Middlesex

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Middlesex is one of the 39 historic counties of England and the second smallest by area. The low-lying county contained the wealthy and politically independent City of London on its southern boundary and was dominated by it from a very early time. The county was significantly affected by the expansion of the metropolitan area of London in both the 18th and 19th centuries; such that from 1855 the south east was administered as part of the metropolis. When county councils were initially introduced in England in 1889 around 20% of the area of Middlesex, and a third of its population, was transferred to the County of London, and the remainder formed a smaller county, in the north west, under the control of Middlesex County Council.

In the interwar years urban London had further expanded, with increasing suburbanisation, improvement and expansion of public transport, and the setting up of new industries outside the inner London area. After World War II the population of the County of London and inner Middlesex was in steady decline, with new population growth only experienced in the outer suburbs. After a Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London, almost all of the original area was incorporated into an enlarged Greater London in 1965, with small parts transferred to neighbouring Hertfordshire and Surrey. Despite the abolition of the county, Middlesex is still used informally as an area name and was retained as a postal county; which is now an optional component of postal addresses.

Middlesex was recorded in the Domesday Book as being divided into the six hundreds of Edmonton, Elthorne, Gore, Hounslow (Isleworth in all later records), Ossulstone and Spelthorne. The City of London, which has been self-governing since the thirteenth century, was geographically within the county and it also included Westminster, which had a high degree of autonomy. Of the six hundreds, Ossulstone contained the districts closest to the City of London. During the 17th century it was divided into four divisions, which, along with the Liberty of Westminster, largely took over the administrative functions of the hundred. The divisions were named Finsbury, Holborn, Kensington and Tower. The county had parliamentary representation from the 13th century. The title Earl of Middlesex was created twice, in 1622 and 1677 but became extinct in 1843.

The economy of the county was dependent on the City of London and was primarily agricultural.[4] All manner of good were provided for the City, including crops such as grain and hay, livestock and building materials. Tourism in early resorts such as Hackney, Islington and Highgate also formed part of the early economy. However, during the 18th century the inner parishes of Middlesex started to instead function as suburbs of the City and were increasingly urbanised.

Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/

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