Bedfordshire (often abbreviated Beds), a county in the south midland division of England, bounded by the counties of Northampton, Huntingdon, Cambridge, Hertford, and Buckingham; area, about 500 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 146,256. The chief rivers are the Ouse and its tributary the Ivel. The only range of high lands is the lowest portion of the Chiltern hills, the country being generally level. The woods are of modern growth. The chief wealth of the county is agricultural. Near the valley of the Ouse the soil is well adapted for market gardening. Ferruginous peat is found on the shores of the river Ivel. The ancient Ikeneld and Watling Street roads passed through the county, and there are many Roman, Saxon, and Norman antiquities. The Roman forces of Julius Caesar were opposed by the chief of the district, which was called Catyeu-chlana, and under Constantine Bedfordshire was included in the Roman province of Flavia Caesariensis. Under the Saxon heptarchy it was part of Mercia, and under Alfred it received its present name and divisions.
Among the renowned country seats are Woburn Abbey, belonging to the Russell family; Luton Hoo, to the Earl of Bute; Ampthill park, to the Holland family; and Cardington house, once the residence of the philanthropist Howard.