Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for WARWICKSHIRE, or Warwick

WARWICKSHIRE, or Warwick, an inland county, bounded, on the NW, by Staffordshire; on the NE, by Leicestershire; on the E, by Northamptonshire; on the SE, by Oxfordshire; on the SW, by Gloucestershire; on the W, by Worcestershire. Its outline is irregular; but, except for saliencies in the S, is not far from forming four nearly equal sides. Its boundary line, along all the NE, is Watling-street; but, scarcely anywhere, is either river or watershed. Its length, from N to S, is 50 miles; its greatest breadth is 34 miles; its circuit is about 195 miles; and its area is 563,946 acres. The surface includes few hills, except offshoots of the Cotswolds; and, in a general view, is gently undulated, well wooded, and softly picturesque. The chief streams are the Avon, the Tame, the Alne, the Arrow, the Stour, the Dene, the Leam, the Ichene, the Sow, the Rea, the Bourne, the Blythe, the Colne, and the Anker. Mineral springs are at Leamington, Newnham-Regis, Southam, Stratford, and Birmingham. A coal-field, with seams of coal 3 and 4 feet thick, extends along the NE border, to the SE of Tamworth; is 16 miles long, and has a mean breadth of about 3 miles. A broad tract of permian rocks, chiefly conglomerate sandstone and red marl, extends southward from the coal-field, past Coventry, to within a short distance of Leamington. Trias rocks, chiefly new red sandstone and keuper marl, occupy nearly all the rest of the area. Coal is worked in 17 mines; and, in 1859, yielded an output of 355,750 tons. Marl, blue clay, and limestone are plentiful; gritstone is obtained at Compton; and blue flagstone for mantle-pieces, steps, and other purposes, is quarried at Bidford, Wilncote, and Temple-Grafton.

Soils are of nearly all kinds; but strong clay-loams and strong marly clays are most common; and, with slight exceptions, all the soils, in most parts, are very fertile. The chief crops are wheat, commonly yielding 4 qrs. per acre, barley, 4 to 5 qrs., oats, 3 to 8 qrs., beans, 4 to 5 bushels, pease, turnips, potatoes, rye, vetches, clover, and flax. The meadow and pasture lands are computed at 235,000 acres. The long-horned, the Herefordshire, and the Scotch breeds of cattle are generally preferred for grazing; but other breeds are in use for the dairy. Cheese is made, commonly at the rate of about 2¾ cwt. yearly per cow. The sheep are chiefly Southdowns and polled Leicesters; and they number about 342,000, and yield about 8,600 packs of wool. Estates are of all sizes; and farms average about 150 acres, and are mostly held from year to year. Manufactures are chiefly hardware and cutlery at Birmingham, and ribbons at Coventry; but they include also glove-making, paper-making, brewing, and some other departments. Railways are abundantly ramified in the N and through the centre, but are comparatively sparce in the S. Canals make a large aggregate of mileage. Turnpike roads amounted, in 1839, to 1,814 miles.

Warwickshire contains 198 parishes, parts of 8 others, and 9 extra-parochial tracts; is cut, for parliamentary representation, into two divisions, N and S; contains the boroughs of Birmingham, Coventry, Warwick, Stratford-on-Avon, and part of Warwick; and comprises, beyond the boroughs, the hundreds of Barlichway, Hemlingford, Kington, and Knightlow. The act of 1844, for consolidating detached parts of counties, severed from it 3,450 acres, and annexed to it 2,805. The registration county excludes 57,159 acres from the electoral county; includes 106,296 acres of adjoining electoral counties; comprises altogether 613,728 acres; and is divided into the districts of Birmingham, Aston, Meriden, Atherstone, Nuneaton, Foleshill, Coventry, Rugby, Solihull, Warwick, Stratford-on-Avon, Alcester, Shipston-on-Stour, and Southam. The county town is Warwick; the towns with each more than 2,000 inhabitants, besides the boroughs, are Leamington, Rugby, Nuneaton, Bedworth, Atherstone, and Kenilworth; and there are about 360 smaller towns, villages, and hamlets. The chief seats include 9 of noblemen, 7 of baronets, and amount altogether to about 90.

