Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/County of Buckingham

From volume IV of the work.
See also the Project Disclaimer.

BUCKINGHAM, County of, Buckinghamshire, or Bucks, an inland county of England, between 51 25 and 52 10 K lat., and 28 and 1 12 W. long., is bounded N. by Northamptonshire W. by Oxfordshire, S. by Berk shire, and E. by Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, and Middle sex. It is the thirty-third in size of the English counties, measuring 53 miles at its greatest length and 27 at its greatest breadth, and containing, according to the last ordnance survey, 467,009 acres, or nearly 730 square miles. The aspect of the country is agreeably diversified by the distribution of forests, rivers, hills, pasture, and arable land. In the southern portion of the county the forests, consisting chiefly of beeches (from the Saxon name of which tree, boc, the county is said to derive its name), were at one time very extensive, but have of late years been greatly thinned; woods of considerable extent are still to be found in the northern parts. The principal rivers of Buckinghamshire are the Thames, which separates it from Berkshire and Surrey, and receives as tributaries the Colne and the Thame ; and the Ouse, with its tributary the Ousel, which belongs to the north of the county. The only hills .in Bucks worthy of mention are the Chiltern.s which cross it in a north-westerly direction, and rise at two or three points to the height of about 900 feet. Of the roads which pass through the county the most important are that which connects London with Chester and Holyhead, by which the mails were forwarded to Ireland before the introduction of railways, the great western road connecting the metropolis with Bath and Bristol, and the roads to Oxford and Birmingham. The only canal of any importance is the Grand Junction, from which branches proceed to several of the larger towns. The London and North-Western Railway passes through the north-east of the county, and the Great Western through a small part of its southern extremity, while minor branches belonging to both these systems afford ready communication between the more important places. The principal junctions are Prince s Eisborough, Aylesbury, Verney, and Bletchle} .

The agricultural capacities of Bucks vary considerably in

different parts of its extent. Tho vale of Aylesbury, lying between hills on either side, is one of the most fertile and valuable districts in England, and is divided in nearly equal proportions between pasture and tillage. Towards the north, however, the soil greatly degenerates, and sometimes does little more than pay the expense of cultivation. Jn 1875 the proprietors holding land of less and of more than one acre in extent numbered 6420 and 3288 respectively, the largest owners being Lord Carington with 14,835 acres, and Earl Brownlow, with 1 1,785. The farms are not gener ally large. The largest do not exceed 500 acres, while there are many of not more than 20 or 30 acres. The average size in 1871 was 70 acres. In 1874 there were 60,182 acres under wheat, 28,902 in barley, 23,257 in oats, 16,663 in beans, and 7136 iti pease; 1463 were occupied by potatoes, 19,641 by turnips, 29,272 were in temporary grass, and 186,941 in permanent pasture. About 24,500 are covered with wood, and 1637 with orchards. Neither flax nor hops are grown. The quantities of cattle reared and fed in Bucks are very considerable, the total number enumerated in the year 1874 being 37,147. The number of milch cows is estimated at upwards of 27,000 ; and the icivge supply of dairy-produce is rapidly conveyed to London by rail, where it finds a ready market. Hogs are exten sively reared on many farms, and are found to be a source of considerable profit to the farmer. Their numbers amounted in 1874 to upwards of 40,500. In many parts of the county, especially at Aylesbury, great numbers of

ducks are fattened for sale in the London markets.

The manufactures of Buckinghamshire are neither very extensive nor very important. The principal are those of lace and straw plait. The proportion of persons chiefly engaged in agriculture is about 13 per cent, of the popula tion ; in trade and manufactures about 18 per cent.

Bucks was originally divided into eighteen hundreds ; it is now divided into eight, viz., Newport, Buckingham, Ashendon, Cottesloe, Aylesbury, Burnham, Stoke, and Desborough, the last three forming what is well known as " The Chiltern Hundreds." That of Aylesbury still retains its ancient designation of the " three hundreds of Aylesbury." The number of parishes in the entire county is computed at 202, part of those of Ibstone, Ickford, Kingsey, and Lewkuor extending into Oxfordshire. The market-towns are Amersham, Aylesbury (in all respects the most important town in the county, though Buckingham is the capital), Beaconsfield, Buckingham, Chesham, Great Marlowe, High Wycombe, Ivinghoe, Newport-Pagnell, Gluey, Prince s llisborough, Stony Stratford, Wendover, and Winslow. There arc many other interesting, though not very important, places in Buckinghamshire, of which we may mention Chalfont St Giles the residence for a time of the poet Milton, where he completed Paradise Lost and began Paradise Regained ; Hampden, the manor- house of which was for many generations the abode of the family of that name, and in the churchyard of which the patriot (who fell at Chalgrove in 1643) is buried; Medmenham, in the old abbey of which a celebrated club of " Franciscans," of which John Wilkes, Bubb Doddington, and other political notorieties of last century were members, held their convivial meetings ; Pitstone, in the abbey of which Queen Elizabeth used frequently to reside in her younger days ; Beaconsfield Manor, at one time the property of the poet Waller ; Stoke Poges, celebrated by Gray in his Elegy and LOIKJ Story ; Slough, for many years the residence of Sir William Herschel, and the place where his great telescope was constructed and still stands ; Salt- hill (not far from Slough), where the Eton Montem, now abolished, used to be held ; Olney and Weston Underwood, familiar to all the readers of Cowper ; Butler s Court or Gregories, the seat of Edmund Burke ; Bradenham, the mansion of the elder D Israeli ; and Hughenden Manor, the well-known residence of his son. The principal seats in Buckinghamshire are Stowe, the property of the duke of Buckingham, and celebrated for its grounds, and its collections of pictures and statues ; Bulstrode, once a seat of the dukes of Portland, now the property of the duke of Somerset ; Wotton House, belonging to the duke of Buckingham, Penn House to Earl Howe, the Abbey, High Wycombe, to Lord Carington, Dropmore to the Hon. George Fortescue, Aston Clinton to Sir A. Roths child, Ditton Park to the duke of Buccleuch, Hedsor to Lord Boston, Cliefden to the duke of Westminster, Latimer to Lord Chesham, Peterley House to Lord Dor mer. The antiquities of the county are comparatively few. It is traversed by the three ancient roads known as Icknield Street, Akeman Street, and Watling Street ; it has remains, in some cases very slight, of the baronial castles of Lavendon and Whitchurch, of the abbeys of Misseuden, Notley, and Burnham, and of the monastery of Mursley, and a number of interesting examples of early ecclesiastical architecture, the most important being the churches of Chetwode, Stewkley, and Willesdon.

