Yorkshire, by far the largest of the English counties, is divided for administrative purposes into three Ridings (thridings, or 'thirds'), each of which has its own lord-lieutenant, magistracy, and constabulary. There are twenty-six wapentakes in the county; and sundry subdivisions go by the name of shires, as Hallamshire, Rich-mondshire, Allertonshire, Howdenshire, Craven -shire or Craven, Holderness, and Cleveland. The county contains seven cities, York, Bradford, Hull, Leeds, Ripon, Sheffield, and Wakefield, other 22 municipal boroughs, 169 town and urban district councils, and 524 parish councils. The total area is 3,882,851 statute acres, or nearly 6067 sq. m., all, with the exception of the catchment basins of the Esk and parts of those of the Tees and Ribble, being drained by the Ouse and its great tributaries, the Swale, Ure, Nidd, Wharfe, Aire, Don, and Derwent. Since 1885 the county divisions have returned twenty-six members, and the cities and boroughs the same number. Pop. (1801) 859,133; (1841) 1,592,059; (1881) 2,886,564; (1901) 3,585,122, of whom 445,112 were in the East Riding, 393,143 in the North, 2,746,867 in the West Riding. The city of York has 77,793. The Pennine chain rises to its highest point in Mickle Fell, 2581 feet, while Ingleborough and Whernside touch respectively 2361 and 2384 feet. On the eastern side of the chain are the famous 'Yorkshire dales,' Wensley-dale, Wharfedale, Swaledale, etc, in many of which are picturesque waterfalls, or 'forces' as they are locally called - such as Caldron Snout and High Force in Teesdale, or Aysgarth Force and Hardraw Force on the Ure. The Yorkshire coal-measures, on which are situated the manufacturing towns of Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Rotherham, Huddersfield, and Halifax, are confined to the southern portion of the county, and are continuous with those of Derbyshire and Notts. In the North Riding the Cleveland moors rise to heights of 1400 feet. The prosperity of Middlesborough is due to the celebrated hematite iron ores of Cleveland. In the East Riding is the high tableland of the Wolds. Since the beginning of the 19th century the manufactures of Yorkshire have enormously developed. Leeds and Bradford are the centres of the woollen and worsted trades, while the cutlery of Sheffield is unrivalled. Of the numerous smelting and puddling furnaces, the chief are those at Rotherham and Middlesborough. The agricultural portions of the county are well served by railways, while the manufacturing districts are covered with a network of lines; the chief towns being also connected by a system of canals, extending from sea to sea, and piercing the Pennine chain, at the height of 656 feet above the sea, by a tunnel three miles in length. Beyond the mining and manufacturing districts the population is agricultural, one of the principal industries being horse-breeding, for which Yorkshire is famous. Among the inland health-resorts Harrogate and Ilkley rank first, while the coast southward from Redcar and Saltburn is fringed with small watering-places, besides the larger towns of Whitby, Scarborough, Filey, Bridlington, Withernsea, and Hornsea.
The sepulchral barrows on the Wolds, and the caves of Craven and Kirkdale have yielded results that form the basis of our knowledge of Yorkshire prehistoric times. At the Roman conquest (50-79 a.d.) the country was inhabited by the Celtic Brigantes, or 'hillmen,' whose capital was at Isurium or Boroughbridge (q.v.). York (Eboracum) for 300 years was the chief city of Northern Britain. Several of the emperors visited York, and here in 211 died Severus, and in 306 Constantius Chlorus. And from York his son Constantine the Great, having been proclaimed by the soldiery, set forth to assume the purple. By 547 the heathen Angles had established their rule, although the little British kingdoms of Leeds (Loidis) and Elmet held out till 616, when they were conquered by King Edwin of Northumbria, the Yorkshire portion of whose realm was known as Deira. Edwin, who had been baptised by Paulinus on Easter Day, 627, was defeated and slain at Hatfield Chase near Doncaster in 633, by Penda, the heathen king of Mercia. Toward the end of the 8th century the Northmen began to appear in the Humber, ravaging and finally settling in the country. Yorkshire contains the battlefields of Stamford Bridge, the Standard (Northallerton), Myton, Bramham Moor, Wakefield, Towton, and Marston Moor; and in 1536 it was the scene of the Pilgrimage of Grace, as in 15(59 of another rising on behalf of Mary, Queen of Scots. During the Civil War the county was mainly royalist. No part of England is richer in the remains of monastic houses, eighty-one in all - Rievaulx, Jervaulx, Fountains, Kirkstall, and Bylands (Cistercian), Whitby, Selby, and St Mary's, York (Benedictine), New-burgh, Nostel, Bridlington, Guisborough, Bolton, and Kirkham (Augustinian), etc. Among the castles may be named those of Knaresborough, Pontefract, Conisborough, Richmond, Middle-ham, and Bolton.
See histories of Yorkshire by Allen (3 vols. 1828-31) and Baines (2 vols. 1871-77), besides Poulson's Holderness, Hunter's Hallamshire and South Yorkshire, Drake's Eboracum, Ormsby's Diocesan History, Lawton's Collections, Dixon's Fasti Eboracences, and Phillip's Geology of Yorkshire, Morris's Yorkshire Folk-talk (1892), and Leadman's Prœlia Eboracensia (1892).