The county is governed by a lord-lieutenant and custos, a high sheriff, about 40 deputy-lieutenants, and about 115 magistrates; and is in the Midland military district, the Midland judiciary circuit, and the diocese of Worcester. The assizes are held at Warwick; quarter sessions are held at Warwick and Coventry; the county jail is at Warwick; and a borough jail is at Birmingham. The police force in 1864, exclusive of that in the boroughs and at Leamington, comprised 171 men, at an annual cost of £11,022; the crimes committed were 275; the persons apprehended, 202; the known depredators and suspected persons at large, 862; the houses of bad character, 82. Two members are sent to parliament by each of the two county divisions, N and S; three, by Birmingham; and two each, by Coventry and Warwick. Electors of the N div. of the county in 1833, 3,730; in 1865, 6,710. Electors of the S div. in 1833, 2,550; in 1865, 3,517. The Poor rates for the registration county in 1863 were £257,500. Marriages in 1863, 4,847,- of which 713 were not according to the rites of the Established Church; births, 21,474,-of which 1,242 were illegitimate; deaths, 13,407,-of which 6,397 were at ages under 5 years, and 215 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 46,159; births, 192,050; deaths, 120,281. The places of worship within the electoral county, in 1851, were 278 of the Church of England, with 123,624 sittings; 1 of English Presbyterians, with 700 s.; 64 of Independents, with 21,938 s.; 50 of Baptists, with 15,838 s.; 7 of Quakers, with 1,564 s.; 10 of Unitarians, with 4,504 s.; 1 of Moravians, with 70 s.; 91 of Wesleyans, with 19,379 s.; 3 of New Connexion Methodists, with 1,388 s.; 32 of Primitive Methodists, with 3,915 s.; 2 of the Wesleyan Association, with 750 s.; 3 of Independent Methodists, with 511 s.; 2 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 270 s.; 1 of Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, with 32 s.; 2 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, with 700 s.; 1 of the New Church, with 500 s.; 1 of Brethren, with 55 attendants; 9 of isolated congregations, with 3,523 s.; 3 of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, with 630 s.; 5 of Latter Day Saints, with 1,940 s.; 26 of Roman Catholics, with 6,577 s.; and 1 of Jews, with 360 s. The schools were 337 public day-schools, with 34,295 scholars; 764 private day-schools, with 16,866 s.; 418 Sunday schools, with 49,411 s.; and 15 evening schools for adults, with 552 s. Real property in 1815, £1,269,757; in 1843, £2,364,490; in 1860, £2,802,985,-of which £3,026 were in quarries, £13,006 in mines, £230 in fisheries, £153,571 in canals, and £52,845 in gasworks. Pop. in 1801, 206,798; in 1821, 274,482; in 1841, 401, 703; in 1861, 561, 855. Inhabited houses, 116,351; uninhabited, 7,059; building, 679. Pop. of the registration county in 1851, 479,157; in 1861, 561,334. Inhabited houses, 116,985; uninhabited, 7,230; building, 679.

The territory now forming Warwickshire was inhabited by the ancient British Cornavii and Dobuni; was included, by the Romans, in their Flavia Cæsariensis: and formed part of the Saxon kingdom of Mercia. Struggles occurred in it between the Mercians and the West Saxons, between the Saxons and the Danes, between the adherents of Stephen and those of Maud, between Henry III. and his rebel barons, and between the royalists and the parliamentarians in the civil wars of Charles I. The Roman Watling-street runs along the NE boundary, and across a wing from Atherstone to Fazeley; the Fosse way comes in, on the S, at Halford, and runs north-north-eastward, to Watling-street at High Cross; and Ickneild-street goes through Birmingham, and traverses a small part of the NW border. Roman stations were at Alcester, Chesterton, High Cross, and Mancetter; and Roman camps are at Brinklow, Edgehill, Ratley, and Oldbury. Ancient castles, or ruins of them, are at Warwick, Kenilworth, Astley, Beauchamp, Brandon, Maxstoke, and Tamworth. About 57 monastic houses were in the county; and remains of some of them are at Combe, Merevale, Stoneleigh, Coventry, Kenilworth, Maxstoke, Nuneaton, and Polesworth. Interesting old churches, or portions of them, are in 16 or 17 different places.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "an inland county"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 2nd order divisions")
Administrative units: Warwickshire AncC
Place: Warwickshire

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.