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Archiver > DUR-NBL > 2004-10 > 1099173467

Subject: Re: [DUR-NBL] Brick wall with HOPPERS
Date: Sat, 30 Oct 2004 17:57:47 EDT

The form of the county name is unique in England. Many counties are named
after their principal town, but the expected form here would be Durhamshire. The
reason it is called County Durham instead is that the Prince-Bishops of
Durham historically exercised power in regions outside the county as well, so the
inner part was named County Durham as opposed to the rest of the estate of

From the London Times, 4th Feb 1939:
.......Durham, of course is a singular anomaly: no one has ever ventured to
label it "Durhamshire," though it is now a frequent practice, when writing
about it, to call it "County Durham," in order to distinguish it from its
capital city. As a matter of fact, of course, as appears again from Gibson
("Britannia" first published 1695) it is neither "shire" not "county" but a

The A2A database contains catalogues describing archives held throughout
England and dating from the 900s to the present day, it has no entries for

The National Archives Catalogue contains 9.5 million descriptions of
documents from central government, courts of law and other UK national bodies,
including records on family history, medieval tax, criminal trials, the history of
many countries and many other subjects, it has no entries for Durhamshire.

First recorded in 1000 as Dunholme. From the Saxon word Dunholme, dun
meaning a hill and holme referring to an island in a river (the rocky outcrop
where Durham Cathedral now stands). The Normans changed it to Duresme, which was
corrupted to Durham. Bishops ruled this area until 1836 so the suffix ‘shire’
was never added: it is County Durham, not Durhamshire.
Regards Stan Mapstone

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