Newcastle upon Tyne, commonly known as Newcastle, is a city which, since 1974, has been located in the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear in northeast England. Before 1974 it was part of the ceremonial county of Northumberland. It is situated on the northwest bank of the estuary of the River Tyne and its centre is 8.5 mi (13.7 km) from the North Sea. Newcastle lies at the urban core of Tyneside, the seventh most populous conurbation in the United Kingdom. On the opposite bank of the Tyne is the town of Gateshead which used to be in County Durham.
A "county of itself" was a local administration created during the Middle Ages, and was effectively a small self-governing county. While it was administratively distinct, with a sheriffs and lord lieutenant, it remained part of the "county at large" for purposes such as the county assize courts. From the 17th century the separate jurisdictions of the counties corporate (the plural form of "county of itself") were increasingly merged with that of the surrounding county, so that by the late 19th century the title was mostly a ceremonial one. For this reason WeRelate considers Newcastle upon Tyne to be part of Northumberland until the creation of Tyne and Wear in 1974.
The city developed in the location of the Roman settlement called Pons Aelius. It was named for the castle built in 1080, by Robert Curthose, William the Conqueror's eldest son. The city grew as an important centre for the wool trade in the 14th century, and it later became a major coal mining area. The port developed in the 16th century and, along with the shipyards lower down the Tyne, was amongst the world's largest shipbuilding and ship-repairing centres. These industries have now died away, but Newcastle's economy includes corporate headquarters, learning, digital technology, retail, tourism and cultural centres.
Population estimates for mid-2014 were almost 290,000 for the City of Newcastle, almost 880,000 for the urban area, and 1,650,000 for the whole of Tyne and Wear.
Before the introduction of civil parishes in 1837, Newcastle upon Tyne had many ecclesiastical parishes responsible for their own registers of births, marriages and deaths. Three of the ecclesiastical parishes, Newcastle upon Tyne All Saints, Newcastle upon Tyne St. Andrew, and Newcastle upon Tyne St. John, were made civil parishes and considered places for birth, marriage and death registrations as well as census districts up until 1914 when these tasks became the duty of the borough of Newcastle itself. A list of Newcastle's ecclesiastical parishes can be found in A Vision of Britain through Time.
For a summary, see Wikipedia on Newcastle upon Tyne