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Warwickshire (Listeni/ˈwɒrɨkʃə/ or /ˈwɒrɨkʃɪər/) is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, George Eliot, & Aleister Crowley. Commonly used abbreviations for the county are Warks or Warwicks.
The county is divided into five districts of North Warwickshire, Nuneaton & Bedworth, Rugby, Warwick and Stratford-on-Avon. The current county boundaries were set in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972. The historic county boundaries also included Coventry and Solihull, as well as much of Birmingham. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region (code UKG13) and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire" NUTS 2 region.
The county is bordered by Leicestershire to the northeast, Staffordshire to the northwest, Worcestershire and the West Midlands to the west, Northamptonshire to the east and southeast, Gloucestershire to the southwest and Oxfordshire to the south. The northern tip of the county is only 3 miles (5 km) from the Derbyshire border. An average-sized English county covering an area of almost 2,000 km2, it runs some 60 miles (97 km) north to south. Equivalently it extends as far north as Shrewsbury in Shropshire and as far south as Banbury in north Oxfordshire. The majority of Warwickshire's population live in the north and centre of the county. The market towns of northern and eastern Warwickshire were industrialised in the 19th century, and include Atherstone, Bedworth, Nuneaton, and Rugby. Of these, Atherstone has retained most of its original character. Major industries included coal mining, textiles, engineering and cement production, but heavy industry is in decline, being replaced by distribution centres, light to medium industry and services. Of the northern and eastern towns, only Nuneaton and Rugby (as the birthplace of rugby football) are well-known outside of Warwickshire. The prosperous towns of central and western Warwickshire including Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon, Kenilworth, Alcester and Wellesbourne harbour light to medium industries, services and tourism as major employment sectors. The north of the county, bordering Staffordshire and Leicestershire, is mildly undulating countryside and the northernmost village, No Man's Heath, is only 34 miles (55 km) south of the Peak District National Park's southernmost point. The south of the county is largely rural and sparsely populated, and includes a small area of the Cotswolds, at the border with northwest Gloucestershire. The only town in the south of Warwickshire is Shipston-on-Stour. The highest point in the county, at 261 m (856 ft), is Ebrington Hill, again on the border with Gloucestershire, grid reference SP187426 at the county's southwest extremity. There are no cities in Warwickshire since both Coventry and Birmingham were incorporated into the West Midlands county in 1974 and are now metropolitan authorities in themselves. The largest towns in Warwickshire in 2011 were: Nuneaton (pop. 81,900), Rugby (70,600), Leamington Spa (49,500), Bedworth (32,500), Warwick (30,100), Stratford (25,500) and Kenilworth (22,400). The smaller towns of Atherstone, Alcester, Coleshill, Southam, Bulkington, Polesworth, Kingsbury, Henley-in-Arden, Studley, Shipston, Wellesbourne and Whitnash have populations between 5,000 and 12,000.
Arden and Felden
Much of western Warwickshire, including that area now forming part of Coventry, Solihull and Birmingham, was covered by the ancient Forest of Arden (most of which was cut down to provide fuel for industrialisation). Thus the names of a number of places in the central-western part of Warwickshire end with the phrase "-in-Arden", such as Henley-in-Arden, Hampton-in-Arden and Tanworth-in-Arden. The remaining area, not part of the forest, was called the Felden - from fielden.
Areas historically part of Warwickshire include Coventry, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield, Erdington, and some of Birmingham including Aston and Edgbaston. These became part of the metropolitan county of West Midlands (and Sutton Coldfield became part of Birmingham) following local government re-organisation in 1974. In 1986 the West Midlands County Council was abolished and Birmingham, Coventry, and Solihull became effective unitary authorities, however the West Midlands county name has not been altogether abolished, and still exists for ceremonial purposes, and so the town and two cities remain outside Warwickshire. Some organisations, such as Warwickshire County Cricket Club, which is based in Edgbaston, in Birmingham, still observe the historic county boundaries. Coventry is effectively in the centre of the Warwickshire area, and still has strong ties with the county. Coventry and Warwickshire are sometimes treated as a single area and share a single Chamber of Commerce and BBC Local Radio Station (BBC Coventry & Warwickshire). Coventry has been a part of Warwickshire for only some of its history. In 1451 Coventry was separated from Warwickshire and made a county corporate in its own right, called the County of the City of Coventry. In 1842 the county of Coventry was abolished and Coventry was remerged with Warwickshire. In recent times, there have been calls to formally re-introduce Coventry into Warwickshire, although nothing has yet come of this. The county's population would increase by almost a third-of-a-million overnight should this occur, Coventry being the UK's 11th largest city. The town of Tamworth was historically divided between Warwickshire and Staffordshire, but since 1888 has been fully in Staffordshire. In 1931, Warwickshire gained the town of Shipston-on-Stour from Worcestershire and several villages, including Long Marston and Welford-on-Avon, from Gloucestershire.
The following towns and villages in Warwickshire have populations of over 5,000.
- Leamington Spa
Warwickshire came into being as a division of the kingdom of Mercia in the early 11th century. The first reference to Warwickshire was in 1001, as Wæringscīr named after Warwick (meaning "dwellings by the weir"). During the Middle Ages Warwickshire was dominated by Coventry, which was at the time one of the most important cities in England due to its textiles trade in the heart of England. Warwickshire played a key part in the English Civil War, with the Battle of Edgehill and other skirmishes taking place in the county. During the Industrial Revolution Warwickshire became one of Britain's foremost industrial counties, with the large industrial cities of Birmingham and Coventry within its boundaries.
1844: The Counties (Detached Parts) Act transferred a township to, and two parishes from, the county.
1888: Those parts of the town of Tamworth lying in Warwickshire were ceded to Staffordshire.
1891: Harborne became part of the County Borough of Birmingham and thus was transferred from Staffordshire to Warwickshire by the Local Govt. Bd.'s Prov. Orders Conf. (No. 13) Act, 54 & 55 Vic. c. 161 (local act).
1891: The district of Balsall Heath, which had originally constituted the most northerly part of the Parish of King's Norton in Worcestershire, was added to the County Borough of Birmingham, and therefore Warwickshire, on 1 October 1891.
1909: Quinton was formally removed from Worcestershire and incorporated into the County Borough of Birmingham, then in Warwickshire, on 9 November 1909.
1911: The Urban District of Handsworth, in Staffordshire, and the Rural District of Yardley along with the greater part of the Urban District of King's Norton and Northfield, both in Worcestershire, were absorbed into Birmingham, and thus Warwickshire, as part of the Greater Birmingham Scheme on 9 November 1911.
1928: Perry Barr Urban District was ceded to Birmingham from Staffordshire.
1931: The boundaries between Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire were adjusted by the Provisional Order Confirmation (Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire) Act which transferred 26 parishes between the three counties, largely to eliminate exclaves. The town of Shipston-on-Stour was gained from Worcestershire and several villages, including Long Marston and Welford-on-Avon, from Gloucestershire.
1974: Under The Local Government Act 1972, Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield were ceded to the new West Midlands county, with Sutton Coldfield becoming part of Birmingham.