Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for DENBIGHSHIRE, or Denbigh

DENBIGHSHIRE, or Denbigh, a maritime county of North Wales; bounded on the N by the Irish sea; on the NE by Flint; on the E by Cheshire; on the SE by Flint and Salop; on the S and SW by Montgomery and Merioneth; on the W by Carnarvon. Its boundary with the lower part of Flint is traced by the river Clwyd; with Cheshire and the detached part of Flint, by the Dee; with Montgomery, by the Tanat; with most of Carnarvon, by the Conway. Its outline northward is somewhat quadrangular; but southward and south-eastward, very irregular. Its length, from north-west to south-east, is 42 miles; its breadth varies from 26½ to 6½ miles; its coast line is 9 miles; its circuit is about 163 miles; and its area is 386, 052 acres. An upland tract from 5 to 15 miles broad, prevailingly heathy, partly a tableau, partly with summits from 1, 234 to 2, 127 feet high, extends along nearly all the west; a portion of the Berwyn mountains, with summits 2, 108 and 2, 563 feet high, is in the south; and other heights are in the east; but the grand vales of the Clwyd, the Dee, and the Conway form much of the surface; and smaller vales, fertile and beautiful, intersect the uplands. The chief streams, besides those on the boundaries, are the Aled, the Alen, the Alwen, the Elwy, the Clettwr, the Clewydog, the Ceiriog, and the Rhaidr. The chief lakes are the Aled and the Alwen. Mineral springs are at Llandegla and Llan-St. Siar. Lower silurian rocks form a small tract in the west above Llanrwst; upper silurian rocks form the main bulk of the uplands; lower carboniferous rocks, chiefly limestone and shale, form a narrow belt along. the west side of the vale of the Clwyd and two other small tracts to the south-east; rocks of millstone grit occur in the vicinity of these last tracts; rocks of the coal measures form a considerable tract around Wrexham and Ruabon; rocks of the Permian class, chiefly conglomerate sandstone and red marl, form a belt east of the coal measures; and rocks of the Trias class, chiefly new red sandstone, form a tract to the eastern boundary, around Holt, and another tract along the Clwyd, from above Denbigh to the sea. Iron ore occurs in the Ruabon and Berwyn hills, and at Bromba; lead ore is worked at Minera and elsewhere; slate, limestone, and freestone are quarried at various places; and coal is worked, in 39 collieries, in the Wrexham and Chirk coalfield.

The soils are various, almost to the extremes of good and bad. About one-half of the area is arable; while much of the other half is hill-pasture. Husbandry, in its several departments, has been much improved, and is in a middle-rate condition. Wheat is grown on the rich low grounds; and oats, barley, and rye, on the hills. Cheese and butter, of good quality, are sent to market. Sheep and goats, in vast numbers, are reared on the heaths and mountains. Woollen fabrics are manufactured in the vale of the Dee; and stockings about Llanrwst. The Chester and Holyhead railway goes along the coast; the vale of Clwyd railway goes thence to Denbigh and Ruthin, and across the boundary to Corwen; the Conway and Llanrwst railway goes up the vale of the Conway to Llanrwst; and the Chester and Shrewsbury railway goes for 14½ miles across the south-eastern wing of the county, past Wrexham to Chirk. A branch canal of 16 miles, from Llandisilio, goes along the Dee to Trevar, then over that river and the Ceiriog to the Ellesmere canal at Hordley. The highways extend aggregately to about 1, 100 miles; and the toll revenue from them, in 1859, was £4, 133.

The county contains 49 parishes, parts of 15 other parishes, and an extra-parochial place; and is divided into the boroughs of Denbigh and Ruthin, and the hundreds of Bromfield, Chirk, Isaled, Isdulas, Ruthin, and Yale. The registration county gives two parishes to Salop, three and part of another to Montgomery, a township to Flint, seven parishes and part of another to Merioneth, and three parishes to Carnarvon; takes in parts of two parishes and a chapelry from Cheshire, seven parishes and parts of eight others from Flint, and five parishes, part of another, and an extra-parochial tract from Carnarvon; comprises 374, 303 acres; and is divided into the districts of Wrexham, Ruthin, St. Asaph, and Llanrwst. There are five market-towns, -Denbigh, Ruthin, Wrexham, Llanrwst, and Llangollen, and upwards of 290 smaller towns, villages, a hamlets. The chief seats are Brynkinalt, Pool Park, Wynnstay, Acton, Kinmel, Ruthin Castle, Llanerch, Dyffryn-Aled, Capel-Voelas, Llanrhiadr, Llandisilio, Gwersylt, Bathafern, Chirk Castle, Gresford, Erddig, Llanbedr, Glanywern, and Gallt-Faenon. Real property in 1815, £221, 783; in 1843, £371, 349; in 1851, £431, 504; in 1860, £532, 929, -of which £82, 377 were in mines, £13, 577 in quarries, £21, 810 in iron-works, and £5, 461 in railways. The county is governed by a lord-lieutenant and about thirty-six magistrates; and is in the North military district, the North Wales circuit, and the diocese of St. Asaph. The assizes are held at Ruthin; and the quarter sessions, at Ruthin, Denbigh, and Wrexham. The county jail is at Ruthin. The police force in 1862 comprised 40 men, at a cost of £3, 575; the crimes in that year were 75; the criminals apprehended, 73; the known depredators and suspected persons at large, 130; the houses of bad character, 62. Two members are sent to parliament by the county at large, and one by the Denbigh group of boroughs. County electors in 1868, 5, 333. Pop. in 1801, 60, 299; in 1821, 76, 428; in 1841, 88, 478; in 1861, 100, 778. Inhabited houses, 21, 310; uninhabited, 644; building, 236.

The territory now forming Denbighshire was anciently occupied by the Ordovices; formed part of the Roman Venedotia, included in the province of Britannia Secunda; was divided afterwards between Gwynedd and Powys-land; was overrun by Egbert and other Mercian kings; was settled by the North Britons under Hobart, and then called Ystrad-Clwyd or Englefield; came under the power of the Normans in the time of Henry II.; and was constituted a county by Henry VIII. Ancient British standing stones, barrows, and pillars occur at Cerig-y-Druidion, Llanarmon, Llansallan, Cap-Voelas, and Eliseg; British castles, at Dinas-Bran, Sychaint, Gresford, Garthen-Coppa-yr-Wylfa, and Tommon-y-Rhod-wydd. Roman stations and camps are not found. Offa's dyke and Watt's dyke go across the south-eastern wing of the county, from the vicinity of Chirk to the vicinity of Caergwrle. Norman castles occur at Denbigh and Ruthin; and fine old ecclesiastical remains, at Llan-Egwest, Wrexham, and Llanrhaiadr.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a maritime county of North Wales"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 2nd order divisions")
Administrative units: Denbighshire AncC
Place: Denbighshire

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