Vice-county


A vice-county (vice county or biological vice-county)[1] is a geographical division of the British Isles used for the purposes of biological recording and other scientific data-gathering. It is sometimes called a Watsonian vice-county as vice-counties were introduced for Great Britain, its offshore islands, and the Isle of Man, by Hewett Cottrell Watson who first used them in the third volume of his Cybele Britannica published in 1852.[2] Watson's vice-counties were based on the ancient counties of Britain, but often subdividing these boundaries to create smaller, more uniform units, and considering exclaves to be part of the vice-county in which they locally lie.

Vice-counties of Great Britain and the Isle of Man (Orkney and Shetland not shown)
Map showing detailed differences between Derbyshire vice-county (VC57) and the modern administrative county of Derbyshire, England.

In 1901 Robert Lloyd Praeger introduced a similar system for Ireland and its off-shore islands.[1][2]

Vice-counties are the "standard geographical area for county based [...] recording".[3] They provide a stable basis for recording using similarly sized units, and, although National Grid-based reporting has grown in popularity, vice-counties remain a useful mapping boundary, employed in many regional surveys, especially county floras and national lists. This allows data collected over long periods of time to be compared easily. The vice-counties remain unchanged by subsequent local government reorganisations, allowing historical and modern data to be more accurately compared.[4]

In 2002, to mark the 150th anniversary of the introduction of the Watsonian vice-county system, the NBN Trust commissioned the digitisation of the 112 vice-county boundaries for England, Scotland and Wales, based on 420 original one-inch to the mile maps annotated by Dandy in 1947, and held at the Natural History Museum, London. The resulting datafiles were much more detailed than anything readily available to recorders up to that point, and were made freely available (as a beta version). Intended for use with modern GIS and biological recording software, a final 'standard' version was released in 2008.[5] Up until that point, county recorders only had general access to a set of two fold-out vice-county maps covering the entirety of Great Britain, published in 1969.[6]

Vice-county systems


The vice-county system was first introduced by Hewett Cottrell Watson in the third volume of his Cybele Britannica published in 1852. He refined the system in later volumes. The geographical area that Watson called "Britain" consisted of the island of Great Britain with all of its offshore islands, plus the Isle of Man, but excluding the Channel Islands. This area was divided into 112 vice-counties with larger counties divided; for example, Devon into the vice-counties of North Devon and South Devon, and Yorkshire into five vice-counties. Each of these 112 vice-counties has a name and a number. Thus Vice-county 38, often abbreviated to "VC38", is called "Warwickshire".[2]

In 1901, Robert Lloyd Praeger extended the system of vice-counties to Ireland and its off-shore islands, based on an earlier suggestion by C.C. Babington in 1859. The Irish vice-counties were based on the historic 32 counties of Ireland, with the six largest being sub-divided; for example, the county of Cork was divided into three vice-counties. This produced a total of 40 vice-counties for Ireland, which were numbered from H1 to H40 ("H" for "Hibernia"). As with the 112 vice-counties of Britain, each vice-county has a name as well as a number. Thus Vice-county (or VC) H3 is "West Cork".[1][2]

Combining these two systems produces a 152 vice-county system. The exclusion of the Channel Islands from Watson's system for Britain has led to variations between different recording schemes. The geographical area covered by the 152 vice-counties may be described as the "British Isles", as in the 2008 Checklist of Beetles of the British Isles.[7] Other recording schemes regard the "British Isles" as including the Channel Islands. As they are not part of the 152 vice-county system, the Channel Islands may be added as an extra vice-county, making 153 in total, being indicated by letter codes such as "C"[3] or "CI".[8] Less usually, each of the five separate islands may be treated as a vice-county, giving 157 vice-counties in total.[9]

Alternative counts of vice-counties used in different recording schemes are shown in the table below.

Alternative counts of vice-counties
CountOriginatorDescriptions
112Watson(Great) Britain (including the Isle of Man)
40PraegerIreland
0, 1 or 5 Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm)
152, 153 or 157 British Isles, (Great) Britain and Ireland

The vice-counties of Britain alone may be described as "Watsonian vice-counties",[10] or this term may be used for the combined vice-counties of Britain and Ireland,[3] which may also be described as "Watson-Praeger vice-counties".[11] In all cases, the Channel Islands may be excluded,[10] or included,[11] so that the count of vice-counties varies, as noted in the table above.

