"Wiltshire is an inland county, bounded on the north by Gloucestershire, on the east by Berkshire and Hampshire, on the south by Dorsetshire, and on the west by Somersetshire and Gloucestershire. In length it is nearly 54 miles, in breadth 34, and in circumference 142 miles; containing 1,283 square miles, and 821,120 acres.
NAME and ANCIENT HISTORY. - This county, in the time of the Romans, was part of the territory of the Belgæ. It is supposed that the northern part was inhabited by that tribe of the Belgæ which was distinguished by the name of the Cangii; and in the time of the Saxon Heptarchy this county constituted part of the kingdom of the West Saxons. By some early writers, Wiltshire is called Severnia and Provincia Serverorum, from Servia, a name by which Old Sarum was formerly known. It derives its present name from the town of Wilton, which was formerly the most considerable town in the county, but now a place to which but little importance is attached. Of the military transactions in this county, the most memorable were the battle of Eddington, south of Devizes, where King Alfred defeated the Danes; and that of Roundway-down, in which the Parliament troops were defeated by those of the King, in 1643.
SOIL and CLIMATE, PRODUCE and MANUFACTURES.- A very obvious difference exists between the face of the south and east parts of this county and the north and west portions. The former are composed of a broken mass of chalk hills, entering the county from Berkshire, Dorsetshire and Hampshire, and terminating in an irregular line of bold breaks and disjointed masses, interesected by deep vallies, formed by brooks and rivulets rising within this district; the west and north parts consist chiefly of a rich tract of vale land, stretching north-east and south-west under the hills, but rising gradually in the north-west corner till it joins the high land of Gloucestershire. The Wiltshire downs have two principal subdivisions, called 'Marlborough Downs,' and 'Salisbury plain': the former occupy a considerable tract on the north-east side, towards the Berkshire border; below the middle of the county begins that extensive tract, great part of which bears the name of SALISBURY PLAIN- the most remarkable spot of the kind in England. Over these wilds, stretching beyond the limits of the eye, wander vast flocks of sheep, attended by their solitary shepherds; and ruins of Roman, Saxon, Danish and ancient British monuments are scattered through the district, among which the famed STONEHENGE rises distinguised to the view. The soil of this uncultivated waste is said to be naturally good, producing wild burnet and fine grasses, forming excellent herbage for sheep; of these (including the whole summer stock,) there are said to be annually 500,000. The north-west district of this county is particularly famed for its cheese, - first introduced under the name of 'Gloucester' cheese, but now so much esteemed as to be distinguished by its own name, and to obtain a higher price. Cattle are likewise fattened in these parts, and great numbers of swine are reared, and Wiltshire has ever been celebrated for its bacon: the breed of hogs, till lately, was that of the long-eared large kind; these have, however, given way to the more profitable smaller pig, which will fatten on less meat, and make more delicate bacon and hams. The horses bred in this county are remarkably fine, but kept at a great expense; and the breed of cows is not confined to any particular species. The agriculture of Wiltshire is, generally speaking , good, and some of the Norfolk systems are gradually being adopted; the culture of sanfoin is perfectly understood; in wet seasons the wheat is fine and heavy, and the barley is equal to that of any other part of the kingdom. The use of covered drains has been long known in many parts of this district; they have been made in different modes - with turf, with wood, and with stone, but chiefly with the latter on account of the facility of getting it, there being but few parts without stone of some kind or other within a moderate distance. There are no mines in this county, nor any mineral production requiring particular notice. At Chelmark, near Hindon, there haave been stones of immense size dug out of the quarries there, lying in beds 60 feet loing and 12 feet thick, without a flaw; in the parish of Box, about seven miles from Chippenham, there are quarries of that beautiful stone called "Bath stone," great quantities of which are dug up and sent to varous parts of the country. CLIMATE. - The air of Wiltshire, like that of other English counties, is various accofing to the differnt parts of it; but, on the whole, it is salubrious and agreeable: on thedowns and higher parts of the county, it is sharp and clear; in the vallies, mild, even in winter. MANUFACTURES. - Wiltshire, not many years since, stood conspicuous as a flourishing manufacturing county; and was celebrated for producing fabrics, from flax and the fleece, to a most important extent, and of superior qualities. A great depression has, however, recently been felt by the manufacturing establishments throughout the county: different have been assigned for this falling off; but it is well ascertained, that in proportion as the West of England manufactures have retrograded in consequence, those of Yorkshire have advanced in importance. The manufactures which at present exist comprise thin, fine and coarse woolen cloths, serges and other woollen stuffs, coarse linens, and thicksets - and Wilton is till noted ffor its carpets; Bradford was, at no very distant perod, the centre of the greates fabric of superfine cloths in England.
RIVERS. - The prinicpalrivers that have their source in, or pass through this county, are the Thames, the Upper and Lower Avon, the Nadder, the Willy or Wiley, the Bourne and the Kennet; the lesser rivers are the Calne, the Were and The Deverill. The Thames enters the north part of the county, and runs eastward into Berkshire. The Lower Avon enters Wiltshire near Malmesbury, and at Chippenham is joined by the Calne, when, after passing Bradford, it leaves the county. The Upper Avon rises among the hills near Devizes, and at Salisbury receives the Willy and Nadder, then flows into Hampshire, and makes its exit in the British Channel. The Nadder rises in Dorsetshire, and falls into the Willy at Wilton. The Willy has its sourcenear Warminster, and, after receiving the Nadder, falls into the Upper Avon as before-mentioned. The Kennet risses near the source of the Upper Avon, and runs eastward, by Marlborough, into Berkshire.
Wiltshire is in the province of Canterbury and diocese of Salisbury, and in the western circuit. It is divided into 28 hundreds, and subdivided into 300 parishies; these contain one city (Salisbury), one county town (Wilton), and 22 other market towns. The whole county returns 34 members to parliament, viz. two each for BEDWIN, CALNE, CHIPPENHAM, CRICKLADE, DEVIZES, DOWNTON, HEYTESBURY, HINDON, LUDGERSHALL, MALMESBURY, MARLBOROUGH, CITY OF SALISBURY, OLD SARUM, WESTBURY, WILTON, WOOTTON BASSET, and two for the SHIRE; the present representative for the shire are Sir J. Dugdaly Astley, Bart., and John Benett, Esquire.
POPULATION.- According to the census of 1821, there were houses inhabited in the county, 41,702; uninhabited, 1,129; and houses building, 294. The number of families then resident in the county was 47,684; comprising 108,213 males, and 113,944 females; total, 222,157: and by a calculation made by order of government, which included persons in the army and navy, for which was added after the ratio of about one to thirty prior to the year 1811, and one to fifty for that year and athe census of 1821, to the returns made from the serveral districts; the population of the county, in round numbers, in the year 1700, 153,900 - in 1750, 168,400 - in 1801, 191,200 - an in 1821, 226,600. The increased population in the 50 years, from the year 1700, was 14,500 - from 1750 to 1801, the increase was 22,800 - from 1801 to 1811, the increase was 9,100 - and from 1811 to 1821 the augmented number of persons was 26,300; the grand total increase in the population of the county, from the year 1700 to the census of 1821, being about 72,700 persons."