A Topographical Dictionary of Englandby Samuel Lewis. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Company, 1001 N. Calvert St., Baltimore MD 21202. 1831, reprinted 1996. 4 volumes printed as 2. lxviii, 572, 538 plus 652, 634 pp. Maps. Hardcover. $150, plus $4.74 p&h.
This superb classic work is an excellent resource for finding information about locations in England. The counties, cities, boroughs, corporations, market towns and parishes are all described in alphabetical order. Townships, chapelries, hamlets and tythings are generally listed in their respective parishes, and given a separate listing making them easier to find. Some villages and hamlets which are not recognized divisions have been omitted unless they possess some historical significance or geological features, in which case they are listed under the respective parish. What makes these volumes so valuable is that even the most obscure place in England is identified in relation to a parish, and thus its ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Knowing the ecclesiastical jurisdiction assists the researcher in progressing from the location into probate and other church records.
The information listed for a parish includes: name and situation; distance and bearing from nearest market or post town; chapelries and townships within the parish; population according to the 1821 census; nature of the ecclesiastical living; the archdeaconry and diocese in which it is included, and if of exempt jurisdiction, the peculiar to which it belongs; amount at which the living is rated in the king's books; endowment by private benefaction, royal bounty, or parliamentary grant; patron; tutelar saint and architectural description of the church; dissenting places of worship, and of what denominations; schools, hospitals and other charitable institutions; monastic establishments, encampments, relics of antiquity and miscellaneous information. Similar information, often more detailed, is provided for the larger jurisdictions.
The Channel Islands, Isle of Man, and numerous islands around England's coast are also included in these volumes. The detailed, but small, maps of each county are helpful.
The production of the original volumes was supported by subscription. Do not forget to examine the lists of over 13,500 pre-publication subscribers, like me, you may be fortunate to find one of your ancestors listed.
Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.4 no.3, 1997