Bedfordshire Family History Guide

The River Ivel & Bunham Mill 1903
The River Ivel & Bunham Mill 1903

Historical Descriptions

Beeton’s British Gazetteer 1870

Bedford, an inland county of England, bounded on the N. and N.W. by Northamptonshire, on the E. by the counties of Huntingdon, Cambridge, and Hertford, and on the W. by the counties of Buckingham and Northampton. It is the smallest county in England, with the exception of Middlesex, Huntingdon, and Rutland. Desc. Generally level, or slightly undulating, except on the S., where it is crossed by the Chiltern Hills. The western and eastern parts of the county are, in many parts, sandy; the centre is flat, and three-fourths of the whole is judged to be alluvial soil. Limestone, coarse marble, and imperfect coal are obtained here; and a variety of fossils and petrifactions, particularly the Cornu Ammonis, and different shells, as also petrified wood. Rivers. The Ouse, lvel, Lea, and Ouzel. Manf. Confined almost exclusively to the plaiting of straw and making thread lace, in which nearly three-fourths of the female population are employed. Towns. Bedford, Leighton-Buzzard, Ampthill, Biggleswade, Woburn, Dunstable, and Luton. Ext. 36½ miles from N. to S., by 22½ from E. to W. Area, 295,582 acres. Pop. 135,287.
Source: Beeton’s British Gazetteer 1870. Ward, Lock & Tyler, Paternoster Row, London.

Leonard’s Gazetteer 1850

Bedfordshire is bounded, North by Huntingdonshire and
Northamptonshire, East by hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, South by
Buckinghamshire and hertfordshire, and West by Buckinghamshire. It is of
an oval form, about 34 miles long and 19 broad. The area is 463 square
miles, or 295,320 statute acres. Rivers, the Ouse, and the Ivel. This
county is in the Province or Canterbury, in the Diocese or Lincoln, and
in the Norfolk Circuit. — It is divided into nine hundreds; namely,
Barford, Biggleswade, Clifton, Flitt, Manshead, Redbornstoke, Stodden,
Willey, Wixamtree. There are 131 Parishes and Townships, and 10 Market
Towns. population, 107,936.

Source: Leonard’s Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850

Read more about Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire the Parliamentary Gazetteer 1840

The Architecture of Churches in Bedfordshire 1848

Index of Pages and Parishes

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

K

L

M

N

O

P

R

S

T

U

W

Y

Poor Law Unions in Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire was divided into six Poor Law Unions:

  • Ampthill Poor Law Union
  • Bedford Poor Law Union
  • Biggleswade Poor Law Union
  • Leighton Buzzard Poor Law Union
  • Luton Poor Law Union
  • Woburn Poor Law Union

Woburn Union was dissolved in 1899 and the parishes transferred to the Leighton Buzzard and Ampthill Unions.

Some Bedfordshire parishes came under the St. Neots Union as follows:
  • Eaton Socon
  • Little Barford
  • Little Staughton
  • Pertenhall
  • Tilbrook
  • Dean
  • Shelton

Bedfordshire Hundreds 

This article was updated on February 10, 2020