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A shire is a traditional term for a division of land, found in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
and some other English speaking countries. It was first used in Wessex
Wessex
from the beginning of Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon
settlement, and spread to most of the rest of England
England
in the tenth century. In some rural parts of Australia, a shire is a local government area; however, in Australia
Australia
it is not synonymous with a "county", which is a lands administrative division.

Contents

1 Etymology 2 Origins 3 Shires in the United Kingdom

3.1 Shire
Shire
names in England 3.2 Shire
Shire
names in Scotland 3.3 Shire
Shire
names in Wales 3.4 Non-county "shires"

4 Shires in Australia 5 Shires in the United States of America 6 See also 7 References

Etymology[edit] The word derives from the Old English scir, itself a derivative of the Proto-Germanic skizo (cf. Old High German scira), meaning care or official charge.[1] In the UK, "shire" is the original term for what is usually known now as a county; the word county having been introduced at the Norman Conquest
Norman Conquest
of England. The two are nearly synonymous. Although in modern British usage counties are referred to as "shires" mainly in poetic contexts, terms such as Shire Hall remain common. Shire
Shire
also remains a common part of many county names. In regions with so-called rhotic pronunciation such as Scotland, the word shire is pronounced /ʃaɪər/. In non-rhotic areas the final R is silent unless the next word begins in a vowel. When shire is a suffix as part of a placename in England, the vowel is unstressed and thus usually shortened and/or monophthongised: pronunciations include /ʃɜːr/, or sometimes /ʃɪər/, with the pronunciation of the final R again depending on rhoticity. In many words, the vowel is normally reduced all the way to a single schwa, as in for instance Leicestershire
Leicestershire
/ˈlɛstəʃə/ or Berkshire
Berkshire
/ˈbɑːkʃə/. Outside England, and especially in Scotland
Scotland
and the US, it is more common for shire as part of a placename to be pronounced identically to the full word, as a result of spelling pronunciation. Origins[edit] The system was first used in Wessex
Wessex
from the beginning of Anglo-Saxon settlement, and spread to most of the rest of England
England
in the tenth century, along with West Saxon political control. In Domesday
Domesday
(1086) the city of York
York
was divided into shires.[2] The first shires of Scotland
Scotland
were created in English-settled areas such as Lothian
Lothian
and the Borders, in the ninth century. King David I more consistently created shires and appointed sheriffs across lowland shores of Scotland. The shire in early days was governed by an Ealdorman and in the later Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon
period by royal official known as a "shire reeve" or sheriff. The shires were divided into hundreds or wapentakes, although other less common sub-divisions existed. An alternative name for a shire was a "sheriffdom" until sheriff court reforms separated the two concepts. The phrase "shire county" applies, unofficially, to non-metropolitan counties in England, specifically those that are not local Unitary authority
Unitary authority
areas. In Scotland
Scotland
the word "county" was not adopted for the shires. Although "county" appears in some texts, "shire" was the normal name until counties for statutory purposes were created in the nineteenth century. Shires in the United Kingdom[edit] "Shire" also refers, in a narrower sense, to ancient counties with names that ended in "shire". These counties are typically (though not always) named after their county town. The suffix -shire is attached to most of the names of English, Scottish and Welsh counties. It tends not to be found in the names of shires that were pre-existing divisions. Essex, Kent, and Sussex, for example, have never borne a -shire, as each represents a former Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon
kingdom. Similarly Cornwall
Cornwall
was a British kingdom before it became an English county. The term 'shire' is not used in the names of the six traditional counties of Northern Ireland.

The historic counties of England
England
— red indicates "-shire" counties, orange indicates where the "-shire" suffix is occasionally used

