Lincolnshire in English History

Alan Rogers wonders why Lincoln and its environs is often overlooked as a historic English shire.

Lincolnshire is more than a county; it is a region on its own. It is the largest shire in England after Yorkshire, so large in fact that it has been divided for all of its recorded listory into ‘parts’, for some purposes three, for others five.

And it is to a large extent cut off from the rest of England by latural frontiers—the wide Humber on the north, the strong river Trent on the west and the Fens on the south, the only easy way into the region is from the south-west, along a ridge of high land which reaches from the Cotswolds into north Lincolnshire, a line early followed by the Roman Ermine Street and later by the Great North Road.

Lincolnshire has, of course, played a part in the history of he country as a whole at least commensurate with its size. It is true that the isolation of the county has made it one of he least known of all areas; and its unfavourable reputation, which probably began with Henry VIII’s remark about the men of Lincolnshire being ‘the most brute and beastly of the whole realm,’ has clung to the region ever since.

But a county which contains the city and castle of Lincoln and the port of Boston, which produced Hereward the Wake, Isaac Newton, John Wesley and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, as well as a host of other figures only slightly less well-known, can no longer be dismissed as insignificant, as un-noteworthy.

The real contribution of Lincolnshire to English history does not lie in the numbers of national figures born or brought up within its boundaries. Rather it lies in the size of the county and therefore in the people who lived there. For at any period before the last one hundred and fifty years, a not insignificant proportion of the population of England lived within the frontiers of Lincolnshire.

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