"

Post by victor » 14 Mar 2017 00:05

For England have a look at

http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng

That will give you names of places in each county

Victor

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