Shire
Shire
names in England[edit] Counties in England
England
bearing the "-shire" suffix include: Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire
Worcestershire
and Yorkshire. These counties, on their historical boundaries, cover a little more than half the area of England. The counties that do not use "-shire" are mainly in three areas, in the south-east, south-west and far north of England. Several of these counties no longer exist as administrative units, or have had their administrative boundaries reduced by local government reforms. Several of the successor authorities retain the "-shire" county names, such as West Yorkshire and South Gloucestershire. The county of Devon
Devon
was historically known as Devonshire, although this is no longer the official name.[3] Similarly, Dorset, Rutland
Rutland
and Somerset
Somerset
were formerly known as Dorsetshire, Rutlandshire and Somersetshire, but these terms are no longer official, and are rarely used outside the local populations. Hexhamshire
Hexhamshire
was a county in the north-east of England
England
from the early 12th century until 1572, when it was incorporated into Northumberland. Shire
Shire
names in Scotland[edit] In Scotland, barely affected by the Norman conquest of England, the word "shire" prevailed over "county" until the 19th century. Earliest sources have the same usage of the "-shire" suffix as in England (though in Scots this was oftenmost "schyr"). Later the "Shire" appears as a separate word. "Shire" names in Scotland
Scotland
include Aberdeenshire, Ayrshire, Banffshire, Berwickshire, Clackmannanshire, Cromartyshire, Dumfriesshire, Dunbartonshire, Inverness-shire, Kincardineshire, Kinross-shire, Kirkcudbrightshire, Lanarkshire, Morayshire, Nairnshire, Peeblesshire, Perthshire, Renfrewshire, Ross-shire, Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire, Stirlingshire, and Wigtownshire. In Scotland
Scotland
four shires have alternative names with the "-shire" suffix: Angus (Forfarshire), East Lothian
Lothian
(Haddingtonshire), Midlothian
Midlothian
(Edinburghshire) and West Lothian
Lothian
(Linlithgowshire). Sutherland
Sutherland
is occasionally still referred to as Sutherlandshire. Similarly, Argyllshire, Buteshire, Caithness-shire
Caithness-shire
and Fifeshire
Fifeshire
are sometimes found. Also, Morayshire
Morayshire
was previously called Elginshire. There is currently much debate about whether Argyllshire
Argyllshire
was ever really used. Shire
Shire
names in Wales[edit] Shires in Wales
Wales
bearing the "-shire" suffix include: Brecknockshire (or Breconshire), Caernarfonshire, Cardiganshire (now Ceredigion), Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Monmouthshire, Montgomeryshire, Pembrokeshire, and Radnorshire. In Wales, the counties of Merioneth
Merioneth
and Glamorgan
Glamorgan
are occasionally referred to with the "shire" suffix. The only traditional Welsh county that never takes "shire" is Anglesey—in English: in Welsh it is referred to as 'Sir Fon'. Non-county "shires"[edit] The suffix –shire could be a generalised term referring to a district. It did not acquire the strong association with county until later. Other than these, the term was used for several other districts. Bedlingtonshire, Craikshire, Norhamshire and Islandshire were exclaves of County
County
Durham, which were incorporated into Northumberland
Northumberland
or Yorkshire
Yorkshire
in 1844. The suffix was also used for many hundreds, wapentakes and liberties such as Allertonshire, Blackburnshire, Halfshire, Howdenshire, Leylandshire, Powdershire, Pydarshire, Richmondshire, Riponshire, Salfordshire, Triggshire, Tynemouthshire, West Derbyshire
Derbyshire
and Wivelshire, counties corporate such as Hullshire, and other districts such as Applebyshire, Bamburghshire, Bunkleshire, Carlisleshire, Coldinghamshire, Coxwoldshire, Cravenshire, Hallamshire, Mashamshire
Mashamshire
and Yetholmshire. Richmondshire
Richmondshire
is today the name of a local government district of North Yorkshire. Non-county shires were very common in Scotland. Kinross-shire
Kinross-shire
and Clackmannanshire
Clackmannanshire
are arguably survivals from such districts. Non-county "shires" in Scotland
Scotland
include Bunkleshire, Coldinghamshire and Yetholmshire. Shires in Australia[edit] "Shire" is the most common word in Australia
Australia
for rural local government areas (LGAs). New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia
Australia
and the Northern Territory
Northern Territory
use the term "Shire" for this unit; the territories of Christmas Island and Cocos Island are also shires. In contrast, South Australia
Australia
uses district and region for its rural LGA units, while Tasmania
Tasmania
uses municipality. Shires are generally functionally indistinguishable from towns, borough, municipalities, or cities. Three LGAs in outer metropolitan Sydney
Sydney
and four in outer metropolitan Melbourne
Melbourne
have populations exceeding that of towns or municipalities, but retain significant bushlands and/or semi-rural areas, and most have continued to use "Shire" in their titles whilst others have dropped "Shire" from their titles. These "city-shires" are: Sydney:

Sutherland
Sutherland
Shire
Shire
(which is locally referred to as "The Shire") The Hills Shire
The Hills Shire
("The Garden Shire", previously "Baulkham Hills Shire") Hornsby Shire
Hornsby Shire
("The Bushland Shire")

Melbourne:

Shire of Nillumbik
Shire of Nillumbik
("The Green Wedge Shire") Shire
Shire
of Yarra Ranges Shire
Shire
of Cardinia Shire of Mornington Peninsula
Shire of Mornington Peninsula
(which is locally known as "The Peninsula") Shire
Shire
of Pakenham

