SHIRE, one of the larger administrative divisions, in Great Britain, now generally synonymous with " county " (?..), but the word is still used of smaller districts, such as Richmondshire and Hallamshire in Yorkshire, Norhamshire and Hexhamshire in Northumberland. The Anglo-Saxon shire (O. Eng. scir) was an administrative division next above the hundred and was presided over by the ealdorman and the sheriff (the shire-reeve). The word scir, according to Skeat ( Etym. Diet. ,1910), meant originally office, charge, administration; thus in a vocabulary of the 8th century ( Wright- Wiilcker, Anglo-Saxon and Old English Vocabularies, 1884, 40-32) is found procuratio, sciir. Skeat compares O. Eng. scirian, to distribute, appoint, Ger. Schirrmeister, steward. The usual derivation of the word connects it with " shear " and " share," and makes the original meaning to have been a part cut off.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)