Lancashire County Palatine

Lancashire County Palatine Map
Map of Lancashire County Palatine

In 1182 Lancashire was first termed 'the county of Lancashire' under King Henry II.

1267 Edmund Crouchback was created 1st Earl of Lancaster.

In 1351 Henry, Earl of Lancaster, was made a Duke and was also granted Palatinate powers - the royal powers, or the powers belonging to the palace.

These powers lapsed with Henry's Death, but were restored to the most famous Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt and were made hereditary.

Palatinate status was granted to Lancashire because of its strategic position in defending England from the Scots, and it conferred legal recognition of the extraordinary powers of the Duke within Lancashire. The county developed its own chancery, could issue writs under its own seal and even had its own dating year running from 6th March 1351, the date of the establishment of the county palatine. The Duke was able to appoint his own sheriff who was answerable to the Duke, not the King. Lancaster had its own justices and the king's writ did not run within the county palatine. The king did however still collect the taxes and reserved the right to correct 'errors of judgement' in the duke's courts.

For a short period in the 16th century the Duke appointed a butler to collect dues payable to him for wine brought into the county.

Official Statements

"Although the Act of 1888 and subsequent legislation transferred to newly constituted councils administrative business and responsibility for redefined areas, such legislation did not alter or affect the Duchy Palatinate boundaries which remain the same as the old (pre 1888) geographical County of Lancaster.

"Both Furness & Cartmel lie within the County Palatine."
Duchy of Lancaster - 4th September 1992

"We confirm that although the changes brought about by the 1972, and indeed, subsequent legislation, have altered the administrative boundaries of the County (of Lancashire) for the purposes of local government, they have not affected the boundaries of the Palatinate."
Duchy of Lancaster - 29th August 1996

"The river Mersey forms the southern boundary of the Palatinate..."
Duchy of Lancaster - 2nd January 1997

Today, the term County Palatine of Lancaster or Lancashire County Palatine is often used to distinguish the traditional county from the current much smaller administrative county.