Huntingdonshire ( or ; abbreviated Hunts) is a historic county of England covering the area around Huntingdon, St Ives, Godmanchester, St Neots and Ramsey. Between 1889 and 1965 it formed an administrative county. Since 1974 it has been administered as a non-metropolitan district within the non-metropolitan county of Cambridgeshire.
The area corresponding to modern Huntingdonshire was first delimited in Saxon times, and the modern boundaries have remained largely unchanged since the 10th century.
In 1889, under the Local Government Act 1888 Huntingdonshire became an administrative county, with the new County Council taking over administrative functions from the Quarter Sessions. The area in the north of the county forming part of the municipal borough of Peterborough became instead part of the Soke of Peterborough administrative county, in Northamptonshire.
In 1965, under a recommendation of the Local Government Commission for England, it was merged with the Soke of Peterborough to form Huntingdon and Peterborough - the Lieutenancy county was also merged. Also at this time St Neots expanded westward over the river into Eaton Ford and Eaton Socon in Bedfordshire.
In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, Huntingdon and Peterborough merged with Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely to form the new non-metropolitan county of Cambridgeshire. A Huntingdon district was created based closely on the former administrative county borders, with the exclusion of the Old Fletton urban district became part of the Peterborough district, as did that part of Norman Cross Rural District in Peterborough New Town.
The district was renamed Huntingdonshire on 1 October 1984, by resolution of the district council.
Revival of county
The Local Government Commission considered in the 1990s the case for making a Huntingdonshire unitary authority as part of a general structural review of English local government, that led to unitary authorities in two other English counties that had been wiped from the map: Rutland and Herefordshire.
The Draft Recommendations envisaged three possible scenarios for structural change in Cambridgeshire: the preferred option and the third option had a unitary Huntingdonshire, whilst the second option would have seen Huntingdonshire combine with Peterborough and Fenland to form a "Peterborough and Huntingdonshire" unitary authority. The Final Recommendations of the Commission for Cambridgeshire recommended no change in the status quo in Cambridgeshire. The districts of Peterborough and Huntingdonshire were referred back to the commission for a reconsideration in 1995. The commission recommended the creation of a Peterborough unitary authority, but proposed that Huntingdonshire remain part of the shire county of Cambridgeshire, noting that "there was no exceptional county allegiance to Huntingdonshire, as had been perceived in Rutland and Herefordshire".
David McKie writing in the Guardian noted that "Writers-in demanded an independent Huntingdon; but MORI's more broadly-based poll showed that most Huntingdonians - that is, most of John Major's electors - were content to stay part of Cambridgeshire."
After the failure of Huntingdonshire to become a unitary authority, a Huntingdonshire Society was set up to promote awareness of Huntingdonshire as a historic county, and to campaign for its reinstatement as an administrative and ceremonial entity. In 2002 it established an annual "Huntingdonshire Day" on 25 April, the birthday of Oliver Cromwell.