Inverness-shire also known as the county of Inverness, or Siorrachd Inbhir Nis in Gaelic, was a general purpose county of Scotland, with the burgh of Inverness as the county town, until 1975, when, under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, the county area was divided for local government purposes between the two-tier Highland region (Inverness, Badenoch and Strathspey, Lochaber, and Skye and Lochalsh districts) and the unitary Western Isles. The county survived for registration purposes and, at the same time, the Inverness lieutenancy was defined as having the boundaries of the Highland districts of Inverness, Badenoch and Strathspey, and Lochaber.
Inverness-shire acquired a county council in 1890, under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889, and, under the same legislation, boundaries were altered to make the county a single contiguous area (except, of course, for island areas of the county).
Although the new boundaries were supposed to be valid for all purposes (unlike earlier boundaries, which were really default boundaries and not necessarily those used for any particular purpose), the burgh of Inverness, the burgh of Fort William, and the burgh of Kingussie, which had their own town councils, retained autonomous status and were generally beyond the writ of the new county council. The town of Inverness had been established as a royal burgh since the mid 12th century, Fort William, originally with the name Gordonsburgh, had been established as a burgh of barony since 1618, and Kingussie had been established as a burgh of barony since 1464. Also, use of the new boundaries for parliamentary elections was specifically excluded.
The Boundary Commissioners for Scotland, a body created by the 1889 act, transferred part of the parish of Cawder and part of the parish of Croy and Dalcross from the county of Inverness to the county of Nairn, part of the parish of Petty and two parts of the parish of Daviot and Dunlichty from the parish county of Nairn to the county of Inverness, part of the parish of Kilmallie and part of the parish of Small Isles from the county of Argyll to the county of Inverness, and part of the parish of Kilmorack from the county of Inverness to the county of Ross and Cromarty. Thus the county of Inverness covered a large mainland area and various island areas off the west coast. The mainland area had coastline in both the east and the west and included the towns of Kingussie, Fort William, and Mallaig. The island areas included North Uist, South Uist, and Harris in the Outer Hebrides, and Skye, and the Small Isles in the Inner Hebrides. The county had neighbouring counties as follow: Ross and Cromarty to the north, Nairn, Moray, Banff, and Aberdeen to the east, and Perth, and Argyll to the south.
In 1972, the Isle of Rockall Act was passed, formally incorporating the tiny island of Rockall into Scotland as part of the Isle of Harris, Inverness-shire. Harris is now within Na h-Eileanan Siar, formerly known as the Western Isles local government area.
There was an Inverness-shire constituency of the Parliament of Great Britain (Westminster) from 1708 to 1801 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (also at Westminster) from 1801 to 1918. The constituency represented, nominally, the county of Inverness minus the parliamentary burgh of Inverness, which was represented as a component of the Inverness District of Burghs constituency.
In 1918 the county constituency was divided between two new constituencies, the Inverness constituency and the Western Isles constituency. The Inverness constituency included the burgh of Inverness, other components of the district of burghs being divided between the Moray and Nairn constituency and the Ross and Cromarty constituency.
In 1983, eight years after the local government county of Inverness had been divided between the Highland region and the Western Isles council area, three new constituencies were created to cover the Highland region. One of these, Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber, had Inverness in its name.