The County of Gloucestershire


Last updated on September 8th, 2017

Historical Descriptions of Gloucestershire

Leonard’s Gazetteer of England and Wales 1850

Gloucestershire is bounded, North by Worcestershire and Warwickshire; East by Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, and Wiltshire; South by Somersetshire; and West by the Severn, by Monmouthshire and Herefordshire. It is 65 miles long, and 25 broad, and is divided into 27 hundreds, namely, Berkeley, Bisley, Bledesloe, Botloe, Bradley, St. Briavells, Brightwell Barrow, Cheltenham, Cleeve, Crowthorn, Deerhurst, Dudstone and Kingsbarton, Grimbalds Ash, Henbury, Kiftsgate, Duchy of Lancaster, Langley and Swineshead, Longtrees, Puckle-Church, Rapsgate, Slaughter, Tewkesbury, Thornbury, Tibaldstone, Westbury, Westminster, and Whitestone. Rivers: the Frome, the Isis, the Severn, and the Wye. It has one city, and 27 market towns. It is in the Province of Canterbury, chiefly in the Diocese of Gloucester, but partly in that of Bristol; and is in the Oxford Circuit. Area 1,256 square miles, or 803,840 acres. Population, 431,383.
Source: Leonard’s Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850

History

A chronological history of Gloucestershire extracted from the Family Topographer 1834.

Hundreds of Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire is divided into East and West Gloucestershire4.

View from Barrow Wake, Gloucestershire
View from Barrow Wake, Gloucestershire. Author: Poliphilo

East Gloucestershire includes the hundreds of:

  • Crowthorne and Minety
  • Brightwells Barrow
  • Bradley
  • Rapsgate
  • Bisley
  • Longtree
  • Whitstone
  • Kiftsgate
  • Westminster
  • Deerhurst
  • Slaughter
  • Cheltenham
  • Cleeve
  • Tibaldstone
  • Tewkesbury
  • Dudstone and King’s Barton

also the city and county of the city of Gloucester, the borough of Cirencester, and the parliamentary boroughs of Cheltenham, Stroud, and Tewkesbury5.

West Gloucestershire includes the remaining portions of the shire, the hundreds of

  • Barton Regis
  • Berkeley
  • Bledisloe
  • Botloe
  • Grumbalds Ash
  • Henbury
  • Langley
  • Pucklechurch
  • St. Briavels
  • Thornbury
  • Westbury[^6].

Gloucestershire Poor Law Unions

The poor law unions that covered the Gloucestershire area were:

  • Bristol Incorporation
  • Cheltenham Poor Law Union
  • Chipping Sodbury Poor Law Union
  • Cirencester Poor Law Union
  • Clifton Poor Law Union
  • Dursley Poor Law Union
  • Gloucester Poor Law Union
  • Newent Poor Law Union
  • Northleach Poor Law Union
  • Shipston-on-Stour Union (Worcestershire)
  • Stow-on-the-Wold Poor Law Union
  • Stroud Poor Law Union
  • Tetbury Poor Law Union
  • Tewkesbury Poor Law Union
  • Thornbury Poor Law Union
  • Westbury-on-Severn Poor Law Union
  • Wheatenhurst Poor Law Union
  • Winchcombe Poor Law Union

Population of Gloucestershire

1801 250,723
1811 285,955
1821 336,190
1831 387,398
1841 431,495
1851 458,805
1861 485,770

The Family Topographer6, dated 1834, reports the population in 1821 as follows:

Hundreds, 27; Cities, Gloucester and Bristol; Boroughs, 4; Market Towns, 23; Parishes, 320; Parts of Parishes, 5; Houses, 63,436. Inhabitants. Males, 160,451; Females, 175,392; total, 335,843.— By the census of 1831 the number was 386,700. Families. Employed in agriculture, 23,170; in trade, 35,907; in neither, 13,079; total, 82,156.

Baptisms in 1820. Males, 4,988; Females, 4,755; total 9,743. Annual average of 1811 to 1820, 9,067.