Shires in the United States of America[edit] In 1634, eight "shires" were created in the Virginia Colony
Virginia Colony
by order of Charles I, King of England. They were renamed as counties only a few years later. They were:

Accomac Shire (since 1642 Northampton County, Virginia) Charles City
City
Shire
Shire
(since 1637 Charles City
City
County, Virginia) Charles River Shire (now York
York
County, Virginia) Elizabeth City
City
Shire
Shire
(now consolidated with the City
City
of Hampton, Virginia) Henrico Shire
Henrico Shire
(now Henrico County, Virginia) James City
City
Shire
Shire
(about 1642-43 James City
City
County, Virginia) Warwick River Shire (now consolidated with the City
City
of Newport News, Virginia) Warrosquyoake Shire (now Isle of Wight County, Virginia)

As of 2013 six of the original eight Shires of Virginia are considered to be still extant whilst two have consolidated with a neighbouring city. Most of their boundaries have changed in the intervening centuries. Before the Province of New York
York
was granted county subdivisions and a greater royal presence in 1683, the early ducal colony consisted of York
York
Shire, as well as Albany and Ulster, after the three titles held by Prince James: Duke of York, Duke of Albany, Earl of Ulster. While these were basically renamed Dutch core settlements, they were quickly converted to English purposes, while the Dutch remained within the colony, as opposed to later practice of the Acadian Expulsion. Further Anglo-Dutch synthesis occurred when James enacted the Dominion of New England
England
and later when William III of England
England
took over through the Glorious Revolution. A few New England
England
states and commonwealths (namely Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine), still use the term shire town for their county seats, although they use the term county, rather than shire. The word also survives in the name of the state of New Hampshire, whose co-founder, John Mason, named his Province of New Hampshire after the English county. See also[edit]

Comarcas Comarcas
Comarcas
of Spain Comarques of Catalonia Counties of England Counties of Scotland Counties of Wales Counties of the United Kingdom Gau

References[edit]

^ Online Etymology Dictionary, entry "Shire". Retrieved 15 October 2011. ^ Gareth Dean, Medieval York
York
2008:21. ^ http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~genmaps/genfiles/COU_files/ENG/DEV/bill_dev_1626.html

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Designations for types of administrative territorial entities

English terms

Common English terms1

Area

Insular area Local government area Protected area Special
Special
area Statistical area

Combined statistical area Metropolitan statistical area Micropolitan statistical area

Urban area

Canton

Half-canton

Borough

County
County
borough Metropolitan borough

Capital

Federal capital Imperial capital

City

City
City
state Autonomous city Charter city Independent city Incorporated city Imperial city Free imperial city Royal free city

Community

Autonomous community Residential community

County

Administrative county Autonomous county Consolidated city-county Metropolitan county

Non-metropolitan

Viscountcy

Country

Overseas country

Department

Overseas department

District

Capital district City
City
district Congressional district Electoral district Federal district Indian government district Land district Metropolitan district

Non-metropolitan district

Military district Municipal district Police district Regional district Rural district Sanitary district Subdistrict Urban district Special
Special
district

Division

Census division Police division Subdivision

Municipality

City
City
municipality County
County
municipality

Norway Nova Scotia Regional county municipality

Direct-controlled municipality District
District
municipality Mountain resort municipality Neutral municipality Regional municipality Resort municipality Rural municipality Specialized municipality

Prefecture

Autonomous prefecture Subprefecture Super-prefecture Praetorian prefecture

Province

Autonomous province Overseas province Roman province

Region

Administrative region Autonomous region Capital region Development region Economic region Mesoregion Microregion Overseas region Planning region Special
Special
administrative region Statistical region Subregion

Reserve

Biosphere reserve Ecological reserve Game reserve Indian reserve Nature reserve

State

Federal state Free state Sovereign state

Territory

Capital territory

Federal capital territory

Dependent territory Federal territory Military territory Organized incorporated territory Overseas territory Union territory Unorganized territory

Town

Census town Market town

Township

Charter township Civil township Paper township Survey township Urban township

Unit

Autonomous territorial unit Local administrative unit Municipal unit Regional unit

Zone

Economic zone

Exclusive economic zone Free economic zone Special
Special
economic zone

Free-trade zone Neutral zone Self-administered zone

Other English terms

Current

Alpine resort Bailiwick Banner

Autonomous

Block Cadastre Circle Circuit Colony Commune Condominium Constituency Duchy Eldership Emirate Federal dependency Governorate Hamlet Ilkhanate Indian reservation Manor

