What are historic counties?

What are historic counties? Here are some definitions.

Noun
  1. plural of historic county
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Examples
The six historic counties of Northern Ireland are no longer in use for administrative purposes.
The historic counties of Wales are ancient subdivisions of Wales, used for various functions for several hundred years.
The administrative counties did not exist prior to 1889, see historic counties of England for the history of the English counties before then.
This is the ninth volume in the Buildings of Scotland series and surveys the historic counties of Berwickshire, Peeblesshire, Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire.
For much of its length Ullswater forms the border between the historic counties of Cumberland and Westmorland.
This is an index of Welsh life peers whose primary territorial qualification is within the historic counties of Wales.

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