Marriages, 3,192; annual average, 2,888.

Burials. Males, 2,929; Females, 2,822, total, 5,751. Annual average, 5,139 7.

1861, Males, 229,009, Females, 258,7618.

Population per square miles in 1851 was 3649.

Date Inhabited houses. Uninhibited houses. Houses building
1851 86,359 5,318 441
1861 92,831 4,701 559

Agriculture of Gloucestershire

The produce of Gloucestershire is wheat, barley, oats, rye, beans, peas, potatoes, turnips, clover, vetches, sainfoin, flax, teasels, timber and wood produce, apples, pears, cider, perry, ale, beer, grazing produce, butter, cheese, wool.

Produce of Gloucestershire

Iron, in the Forest of Dean; lead, in every lime stone rock, but in small quantities; coal, in the Forest of Dean, Little Dean, and Lydney; lime-stone, of excellent quality, at Cromhall, Wickwar, &c. from the rocks called “white lays; ” crow-stone, at Churchdown; Bristol diamonds, at Clifton; free-stone, on the Cotswolds; puff- stone, or tophus, at Dursley, of which Berkeley Castle was built; gypsum; pyrites. Timber; corn; turnips; apples, in the Vale and Forest of Dean; sainfoin, in the Cotswold districts. Sheep; swine, long, tall, and white. Salmon, at numerous fisheries from Oldbury-on-Severn to Tewkesbury; lampreys, eels, and elvers, in the Severn at and above Gloucester.

Manufacturing of Gloucestershire

Woollen manufacture is carried on at Wotton-under-Edge, Stroud, Minchinhampton, Bisley, North Nibley, Ebley, Stonehouse, Eastington, Dursley, Cam, Painswick, Rodborough, and King’s Stanley. The Stroud valley produced broadcloths.

Hosiery was manufactured at Tewkesbury and silk at Tewkesbury, Stroud, and Bristol.

In 1834 the Family Topographer10 reports the manufactures as follows:

There are several paper mills in the County. At Bristol, glass, pottery, refined sugars, woollens, snuff, &c.; Cambridge and Coaley, edge-tools, and farmers’ iron-work, brass wire for pins, &c.; Cirencester, carpets, and curriers’ knives; Forest of Dean, cider and perry, the latter of which is said to be the basis of some of the wine sold for champagne in the metropolis; and much iron-work; Frampton Cotterell, felt hats; Gloucester, curriers’ knives, bells, and pins, the latter introduced in 1626, by John Tilsby or Tilsley, and the value of the pins sent weekly to London was at one time estimated at £20,000; Newnham, verdigrease; Stroud, Painswick, Nailsworth, Chalford, Wootton, Dursley, Uley, and numerous adjoining villages, broad and narrow fine cloths, and the waters are peculiarly well adapted to the dying of scarlet, blue, and black cloth; Vale of Severn, cheese, of which about 12,000 tons are annually exported; Tewkesbury, cotton stockings and lace. Warmley, near Bristol, brass works11.

Minerals

Minerals found in Gloucestershire include coal, iron, lead, tin (at Lydney), calamine, iron pyrites, barytes, gypsum, limestone, sandstone, freestone, fuller’s earth, petro-silex, and Bristol diamonds. The Romans worked ironstone here, as did the early English before the Norman invasion. In the Middle Ages iron was wrought, and gold was reputed to be found. There are salt springs at Cheltenham and Gloucester, used for medicinal purposes, and hot wells at Clifton.

Canals, Rivers and Ports

The two main ports on the Severn estuary were Bristol and Gloucester.

The Lower Avon was navigable to Bath. The Thames rises in Gloucestershire and was navigable from Lechlade.

The main canals include the Stroudwater, the Thames and Severn Canal, the Hereford and Gloucester and the Gloucester and Berkeley canal, which was a ship canal 16½ miles long.

