|SOME NOTES ON MEDIEVAL ENGLISH GENEALOGY
|Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
The Victoria History of the Counties of England (Victoria County History, or VCH for short) is an ambitious project, which has now been in progress for more than a century, to publish a comprehensive set of English county histories. Although more than 200 volumes have appeared, the project is only near the halfway mark - while some counties are complete, and substantial amounts have been published for many more, much remains to be done, and a few counties are still untouched (there are also two general volumes for England, and genealogical volumes for two counties - Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire). Nevertheless, the published volumes represent an unparalleled resource for county and local historians, and for those researching genealogy and family history.
The published material is divided between general volumes, covering a wide range of subjects related to each county's history - including natural history, prehistoric and Roman settlement, political history, and religious and educational institutions - and topographical volumes, which give detailed local accounts of parishes, boroughs and cities within the county. These local articles are generally the most helpful for genealogists, and for those tracing medieval ancestry the accounts showing the descent of manors are particularly useful.
The links above lead to a county-by-county list of articles in the volumes published so far. The articles in the sections that include place names - on topography, religious houses, schools and universities, and forests - have been included in full, while other sections have been summarised. There is also an alphabetical index of the places - cities, boroughs, parishes, chapelries and hamlets - mentioned in the titles of these articles. Note that the lists and index do not include the names of small settlements - such as many lesser manors - which are treated within articles on larger places (except where they are mentioned in the title of the article).
Please note that the lists and index here do not include the short volumes about individual places that have been published by the VCH in recent years, only the main series of volumes in the traditional red hardback format.
Published indexes. The original plan of the VCH seems to have been to publish a combined index of names and places for each county, rather than including an index in each volume. The disadvantage of this approach is that it leaves the published volumes without indexes until the whole county is complete - and only a minority of counties have been completed even now. Later volumes tended to include their own indexes, and indexes were also published subsequently for a number of the early volumes. However, quite a lot of the early volumes remain without indexes. In most cases the unindexed volumes contain only general articles, but topographical volumes for two counties - Durham and Northamptonshire - are also unindexed.
Finding the VCH. This index is designed to answer the question of whether a particular place is been covered by the published volumes and, if so, which volume it is treated in. The VCH volumes should be available in good reference libraries, though full sets are something of a rarity, so it is worth checking whether a particular volume is held before making a journey. (In searching library catalogues, note that the title for each county can vary from volume to volume. In these pages I have tried to give the exact titles, together with the names of authors and dates of publication.)
VCH Online At the beginning of 2001, the VCH launched a project to make some of its material available through the Internet. Many volumes or parts of volumes are now available at the British History Online website. This is a very useful resource, but unfortunately it is sometimes marred by inaccurate bibliographical information and errors in the transcribed text. Unfortunately the individual page numbers have also been discarded, which makes the online versions harder to use and in some cases has rendered the original indexes useless. Draft texts of some articles not yet published are also available on the VCH county web sites.
Funding. Finally, the work being done by the VCH depends on funding from local authorities and local sponsorship. Although work is in progress on a number of counties, many others are "dormant" through lack of funding. If you can help with fundraising, please visit the Victoria County History website for further details.