Pages iii-vi

A Topographical Dictionary of England. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1848.

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In publishing a Seventh Edition of the Topographical Dictionary of England, the Proprietors consider it necessary to make a few brief remarks for the information of those Subscribers who may not have seen the more explanatory Preface to the First edition.

With a view to secure a well-condensed and accurate account of every important place possessing either civil or ecclesiastical jurisdiction, several gentlemen of competent talents and industry were originally engaged to make a general survey of the kingdom, and procure, by personal examination, the fullest information upon the different subjects contemplated in the plan of the work; their inquiries being facilitated by printed questions, including every particular to which their attention was to be directed. And the Proprietors beg to return their unfeigned thanks for the courtesy uniformly extended to their agents, during the time they were employed in their pursuit; and gratefully to acknowledge the prompt assistance received from the resident nobility, gentry, and clergy, and persons holding official situations, many of whom transmitted original manuscripts, containing much highly valuable matter never before published.

It was at first intended that the work should be confined simply to a topographical and statistical account of the various districts; but considering that a summary of the history of such places as either are, or have been, of importance, would render it more comprehensive and interesting, it was determined to introduce a concise narrative of the principal events which mark their progress from their origin to the present time. To effect this, other gentlemen were entrusted with the task of selecting from general and local histories, authentic records, and manuscripts at the British Museum and other public libraries, notices of the most remarkable occurrences connected with each spot.

The arrangement of the different places is strictly alphabetical, each being given under its proper name, and the epithet, if any, by which it is distinguished from another locality of the same designation, following after the chief heading.

The ensuing order of subjects, when the topics are noticed in the work, has been generally adopted:—1. Name of the place, and of the saint to whom the church is dedicated; situation; population, according to the census of 1841.—2. Origin, and etymology of name; summary of historical events, whether national or particular.—3. Local description; distinguishing features of surface; soil; number of acres, &c.; mines and quarries. —4. Scientific and literary institutions; sources of amusement; commerce, trade, and manufactures; facilities afforded by rivers, railroads, canals, &c.; markets and fairs.—5. Municipal government; privileges and immunities; courts of justice, prisons, &c.; parliamentary representation.—6. Ecclesiastical and religious establishments; particulars respecting livings, tithes, glebe, patronage; description of churches; dissenters' places of worship.—7. Scholastic and charitable foundations and endowments; benevolent institutions; hospitals; almshouses.—8. Monastic institutions; antiquities; mineral springs; natural phenomena. —9. Eminent natives and residents; title which the place confers.

The Maps accompanying the work are corrected up to the present time, and printed from steel plates. The Arms and Seals of the several corporate towns, bishoprics, colleges, &c., have been drawn and engraved from impressions in wax, furnished by the respective corporate bodies; and although they have generally been either enlarged, or reduced, to one size, for the sake of uniformity, yet great care has been taken to preserve, in each instance, an exact fac-simile of the original. The difficulty of effecting this, from the mutilated state of many of the seals, was kindly removed by Sir George Nayler, and other gentlemen at the Heralds' College, who also furnished the Arms of some of the towns.

Since the publication of the first edition of the Dictionary, the Proprietors have received from the gentry and clergy resident in different parts of the country several thousands of communications, enabling them to embody much additional information, and to correct many statements that had become erroneous in consequence of the lapse of time, or from changes that had otherwise occurred. To the parochial clergy, especially, they are indebted for the contribution, in detail, of those facts with which they are necessarily best acquainted.

In addition to the matter thus obtained, the Proprietors have noticed in the present edition, where needful, the multifarious alterations caused by certain recent legislative enactments. The principal of these enactments are, the Act 2nd and 3rd William IV., c. 45, by which the system of parliamentary representation was remodelled, and new electoral divisions were formed; the Poor-Laws' Act, by which the country was divided into unions; the Act relating to Dioceses and Episcopal Patronage; the Municipal Corporations' Act, which changed the constitution of about one hundred and seventy corporate bodies; and the Tithes' Commutation Act. Diligent use has also been made of the Reports that have been printed under the authority of Parliament, or of Commissions, including the last volumes issued by the Charities' Commissioners, whose labours have been recently completed in 37 folio volumes; and the Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into Ecclesiastical Revenues.

Another feature in this new edition is, the introduction of the acreage of nearly every parish, on the authority of resident persons with whom the Proprietors have communicated; which information is the more important, as the returns of government, from the nature of the sources whence they are derived, are for the most part exceedingly inaccurate, and form but an approximation to the fact.

The Proprietors cannot entertain the hope that, in a work compiled from such a variety of sources, and containing notices so numerous and diversified, errors have not occurred; indeed, the information, even when collected upon the spot, from the most intelligent persons, has frequently been so contradictory as to require much labour and perseverance to reconcile and verify it. They have, however, regardless of expense, used the most indefatigable exertions to attain correctness, and to render the work as complete as possible; and they, therefore, trust that any occasional inaccuracy will receive the indulgence of the Subscribers.