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The word shire is of Old English origin and meant office, charge, administration. The Norman Conquest introduced the word county through French from the Latin comitatus which in mediaeval documents designates the shire. County is the district ruled by a count, the king's comes, the equivalent of the older English term earl. This system of local administration entered Scotland as part of the Anglo-Norman influence that strongly affected our country after the year 1100. Our shires differ in origin, and arise from a combination of causes geographical, political and ecclesiastical.
Argyllshire roughly corresponds to the old territory of the Dalriad Scots. Dalriada, however, at its largest, extended along the coast as far as Loch Broom; and the lordship of Argyll in the thirteenth century included the islands of the Clyde. It is frequently said that Argyll became a shire or sheriffdom soon after 1222, when it lost its independence, or at least after 1266. The Exchequer Rolls do not bear this out. There the earliest mention of a sheriff of Argyll seems to be under the year 1326.
In 1891 the Boundary Commission curtailed the county by adding to Inverness-shire the Small Isles and Kilmallie north of Locheil.
The county name comes from the name of one district, and is regarded as being airer gaedhil, "the land of the Gael."
Macnair, Peter. Lanarkshire. Cambridge: University Press, 1914.
Surnames and Queries
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