Historic counties of England
Category of areas of England / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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The historic counties of England are areas that were established for administration by the Normans, in many cases based on earlier kingdoms and shires created by the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Celts and others. They are alternatively known as ancient counties, traditional counties, former counties or simply as counties. In the centuries that followed their establishment, as well as their administrative function, the counties also helped define local culture and identity. This role continued even after the counties ceased to be used for administration after the creation of administrative counties in 1889, which were themselves amended by further local government reforms in the years following.
|Number||39 (as of 1 April 1889)|
|Populations||c. 21,000—3.4 million (1881)|
|Areas||c. 94,000–3.8 million acres (15,000 km2) (1881)|
Unlike the partly self-governing boroughs that covered urban areas, the counties of medieval England existed primarily as a means of enforcing central government power, enabling monarchs to exercise control over local areas through their chosen representatives – originally sheriffs and later the lord-lieutenants – and their subordinate justices of the peace. Counties were used initially for the administration of justice, collection of taxes and organisation of the military, and later for local government and electing parliamentary representation. They continue to form the basis of modern local government areas in many parts of the country away from the main urban areas, although the newly created areas sometimes have considerably altered boundaries from the historic counties on which they are based.