Read more about Gloucestershire Rivers & Inland Navigation

Railways

The railways that passed through Gloucestershire we mainly of the broad gauge system and included the Great Western and the Midland railways.

Hospitals and Asylums

Barnwood House Hospital
Barnwood House Hospital. Date 1860

The County Lunatic Asylum is distant about half a mile from the city of Gloucester; it stands on rising ground, from which some very extensive views of the surrounding country are obtained. The centre of the building is in the form of a semicircle, which, with the wings, originally extended 250 feet, but additional buildings have since been erected; the domestic offices are exceedingly good, and there are commodious apartments for all the resident officers; it was opened July 21, 1823. Dr. Williams, F.L.S., resident physician and superintendent; Francis Wilton, medical assistant; Miss Bishop, matron; Rev. Herbert Haines, chaplain; Robert Wilton, solicitor; James Medland, surveyor; John Jones, auditor12.

Law and Legislation

Gloucestershire was within the Oxford circuit and the district of the Bristol court of Bankruptcy.

County assizes were held at Gloucester.

Coroners for the County (1863) — Wm. Gaisford, Esq., Berkeley (for the Lower division); J. G. Ball, Esq. Stroud (for Stroud division); Joseph Lovegrove, Esq., Gloucester (for the Upper division); James Teague, Esq., Hagloe house (for the Forest division)13.

County Gaol (Gloucester)(1863), Captain Henry Edward Cartwright, governor; Rev. W. C. L. A. Dudley, B.A., chaplain: Thomas Hickes, surgeon; Henry Morland Jeens, clerk and storekeeper; Miss Ellen Gillett, matron14.

A depiction of Gloucester Castle and Gaol in the 18th century
A depiction of Gloucester Castle and Gaol in the 18th century

Hardwicke Reformatory, for juvenile offenders, under the management of Thomas Barwick Lloyd Bakers, Esq., J. P., of Hardwicke court15.

The County Police Force consists (1863) of 1 chief constable, 1 deputy chief constable, 10 superintendents, 43 sergeants, and 219 constables. The chief station is at Cheltenham. There are 68 other stations16.


  1. Leonard’s Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850 
  2. Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and the City of Bristol, Printed and Published by Kelly and Co., Old Boswell Court, St. Clement’s, Strand, London. 1863. 
  3. Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and the City of Bristol, Printed and Published by Kelly and Co., Old Boswell Court, St. Clement’s, Strand, London. 1863. 
  4. Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and the City of Bristol, Printed and Published by Kelly and Co., Old Boswell Court, St. Clement’s, Strand, London. 1863. 
  5. Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and the City of Bristol, Printed and Published by Kelly and Co., Old Boswell Court, St. Clement’s, Strand, London. 1863. 
  6. The Family Topographer; Samuel Tymms; 1834. 
  7. The Family Topographer; Samuel Tymms; 1834. 
  8. Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and the City of Bristol, Printed and Published by Kelly and Co., Old Boswell Court, St. Clement’s, Strand, London. 1863. 
  9. Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and the City of Bristol, Printed and Published by Kelly and Co., Old Boswell Court, St. Clement’s, Strand, London. 1863. 
  10. The Family Topographer; Samuel Tymms; 1834. 
  11. The Family Topographer; Samuel Tymms; 1834. 
  12. Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and the City of Bristol, Printed and Published by Kelly and Co., Old Boswell Court, St. Clement’s, Strand, London. 1863 
  13. Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and the City of Bristol, Printed and Published by Kelly and Co., Old Boswell Court, St. Clement’s, Strand, London. 1863 
  14. Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and the City of Bristol, Printed and Published by Kelly and Co., Old Boswell Court, St. Clement’s, Strand, London. 1863 
  15. Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and the City of Bristol, Printed and Published by Kelly and Co., Old Boswell Court, St. Clement’s, Strand, London. 1863 
  16. Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and the City of Bristol, Printed and Published by Kelly and Co., Old Boswell Court, St. Clement’s, Strand, London. 1863