List of vice-counties


England and Wales

VCVice county
VC1West Cornwall with Scilly
VC2East Cornwall
VC3South Devon
VC4North Devon
VC5South Somerset
VC6North Somerset
VC7North Wiltshire
VC8South Wiltshire
VC9Dorset
VC10Isle of Wight
VC11South Hampshire
VC12North Hampshire
VC13West Sussex
VC14East Sussex
VC15East Kent
VC16West Kent
VC17Surrey
VC18South Essex
VC19North Essex
VC20Hertfordshire
VC21Middlesex
VC22Berkshire
VC23Oxfordshire
VC24Buckinghamshire
VC25East Suffolk
VC26West Suffolk
VC27East Norfolk
VC28West Norfolk
VC29Cambridgeshire
VC30Bedfordshire
VC31Huntingdonshire
VC32Northamptonshire
VC33East Gloucestershire
VC34West Gloucestershire
VC35Monmouthshire
VC36Herefordshire
VC37Worcestershire
VC38Warwickshire
VC38Staffordshire
VC40Shropshire
VC41Glamorganshire
VC42Breconshire
VC43Radnorshire
VC44Carmarthenshire
VC45Pembrokeshire
VC46Cardiganshire
VC47Montgomeryshire
VC48Merionethshire
VC49Caernarvonshire
VC50Denbighshire
VC51Flintshire
VC52Anglesey
VC53South Lincolnshire
VC54North Lincolnshire
VC55Leicestershire with Rutland
VC56Nottinghamshire
VC57Derbyshire
VC58Cheshire
VC59South Lancashire
VC60West Lancashire
VC61South-east Yorkshire
VC62North-east Yorkshire
VC63South-west Yorkshire
VC64Mid-west Yorkshire
VC65North-west Yorkshire
VC66County Durham
VC67South Northumberland
VC68North Northumberland
VC69Westmorland with Furness
VC70Cumberland

Isle of Man

VCVice county
VC71Isle of Man

Scotland

VCVice county
VC72Dumfriesshire
VC73Kirkcudbrightshire
VC74Wigtownshire
VC75Ayrshire
VC76Renfrewshire
VC77Lanarkshire
VC78Peeblesshire
VC79Selkirkshire
VC80Roxburghshire
VC81Berwickshire
VC82East Lothian
VC83Midlothian
VC84West Lothian
VC85Fifeshire
VC86Stirlingshire
VC87West Perthshire
VC88Mid Perthshire
VC89East Perthshire
VC90Angus
VC91Kincardineshire
VC92South Aberdeenshire
VC93North Aberdeenshire
VC94Banffshire
VC95Moray
VC96East Inverness-shire
VC97West Inverness-shire
VC98Argyllshire
VC99Dunbartonshire
VC100Clyde Isles
VC101Kintyre
VC102South Ebudes
VC103Mid Ebudes
VC104North Ebudes
VC105West Ross & Cromarty
VC106East Ross & Cromarty
VC107East Sutherland
VC108West Sutherland
VC109Caithness
VC110Outer Hebrides
VC111Orkney
VC112Shetland

Ireland

VCVice county
H1South Kerry
H2North Kerry
H3West Cork
H4Mid-Cork
H5East Cork
H6Waterford
H7South Tipperary
H8Limerick
H9Clare
H10North Tipperary
H11Kilkenny
H12Wexford
H13Carlow
H14Laois
H15South-east Galway
H16West Galway
H17North-east Galway
H18Offaly
H19Kildare
H20Wicklow
H21Dublin
H22Meath
H23Westmeath
H24Longford
H25Roscommon
H26East Mayo
H27West Mayo
H28Sligo
H29Leitrim
H30Cavan
H31Louth
H32Monaghan
H33Fermanagh
H34East Donegal
H35West Donegal
H36Tyrone
H37Armagh
H38Down
H39Antrim
H40Londonderry

