7.2. Hundreds of Lancashire

Helen Moorwood 2013

When writing about the history of Lancashire one inevitably writes about the Hundreds. These were ancient land divisions based originally on the size that supported a hundred households. They provide a good introduction to the shape and size of Lancashire for any reader to whom the notion is hazy. Instead of just directing the reader to maps that appear on many websites I have imported two.

This is from British History Online, scanned in from the Victoria County History, Lancashire, a book to which I refer very often.


Hundreds of Lancashire



Lonsdale was split into two parts, divided by Morecambe Bay, just known as ‘the Sands’. The most important town was Lancaster, in Lonsdale South of the Sands. Because of its historical and strategic importance, the official name was the County Palatine of Lancaster. Lancashire comes, of course, from the original ‘Lancastershire’. When the threat of the Scots receded, the administrative capital increasingly became Preston in Amounderness, on the north bank of the River Ribble. This was another dividing line, the Hundreds North of the Ribble being for a long time under the Diocese of York, and South of the Ribble, along with Cheshire, under the Diocese of Lichfield. All changed under Henry VIII with the foundation of the Diocese of Chester. The Hundreds of Blackburn, Leyland and Salford all took their names from towns which became much larger during the Industrial Revolution. West Derby was a village, which remained so, but made it a logical name for the title of the 1st Earl of Derby (3rd creation) in 1485.


The next map, imported from Wikipedia, shows shaded in grey the areas of population explosion in the Industrial Revolution, which led, regrettably in most Lancastrians’ eyes, to the redrawing of boundaries in 1974. The new boundary is shown with a dotted green line, although the northernmost boundary is not visible. Lonsdale North of the Sands disappeared into Cumbria, which also swallowed Cumberland and Westmorland. Lancashire gained the green moorland area of Yorkshire. Most of the Hundred of Salford became Greater Manchester and most of West Derby became Merseyside. So only the three central Hundreds remained wholly in the new, truncated Lancashire.


Hundreds of Lancashire 2


Copyright © 2013. All Rights Reserved.