The Environs of London: Volume 1, County of Surrey. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1792.
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Whilst a taste for local history so generally prevails, it is somewhat singular that the counties adjacent to London should not have had their due share of illustration; for even in those of which histories have been published, some very interesting particulars have been wholly unnoticed. The author of the following work offers to the public what he has been able to collect, relating either to the ancient history or present state of the several parishes within twelve miles of the capital, a district which furnishes perhaps more curious and interesting matter for observation than any other of the same extent in the kingdom. A brief description of the situation, soil, produce, and manufactures; the descent of the principal, particularly manerial property; the parish churches, and ecclesiastical history; the state of population, and the biography connected with each parish; are the principal objects of the following work.
Through the obliging permission of Thomas Astle, Esq. John Caley, Esq. and John Kipling, Esq. to inspect the Records at the Tower, the Augmentation Office, and the Rolls; through the politeness of the present proprietors of the several manors, and the ready and liberal assistance of the gentlemen of the law; the author has been enabled to give the descent of property in a manner which, though brief, he hopes will be found accurate. In the description of parish churches, those epitaphs only are given at length, which are either singular in themselves, or record persons of eminence, and these have been all copied on the spot; from the others he has inserted the names of the persons recorded, with the date of their decease, merely to denote the place of interment of the several families. In treating of the ecclesiastical history, an account is given of the nature of the benefice of each parish, and, where it could be ascertained, the descent of the advowson. In this department, the frequent references to the MSS. in the Lambeth library will shew how much the author has been indebted to his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, for his permission to consult them. The succession of incumbents on each benefice has not been given, on a presumption, that a bare list of names would be very uninteresting to the reader, and tend to swell the volume to very little purpose; the author has confined himself therefore to the noticing such persons only as have been in any respect eminent. The parochial registers (for a ready access to which, as well as for other occasional information, he is much indebted to his brethren the clergy) have been found of much assistance in ascertaining the comparative state of population, and furnishing hints for biographical matter. The ravages of the plague in many of the parishes at various periods, have been ascertained from the same source of information; and such instances of longevity as are there recorded, have been also noticed. From the churchwardens accounts, particularly at Lambeth and Kingston, several curious circumstances, relating to the price of provisions, and local customs, have been extracted.
The difficulty of correctness in a work of this nature, wherein the references are necessarily so numerous, is well known. The reader, it is hoped, will excuse such trifling inaccuracies as may have escaped the author's observation; especially as he has endeavoured to correct those which are material, particularly in the references to public records, which have been again carefully collated with the originals, since the work was printed.
Of the plates something perhaps should be said: the portraits which represent persons of considerable eminence, are now for the first time engraved; the others will, it is presumed, be found faithful delineations of what they are intended to represent.