HUNTINGDONSHIRE, an inland county of England, is almost inclosed by Cambridgeshire and Northampton shire ; by the former it is bounded on the north-east, and part of the south ; by the latter, on the north and west. Bedfordshire bounds it also partly on the south-west. Its limits are nearly artificial. The river Nen, and the canals which join it to the Ouse, form its limits on the north and north-east, on the Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire borders. The Ouse, at its entrance, separates for a short space from Bedfordshire, and at its exit from Cambridge shire. The figure of this county is so irregular as scarcely to afford a proper measurement ; but reckoning from its furthest projection, it does not exceed 24 miles each way, and in general is of much less extent. In fact, it is the smalest county in England except Rutland, and is very nearly the size of Middlesex ; Huntingdon containing, ac cording to the best accounts, about 210,000 acres ; Rut land, 110,000 ; and Middlesex about 200,000 acres. The whole upland part in ancient times was a forest, and par ticularly adapted to the chase, whence the name of the county took its rise. It was disafforested by Henry MOIL, and Edward 1., the last of whom left no more of it a forest than what covers his own ground.
It is divided into four hundreds, namely, Norraancross towards the north ; Toscland towards the south ; Hursting stone towards the cast; and Leightonstone towards the west. It contains one county-town, Huntingdon; six market towns, of which the principal are F.imbol ton, St Neots, St Ives, and Godmanchester. The number of parishes is 104. It is in the province of Canterbury, and diocese of Lincoln. The ecclesiastical government is managed by the archdeacon of Huntingdon, and it is divided into five deaneries. It is in the Norfolk circuit, and returns four members to Par liament, viz. two for the county, and two for Huntingdon. This county and Cambridgeshire are joined together under one civil administration, there being but one high-sheriff for both, who is alternately chosen one year out of Cam bridgeshire, the second year out of the isle of Ely, and the third year out of this county. It is one of the seven coun ties, Bedford, Huntingdon, Bucks, Berks, Hertford, Essex, and Suffolk, that arc contiguous without a city.
The fenny part of it lies in the Bedford level on the north-east, and joining the fens of Ely. There arc be sides three distinct varieties of surface in this county. The
borders of the Ouse, flowing across the south-east part, consist of a tract of most beautiful and fertile meadows, of which Portsholme Mead, near Huntingdon, is particularly celebrated. The middle and western parts are finely varied in their surface, fruitful in corn, and sprinkled with woods. The upland parts still bear the appearance of ancient forest lands.
The soils are various. In the upland parts, they ate chiefly a strong deep clay, more or less intermingled with loam, or a deep gravelly soil, with loam. Of what arc called the deep stapled lands, by far the greatest part are still in an open-field state. indeed, there is a larger pro portion of this most unproductive land in Huntingdonshire than perhaps in any other county of England; upwards of one-third of the high lands being still uninclosed. The more anciently inclosed parts arc, generally speaking, in the possession of a few proprietors ; but in the new in closures, and in the open fields, property is divided among a much greater number of persons. The woodlands are but of inconsiderable extent, and the county is thin of tim ber. This is attributed to the very great demand for it in the fens, underwood being sold at a higher price than in most other counties. The meadow lands consist of about 1200 or 1400 acres, bordering on the rivers Nen and Ouse, but chiefly on the latter. They are extremely productive, but the produce is frequently damaged or carried away by the floods.
The fens consist of about 44,000 acres, besides nearly 5000 acres of what are provincially called skirty lands. The fens of Huntingdonshire constitute nearly a seventh part of what is called Bedford Level. About 8000 or 10,000 acres of them are productive ; but the expellee of pre serving them from inundation amounts to almost one-third of the rents, in consequence of the drainage having been undertaken on an erroneous and imperfect plan. it is ef fected by engines, which throw the water out of the lands into the rivers, without having a proper out-fall near the sea. In consequence of this, the embankments are fre quently broken through by the immense pressure of the weight which they contain. The mode of management of the fen lands has been much improved of late years, and the fen-men are very expert at the plough ; no such thing as a driver being known, though they frequently plough with three horses abreast. The skirt!' lands, in general, afford luxuriant grazing.