The counties of England, including recent changes. County names no longer need be used in English addresses, so this table is mainly of historical interest, but might also be useful in decoding old-style addresses, which, although "depracated", are still widely used. Sources:
In England, county names are not prefixed by the word "county" (as they are in Ireland), with one exception: County Durham, to distinguish the county from the city of the same name. The "shire" suffix is also used for this purpose, e.g. to distinguish the city of Nottingham from the county of Nottinghamshire, but in some cases the suffix is optional, e.g. Devon[shire].
Name Abbreviation Remarks (Avon) Defunct as of 1 Apr 96 → Somerset, Glos, and Bristol Bedfordshire Beds Berkshire Berks Bristol Buckinghamshire Bucks Cambridgeshire Cambs Cheshire (Cleveland) Cleve Defunct 1 Apr 96 → Durham and North Yorkshire Cornwall County Durham Cumbria Derbyshire Derbys Devon Or Devonshire Dorset East Riding of Yorkshire East Sussex Essex Gloucestershire Glos Greater Manchester Hampshire Hants (1) Hereford & Worcester Split into Hereford and Worcestershire 1 Apr 1998 Hertfordshire Herts (Humberside) Defunct 1 Apr 96 → Lincolnshire or East Riding of Yorkshire (Huntingtonshire) Hunts Defunct → Huntingdonshire and Peterborough → Cambridgeshire Isle of Wight Kent Lancashire Lancs Leicestershire Leics Lincolnshire Lincs Lincolnshire is the former [South] Humberside London Merseyside Middlesex Middx Defunct government unit still used for postal addresses Norfolk Northamptonshire Northants Northumberland Northumb North Yorkshire N. Yorks Nottinghamshire Notts Oxfordshire Oxon (2) Shropshire Salop (3) Somerset South Yorkshire S. Yorks Staffordshire Staffs Suffolk Surrey (Sussex) Now East Sussex, West Sussex Tyne & Wear Warwickshire Warks West Midlands West Sussex West Yorkshire W. Yorks Wiltshire Wilts (Yorkshire) Yorks → Humberside, North Yorks, Cleve, Durham, South Yorks, Cumbria, ...
In 1974 the former 13 Welsh counties were reorganized into eight. In 1994 the eight counties were split into 11 new counties and 11 county borough councils.
(prior to 1994)
Current Counties New County Boroughs
Aberconwy and Colwyn
Dyfed Ceredigion (was Cardiganshire)
Gwent Monmouthshire Blaenau Gwent
Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire
Mid Glamorgan Bridgend
Rhondda, Cynon, Taff
Powys Powys South Glamorgan Cardiff The Vale of Glamorgan West Glamorgan Swansea Neath and Port Talbot
Liam McGee (formerly of Cardigan, in the county of Ceredigion) says, "Dyfed was indeed split in 1994 into the counties of Carmarthenshire (Carms), Pembrokeshire (Pembs) and Cardiganshire (no abbreviation, strangely). But the name 'Cardiganshire' lasted only a month or two (long enough to reprint all the letterheads), before being changed to 'Ceredigion', which is the current county name. Derived from the old Welsh name from the area, derived from the name 'Caradoc' from the word 'caredig' (caring).
"Non-Welsh-speakers often lose their nerve when addressing letters to Welsh destinations, believing that they have mis-spelled the address, especially when they include words like 'Cnwc', 'Bwlch' or, even better, 'Eglwyswrw'. In Welsh, 'w' or 'y' are regarded as perfectly acceptable vowels, and addresses with them in place of more familiar 'a's, 'e's and so on, are indeed correct." (Of course 'y' can be a vowel in English too.)
County Code Status, Alternative Name, etc. Aberdeenshire ABD Angus ANS Forfarshire Argyllshire ARL Ayrshire AYR Banffshire BAN Berwickshire BEW Borders BOR Bute BUT Buteshire Caithness CAI Central CEN Clackmannanshire CLK Dumfries-shire DFS Dumfries and Galloway DGY Dunbartonshire DNB Dumbartonshire East Lothian ELN Haddington Fife FIF Kingdom of Fife (one of the 7 Pictish kingdoms) Grampian GMP Highland HLD Inverness-shire INV Kincardine KCD Kinross KRS Kinross-shire Kirkcudbrightshire KKD Lanarkshire LKS Lothian LTN Midlothian MLN Edinburgh Morayshire MOR Elgin Nairn NAI Nairnshire Orkney OKI Orkney Islands Peebles-shire PEE Perth PER Perthshire Renfrewshire RFW Ross and Cromarty ROC Roxburghshire ROX Selkirkshire SEL Shetland SHI Shetland Islands, Zetland Strathclyde STD Stirlingshire STI Sutherland SUT Sutherlandshire Tayside TAY West Lothian WLN Linlithgow Western Isles WIS Wigtownshire WIG