Northumberland, Algernon Percy, 10th earl of, 1602-68, English nobleman. He was created Baron Percy in 1626 and succeeded his father as earl in 1632. Charles I in 1638 made him lord high admiral of England and in 1639 gave him command of the expedition against Scotland, which he was forced to relinquish because of illness. Disagreeing with the king's policy, he gradually moved over to the parliamentary party. His support gave Parliament an important advantage, for it thus gained control of most of the fleet. Northumberland, a leader of the peace party, twice engaged in unsuccessful negotiations with Charles on behalf of Parliament, opposed the king's trial, and was given custody of the king's younger children. He took no active part in affairs under the Commonwealth or after the Restoration, although he held several offices after 1660.
Northumberland, Henry Percy, 1st earl of, 1342-1408, English nobleman. He fought in France in the Hundred Years War, became warden of the Scottish Marches, and was a supporter of John Wyclif. Created earl of Northumberland by Richard II in 1377, he and his son Sir Henry Percy (Hotspur) were engaged in constant warfare with the Scots. He was a leading supporter of Henry of Lancaster (Henry IV) in the usurpation of 1399, but with his brother, Thomas Percy, earl of Worcester, and Hotspur, Northumberland revolted against the king in 1403. He submitted after the death of his son at the battle of Shrewsbury in the same year. By 1405, however, he was plotting again with Owen Glendower and, after fleeing to Scotland and France, invaded (1408) England from the north with the expectation of recruiting followers. He was slain and his forces were defeated at Bramham Moor.
Northumberland, Henry Percy, 4th earl of, 1446-89, English nobleman. When his father, the 3d earl, was killed fighting in the Lancastrian army at Towton (1461), he was imprisoned by Edward IV and the earldom forfeited. He was released in 1469, restored to the earldom in 1470, and served the Yorkist monarch. Although Northumberland accepted lands and offices from Richard III, he withheld his men in the battle at Bosworth (1485) and submitted to the earl of Richmond, who was crowned Henry VII.
Northumberland, Hugh Percy, 2d duke of, 1742-1817, British general. He fought on the Continent in the Seven Years War and, although he disapproved of the war against the colonists in America, served there (1774-77) as a lieutenant general. He covered the bloody British retreat from Concord to Charlestown after the battle of Lexington and took part in the attack on Fort Washington. Recalled at his own request, following disputes with Gen. William Howe, he was made a general in 1793.
Northumberland, John Dudley, duke of, 1502?-1553, English statesman. The son of Edmund Dudley, minister of Henry VII, John was restored to his inheritance in 1512 after his father's attainder and execution (1510). Rising by means of his military ability, he became Viscount Lisle, warden of the Scottish Marches (1542), and lord high admiral (1543). Named as one of the executors of Henry VIII's will, he helped Edward Seymour, later duke of Somerset, become protector of the young Edward VI, while he himself was created earl of Warwick and lord high chamberlain. Cooperative and politic, he dissembled his plans for power while distinguishing himself in the field; he took part (1547) in the victory over the Scots at Pinkie and suppressed (1549) the rebellion of Robert Kett. By never actually committing himself and by playing on both Catholic and Protestant sympathies, he finally formed a coalition against Somerset, deposing him in 1549 and having him executed in 1552. Of little religious conviction himself, he then posed as a firm Protestant to increase his power over Edward VI and ruthlessly advanced the Reformation for political ends. He made himself duke of Northumberland in 1551. In a desperate plan to perpetuate his power, he convinced the dying Edward that the latter's sister Mary should be excluded from the succession as a Catholic, and he browbeat the council into proclaiming Lady Jane Grey, his daughter-in-law, as queen when the monarch died (1553). Unpopular with the people, he was deserted by his army and forced to surrender to Queen Mary I. He was condemned for high treason and was executed.

See biography by B. L. Beer (1974); J. D. Mackie, The Earlier Tudors (1952); W. K. Jordan, Edward VI: The Threshold of Power (1970).

