This article is about the historic county in England.
For other uses, see Middlesex (disambiguation).
|FlagCoat of arms|
|Flag||Coat of arms|
|1801/1881||734 km (181,320 acres)|
|1911||601.8 km (148,701 acres)|
|1961||601.7 km (148,691 acres)|
|1889||Metropolitan parishes to County of London|
|1801||11 inhabitants per hectare (4.5/acre)|
|1881||40 inhabitants per hectare (16.1/acre)|
|1911||19 inhabitants per hectare (7.6/acre)|
|1961||37 inhabitants per hectare (15/acre)|
|Preceded by||Kingdom of Essex|
|Created||Early Middle Ages|
|Status||Ceremonial county (until 1965)
Administrative county (1889–1965)
|Government||Middlesex Quarter Sessions (until 1889)|
Middlesex (/ˈmɪdəlsɛks/; abbreviation: Middx) is a historic county in southeast England.
The City of London was a county corporate from the 12th century and was able to exert political control over Middlesex.
Westminster Abbey dominated most of the early financial, judicial and ecclesiastical aspects of the county.
As London expanded into rural Middlesex, the Corporation of London resisted attempts to expand the city boundaries into the county, which posed problems for the administration of local government and justice.
When county councils were introduced in England in 1889 about 20% of the area of the historic county of Middlesex, along with a third of its population, was incorporated into the new administrative county of London and the remainder incorporated into the administrative county of Middlesex, governed by the Middlesex County Council that met regularly at the Middlesex Guildhall in Westminster.
The City of London, and Middlesex, became separate counties for other purposes and Middlesex regained the right to appoint its own sheriff, lost in 1199.
After the Second World War, the populations of the administrative county of London and of inner Middlesex were in steady decline, with high population growth continuing in the outer parts of Middlesex.
After a Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London, almost all of the area of the historic county of Middlesex was incorporated into Greater London in 1965, with the rest included in neighbouring administrative counties.
The name means territory of the middle Saxons and refers to the tribal origin of its inhabitants.
In 704, it is recorded as Middleseaxon in an Anglo-Saxon chronicle, written in Latin, about land at Twickenham.
The Latin text reads: "in prouincia quæ nuncupatur Middelseaxan Haec".
The seax appears in the heraldry of the English counties of Essex and Middlesex, each of which bears three seaxes in their ceremonial emblem, or rather the Tudor heralds' idea of what a seax looked like, portrayed in each case like a falchion or scimitar.
Further information: List of places in Middlesex
There were settlements in the area of Middlesex that can be traced back thousands of years before the creation of a county.
Middlesex was formerly part of the Kingdom of Essex It was recorded in the Domesday Book as being divided into the six hundreds of Edmonton, Elthorne, Gore, Hounslow (Isleworth in all later records), Ossulstone and Spelthorne.
Middlesex also included Westminster, which also had a high degree of autonomy.
Of the six hundreds, Ossulstone contained the districts closest to the City of London.
During the 17th century it was divided into four divisions, which, along with the Liberty of Westminster, largely took over the administrative functions of the hundred.
The county had parliamentary representation from the 13th century.
The title Earl of Middlesex was created twice, in 1622 and 1677, but became extinct in 1843.
The economy of the county was dependent on the City of London from early times and was primarily agricultural.
A variety of goods were provided for the City, including crops such as grain and hay, livestock and building materials.
Recreation at day trip destinations such as Hackney, Islington, Highgate and Twickenham, as well as coaching, inn-keeping and sale of goods and services at daily shops and stalls to the considerable passing trade provided much local employment and also formed part of the early economy.
However, during the 18th century the inner parishes of Middlesex became suburbs of the City and were increasingly urbanised.
Similarly Thomas Cox wrote in 1794:
In 1803 Sir John Sinclair, president of the Board of Agriculture, spoke of the need to cultivate the substantial Finchley Common and Hounslow Heath (perhaps prophetic of the Dig for Victory campaign of World War II) and fellow Board member Middleton estimated that one tenth of the county, 17,000 acres (6,900 ha), was uncultivated common, capable of improvement.
Flat as a pancake, and until you come to Hammersmith, the soil is a nasty, stony dirt upon a bed of gravel.
Hounslow Heath which is only a little worse than the general run, is a sample of all that is bad in soil and villainous in look.
Yet this is now enclosed, and what they call 'cultivated'.
Here is a fresh robbery of villages, hamlets, and farm and labourers' buildings and abodes."
The building of radial railway lines from 1839 caused a fundamental shift away from agricultural supply for London towards large scale house building.
New jobs attracted more people to the county and the population continued to rise, reaching a peak in 1951.
Middlesex became a centre for the British film industry.
Twickenham Studios were established in 1913.
Further information: Population of Middlesex (1801–1881)
When the railways were built, the north western suburbs of London steadily spread over large parts of the county.