Vice-counties of Great Britain listed by historic county


Historic countyVice counties
BedfordshireBedfordshire
BerkshireBerkshire
BuckinghamshireBuckinghamshire
Cambridgeshire, incorporating the Isle of ElyCambridgeshire
CheshireCheshire
CornwallWest Cornwall with Scilly, East Cornwall
CumberlandCumberland
DerbyshireDerbyshire
DevonSouth Devon, North Devon
DorsetDorset
County DurhamDurham
EssexSouth Essex, North Essex
GloucestershireEast Gloucestershire, West Gloucestershire
HampshireSouth Hampshire, North Hampshire, Isle of Wight
HerefordshireHerefordshire
HertfordshireHertfordshire
HuntingdonshireHuntingdonshire
KentEast Kent, West Kent
Lancashire less FurnessSouth Lancashire, West Lancashire
Leicestershire and RutlandLeicestershire with Rutland
LincolnshireSouth Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire
Middlesex & the City of LondonMiddlesex
NorfolkEast Norfolk, West Norfolk
Northamptonshire, incorporating the Soke of PeterboroughNorthamptonshire
NorthumberlandSouth Northumberland, North Northumberland (Cheviotland)
NottinghamshireNottinghamshire
OxfordshireOxfordshire
ShropshireShropshire
SomersetSouth Somerset, North Somerset
StaffordshireStaffordshire
SuffolkEast Suffolk, West Suffolk
SurreySurrey
SussexWest Sussex, East Sussex
WarwickshireWarwickshire
Westmorland and FurnessWestmoreland with Furness
WiltshireNorth Wiltshire, South Wiltshire
WorcestershireWorcestershire
YorkshireSouth-east Yorkshire, North-east Yorkshire, South-west Yorkshire, Mid-west Yorkshire, North-west Yorkshire
AngleseyAnglesey
BrecknockshireBrecknockshire
CaernarvonshireCaernarvonshire
CardiganshireCardiganshire
CarmarthenshireCarmarthenshire
Denbighshire and English MaelorDenbighshire
Flintshire less English MaelorFlintshire
GlamorganGlamorgan
MerionethshireMerionethshire
MonmouthshireMonmouthshire
MontgomeryshireMontgomeryshire
PembrokeshirePembrokeshire
RadnorshireRadnorshire
AberdeenshireSouth Aberdeenshire, North Aberdeenshire
ArgyllshireMain Argyll, Kintyre, Mid Ebudes, South Ebudes
AyrshireAyrshire
BanffshireBanffshire
BerwickshireBerwickshire
ButeshireClyde Isles
CaithnessCaithness
DumbartonshireDumbartonshire
DumfriesshireDumfriesshire
EdinburghshireEdinburghshire
ElginshireMoray
Fife and Kinross-shireFife
ForfarshireAngus
HaddingtonshireHaddingtonshire
Inverness-shire and Nairnshire less Outer HebridesEasterness, Westerness, North Ebudes
KincardineshireKincardineshire
KirkcudbrightshireKirkcudbrightshire
LanarkshireLanarkshire
LinlithgowshireLinlithgowshire
OrkneyOrkney
PeeblesshirePeeblesshire
Perthshire and ClackmannanshireWest Perth, Mid Perth, East Perth
RenfrewshireRenfrewshire
Ross and Cromarty less Outer HebridesEast Ross, West Ross
RoxburghshireRoxburghshire
SelkirkshireSelkirkshire
StirlingshireStirlingshire
SutherlandEast Sutherland, West Sutherland
WigtownshireWigtownshire
ShetlandShetland

Vice-counties of Ireland listed by county, province and jurisdiction


Praeger's fieldwork mostly predates and ignores the county boundary changes made in 1899 under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898. Divergences from the pre-1899 boundaries are noted below.

