The two following tables provide basic information about the major administrative regions of England. There are different systems of administration in the UK, and the administrative units bear different names: county, region, and district. In addition, large-scale reorganisations of local authorities occurred in the early and mid 1970s, resulting in new counties, the "disappearance" of old counties, adjustments to county boundaries, and so on. For many family history purposes, it is the "old" administrative regions which are relevant. However, a knowledge of the present arrangements is also needed, so that the records you need can be found.
Also, these are administrative regions, whereas for many purposes the old counties continue to have an existence, at least in the minds of people who disagreed with the changes.
Information is listed for each region, in the form of tables, and includes the following information:
- full name of region. In some case, it is uncertain what the official name is, and variants are found. For instance, the suffix "shire" may be absent or present, as in Devon - Devonshire, Fife - Fifeshire. The most acceptable and least confusing names are used. It is not recommended to omit the "shire" in cases where the resulting name could be either a county or a city, e.g. Lincoln(shire);
- a recognised abbreviation of the full name. There is no standard, and many (easily recognisable) truncations are in use. The more commonly met abbreviations are included, some of which are not easily recognisable;
- the Chapman County Code (CCC). This is a unique three-letter code identifying the region, and used extensively by family historians when recording and exchanging place information;
- the administrative centre of the modern region;
- notes, shown as 1 2 3 etc.
Further information is provided at the end of the tables for each country. Following legislation passed in 1972, and the report of the Local Government Boundaries Commission, new county names and boundaries came into effect in England from 1st April 1974.
English Counties: Pre 1974 Boundaries
English Counties - Pre 1974 Boundaries
Table 1: Counties before April 1974
County Abbreviation CCC Bedfordshire Beds BDF Berkshire Berks BRK Buckinghamshire Bucks BKM Cambridgeshire 1 Cambs CAM Cheshire n\a CHS Cornwall 2 Corn CON Cumberland n\a CUL Derbyshire Derbys DBY Devonshire n\a DEV Dorset n\a DOR Durham 3 n\a DUR Essex n\a ESS Gloucestershire Glos GLS Hampshire 5 Hants HAM Herefordshire n\a HEF Hertfordshire Herts HRT Huntingdonshire 6 Hunts HUN Kent n\a KEN Lancashire Lancs LAN Leicestershire Leics LEI Lincolnshire Lincs LIN London 4 London LND Middlesex 4 M'sex MDX Norfolk n\a NFK Northamptonshire Northants NTH Northumberland Northumb NBL Nottinghamshire Notts NTT Oxfordshire Oxon 7 OXF Rutland n\a RUT Shropshire Salop 8 SAL Somerset n\a SOM Staffordshire Staffs STS Suffolk n\a SFK Surrey n\a SRY Sussex n\a SSX Warwickshire Warks WAR Westmorland n\a WES Wiltshire Wilts WIL Worcestershire Worcs WOR Yorkshire 9 Yorks YKS
Table 2: Counties after April 1974
County Abbreviation CCC Administrative Centre Avon n\a AVN Bristol Bedfordshire Beds BDF Bedford Berkshire Berks BRK Reading Buckinghamshire Bucks BKM Aylesbury Cambridgeshire 1 Cambs CAM Cambridge Cheshire n\a CHS Chester Cleveland n\a CLV Middlesbrough Cornwall 2 Corn CON Truro Cumbria n\a CMA Carlisle Derbyshire Derbys DBY Matlock Devonshire n\a DEV Exeter Dorset n\a DOR Dorchester Durham 3 n\a DUR Durham East Sussex n\a SXE Lewes Essex n\a ESS Chelsmford Gloucestershire Glos GLS Gloucester Greater London 4 London LND London Greater Manchester n\a GTM Manchester Hampshire 5 Hants HAM Winchester Herefordshire and Worcester n\a HWR Worcester Hertfordshire Herts HRT Hertford Humberside n\a HUM Beverley Isle of Wight 10 I.O.W. IOW Newport Kent n\a KEN Maidstone Lancashire Lancs LAN Preston Leicestershire Leics LEI Leicester Lincolnshire Lincs LIN Lincoln Merseyside n\a MSY Liverpool Norfolk n\a NFK Norfolk Northamptonshire Northants NTH Northampton Northumberland Northumb NBL Morpeth North Yorkshire N. Yorks NYK Northallerton Nottinghamshire Notts NTT Nottingham Oxfordshire Oxon 7 OXF Oxford Shropshire Salop 8 SAL Shrewsbury Somerset n\a SOM Taunton South Yorkshire S. Yorks SYK Barnsley Staffordshire Staffs STS Stafford Suffolk n\a SFK Ipswich Surrey n\a SUR Kingston 11 Tyne and Wear n\a TWR Newcastle Warwickshire Warks WAR Warwick West Midlands n\a WMD Birmingham West Sussex n\a SXW Chichester West Yorkshire W. Yorks WYK Wakefield Wiltshire Wilts WIL Trowbridge
1 Also known as "Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely".
2 Includes the Isles of Scilly.
3 Durham is often referred to as "County Durham". No other English county is normally prefixed in this way.
4 Following the London Government Act 1963, Greater London was formed from: London (CCC=LND), Middlesex (Middx, CCC=MDX), and parts of Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey.
5 The abbreviation "Hants" derives from "Hantshaving", the original name for this county.
6 Also known as "Huntingdon and Peterborough".
7 "Oxon" is an abbreviation of "Oxonia", the Latin name for Oxford. It is often used in addresses as an abbreviation for the county name "Oxfordshire".
8 "Salop" derives from "Sloppesberie", the original Anglo-French name for this county. This is sometimes used as a short form in addresses. It appears that the official modern naming is actually "Salop", though most people would refer to "Shropshire".
9 Yorkshire, the largest of the English counties, used to be administered in three divisions, or "ridings": East Riding (CCC=ERY), North Riding (CCC=NRY), West Riding (CCC=WRY).
10 Before October 1974, the Isle of Wight was administered with the county of Hampshire.
11 Kingston itself is no longer in Surrey, but is in Greater London.