England Historical Geography

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Learning about where your ancestors lived helps you understand the records about them. Local histories and gazetteers describe changes in the land and in the communities where people lived. Unlike place-names in other European countries, many English place-names have not changed for hundreds of years.

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Historic counties of England

England’s county boundaries were changed in 1974 and again in 1996. The new county names are used on recent maps and in current addresses. The addresses in this article use the new county names. (See England Maps.) England has both civil and ecclesiastical jurisdictions, but until 1834 they were usually combined in rural areas.

The following books explain more about English historical geography. You can find these and similar materials at the Family History Library and many other research libraries.

  • Adams, I. H. Agrarian Landscape Terms: A Glossary for Historical Geography. London: Institute of British Geographers, 1976. (FHL book 942 E34ad.BYU Harold B Lee Library book HD 111 .A3 1977) This glossary defines words found in several types of records associated with land. The bibliography is extensive.
  • Gilbert, Martin. British History Atlas. New York, New York: Macmillan Company, 1968. (FHL book 942 E3bri BYU Harold B Lee Library book G1811.S1 G5 1968.) This national historical atlas contains maps to illustrate population movements, railways, battles, plagues, and more.
  • Taylor, Christopher. Village and Farmstead: A History of Rural Settlement in England. London, England: George Phillip, 1983. (FHL book 942 E3t.) This work presents information about how and when the English countryside was settled and how it changed over time. It includes maps and sketches.

Other sources are found in the FamilySearch Catalog under one of the following:




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