Irish vice counties
Vice-counties of Ireland[12]
VCVice countyCountyProvinceJurisdiction
H1South KerryKerryMunsterRepublic of Ireland
H2North KerryKerryMunsterRepublic of Ireland
H3West CorkCorkMunsterRepublic of Ireland
H4Mid-CorkCorkMunsterRepublic of Ireland
H5East CorkCorkMunsterRepublic of Ireland
H6WaterfordWaterford[n 1]MunsterRepublic of Ireland
H7South Tipperary[n 2]TipperaryMunsterRepublic of Ireland
H8LimerickLimerick[n 3]MunsterRepublic of Ireland
H9ClareClare[n 3][n 4][n 5]Munster[n 4][n 5]Republic of Ireland
H10North Tipperary[n 2]TipperaryMunsterRepublic of Ireland
H11KilkennyKilkenny[n 1]Leinster[n 1]Republic of Ireland
H12WexfordWexfordLeinsterRepublic of Ireland
H13CarlowCarlowLeinsterRepublic of Ireland
H14Queen's CountyLaoisLeinsterRepublic of Ireland
H15South-east GalwayGalway[n 5]Connacht[n 5]Republic of Ireland
H16West GalwayGalway[n 4][n 6]ConnachtRepublic of Ireland
H17North-east GalwayGalwayConnachtRepublic of Ireland
H18King's CountyOffalyLeinsterRepublic of Ireland
H19KildareKildareLeinsterRepublic of Ireland
H20WicklowWicklowLeinsterRepublic of Ireland
H21DublinDublinLeinsterRepublic of Ireland
H22MeathMeathLeinsterRepublic of Ireland
H23WestmeathWestmeathLeinsterRepublic of Ireland
H24LongfordLongfordLeinsterRepublic of Ireland
H25RoscommonRoscommonConnachtRepublic of Ireland
H26East MayoMayoConnachtRepublic of Ireland
H27West MayoMayo[n 6]ConnachtRepublic of Ireland
H28SligoSligoConnachtRepublic of Ireland
H29LeitrimLeitrimConnachtRepublic of Ireland
H30CavanCavanUlsterRepublic of Ireland
H31LouthLouthLeinsterRepublic of Ireland
H32MonaghanMonaghanUlsterRepublic of Ireland
H33FermanaghFermanaghUlsterNorthern Ireland
H34East DonegalDonegal[n 7]UlsterRepublic of Ireland[n 7]
H35West DonegalDonegalUlsterRepublic of Ireland
H36TyroneTyroneUlsterNorthern Ireland
H37ArmaghArmaghUlsterNorthern Ireland
H38DownDownUlsterNorthern Ireland
H39AntrimAntrimUlsterNorthern Ireland
H40LondonderryLondonderry[n 7]UlsterNorthern Ireland
  1. County Waterford (Munster) north of the River Suir (i.e. Kilculliheen) is in Kilkenny vice-county (Leinster)
  2. The North and South Tipperary vice-counties are divided by the Dublin–Cork railway line and do not correspond to the county's North and South ridings.
  3. County Limerick north-west of the River Shannon (i.e. the North Liberties) is in Clare vice-county
  4. The Aran Islands (County Galway, Connacht) are in Clare vice-county (Munster)
  5. The only 1899 transfer accepted by Praeger is the land east of Lough Derg transferred from Galway (Connacht) to Clare (Munster).
  6. Praeger's 1933 map inconsistently includes in West Mayo an area transferred from Galway to Mayo under the 1898 act; his 1901 map has it in West Galway.
  7. The area of County Londonderry (Northern Ireland) west of the River Foyle is in East Donegal vice-county (Republic of Ireland).

See also


Notes


    References


    1. Webb, D.A. (1980), "The Biological Vice-Counties of Ireland", Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 80B: 179–196, JSTOR 20494359
    2. Vincent, Peter J. (1990), "Recording species distributions", A Biogeography of the British Isles: an Introduction, Routledge, pp. 48–73, ISBN 978-0-415-03471-5
    3. Vice-county map of Britain and Ireland, British Bryological Society, retrieved 31 May 2016
    4. Stace, C.A.; Ellis, R.G.; Kent, D.H. & McCosh, D.J. (2003), Vice-county Census Catalogue of The Vascular Plants of Great Britain, London: Botanical Society of the British Isles, ISBN 0 901158 30 5
    5. Sharing Information about Wildlife: Useful Things, National Biodiversity Network, retrieved 8 August 2014
    6. Dandy, J.E. (1969), Watsonian vice-counties of Great Britain, Publication no. 146, Ray Society, London
    7. Duff, A.G., ed. (2008), Checklist of Beetles of the British Isles, retrieved 10 August 2011
    8. Stace, Clive (2010), New Flora of the British Isles (3rd ed.), Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-70772-5, inside back cover
    9. Baroni Urbani, C. & Collingwood, C.A. (1976), "A numerical analysis of the distribution of British Formicidae (Hymenoptera, Aculeata)" (PDF), Verhandlungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Basel, 85: 51–91
    10. Browse Watsonian Vice County, National Biodiversity Network, 2011, retrieved 10 August 2011
    11. Merritt, R.; Moore, N.W. & Eversham, B.C. (1996), Atlas of the dragonflies of Britain and Ireland : ITE research publication no. 9 (PDF), London: HMSO, ISBN 978-0-11-701561-6, retrieved 10 August 2011
    12. Webb, D. A. (1980). "The Biological Vice-Counties of Ireland". Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Section B. 80B: 179–196. ISSN 0035-8983. JSTOR 20494359.