Lan'cashire, a county palatine of England, ranking sixth in point of area, first in population, and first in return of revenue from all sources. It forms the north-western division of England, stretching along the Irish Sea from the river Duddon and the mountains of Cumberland on the north to the river Mersey on the south. The extreme length from N. to S. (including the hundred of Furness) is 75 miles, and the greatest breadth at the south end 43, at the north end 10 miles. The area is 1905 sq. m., or 1,219,221 statute acres. Pop. (1801) 673,486; (1841)1,667,054; (1861)2,429,440; (1901)4,406,787. The coast is low, with numerous far-reaching estuaries. This has made the county the principal outlet for the commerce of the country in a westerly direction, one-third of the whole foreign trade of Great Britain being carried on from its ports. The chief rivers are the Mersey, Ribble, Lune, Wyre, Kent, Leven, and Duddon. An outlying portion of the county, called Furness, 25 miles long by 20 wide, is separated from the main portion by Morecainbe Bay, and seems to belong properly to the Lake District. Coniston, Esth-waite, and Windermere lakes lie within its borders. The highest point here is 'Coniston Old Man' (alt maen, ' high rock'), 2633 feet high. The larger division is intersected in the north and east by branches of the hill-system which runs southward through the counties of York and Derby, the chief eminences being Pendle Hill (1831 feet), Bleasdale Moor (1709), Boulsworth Hill (1689), and Rivington Moor (1545). Coal is the chief mineral product, the coalfield being estimated at 217 sq. m. in extent. Limestone and iron are common in the north ; lead, copper, sulphur, and fireclay are also found. The whole surface of the county is covered with a network of canals and railways. Lancashire is the great centre of the cotton manufacture of the world, having about two-thirds of the entire trade ; and there are other textile manufactures, such as woollens, silk, carpets. It is pre-eminent in the manufacture of engineers' tools ; and the making of all kinds of iron and steel machinery is extensively carried on; as also shipbuilding, sail-making, the manufacture of boots, shoes, and hosiery. The county returns, since 1885, twenty-three members to parliament (formerly eight), besides thirty-two for the seventeen boroughs (Ashton-under-Lyne, Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley, Bury, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Preston, Rochdale, St Helens, Salford, Stalybridge, Stockport, Warrington, and Wigan). The phrase, 'Lancashire Witches,' which is now used as an expression of admiration for the young maidens of the county, arose from the prevalence of the 'crime' of witchcraft in Lancashire in the reign of James I. At the time of the Reformation the Roman Catholic party was extremely strong in Lancashire; and an unusually large proportion of the land-owners still adhered in the reign of James I. to the old faith. The people of Lancashire have long been noted for their love of music and natural history ; while their politics and opinions have had such influence in the country that the proverb has arisen that ' What Lancashire thinks to-day England says to-morrow.' Amongst Lancashire's worthies have been Mrs Gaskell, Mrs G. L. Banks, and Miss Martineau; Roscoe, De Quincey, Sir Robert Peel, Horrocks, Clough, Dalton, Hodg-kinson, Joule, Greg, Bamford the weaver poet, Edwin Waugh, William Henry the chemist, Sir W. Fairbairn, Sir J. Whitworth, Bishop Light-foot, James Martineau, and Gladstone; and, connected with the success of the cotton trade, John Kay (inventor of the fly-shuttle), Crompton, Arkwright, Hargreaves.
See Baines, Lancashire (1836; new ed. by Croston, 1888); Espinasse, Lancashire Worthies (1873-77); Nodal and Milner, Dialect (1882); and other works by Butterworth (1841), Grindon (1866, 1882, 1892), Axon (1883), and Fishwick (1894).