Local government in the county was unaffected by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and civic works continued to be the responsibility of the individual parish vestries or ad hoc improvement commissioners.
In 1855, the parishes of the densely populated area in the south east, but excluding the City of London, came within the responsibility of the Metropolitan Board of Works.
Despite this innovation, the system was described by commentators at the time as one "in chaos".
In 1889, under the Local Government Act 1888, the metropolitan area of approximately 30,000 acres (120 km) became part of the administrative county of London.
The Act also provided that the part of Middlesex in the administrative county of London should be "severed from [Middlesex], and form a separate county for all non-administrative purposes".
The part of the County of London that had been transferred from Middlesex was divided in 1900 into 18 metropolitan boroughs.
They were merged in 1965 to form seven of the twelve current boroughs of Inner London:
- Camden was formed from the metropolitan boroughs of Hampstead, Holborn and St Pancras.
- Hackney was formed from the metropolitan boroughs of Hackney, Shoreditch and Stoke Newington.
- Hammersmith (known as Hammersmith and Fulham from 1979) was formed from the metropolitan boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham.
- Islington was formed from the metropolitan boroughs of Finsbury and Islington.
- Kensington and Chelsea was formed from the metropolitan boroughs of Chelsea and Kensington.
- Tower Hamlets was formed from the metropolitan boroughs of Bethnal Green, Poplar and Stepney.
- The City of Westminster was formed from the metropolitan boroughs of Paddington and St Marylebone and the City of Westminster.
Further information: History of local government districts in Middlesex
Middlesex outside the metropolitan area remained largely rural until the middle of the 19th century and so the special boards of local government for various metropolitan areas were late in developing.
Other than the Cities of London and Westminster, there were no ancient boroughs.
The importance of the hundred courts declined, and such local administration as there was divided between "county business" conducted by the justices of the peace meeting in quarter sessions, and the local matters dealt with by parish vestries.
As the suburbs of London spread into the area, unplanned development and outbreaks of cholera forced the creation of local boards and poor law unions to help govern most areas; in a few cases parishes appointed improvement commissioners.
In rural areas, parishes began to be grouped for different administrative purposes.
From 1875 these local bodies were designated as urban or rural sanitary districts.
The area of responsibility of the Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex was reduced accordingly.
Because of increasing urbanisation these had all been abolished by 1934.
Urban districts had been created, merged, and many had gained the status of municipal borough by 1965.
The districts as at the 1961 census were:
|Middlesex urban districts in 1961|
After 1889 the growth of London continued, and the county became almost entirely filled by suburbs of London, with a big rise in population density.
This process was accelerated by the Metro-land developments, which covered a large part of the county.
Public transport in the county, including the extensive network of trams, buses and the London Underground came under control of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933 and a New Works Programme was developed to further enhance services during the 1930s.
Partly because of its proximity to the capital, the county had a major role during the Second World War.
The Tower division, better known as the Tower Hamlets, was an area in the Southeast of the county covering what is now the London Borough of Tower Hamlets as well as most of what is now the London Borough of Hackney.
Middlesex arguably never, and certainly not since 1789, had a single, established county town.
The City of London could be regarded as its county town for most purposes and provided different locations for the various, mostly judicial, county purposes.
The quarter sessions at the former Middlesex Sessions House performed most of the limited administration on a county level until the creation of the Middlesex County Council in 1889.
Thus a traveller's and historian's London regional summary of 1795 states that (New) Brentford was "considered as the county-town; but there is no town-hall or other public building".
In the same year, this location was placed into the new County of London, and was thus outside the council's area of jurisdiction.
Arms of Middlesex County Council
The seaxe was a weapon carried by Anglo-Saxon warriors, and the term "Saxon" may be derived from the word.
These arms became associated with the two counties that approximated to the kingdom: Middlesex and Essex.
County authorities, militia and volunteer regiments associated with both counties used the attributed arms.
Middlesex County Council decided to apply for a formal grant of arms from the College of Arms, with the addition of a heraldic "difference" to the attributed arms.
Colonel Otley Parry, a justice of the peace for Middlesex and author of a book on military badges, was asked to devise an addition to the shield.
The chosen addition was a "Saxon Crown", derived from the portrait of King Athelstan on a silver penny of his reign, stated to be the earliest form of crown associated with any English sovereign.
The grant of arms was made by letters patent dated 7 November 1910.
|The arms of the Middlesex County Council were blazoned:
Gules, three seaxes fessewise points to the sinister proper, pomels and hilts and in the centre chief point a Saxon crown or.
The undifferenced arms of the kingdom were eventually granted to Essex County Council in 1932.
Seaxes were also used in the insignia of many of the boroughs and urban districts in the county, while the Saxon crown came to be a common heraldic charge in English civic arms.
