The County of Bute, or Buteshire (used, but not as common) is made up of three islands in the Firth of Clyde: Arran, Bute, the island, and Great Cumbrae. Arran has two parishes, Bute has three, and Great Cumbrae is one parish.
There is very little transport between the three islands, but each has a ferry service for both passengers and motor vehicles (Bute has two) to different ports on the mainland and connections to Glasgow by train and road.
Today there is not much industry other than farming and tourism on any of the islands, but commuting to the mainland on a daily basis is quite possible from Bute and Cumbrae. The Arran ferry journey is longer than that to the other two islands.
Government since 1975
Bute, also known as Buteshire, was a local government county of Scotland with its own elected county council from 1890 to 1975. The council area comprised a number of islands in the Firth of Clyde, between the local government counties of Argyll and Ayrshire, the principal islands being the Isle of Bute, the Isle of Arran, Great Cumbrae and Little Cumbrae.
The county town was Rothesay, located on the Isle of Bute.
In 1975 the county area was divided between the Argyll and Cunninghame districts of the Strathclyde region. The Isle of Bute became part of Argyll while the Isle of Arran and the Cumbraes became part of Cunninghame.
The article in Genuki describes Bute, which it calls Buteshire, from a 19th century perspective.
Buteshire Scotland Genealogy, the Scotland GenWeb site, is a series of links to other sites, most of which are more specific to one of the three islands.