Northumberland, Thomas Percy, 7th earl of, 1528-72, English nobleman. He was the nephew and heir of the childless 6th earl but did not succeed on the latter's death (1537) because his father had been attainted for participation in the Pilgrimage of Grace (1536). He finally received the title from Queen Mary I in 1557 and was entrusted with the protection of the Scottish borders, but he lost this position after the accession of the Protestant Elizabeth I. In conjunction with the earl of Westmorland he plotted (1569) with the Spanish to restore Roman Catholicism to England and to release Mary Queen of Scots. They gathered an army, but it was defeated (1569). Northumberland was captured by the Scots, ransomed (1572) to the English, and beheaded.
Northumberland, county (1991 pop. 300,600), 2,019 sq mi (5,229 sq km), NE England; administratively, Northumberland is a unitary authority (since 2009). Northernmost of the English counties, it is separated from Scotland by the Cheviot Hills and the Tweed River, and borders on the North Sea. The terrain is level along the rugged coast line and hilly in the interior, where high moorlands alternate with fertile valleys. Other rivers are the Tyne, the Derwent, the Wansbeck, the Till, the Alno, and the Coquet. In the past the economy was dominated by coal mining, shipping, shipbuilding and repairing, and the production of heavy electrical machinery, but these have suffered a heavy decline. Sheep and cattle are raised. Hadrian's Wall was built in Roman times. In the 6th cent. the Angles established themselves in the region, which later became the kingdom of Northumbria. The area suffered severely during the border wars between England and Scotland. In 1974, Northumberland was reorganized as a nonmetropolitan county; the small but populous and industrialized southeast (including Newcastle upon Tyne) became part of the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear (abolished as a unit of local government in 1986).

Administrative (pop., 2001: 307,186) and historic county, northeastern England. It includes several islands, including Lindisfarne (Holy Island), and much of the ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. The landscape is varied, with coastal plains in the east, the rugged Cheviot Hills and moors in the west, and industrial areas in the southern River Tyne valley. It was the site of prehistoric settlement before the Roman domination began in AD 122, when Hadrian's Wall was built. It was the scene of border warfare with Scotland until the union of Scotland with England in 1603. Good farmland is limited; industrial complexes produce heavy machinery.

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Northumberland is a county in the North East of England. The non-metropolitan county of Northumberland borders Cumbria to the west, County Durham to the south and Tyne and Wear to the south east, as well as having a border with the Scottish Borders council area to the north, and nearly eighty miles of North Sea coastline. Since the creation of Tyne and Wear in 1974, the county council has been located in Morpeth, situated in the east of the county; however, both Morpeth and Alnwick claim the title county town.

As the kingdom of Northumbria under King Edwin, the region's historical boundaries stretched from the Humber in the south to the Forth in the north. The historic boundaries of the county cover a different area, including Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the traditional county town, as well as Tynemouth and other settlements in North Tyneside, areas administered by Tyne and Wear since 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972. The historic boundaries of the county are sometimes taken to exclude Islandshire, Bedlingtonshire and Norhamshire (collectively North Durham), exclaves of County Durham which were incorporated into Northumberland in 1844.

Being on the border of Scotland and England, Northumberland has been the site of many battles. The county is noted for its undeveloped landscape of high moorland, a favourite with landscape painters, and now largely protected as a National Park. Northumberland is the most sparsely populated county in England, with only 62 people per square kilometre.

Northumberland's county flower is the Bloody Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) and her affiliated Royal Navy ship is her namesake, .


Once part of the Roman Empire and the scene of many wars between England and Scotland, Northumberland has a long and violent history. There are more castles there than anywhere else in England, including the castle of Alnwick, Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh and Warkworth.

The region of present-day Northumberland once formed the core of the Anglian kingdom of Bernicia, which was later united with Deira south of the River Tees to form Northumbria. Northumberland is often called the "cradle of Christianity" in England, because it was on Lindisfarne, a tidal island north of Bamburgh, also called Holy Island, that Christianity flourished when monks from Iona were sent to convert the English. Lindisfarne was the home of the Lindisfarne Gospels and Saint Cuthbert, who is buried in Durham Cathedral.

Bamburgh is the historic capital of Northumberland, the "royal" castle from before the unification of England under one monarch. The county town of Northumberland is now Morpeth, since Northumberland County Council's offices are in that town.

The lords of Northumberland once wielded significant power in English affairs because, as the Marcher Lords, they were entrusted with protecting England from Scottish invasion.

Northumberland has a history of revolt and rebellion against the government, as seen in the Rising of the North in Tudor times. These revolts were usually led by the then Dukes of Northumberland, the Percy family. Shakespeare makes one of the Percys, the dashing Harry Hotspur, the real hero of his Henry IV, Part 1.

The county was also a centre for Roman Catholicism in England, as well as of Jacobite feelings after the Restoration. Northumberland became a sort of wild county, where outlaws and Border Reivers hid from the law. However, the frequent cross-border skirmishes and accompanying local lawlessness largely subsided after the Union of the Crowns of Scotland and England under King James I.

Northumberland played a key role in the industrial revolution. Coal mines were once widespread in Northumberland, with collieries at Ashington, Ellington and Pegswood The region's coalfields fuelled industrial expansion in other areas of the country, and the need to transport the coal from the collieries to the Tyne led to the development of the first railways. Shipbuilding and armaments manufacture were other important industries.