On the creation of the Greater London Council in 1965 a Saxon crown was introduced in its coat of arms.
Creation of Greater London
The population of inner London (then the County of London) had been in decline as more residents moved into the outer suburbs since its creation in 1889, and this continued after the Second World War.
In contrast, the population of the administrative county of Middlesex had increased steadily during that period.
From 1951 to 1961 the population of the inner districts of the county started to fall, and the population grew only in eight of the suburban outer districts.
According to the 1961 census, Ealing, Enfield, Harrow, Hendon, Heston & Isleworth, Tottenham, Wembley, Willesden and Twickenham had each reached a population greater than 100,000, which would normally have entitled each of them to seek county borough status.
If this status were to be granted to all those boroughs it would mean that the population of the administrative county of Middlesex would be reduced by over half, to just under one million.
Evidence submitted to the Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London included a recommendation to divide Middlesex into two administrative counties of North Middlesex and West Middlesex.
However, the commission instead proposed abolition of the county and merging of the boroughs and districts.
This was enacted by Parliament as the London Government Act 1963, which came into force on 1 April 1965.
The Act abolished the administrative counties of Middlesex and London.
In April 1965, nearly all of the area of the historic county of Middlesex became part of Greater London, under the control of the Greater London Council, and formed the new outer London boroughs of Barnet (part only), Brent, Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond upon Thames (part only).
The remaining areas were Potters Bar Urban District, which became part of the administrative county of Hertfordshire, and Sunbury-on-Thames Urban District and Staines Urban District, which became part of the administrative county of Surrey.
Following the changes, local acts of Parliament relating to Middlesex were henceforth to apply to the entirety of the nine "North West London Boroughs".
Additionally, since 1965 the Greater London boundary to the west and north has been subject to several small changes.
On its creation in 1965, Greater London was divided into five Commission Areas for justice.
The one named "Middlesex" consisted of the boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow.
It was abolished on 1 July 2003.
The entire south west boundary of Middlesex follows a gently descending meander of the Thames without hills.
In many places "Middlesex bank" is more accurate than "north bank" — for instance at Teddington the river flows north-westward, so the left (Middlesex) bank is the south-west bank.
In the north, the boundary runs along a WSW/ENE aligned ridge of hills broken by Barnet or 'Dollis' valleys.
This forms a long protrusion of Hertfordshire into the county.
The county was once thickly wooded, with much of it covered by the ancient Forest of Middlesex.
The highest point is the High Road by Bushey Heath at 502 feet (153 m).
Former postal county
Middlesex (abbreviated Middx) was a former postal county.
Counties were an element of postal addressing in routine use until 1996, intended to avoid confusion between post towns, and are no longer required for the routing of the mail.
The postal county did not match the boundaries of Middlesex because of the presence of the London postal district, which stretched into the county to include Tottenham, Willesden, Hornsey and Chiswick.
Addresses in this area included "LONDON" which is the post town but any overlap with the then County of London was coincidental.
In 1965 Royal Mail retained the postal county because it would have been too costly to amend addresses covering the bulk of Outer London.
Exceptionally, the Potters Bar post town was transferred to Hertfordshire.
Geographically the postal county consisted of two unconnected areas, 6 miles (10 km) apart.
The first was in and around Enfield and the second, larger area was to the west.
This led the retention of 25 Post Towns to this day:
|Postcode area||Post towns|
|EN (part)||ENFIELD; POTTERS BAR (until 1965)|
|HA||EDGWARE, HARROW, NORTHWOOD, PINNER, RUISLIP, STANMORE, WEMBLEY|
|TW (part)||ASHFORD, BRENTFORD, FELTHAM, HAMPTON, HOUNSLOW†, ISLEWORTH, SHEPPERTON, STAINES, SUNBURY-ON-THAMES, TEDDINGTON, TWICKENHAM†|
|UB||GREENFORD, HAYES, NORTHOLT, SOUTHALL, UXBRIDGE, WEST DRAYTON|
† = postal county was not required
The postal county had many border inconsistencies where its constituent post towns encroached on neighbouring counties, such as the villages of Denham in Buckinghamshire, Wraysbury in Berkshire and Eastbury in Hertfordshire which were respectively in the post towns of Uxbridge, Staines and Northwood and therefore in the postal county of Middlesex.
Egham Hythe, Surrey also had postal addresses of Staines, Middlesex.
The Enfield post town in the EN postcode area was in the former postal county.
Most of the TW postcode area was in the former postal county.
Culture and community
The flag is a banner of the arms of the former Middlesex County Council, abolished in 1965.
Whilst such banners of county arms are legally not generally available for public use, a similar design had been used traditionally as a local badge in Middlesex and neighbouring Essex for centuries.
The seax is the symbol of the Saxons and the Saxon crown was added in 1909 to differentiate the arms and flag from those of Essex.
