Cheshire chĕsh´ər [key], county, W central England, on the N border with Wales. The county seat was Chester. Other principal population centers included Northwich, Crewe, and Macclesfield.

Cheshire was made a palatinate by William I and maintained some of its privileges as such until 1830. The numerous black-and-white-timbered manor houses attest to the county's prosperity in the 16th and 17th cent. Much later, the population of the county greatly increased with the industrialization and suburbanization of the Wirral peninsula and the part of Cheshire just S of Manchester.

In 1974, most of Cheshire became part of the new nonmetropolitan county of Cheshire; NW Cheshire (including Birkenhead) became part of the former metropolitan county of Merseyside, and NE Cheshire (including Stockport) became part of the former metropolitan county of Greater Manchester. In 1998, Halton and Warrington in N Cheshire became administratively independent of the county. Cheshire was abolished as an administrative county in 2009, but it remains a ceremonial county under the Lieutenancies Act, and its name survives in the unitary authorities of Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester.

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