The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: Volume 1. Originally published by WS Crowell, Ipswich, 1846.

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'Preface', in The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: Volume 1, (Ipswich, 1846) pp. v-vii. British History Online [accessed 18 April 2024]


Upon the completion of the First Volume of the present extensive and arduous work, it may not seem unseasonable to offer a few observations relative to its design and prosecution. The immediate aim of its Author has been to supply, in some measure, a deficiency in topographical literature by an humble essay to illustrate the History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk, towards which so little, except in a few favoured spots, has hitherto been done. But although his undertaking dares not aspire to the character of a complete and general History, yet his object has been to convey, within reasonable limits, a detailed account of every parish in the county,—to record the actions, characters, and family history of its past generations, and to perpetuate the memorials of their taste, their patriotism, and their devotion.

In pursuance of this design he has endeavoured to avoid, as much as possible, all digressions, and to confine himself within the narrowest limits consistent with adequate information,—to seek the middle way between superficial notice and too lengthened detail,—a task more difficult than they can justly estimate, who have never ventured on the trial.

The materials for this design,—which even thus limited is of vast extent,—have been drawn from the most authentic sources: from the national records and from public documents; in conjunction with the Author's own collections, conducted through the leisure of above twenty years. These have been invariably noted, in the progress of the work, by marginal references, as authorities for facts, and acknowledgments of assistance.

How well he has succeeded in arranging the vast mass of these materials, it is not in his power, neither is it his province, to determine. He may, possibly, be considered a dull and heavy compiler, and should public opinion so determine, he respectfully submits. To industry and zeal, he flatters himself, he may fairly lay claim, and these he can, confidently, promise as accompaniments to his future labours.

From the local nature of the subject, he entertains no expectation that his work will excite any great degree of public attention; neither has a prospect of fame or profit urged him to the prosecution of his task. It has formed an employment in the days of declining life, and a solace in the hours of sadness; though not to the exclusion of more serious thoughts, nor to the neglect of parochial duties.

In selecting from the abundance of his matter, the writer believes he has in no one instance warped or suppressed the truth: and unless his head and heart both deceive him, he has wounded the feelings of no individual by prejudice, preference, or partiality, nor by unfavourable introduction of family anecdotes. Every parish, in succession, has been illustrated to the full extent which the cost of elucidation will permit. More favoured districts will, unquestionably, furnish subjects of greater pictorial beauty and architectural interest, which will augment the elegance of the work as it progresses, and afford additional gratification to its patrons.

To many kind and indulgent friends the Author begs to express his obligations for ready access to family documents, regretting that inert or fastidious considerations should have, in a few cases, rejected his respectful applications. But such discourtesies will occur in literary, as in real life; so, like the sturdy pilgrim, who boldly steps onwards, regardless of the rugged path, and the lowering storm, the Author proceeds cheerfully and steadily in the prosecution of his task; cherishing a hope, which he trusts is not wholly unfounded, of liberal support and favourable recommendation,—for on the extent of these must depend his ability to bring so expensive a work to a completion. So supported, his energies will be invigorated to finish what he has thus commenced, trusting for a continuance of health and reason to the gracious Dispenser of every good and perfect gift, with whom rest all our issues, "for neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase."

Barsham Rectory, June, 1846.