Middlesex Day is celebrated each year on 16 May.
During the battle, Lieutenant-Colonel William Inglis, despite his injuries, refused to retire from the battle but remained with the regimental colours, encouraging his men with the words "Die hard 57th, die hard!"
as they came under intense pressure from a French attack.
The regiment held and the battle was won.
The 'Die Hards' subsequently became the West Middlesex's regimental nickname and the phrase Die Hard entered the language.
In 2003, an early day motion in the House of Commons noted the celebration of 16 May, the anniversary of Albuhera, as Middlesex Day.
The general public was invited to vote for the bloom they felt most represented their county.
The wood anemone was chosen as the flower of Middlesex.
The flower was a common sight in the Forest of Middlesex.
When the suburbs of London swept over Middlesex, many of its woods were bypassed and preserved.
The wood anemone still blooms there to this day.
County history societies
The London and Middlesex Archaeological Society (LAMAS) was founded in 1855 for the study of the archaeology and local history of the City of London and the county of Middlesex.
It has over 40 affiliated local history societies in Middlesex.
The interests of family historians in Middlesex are supported by two member organisations of the Federation of Family History Societies: The London, Westminster and Middlesex Family History Society and the West Middlesex Family History Society.
For genealogical research Middlesex is assigned Chapman code MDX, except for the City of London ("square mile") assigned LND.
Sir John Betjeman, Poet Laureate from 1972 until his death in 1984, was born in 1906 in Gospel Oak and grew up in Highgate.
He published several poems about Middlesex and suburban life.
Many were featured in the televised readings Metroland.
The stadium hosts home test matches for the England national rugby union team.
There are 7 rugby union clubs based in Middlesex playing in national leagues (levels 1-4).
Middlesex Rugby is the governing body for rugby union in Middlesex.
The union selects players from its 88 affiliated clubs for the Middlesex team in the County Championship.
It runs the Middlesex RFU Senior Cup open to the top 8 Middlesex clubs that play between tiers 6-7 of the English rugby union system.
Middlesex Rugby is also active in promoting youth rugby and women's rugby in the county.
There are 19 football clubs based in Middlesex in the top eight tiers of the English football league system (correct for 2018/9 season): Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Brentford, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers, Barnet, Hampton and Richmond Borough, Wealdstone, Enfield, Haringey Borough, Finchley and Wingate, Harrow Borough, Hayes and Yeading United, Hendon, Ashford Town (Middlesex), Bedfont Sports, Hanwell Town, and Northwood.
The Middlesex County Football Association regulates and promotes football in the county.
The Middlesex F.A.
The Middlesex County Football League was founded in 1984 and currently comprises 5 divisions.
The premier divisions sits at level 7 of the National League System.
The club was founded in 1864 but teams representing the county have played top-class cricket since the early 18th century and the club has always held first-class status.
Middlesex have won thirteen County Championship titles (including 2 shared titles), the most recent in 2016.
The Middlesex Cricket Board is the governing body of all recreational cricket in Middlesex.
The League consists of nine divisions in total.
The top division has been designated an ECB Premier League.
The club was formerly the governing body of cricket in England and Wales and, as the sport's legislator, held considerable global influence.
Lord's is widely referred to as the Home of Cricket.
Middlesex Bowling Association has over 80 affiliated clubs throughout the county.
Middlesex County Amateur Swimming Association organises training, competitions and representative county teams in swimming, diving, water polo and synchronised swimming.
Middlesex County Athletics Association is the organisation controlling Amateur Athletics in Middlesex under the direction of UK Athletics.
Middlesex Golf represents all aspects of golf within the county.
It has 33 affiliated golf clubs.
Middlesex Tennis, affiliated to the LTA, works to create more opportunities for people in Middlesex to play and compete in tennis at all levels of the game.
The Middlesex County Championships are the highlight of Middlesex's Competition Calendar.
Middlesex County Badminton Association has over 80 affiliated clubs and organises men's, ladies' and mixed leagues.
Middlesex Squash & Racketball Association is responsible for organising and promoting squash in Middlesex.
It was founded in the 1930s and ran the first Middlesex Open Championships in 1937.
Middlesex County Archery Association is the governing body for the sport of archery in the county.
Middlesex Small-Bore Rifle Association brings together small-bore rifle and airgun clubs located within the county, and organises teams to represent the County in competitions.
Middlesex County Chess Association aims to foster chess throughout Middlesex.
It has 15 affiliated clubs.
Middlesex County Bridge Association runs the Middlesex Cup and the Middlesex League and enters county teams in national and regional competitions.
- List of Lord Lieutenants of Middlesex
- Custos Rotulorum of Middlesex - List of Keepers of the Rolls
- List of High Sheriffs of Middlesex
- Middlesex (UK Parliament constituency) - Historical list of MPs for the Middlesex constituency
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middlesex.