Lancashire, Or Lancaster, a N W. county of England, bordering on Cumberland, Westmoreland, Yorkshire, Cheshire, and the Irish sea; area, 1,005 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 2,819,-495. The surface is nearly level, except in the north and east. The long ridge known as the " backbone of England " separates the county from Yorkshire on the east, and the N. district is broken by Coniston Fells (2,577 ft. high) and other considerable eminences. The Duddon, Lune, Wyre, Ribble, Mersey, and Ir-well are the principal rivers. The coast is deeply indented by bays and arms of the sea, of which Morecambe bay and the estuary of the Ribble are the most important. Morecambe bay and a part of Westmoreland detach the most northern part from the rest of the county. The prevailing geological formations are limestone and carboniferous and new red sandstone. The Lancashire coal field covers 400 sq. m. of the south and southwest of the county, thus underlying the whole of the manufac-turing districts, and extending into Cheshire and North Wales on the one side, while on the other it is separated by but a brief interval from the coal fields of Yorkshire. Copper, iron, and lead are also found. Peat mosses form a remarkable feature of the surface.
The principal of these swamps was formerly Chat-moss, about 5 m. long, once considered irreclaimable, but now mostly under cultivation. The climate is humid, but temperate, and the soil moderately fertile. Dairy and hay farms are numerous, and potatoes are more extensively grown than in any other English county. Lancashire owes its importance chiefly to its manufactures and commerce. The most important manufactures are cotton, woollens, worsted, flax, and silk goods, hats, paper, and soap. The manufacturing districts are traversed by a large number of canals and railways, and include the towns of Manchester, Bolton, Preston, Blackburn, Oldham, Ashton, Stockport, Bury, Chorley, Wigan, and Rochdale. Capital, Lancaster; chief commercial city, Liverpool. - Lancashire was made a county palatine by Edward III. Riots took place in many parts of the county in 1826 for the destruction of power looms. It suffered greatly from the cotton famine during the American civil war; in January, 1863, there were 228,-992 operatives unemployed, and £1,864,121 was contributed for their relief. The duchy of Lancaster is annexed to the crown, and its net revenue is paid into the sovereign's privy purse.
The receipts in 1870 were £53,868, and the expenditures £15,136.