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Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills Vols. IV 1584-1604
British Record Society volume 25
Introduction to Original Volume
The Preface to this volume will compare very unfavourably with those of the previous volumes, for its length will be short and its subject of little interest or value. For this shortcoming I must ask the kind indulgence of subscribers. The reason, however, is not far to seek, for, in the first instance, living at a good distance from London I have not the ready access to the Registers, from which no doubt copious notes could be made and an interesting Preface compiled; and, secondly and chiefly, nearly all my spare time has been taken up in seeing the work through the press and also in making the Index Locorum.
To those who have never made an index, either of persons or places, this will hardly be much of an excuse, but let anyone attempt an Index Locorum to a work of this description, and they will soon perceive that it is no light undertaking, either to put - down the places and the pages on which they appear, or to verify them when they are so noted.
There are few places in the Index Locorum to this volume that have not been identified by reference to maps, gazetteers, and other works of reference, the spelling corrected, and the county checked.
The parishes do not offer as a rule much difficulty; Kelly's Clergy List has been chiefly used for this purpose, but when it comes to hamlets in the parishes it is often a matter of great research. Gazetteers are numerous, it is true, but few give all the hamlets or small townships. Cary's or Smith's Atlases are valuable in this respect, stating at all events the hundred in which many hamlets are in, but not the parish, and it is not sufficient to take for granted that the nearest parish to such hamlet is the one it is in, for very often the hamlet is at the extreme end of a parish and therefore nearer to some adjacent place than the one it really is in.
As a matter of fact, I believe there is no gazetteer or Index Locorum in existence that has every hamlet or farm, etc., mentioned. How is it that the Ordnance Survey Department has never issued such an index to their maps? It would be an invaluable boon to everyone who has to compile indexes similar to the one for this volume to enable them to verify their references.
For my own purposes I have commenced such an Index Locorum for Dorset, taking the new 1 inch survey map by map, and going carefully through every parish and noting every farm, hamlet, etc., therein, with a reference number to the map. If similar work was done for the other counties, one (or more) person for each county, and all working on a preconcerted system, a most valuable index would soon be made.
The verification and identification of all these little hamlets, etc., has caused a very long Corrigenda. It might be thought that the verification of places could have been done before printing the Calendar. So it might if the Society had been willing to wait long enough, but the majority of those to whom the Calendar is useful much prefer to have it as it has appeared than that every little place, unimportant in most instances, should be scrupulously placed in its proper parish.
I must not forget to thank very sincerely Mr. J.C.C. Smith for having assisted in the Index Locorum and in the identification of very many names of places which I could not find, and to do which he had to examine many of the wills themselves.
The great task of compiling the body of this volume (with the exception of the two books "Drake" and "Cobham," 1595-1597, undertaken by Mr. S.J. Madge) was accomplished by Dr. S.A. Smith, who, it will be remembered, was also the compiler of the previous one. The sincerest thanks of the Society and genealogical students in general will be readily accorded him for this great labour.
To Mr. G.E. Cokayne, Clarenceux King of Arms, a hearty acknowledgement is due for the very material assistance accorded by him in the production of this Calendar, thus enabling it to be placed in the hands of subscribers in a shorter period of time than it could otherwise have been.
It only remains to add that the present Calendar supersedes the old official Calendars "five" and "six," which comprised the following books:— Butts (1583-84), Watson (1584), Brudenell (1585), Windsor (1586), Spencer (1587), Rutland (1588), Leicester (1588-89), Drury (1590), Sainberbe (1591), Harrington (1592), Nevell (1593), Dixy (i594), Scott (1595), Drake (1596), and Cobham (1597); Lewyn (1597-98), Kidd (1599), Wallop (1600), Woodhall (1601), Montague (1602), Bolein (1603), and Harte (1604).
E. A. FRY.