and County. When the Saxon kings created an earl, they
gave him a shire or division of land to govern. At the Norman conquest
the word count superseded the title of earl, and the earldom was called
a county. Even to the present hour we call the wife of an earl a
countess. (Anglo-Saxon, scire, from sciran, to divide.)
He comes from the shires; has a séat in the shires,
etc.- in those English counties which terminate in
“shire:” a belt running from Devonshire and Hampshire in a
north-east direction. In a general way it means the midland counties.
Anglesey in Wales, and twelve counties of England, do not terminate
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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