Cheshire, Or Chester, a N. W. county of England, bounded N. by the Irish sea and the estuary of the Mersey; area, 1,105 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 561,131. It has a level surface, diversified with small lakes called meres, is well wooded, and watered by the Mersey, Dee, and Weever. It has a clayey or sandy soil; is one of the chief grazing districts of England, and noted for its excellent cheese. Salt, coal, lead, and copper are obtained in plenty, and there are several important manufacturing towns in which silk and cotton fabrics are made to great extent. It is traversed by numerous railways, among which are the Northwestern, Manchester, and Birmingham, the Chester and Crewe, the Cheshire and Midland, and the Stockport and Liverpool, and by the Grand Trunk and Bridgewater canals. Cheshire was the seat of the ancient Cornavii, and was made a county palatine by William the Conqueror. It remained almost independent of the crown until the time of Henry VIII., and its palatine courts subsisted to the reign of George IV. The county is divided into North Cheshire, Mid-Cheshire, and South Cheshire, each of which is entitled to two members of parliament.