BEDFORDSHIRE takes its' name from the abire town of Bedford, and lies in the southern part of the Midlands, about 50 miles north of London; it is a very small shire, of irregular shape, its greatest length being 36 1/2 miles from north to south, and its greatest breadth 22 1/2 miles from east to west.

The county is bounded on the north-west by Northamptonshire, on the north-east by Huntingdonshire; on the east by Cambridgeshire, on the south-east by Hertfordshire; and on the west and south-west by Buckinghamshire. Itbelongs to the basin of the Midland Ouse, all but a small corner in the south, which is watered by the lea, a feeder of the Thames. The chalk downs, named the Chiltern Hills, known locally as the Luton and Dunstable Downs, cross it in the south from S.W. to N.E.; a range of sand hills runs across the middle by Ampthill; and the northern part is mostly flat with a few detached hills.

Bedfordshire seems to have been first held by the Britons, then by the Belgians, called Cattiouchlani, or Cassii, who at the time of Julius Ceasars' landing were under the rule of Cassibelaunus. In the time of the Emperor Claudius the Romans overcame the Belgians and occupied the county. On the Romans leaving, the Britons again came into power; and the county became the field of bloodshed until the English landed, defeated the Britons, and brought in their own people.

The West Saxons made the first inroad, and between 571 and 580 Cutwolf, their King, beat the Britons at Bedford and took four of their towns, of which Leighton Buzzard, under the name of Lygeanburgh, is thought to have been one. The Mid-English afterwards utterly turned out the Britons and took the country, which they brought under their kingdom. The great Offa, king of the Mid-English, was buried at Bedford, but his grave was swept away by a flood of the Ouse. The Danes did great harm to Bedford, but it was rebuilt by King Edward I, the elder son of Alfred the Great; this Edward also took Temesford, or Temsford from the Danes; these latter, however, over-ran the shire in 1009 and 1010, when Ethelred II was king, and  they burned Bedford and Tempsford. It is supposed that all the baronial castles in the county of any note, with the exception of that at Bedford, had been destroyed in the reign of King John; and it is perhaps owing to this that we read of so few occurrences in Bedfordshire during the Wars of the Roses.

Transcribed from Kellys Directory of 1910