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The term "Ridings," which refers to the three subdivisions of the county, is originally derived from “thrydings”, the Norse word for thirds. These three divisions were meant to allow more local control in the nation’s largest county, and have been used on-and-off for municipal government. So, in essence, the "Ridings of Yorkshire" are really the "Thirds of Yorkshire".
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in Great Britain. Because of its great size, over time functions have increasingly been undertaken by its subdivisions, which have been subject to periodic reform. Throughout these changes Yorkshire has continued to function as a recognized territory and cultural region.
Yorkshire has been ruled by Celtics, Romans, Danes, Normans, and Britons, and has its own distinct culture which is celebrated by its citizens. Yorkshire is divided into “Ridings,” or smaller governmental divisions: North Riding of Yorkshire, West Riding of Yorkshire, and East Riding of Yorkshire. Genealogical and family records may refer to Yorkshire as a whole, or to one particular Riding.
The spoken language in Yorkshire is a dialect of English known as Tyke, and dialects differ between ridings and even from village to village, though in modern times the differences between localities has become less pronounced. This does not generally affect civil or parish records, though it may affect family histories and other informal documents.
The geography of Yorkshire has also influenced its people. Yorkshire is a very green county, with coastal areas, hills, valleys, and forests. The North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales figure prominently into the landscape, and provide large areas of wilderness through the north and west portions of the county.
When civil (government) registration of births, marriages and deaths began in 1837, Yorkshire was divided into a number of registration districts, each containing several parishes. The index to the civil records gives the name of the district where an event took place. Click on a link to see lists of the civil districts in North, East, and West Yorkshire and the parishes covered by each. Read more about England Civil Registration.
There are 1,402 parishes in Yorkshire. The Genealogy Society of Utah has filmed 705 of the original Church of England parish registers, or 50%, before 1900. This number does not include Bishop’s Transcripts, Archdeacon Transcripts, parish chest material or other transcripts.
Here is a list of the parishes in Yorkshire with links to articles:
- East Riding of Yorkshire Parishes
- North Riding of Yorkshire Parishes
- West Riding of Yorkshire Parishes
- York & Ainsty Parishes
Before 1858, every town and parish in Yorkshire was under the probate jurisdiction of several ecclesiastical courts. To see a list of Yorkshire places and the probate courts that had jurisdiction over them, go to Yorkshire Probate Records.