Leicestershire, a central county of England, bordering on the counties of Nottingham, Lincoln, Rutland, Northampton, Warwick, Stafford, and Derby; area, 797 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 269,311. The surface consists almost entirely of gently rising hills, but nowhere presents any bold features. It is chiefly included in the basin of the Trent, the principal tributary of which in Leicestershire is the Soar (anc. Leire). The Avon, a tributary of the Severn, forms the S. boundary for nearly 8 m.; and the Welland, which falls into the Wash, for about 17 m., separating Leicester from Northamptonshire. The E. portion of the county belongs to the lias formation, and the W. to the sandstone. Coal exists to a considerable extent in the west. Limestone, gypsum, slate, whetstones, and clay are also found. The climate is mild and genial. The soil is loamy, and varies in fertility. The best soils are generally kept in pasture, for which the county is preeminent. The principal crop is barley; but wheat, oats, and beans are extensively cultivated. Leicestershire has long been famous as a hunting county, Melton-Mowbray being the headquarters of the sportsmen.
The chief towns are Leicester (the county town), Ash-by-de-la-Zouch, Bosworth, Market-Harborough, Lutterworth, Melton-Mowbray, Mount Sorrel, Whitwick, and Castle Donnington.