Bute, or Buteshire, an insular county in the S.W. of Scotland, consisting of the islands of Bute, from which the county takes its name, Inchmarnock, Great Cumbrae, Little Cumbrae, Arran, Holy Island and Pladda, all lying in the Firth of Clyde, between Ayrshire on the E. and Argyllshire on the W. and N. The area of the county is 140,307 acres, or rather more than 219 sq. m. Pop. (1891) 18,404; (1901) 18,787 (or 86 to the sq. m.). In 1901 the number of persons who spoke Gaelic alone was 20, of those speaking Gaelic and English 2764. Before the Reform Bill of 1832, Buteshire, alternately with Caithness-shire, sent one member to parliament - Rothesay at the same time sharing a representative with Ayr, Campbeltown, Inveraray and Irvine. Rothesay was then merged in the county, which since then has had a member to itself. Buteshire and Renfrewshire form one sheriffdom, with a sheriff-substitute resident in Rothesay who also sits periodically at Brodick and Millport. The circuit courts are held at Inveraray. The county is under school-board jurisdiction, and there is a secondary school at Rothesay. The county council subsidizes technical education in agriculture at Glasgow and Kilmarnock. The staple crops are oats and potatoes, and cattle, sheep and horses are reared.
Seed-growing is an extensive industry, and the fisheries are considerable. The Rothesay fishery district includes all the creeks in Buteshire and a few in Argyll and Dumbarton shires, the Cumbraes being grouped with the Greenock district. The herring fishery begins in June, and white fishing is followed at one or other point all the year round. During the season many of the fishermen are employed on the Clyde yachts, Rothesay being a prominent yachting centre. The exports comprise agricultural produce and fish, trade being actively carried on between the county ports of Rothesay, Millport, Brodick and Lamlash and the mainland ports of Glasgow, Greenock, Gourock, Ardrossan and Wemyss Bay, with all of which there is regular steamer communication throughout the year.