HISTORY OF THE
MIDDLESEX was recorded in the Domesday Book as
being divided into the six hundreds of Edmonton, Elthorne, Gore, Hounslow (Isleworth in all later records),
Ossulstone and Spelthorne. The City of London, which has been self-governing since the thirteenth century, was
geographically within the county, which also included Westminster, which had a high degree of autonomy. Of the six
hundreds, Ossulstone contained the districts closest to the City of London. During the 17th century it was divided
into four divisions, which, along with the Liberty of Westminster, largely took over the administrative functions
of the hundred. The divisions were named Finsbury, Holborn, Kensington and Tower. The county had
parliamentary representation from the 13th century. The title Earl of Middlesex was created twice, in
1622 and 1677, but became extinct in 1843.
The economy of the county was dependent on the City of London from an early time and was
primarily agricultural. All manner of goods were provided for the City, including crops such as grain and hay,
livestock and building materials. Tourism in early resorts such as Hackney, Islington and Highgate also formed
part of the early economy. However, during the 18th century the inner parishes of Middlesex started to function as
suburbs of the City and were increasingly urbanised.
The introduction of radial railway lines from 1839 caused a fundamental shift away from
agricultural supply for London towards large scale house building. Tottenham, Edmonton and Enfield in the
northeast developed first as working class residential suburbs with easy access to central London. The line to
Windsor through Middlesex was completed in 1848, to Potter's Bar in 1850 and the Metropolitan and
Metropolitan District Railways started a series of extensions into the county in 1878. Closer to London, the
districts of Acton, Willesden, Ealing and Hornsey came within reach of the tram and bus networks,
providing cheap transport to central London.
Following World War I, the availability of labour and proximity to London made areas such as
Hayes and Park Royal ideal locations for the developing new industries. New jobs attracted more people to the
county and the population continued to rise.