« PreviousContinue »
It is impossible for me to send forth to the public this work—the result of more than two years' constant labour and research-without acknowledging, in terms of gratitude, the kind and generous assistance which I have received, from almost every quarter, in answer to the circulars which I have issued to the present representatives of the highest families in the three kingdoms, whether numbered among the 'titled' or the 'untitled ' aristocracy, who, with few exceptions, have freely communicated to me the information which I requested at their hands. Here and there, it is true, that my applications have been met with a refusal on the part of those who were most nearly interested; but even in these cases I have endeavoured to keep faith with the public, by instituting private inquiries among local friends and correspondents, and by consulting a large library of useful books of reference. By these means I have been enabled to produce a volume which, in spite of numerous imperfections, embraces the whole of the titled, and by far the largest portion of the untitled aristocracy of the three kingdoms, and may, therefore, fairly lay claim to be styled, in common parlance, a Dictionary of the Upper Ten Thousand.'
I am well aware that the first edition of such a work must be far from perfect; and no one is more fully alive than myself to the numerous deficiencies to be found in this volume. I am equally aware that such a book must always remain, in one sense, imperfect in a country like our own, where, mainly owing to the influence of trade and commerce, individuals and families are continually crossing and re-crossing the narrow line which severs the aristocracy from the commonalty. But I can safely promise that, as often as a new edition of the “ County FAMILIES” shall be called for, the book shall be found in a state more nearly approaching completion, by the constant addition of fresh families to the roll of its contents, and by carefully noting the various changes wrought day by day by the silent operation of births, marriages, deaths, and preferments, in the families whose names I record.
I ought here more particularly to record my obligations, in the first instance, to the Clerks of the Peace and the Clerks of Lieutenancy who have kindly supplied me with the lists of the Magistrates and Deputy Lieutenants of the several counties of England and Wales; as also to Thom's Irish Directory and Oliver and Boyd's Edinburgh Almanac, for similar lists relating to those kingdoms respectively. The details of the work, where they have not been communicated to me personally by some member of the family, have been mainly worked out by consulting the Gazette and the pages of the Gentleman's Magazine—án invaluable mine of wealth to the genealogist and antiquarian, and useful also to one who, like myself, is a humble labourer in the field of cotemporary inquiry. Besides these, the several County Histories which I have been able to procure, the Peerages and Baronetages of Lodge and Debrett, Hart's Army List, O'Byrne's Naval Biography, the Oxford and Cambridge Calendars and Lists of Graduates, and the obituary notices of the daily and weekly newspapers, have furnished me with useful materials.
The constant accession of fresh materials in my hands, whilst these sheets have been passing through the press, while it accounts for the long delay in the appearance of the “ COUNTY FAMILIES,” bas necessitated the adoption of a Supplement, in which will be found a long array of well-known names which ought properly to have appeared in the body of the work. I can only regret that they reached me so late, and promise that they shall be arranged in their proper place in the next edition. It is to be hoped that the public and subscribers to the work will pardon such errata as they may find on referring to their names; and they will further oblige me if they will kindly communicate to me those errors, through my publisher, in order that they may be rectified in future editions. When they call to mind that every separate entry involves a statement of from five to fifty facts, inclusive of dates, the public will be able to realize some portion of the labour of an editor in preparing such a work as this for the press for the first time.
I have not chosen the title of this work without deliberation. I have called my book a MANUAL OF THE TITLED AND UNTITLED ARISTOCRACY, and have accordingly arranged both these orders under a single alphabet, because I remember the words of James I., that "the king, though he can make a noble, cannot make a gentleman," and because the bearing of arms, not of titles, has ever been considered as the distinctive mark of true noblesse.
17, CHURCH Row, HAMPSTEAD,
March 31, 1860.
As it is impossible for the Editor to suppose, or even to hope, that in the first issue of a work like “The County FAMILIES,” many errors in spelling, and many omissions, will not be detected by his readers, he begs respectfully to inform them that he will be much obliged if any member of the families recorded in these pages will kindly notify to him, under cover to his publisher, MR. HARDWICKE, 192, Piccadilly, the points in which any omission or erroneous statement may be detected, in order that such defects may be remedied in all future editions of this book.