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The counties of England, including recent changes. County names no longer need be used in English addresses, so this table is mainly of historical interest, but might also be useful in decoding old-style addresses, which, although "deprecated", are still widely used.

In England, county names are not prefixed by the word "county" (as they are in Ireland), with one exception: County Durham, to distinguish the county from the city of the same name. The "shire" suffix is also used for this purpose, e.g. to distinguish the city of Nottingham from the county of Nottinghamshire, but in some cases the suffix is optional, e.g. Devon[shire]. (Neil Withers added in October 2005, "I had heard that this was the only one to be expressed in this way, and not to be a "shire", because of its unique history of being a Palatinate under the power of the Prince Bishops of Durham, slightly separately from the crown. Rather than to distinguish it from the city of Durham; after all, most of the other counties are named after their county towns.")

Name Abbreviation Remarks
(Avon)   Defunct as of 1 Apr 96 → Somerset, Glos, and Bristol
Bedfordshire Beds  
Berkshire Berks  
Buckinghamshire Bucks  
Cambridgeshire Cambs  
(Cleveland) Cleve Defunct 1 Apr 96 → Durham and North Yorkshire
County Durham    
Derbyshire Derbys  
Devon   Or Devonshire
East Riding of Yorkshire    
East Sussex    
Gloucestershire Glos  
Greater Manchester    
Hampshire Hants (1)  
Hereford & Worcester   Split into Hereford and Worcestershire 1 Apr 1998
Hertfordshire Herts  
(Humberside)   Defunct 1 Apr 96 → Lincolnshire or East Riding of Yorkshire
(Huntingtonshire) Hunts Defunct → Huntingdonshire and Peterborough → Cambridgeshire
Isle of Wight    
Lancashire Lancs  
Leicestershire Leics  
Lincolnshire Lincs See note 4.
Middlesex Middx Defunct government unit still used for postal addresses
Northamptonshire Northants  
Northumberland Northumb  
North Yorkshire N. Yorks  
Nottinghamshire Notts  
Oxfordshire Oxon (2)  
Shropshire Salop (3)  
South Yorkshire S. Yorks  
Staffordshire Staffs  
(Sussex)   Now East Sussex, West Sussex
Tyne & Wear    
Warwickshire Warks  
West Midlands    
West Sussex    
West Yorkshire W. Yorks  
Wiltshire Wilts  
(Yorkshire) Yorks → Humberside, North Yorks, Cleve, Durham, South Yorks, Cumbria, ...


  1. Hants, from OE Hantum Scir -> Hamtunschire -> Hantescire; see,

  2. Oxon, from Latin Oxonia / OE Oxnaford.

  3. Shropshire came into existence as a unit of government in the early 10th century. The oldest known form of the name of the county is SCROBBESCIRE, the shire belonging to SCROBBESBYRIG, the Saxon name for Shrewsbury. After the Norman Conquest the county's new rulers adopted the forms SALOPESCIRE and SALOPESBIRY. The word SALOP, applying both to the county and the county town, survived from the middle ages as an alternative English form, having originally been abbreviated from the Norman French. A Latin form, SALOPIA, was commonly used in documents in the 16th century, and in subsequent centuries legal records refer to the County of Salop rather than to Shropshire. The new authority established in 1974 under the Local Government Act of 1972 was officially named Salop, but this was altered to Shropshire with effect from 1st March 1980

  4. Philip Woods reports about the county of Lincolnshire (December 2005), "This is not the former South Humberside. The county of Humberside (N and S) was formed in the 1970's out of the northern part of Lincolnshire and the southern part of east Yorkshire. The two halves separated by the Humber and connected by the the Humber bridge did not work well as a separate county and eventually the two halves were reunited with their original counties. both Lincolnshire and Yorkshire go way back into the mists of time."

The counties of Wales, before and after 1994

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In 1974 the former 13 Welsh counties were reorganized into eight. In 1994 the eight counties were split into 11 new counties and 11 county borough councils.

Former Counties
(prior to 1994)
Current Counties New County Boroughs
(since 1994)
Clwyd Denbighshire
Aberconwy and Colwyn
Dyfed Ceredigion (was Cardiganshire)
Carmarthenshire (Carms)
Pembrokeshire (Pembs)
Gwent Monmouthshire Blaenau Gwent
Gwynedd Anglesey
Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire
Mid Glamorgan   Bridgend
Merthyr Tydfil
Rhondda, Cynon, Taff
Powys Powys  
South Glamorgan Cardiff The Vale of Glamorgan
West Glamorgan Swansea Neath and Port Talbot

Liam McGee (formerly of Cardigan, in the county of Ceredigion) says, "Dyfed was indeed split in 1994 into the counties of Carmarthenshire (Carms), Pembrokeshire (Pembs) and Cardiganshire (no abbreviation, strangely). But the name 'Cardiganshire' lasted only a month or two (long enough to reprint all the letterheads), before being changed to 'Ceredigion', which is the current county name. Derived from the old Welsh name from the area, derived from the name 'Caradoc' from the word 'caredig' (caring).

"Non-Welsh-speakers often lose their nerve when addressing letters to Welsh destinations, believing that they have mis-spelled the address, especially when they include words like 'Cnwc', 'Bwlch' or, even better, 'Eglwyswrw'. In Welsh, 'w' or 'y' are regarded as perfectly acceptable vowels, and addresses with them in place of more familiar 'a's, 'e's and so on, are indeed correct." (Of course 'y' can be a vowel in English too.)

The Counties of Scotland

Here's an attempt at a list of the counties of Scotland. I have no idea which of these are current; will add that information eventually. The code is the Chapman County Code (I'm not sure what good Chapman codes are; they seem to be used mainly in genaeology; English, Welsh, and Irish counties have Chapman codes too). Like the counties of England and Wales, Scottish counties have been redrawn, renamed, converted to regions and back to counties, and so forth; thus this list is more a curiosity than of any particular use in postal addressing, other than historical. As Andy Paterson reports, "As regards overall postal usage, Scotland and the rest of the UK (GB + NI), including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, could rely solely on the use of the house number and the postcode. Indeed, many companies ask you for only this information rather than your full address when phoning them."

County Code Status, Alternative Name, etc.
Aberdeenshire ABD  
Angus ANS Forfarshire
Argyllshire ARL  
Ayrshire AYR  
Banffshire BAN  
Berwickshire BEW  
Borders BOR  
Bute BUT Buteshire
Caithness CAI  
Central CEN  
Clackmannanshire CLK  
Dumfries-shire DFS  
Dumfries and Galloway DGY  
Dunbartonshire DNB Dumbartonshire
East Lothian ELN Haddington
Fife FIF Kingdom of Fife (one of the 7 Pictish kingdoms)
Grampian GMP  
Highland HLD  
Inverness-shire INV  
Kincardine KCD  
Kinross KRS Kinross-shire
Kirkcudbrightshire KKD  
Lanarkshire LKS  
Lothian LTN  
Midlothian MLN Edinburgh
Morayshire MOR Elgin
Nairn NAI Nairnshire
Orkney OKI Orkney Islands
Peebles-shire PEE  
Perth PER Perthshire
Renfrewshire RFW  
Ross and Cromarty ROC  
Roxburghshire ROX  
Selkirkshire SEL  
Shetland SHI Shetland Islands, Zetland
Strathclyde STD  
Stirlingshire STI  
Sutherland SUT Sutherlandshire
Tayside TAY  
West Lothian WLN Linlithgow
Western Isles WIS  
Wigtownshire WIG  

Most recent update: Wed Dec 14 15:40:59 2005 EDT
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