Royal

Muftiate Neighbourhood Parish Periphery Precinct Principality Protectorate Quarter Regency Autonomous republic Riding Sector

Autonomous

Shire Sultanate Suzerainty Townland Village

Administrative Summer

Ward

Historical

Agency Barony Burgh Exarchate Hide Hundred Imperial Circle March Monthon Presidency Residency Roman diocese Seat Tenth Tithing

Non-English or loanwords

Current

Amt Bakhsh Barangay Bezirk Regierungsbezirk Comune Frazione Fu Gemeinde Județ Kunta / kommun

Finland Sweden

Län Località Megye Muban Oblast

Autonomous

Okrug Ostān Poblacion Purok Shahrestān Sum Sýsla Tehsil Vingtaine

Historical

Commote Gau Heerlijkheid Köping Maalaiskunta Nome

Egypt Greece

Pagus Pargana Plasă Satrapy Socken Subah Syssel Zhou

v t e

Arabic
Arabic
terms for country subdivisions

First-level

Muhafazah (محافظة governorate) Wilayah (ولاية province) Mintaqah (منطقة region) Mudiriyah (مديرية directorate) Imarah (إمارة emirate) Baladiyah (بلدية municipality) Shabiyah (شعبية "popularate")

Second / third-level

Mintaqah (منطقة region) Qadaa (قضاء district) Nahiyah (ناحية subdistrict) Markaz (مركز district) Mutamadiyah (معتمدية "delegation") Daerah/Daïra (دائرة circle) Liwa (لواء banner / sanjak)

City / township-level

Amanah (أمانة municipality) Baladiyah (بلدية municipality) Ḥai (حي neighborhood / quarter) Mahallah (محلة) Qarya (قرية) Sheyakhah (شياخة "neighborhood subdivision")

English translations given are those most commonly used.

v t e

French terms for country subdivisions

arrondissement département préfecture subprefectures

v t e

Greek terms for country subdivisions

Modern

apokentromenes dioikiseis / geniki dioikisis§ / diamerisma§ / periphereia nomos§ / periphereiaki enotita demos / eparchia§ / koinotita§

Historical

archontia/archontaton bandon demos despotaton dioikesis doukaton droungos eparchia exarchaton katepanikion kephalatikion kleisoura meris naukrareia satrapeia strategis thema toparchia tourma

§ signifies a defunct institution

v t e

Portuguese terms for country subdivisions

Regional subdivisions

Estado Distrito federal Província Região Distrito Comarca Capitania

Local subdivisions

Município Concelho Freguesia Comuna Circunscrição

Settlements

Cidade Vila Aldeia Bairro Lugar

Historical subdivisions in italics.

v t e

Slavic terms for country subdivisions

Current

dzielnica gmina krai kraj krajina / pokrajina městys obec oblast / oblast' / oblasti / oblys / obwód / voblast' okręg okres okrug opština / općina / občina / obshtina osiedle powiat / povit raion selsoviet / silrada sołectwo voivodeship / vojvodina županija

Historical

darugha gromada guberniya / gubernia jurydyka khutor obshchina okolia opole pogost prowincja sorok srez starostwo / starostva uyezd volost ziemia župa

v t e

Spanish terms for country subdivisions

National, Federal

Comunidad autónoma Departamento Distrito federal Estado Provincia Región

Regional, Metropolitan

Cantón Comarca Comuna Corregimiento Delegación Distrito Mancomunidad Merindad Municipalidad Municipio Parroquia

Ecuador Spain

Urban, Rural

Aldea Alquería Anteiglesia Asentamiento

Asentamiento informal Pueblos jóvenes

Barrio Campamento Caserío Ciudad

Ciudad autónoma

Colonia Lugar Masía Pedanía Población Ranchería Sitio Vereda Villa Village
Village
(Pueblito/Pueblo)

Historical subdivisions in italics.

v t e

Turkish terms for country subdivisions

Modern

il (province) ilçe (district) şehir (city) kasaba (town) belediye (municipality) belde (community) köy (village) mahalle (neighbourhood/quarter)

Historical

ağalık (feudal district) bucak (subdistrict) beylerbeylik (province) kadılık (subprovince) kaza (sub-province) hidivlik (viceroyalty) mutasarrıflık (subprovince) nahiye (nahiyah) paşalık (province) reya (Romanian principalities) sancak (prefecture) vilayet (province) voyvodalık (Romanian provinces)

1 Used by ten or more countries or having derived terms. Historical derivations in italics. See also: Census division, Electoral district, Political division, and List of administrative di

.