Shire (?), n. [AS. scire, scir, a division, province, county. Cf. Sheriff.]


A portion of Great Britain originally under the supervision of an earl; a territorial division, usually identical with a county, but sometimes limited to a smaller district; as, Wiltshire, Yorkshire, Richmondshire, Hallamshire.

An indefinite number of these hundreds make up a county or shire. Blackstone.


A division of a State, embracing several contiguous townships; a county.

[U. S.]

Shire is commonly added to the specific designation of a county as a part of its name; as, Yorkshire instead of York shire, or the shire of York; Berkshire instead of Berks shire. Such expressions as the county of Yorkshire, which in a strict sense are tautological, are used in England. In the United States the composite word is sometimes the only name of a county; as, Berkshire county, as it is called in Massachusetts, instead of Berks county, as in Pensylvania.

The Tyne, Tees, Humber, Wash, Yare, Stour, and Thames separate the counties of Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, etc. Encyc. Brit.

Knight of the shire. See under Knight. -- Shire clerk, an officer of a county court; also, an under sheriff. [Eng.] -- Shire mote Old. Eng.Law, the county court; sheriff's turn, or court. [Obs.] Cowell. Blackstone. -- Shire reeve Old Eng.Law, the reeve, or bailiff, of a shire; a sheriff. Burrill. -- Shire town, the capital town of a county; a county town. -- Shire wick, a county; a shire. [Obs.] Holland.


© Webster 1913.