Today, Northumberland is still largely rural. As the least populated county in England, it commands much less influence in British affairs than in times past. In recent years the county has had considerable growth in tourism due to its scenic beauty and the abundant evidence of its historical significance.

Physical geography

The physical geography of Northumberland is diverse. It is low and flat near the North Sea coast and increasingly mountainous toward the northwest. The Cheviot Hills, in the northwest of the county, consist mainly of resistant Devonian granite and andesite lava. A second area of igneous rock underlies Whin Sill (on which Hadrian's Wall runs), an intrusion of carboniferous Dolerite. Both ridges support a rather bare moorland landscape. Either side of Whin Sill the county lies on carboniferous limestone, giving some areas of karst landscape. Lying off the coast of Northumberland are the Farne Islands, another Dolerite outcrop, famous for their bird life.

There are coal fields in the southeast corner of the county, extending along the coastal region north of the river Tyne. The term 'sea coal' likely originated from chunks of coal, found washed up on beaches, that wave action had broken from coastal outcroppings.

Being in the far north of England, above 55° latitude, and having many areas of high land, Northumberland is one of the coldest areas of the country. It has an average annual temperature of 7.1 to 9.3 °C, with the coldest temperatures inland. However, the county lies on the east coast, and has relatively low rainfall, between 466 and 1060 mm annually, mostly falling in the west on the high land. Between 1971 and 2000 the county averaged 1321 to 1390 hours of sunshine per year.

Approximately a quarter of the county is protected as the Northumberland National Park, an area of outstanding landscape that has largely been protected from development and agriculture. The park stretches south from the Scottish border and includes Hadrian's Wall. Most of the park is over 800 feet (240 metres) above sea level. The Northumberland Coast is also a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


There are a variety of notable habitats and species in Northumberland including: Chillingham Cattle herd; Holy Island; Farne Islands; and Staple Island.

Economy and industry

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Northumberland at current basic prices published (pp.240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 2,585 130 943 1,512
2000 2,773 108 831 1,833
2003 3,470 109 868 2,494

Northumberland has a relatively weak economy amongst the counties and other local government areas of the United Kingdom. The county is ranked sixth lowest amongst these 63 council areas. In 2003 23% of males and 60% of females were earning less than the Council of Europe's decency threshold. As of May 2005 unemployment is at 2.3%, in line with the national average. Between 1999 and 2003 businesses in the county grew 4.4% to 8,225, making 0.45% of registered businesses in the UK.

A major source of employment and income in the county is tourism. The county annually receives 1.1 million UK visitors and 50,000 foreign tourists who spend a total of £162million in the county..


Northumberland has a completely comprehensive education system with 15 state schools and one independent school. Similar to Bedfordshire, it embraced the comprehensive ideal with the three tier system of lower/middle/upper schools with large school year sizes (often around 300). This eliminates choice of school in most areas - as instead of having two secondary schools in one town, one school becomes a middle school and another becomes an upper school; in individual towns everyone will go to the same school. Cramlington Community High School has almost 400 pupils in each school year; making it one of the largest schools in England. There is only one school for the whole of the Berwick-upon-Tweed district. Blyth Community College also situated in Northumberland, able to hold 1500 students throughout the building.


At the Census 2001 Northumberland registered a population of 307,190, estimated to be 309,237 in 2003. In 2001 there were 130,780 households, 10% which were all retired, and one third were rented. Northumberland has a very low ethnic minority population at 0.985% of the population, compared to 9.1% for England as a whole. 81% of the population reported their religion as Christianity, 0.8% as another religion, and 12% as having no religion..

Being primarily rural with significant areas of upland, the population density of Northumberland is only 62 persons per square kilometre giving it the lowest population density of any county in England.


Like most English shire counties Northumberland has had a two-tier system of local government. At present (2008) it still has a county council based in Morpeth and also has six districts, each with their own district council. These districts are, Blyth Valley, Wansbeck, Castle Morpeth, Tynedale, Alnwick and Berwick-upon-Tweed. The county and district councils are responsible for different aspects of local government.

However, the Department for Communities and Local Government have passed plans to reorganise Northumberland's administrative structure. Two proposals were looked at - one to abolish all of the districts to create a Northumberland unitary authority; and one to create two separate unitary authorities, South East Northumberland (the area now covered by Blyth Valley and Wansbeck), and Rural Northumberland (the area now covered by the other four districts). The proposal for a countywide unitary authority was approved in July 2007. The changes are planned to be implemented no later than 1 April 2009 as part of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England.

Elections for the new unitary authority council took place on 1 May 2008.

