Thursday, 30 April 2009

Hampshire - Hants

From: tim broughton
Sent: 29 April 2009 12:14
Subject: The Abbreviation of Hampshire

Dear Sir George

Just thought I’d get in touch about a small matter relating to the name of your county, Hampshire. I’m sure you’re very busy in your constituency, being Hampshire’s third highest profile MP, so I’ll keep this brief.

Many English counties have shortened abbreviations such as Yorkshire to Yorks or Berkshire to Berks. Cambridgeshire diminishes to Cambs and Derbyshire to Derbs. Now, I’m sure you’ve noticed from these examples that there is a pattern forming. I made up this little rhyming rule and taught it to my six children, lest they forget and have to write the whole county name out. It goes like this:

‘Grab the first syllable and the S from Shire, whack ‘em together and we’ll never tire!’ (because we save energy writing abbreviated county names)

Now perhaps you’ve guessed where I’m heading with this. Of all the counties that use this system, HAMPSHIRE BREAKS THE RULE! Instead of being Hamps and conforming to my witty, elegant rhyme, you write Hants!!! You romance the P in your full name, whispering sweet sonnets with liquorice tongue, and the whole time you’re nipping 4 doors down Alphabet Road for a quickie with Frauline T!

The game’s up Sir George!

But seriously, if you could spare the time to offer a short explanation around the spelling of Hants, that would be much appreciated. It has been nagging at me for a number of years, causing dark, skulking panther-like headaches. By further way of incentive, let me assure you that I’ve managed to narrow down my voting options for the next election to three parties, and yours is one of them, if you know what I mean.

Happy legislating


P.S Your website could do with a thorough overhaul.

Sent: 29 April 2009 12:47
To: tim broughton
Subject: The Abbreviation of Hampshire

Dear Tim

Thank you for the email; I am only sorry I do not know the answer to your question.

Best wishes,
George Young

From: tim broughton
Sent: 29 April 2009 13:133

Subject: The Abbreviation of Hampshire

Dear Sir George,

Whilst I appreciate your swift response, do feel free to take your time to properly investigate this query. Make a few phone calls, maybe pop down County Hall and rifle through some records etc. Remember, my six little ones will be of voting age soon, and with myself and my wife, that's 8 votes - Hello fourth term!

Yours fondly



Sent: 29 April 2009 16:25
To: tim broughton
Subject: The Abbreviation of Hampshire

Our reference: HOCJS09

Dear Mr Broughton

Thank you for your email regarding the abbreviation of the word Hampshire to Hants.

I have briefly researched the history of the abbreviation to Hants and it would seem that this abbreviated form is derived from the Old English Hantum plus Scir (meaning a district governed from the settlement now known as Southampton) and the Anglo-Saxons called it Hamtunschire. At the time of the Doomsday Book (1086) this was compressed to Hantescire.

I am sure that there is further information available both online, and from the county libraries, should you wish to look into this in more depth.

Best wishes

Sarah McCarthy-Fry
Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North

From: tim broughton
Sent: 30 April 2009 21:50
Subject: The Abbreviation of Hampshire

Dear Sarah

How kind of you to get back in touch to solve the conundrum of the abbreviation of Hampshire! I should have known the answer lay buried, but not forgotten, in the history of our ancient Isle. You must be mighty relieved I wasn't asking about Yorkshire - the thought of you having to read the Domesday book all the way through to Y strikes me as a bit of an ordeal. 

You'll be pleased to know I have also managed to adapt my rhyme to accommodate your explanation. It now runs as follows:

Grab the first syllable 
and the S from Shire, 
whack ‘em together 
and we’ll never tire!

Except for Hampshire,
I'll tell you why.
It shortens to Hants
just ask McCarthy-Fry!

And just like that, the headaches have gone! 

Thankyou Sarah. I wish you, your household and your legitimate second household all the best.



  1. I think to save memorising place names, East Sussex could be abbreviated to Essex.

    You are my new favourite internet celebrity. Keep up the good work and I will return.

  2. What a lacklustre first response! Glad you chased him up - I feel that my life is enriched after learning the reason why Hampshire = Hants.

    Awesome blog.

  3. Actually, I too am happy to have found this site. In doing Family Tree research and living in Canada, I often find it frustrating when I can't figure out someones hand writing from a old census. I thought it was a spelling mistake when I found someone that was born in Hants. Thank you for clarifying this for me