Cheshire, a maritime county in the west of England, on the Welsh border, bounded N. by the river Mersey, separating it from Lancashire, and partly also by the Irish Sea. Its greatest length from north to south is 48 miles; greatest breadth, 32; and area, 1102 sq. m., of which 76 per cent. is under cultivation. The coast-line is confined to the hammer-headed peninsula called Wirral, about 8 miles broad, between the estuaries of the Mersey and Dee. The surface forms an extensive nearly level plain between the Derbyshire and Welsh mountains, well wooded, and studded with small lakes or meres. This plain, comprising four-fifths of the surface, is crossed, near the middle, by a tract of high ground running south-west from a promontory overlooking the Mersey, near the mouth of the Weaver, to Beeston Castle rock, 366 feet high. In the east are large tracts of peat, and much of the county is wet and rushy. Coal-measures appear on the Flintshire border, and also on the borders of Staffordshire and Derbyshire. The Dee skirts the county on the west for 55 miles, the Mersey on the north for 40, and the Weaver, rising in the east part, runs 40 miles west-north-west to the Mersey. In addition to its river navigation, the county has an almost unrivalled system of canals, and contains the greater part of the Manchester Ship Canal. The chief mineral products are rock-salt and coal. The rock-salt, discovered in 1C70, and mined by gunpowder, is found near the Weaver and its branches, especially near North-wich (q.v.), and at Middlewich, Winsford, and Sandbach. Much salt is also made from brine-springs 20 to 40 yards deep. About 90,000 cows are kept, capable of producing 15,000 tons of cheese. In the cattle-plague of 1865-66 upwards of 70,000 cattle perished, 36,000 of these being slaughtered as a preventive measure. Pop. (1801) 194,305; (1841) 395,660; (1901) 815,099. There are extensive manufactures in the principal towns, especially Birkenhead, Congleton, Chester (the county town), Crewe, Hyde, Macclesfield, Stalybridge, and Stockport. The county is formed into eight parliamentary divisions, each returning one member, and includes the parliamentary boroughs of Birkenhead and Chester, with portions of the boroughs of Ashton-under-Lyne, Stalybridge, Stockport, and Warrington. It contains 503 civil parishes, and is mostly in the diocese of Chester. Cheshire has some Roman roads, tumuli, barrows, remains of religious houses, and many old castles and halls. William the Conqueror erected Cheshire into a county palatine, with an independent council and eight barons. Henry VIII. subordinated it to the English crown; but Cheshire did not send representatives to the English parliament till 1549. See Ormerod's History of Cheshire (3 vols. 1819; new ed. 1875), and Earwaker's East Cheshire (1877).