Northumberland is represented in the House of Commons by four Members of Parliament, of whom one is a Conservative, one is a Liberal Democrat and two are Labour.


Northumberland has traditions not found elsewhere in England. These include the rapper sword dance, the Clog dance and the Northumbrian smallpipe, a sweet chamber instrument, quite unlike the Scottish bagpipe. Northumberland also has its own tartan or check, sometimes referred to in Scotland as the Shepherd's Tartan. Traditional Northumberland music sounds similar to Lowland Scottish music, reflecting the strong historical links between Northumbria and the Lowlands of Scotland.

The Border ballads of the region have been famous since late mediaeval times. Thomas Percy, whose celebrated Reliques of Ancient English Poetry appeared in 1765, states that most of the minstrels who sang the Border ballads in London and elsewhere in the 15th and 16th centuries belonged to the North. The activities of Sir Walter Scott and others in the 19th century gave the ballads an even wider popularity. William Morris considered them to be the greatest poems in the language, while Algernon Swinburne knew virtually all of them by heart.

One of the best-known is the stirring Chevy Chase, which tells of the Earl of Northumberland's vow to hunt for three days across the Border 'maugre the doughty Douglas'. Of it, the Elizabethan courtier, soldier and poet Sir Philip Sidney famously said: 'I never heard the old song of Percy and Douglas that I found not my heart moved more than with a trumpet'. Ben Jonson said that he would give all his works to have written Chevy Chase.

Overall the culture of Northumberland, as with the north east of England in general, has much in common with Scottish Lowland culture than each has with the rest of their respective countries. Firstly both regions have their cultural origins in the old Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria,this is borne out by the linguistic links between the two regions, which include many Old English words not found in other forms of Modern English, such as bairn for child (see Scots language and Northumbria). The other reason for the close cultural links is the clear pattern of net southward migration. There are more Scots in England than English people north of the border. Much of this movement is cross-county rather than distant migration, and the incomers thus bring aspects of their culture as well as re-enforce shared cultural traits from both sides of the the Anglo-Scottish border. Whatever the case, the lands just north or south of the border have long had a common history due to their common Northumbrian heritage and thus it is thought by many that the Anglo-Scottish border is largely political rather than cultural.

Attempts to raise the level of awareness of Northumberland culture have also started, with the formation of a Northumbrian Language Society to preserve the unique dialects (Pitmatic and other Northumbrian dialects) of this region, as well as to promote home-grown talent.


Northumberland has its own flag, which is a banner of the arms of Northumberland County Council. The shield of arms is in turn based on the arms mediæval heralds had atttributed to the Kingdom of Bernicia (which the first County Council used until they received a regular grant of arms). The Bernician arms were fictional but inspired by Bede's brief description of a flag used on the tomb of St Oswald in the 7th century.

The current arms were granted to the county council in 1951, and adopted as the flag of Northumberland county in 1995


Having no large population centres, the county's mainstream media outlets are served from nearby Tyne and Wear, including radio stations and television channels (such as BBC Look North, BBC Radio Newcastle, Tyne Tees Television and Metro Radio), along with the majority of daily newspapers covering the area (The Journal, Evening Chronicle). It is worth remembering however that whereas Northumberland, like many administrative areas in England, has been shorn of its geographical regional centre, that centre - Newcastle upon Tyne - remains an essential element within the entity we know as Northumberland. Newcastle's newspapers are as widely read in its Northumbrian hinterland as any of those of the wider county: the Northumberland Gazette, Morpeth Herald, Berwick Advertiser, Hexham Courant and the News Post Leader.

Lionheart FM, a community radio station based in Alnwick, has recently been awarded a five-year community broadcasting license by OFCOM. Radio Borders covers Berwick and the rural north of the county.


Famous people born in Northumberland

Ashington was the birth place of the three famous footballers Bobby and Jack Charlton in 1937 and 1935 respectively; and Jackie Milburn previously in 1924. The basketballer Alan Hoyle was born here in 1983 whilst in 1978 Steve Harmison, an international cricketer was born here.

Mickley was the birth place of Thomas Bewick, an artist, wood engraver and naturalist in 1753 and Bob Stokoe, a footballer, F.A. Cup winning manager in 1930

Other notable births include:

Famous people linked with Northumberland

The site contains exhaustive detailed entries for famous deceased Northumbrians.


See also

External links

Notes and references


Tomlinson, W. W. (1888). Comprehensive guide to the county of Northumberland (reprinted 1968). Trowbridge, UK: Redwood. Barbara Thompson, Jennifer Norderhaug (2006). "Walking the Northumberland Dales: Hadrian's Wall Country". Sigma Press. ISBN 1850588384, 9781850588382

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