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For many centuries Nairnshire formed part of the extensive Province of Moray, which in the eleventh century stretched along the sea-shore from the mouth of the Spey to the Dornoch Firth with the hinterland to the source of the Spey and to the watershed from about Glen Quoich to Loch Broom. The county of Nairn proper may be regarded as dating from near the end of the twelfth century, when William the Lyon raised it into a separate sheriffdom. From time to time the boundaries have undergone considerable alterations. In 1891 the Boundary Commissioners cut off several detached portions for County Council purposes. Thus in the civil parishes of Cawdor and Croy and Dalcross in 1911 there was a population of 288 under Nairnshire for parliamentary purposes but under Inverness-shire for County Council administration.
The county takes its name from the town of Nairn. The old name of Nairn was Invernarne, i.e. the mouth of the Nairn. The word Nairn is derived from the Gaelic ulsge na-fhearna, "the water of alders." As numerous alder trees grew, and still grow, along the banks of the river, the name is highly appropriate.
The first heritable Sheriff of Nairnshire whose name has come down to us was Andrew, Thane of Cawdor, who died in 1405. After 1747 the office of Sheriff was no longer hereditary. Nairnshire is under the same Sheriff as the counties of Inverness and Moray.
In 1782 a Lord-Lieutenant was appointed for each county. The Lord-Lieutenant of Nairnshire is assisted by thirteen Deputy-Lieutenants and by Justices of the Peace.
Like the other Scottish counties, Nairnshire has its County Council, while each parish has its Parish Council. The four parishes entirely within the county are Nairn, Auldearn, Cawdor, and Ardclach. Croy and Dalcross is partly in Nairnshire, partly in Inverness-shire. Each parish has a School Board, and there are six school board districts in the county, Nairn having both a burgh and a landward district. Rose's Academical Institution or, as it is generally called, Nairn Academy, the only secondary school in the county, has a record of which Nairnshire may well be proud.
The county unites with Morayshire in sending one member to parliament. The burgh of Nairn is represented by the member for the Inverness burghs.
Matheson, Charles. Moray and Nairn. Cambridge: University Press, 1915.
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