An Index to the Pedigrees and Arms contained in the Heralds' Visitations, and other Genealogical Manuscripts in the British Museumby R. Sims. 1849 reprinted 1997. Clearfield Publishing Company, 200 E. Eager Street, Baltimore MD 21202. Illustrated. 330 pp. $31.50 plus $3.50 p&h.
From 1530 through 1686 the Heralds made tours of the country at approximately thirty year intervals to examine gentlemen's claims to use a coat of arms. The Heralds took into account records of previous visitations, family muniments and traditions before allowing a claim. Most of the original records are at the College of Arms but the British Museum has a major collection of transcripts.
Mr. Sims set about indexing the names of people having pedigrees and coats-of-arms in the principal manuscripts. The arrangement is alphabetical by county with people of the same surname being distinguished from one another by references to place or residence. There is no comprehensive index to the publication. The citation provides the exact number of the manuscript where the pedigrees and coats-of-arms are contained. The bulk of the records have Harleian Manuscript numbers. The Harleian Society was formed in 1869 and has published many of its manuscripts. However, further research will be needed to see if a particular manuscript has been published and is thus easily accessible.
This is a specialized resource for researching the upper class 16th and 17th century English families. Its value to most researchers will be limited, but it is worth examining if you are struggling in this time period.
Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.4 no.5, 1997