RIDINGS are the three districts into which from ancient times Yorkshire has been divided for administrative purposes. Formerly there were similar districts in Lindsey in Lincolnshire. The word riding was originally written as thrithing or thriding, but the initial th has been absorbed in the final th or t of the words north, south, east and west, by which it was normally preceded. Ridings are Scandinavian institutions. In Iceland the third part of a thing which corresponds roughly to an English county was called thrithjungr; in Norway, however, the thrithjungr seems to have been an ecclesiastical division. According to the 12th-century compilation known as the "laws of Edward the Confessor," the riding was the third part of a county (provincia); to it causes were brought which could not be determined in the wapentake, and a matter which could not be determined in the riding was brought into the court of the shire. There is abundant evidence that riding courts were held after the Norman Conquest. A charter which Henry I. granted to the Church of St Peter's at York mentions wapentacmot, tridingmot and shiresmot, and exemptions from suit to the thriding or riding may be noticed frequently in the charters of the Norman kings. As yet, however, the jurisdiction and functions of these courts have not been ascertained. It seems probable from the silence of the records that they had already fallen into disuse early in the 13th century.
Each of the ridings of Yorkshire has its own lord lieutenant and commission of the peace, and under the Local Government Act of 1888 forms a separate administrative county. They are distinguished as the north, east and west ridings, but the ancient divisions of Lindsey were known as the north, south and west ridings respectively.
See Felix Liebermann, Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen (Halle, 1888-89); William Stubbs, Constitutional History of England; Richard Cleasby, Icelandic Dictionary; New English Dictionary; and William Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, vol. vi., edited by John Caley and others (1846). (G. J. T.)
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