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
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.