Bucks is in the Norfolk circuit. The quarter-sessions are held at Aylesbury ; the assizes used to be held alter nately at that town and Buckingham, but are now held only at Aylesbury. The Keform Bill of 1832 reduced the number of members returned by Bucks to the House of Commons from fourteen to eleven. It now returns eight, three of whom represent the county and five the parlia mentary boroughs. In 1871 the number of the county electors registered was 7610. The result of the county elections is declared at Aylesbury. Bucks is governed by a lord-lieutenant and custos, 60 deputy-lieutenants, a high sheriff, and about 200 magistrates. It lies in the ecclesi astical province of Canterbury, and for the most part in the diocese of Oxford, and in arch-deaconry of Bucking ham, which comprises the deaneries of Amersham, Ayles bury, Bletchley, Buckingham, Burnham, Claydon, Ivinghoe, Mursley, Newport, Waddesdon, Wendover, and Wycombe, iu all about 180 benefices. The total income of endowed chanties in the county was ascertained in 1863-4 to be 16,308, of which 3305 go to education and 3034 for maintenance of alms-houses. There were 11,315 paupers in 1871, of whom 441 were lunatics or idiots, and the previous year the poor rates amounted to 94,577.

The population in 1851 was 163,554, of whom 80,990 were males and 82,564 females. In 1871 it had increased to 175,879, the males being 86,059 and the females 89,820. The increase since 1801 was 63 per cent. The parlia mentary boroughs (the first of which returns two members and the others one each) are Aylesbury, with 28,760 inhabitants ; Buckingham, 7545 ; Chipping Wycombe, 10,492; Great Marlowe, part of which is in Berkshire, 6627. The towns of more than 2000 inhabitants, not corporate towns, nor included in any parliamentary borough, are Amersham, with a population of 2726 ; Chesham, with 6488 ; Newport-Pagnell, with 3824. The number of in habited houses in the county in 1871 was 37,257; unin habited, 1667; building, 184.

Buckingham, the chief town of Buckinghamshire, a

parliamentary and municipal borough and market-town in the hundred of the same name, 58 miles by a branch of the North-Western Railway from London, is situated on the left bank of the Eiver Ouse, which surrounds it on every side but the north and is crossed by three bridges. The town consists principally of one long street, straggling over a considerable extent of surface. The houses, which are chiefly of brick, are neat and clean, though somewhat humble in character. The only public buildings of im portance are the town-hall, a brick structure dating from the end of the 18th century, and the church, dedicated to St Peter and St Paul, which is built of freestone on the site of the old castle, has a handsome spire, 150 feet high, and has been restored aud extended under the direction of Sir G. G. Scott, who was born in the neighbourhood. There are also a jail, a union workhouse, and several dissenting churches. An endowed free school for boys, who were clad in green coats by the will of the founder, Gabriel Newton, is now incorporated with the national school, which is intended to accommodate 300 pupils. The grammar-school of the town was founded by Edward VI., and occupies the chapel of the guild of the Holy Trinity, founded by Arch deacon Stratton in 1268. The manufactures, which include bone-grinding, malt-making, and tanning, are of compara tively small importance. Lace-making with bobbins still occupies a small part of the female population. There are also some corn-mills in the neighbourhood, and a few lime quarries. The borough of Buckingham formerly returned two members to Parliament, but since 1868 it has only returned one. It is governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors. Population of parliamentary borough in 1871, 7545 ; of municipal borough, 3703. Buckingham is a town of great antiquity. It was fortified with earthen ramparts by Edward the Elder in 918, and in 1010 it was captured by the Danes. It is mentioned as an ancient borough in Domesday Book, but does not seem to have returned members to Parliament till the reign of Henry VIII. In the reign of Edward III it was a wool- staple, but not long after its prosperity began to decline. From Queen Mary it received a charter in 1554. It was the headquarters of Charles I, for a few days during his war with the Parliament. In 1725 a third part of the

town was burnt to the ground.