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TO THE READER.

Every species of study contributes to the perfection of human knowledge, by that universal bond which connects them all in a philosophical mind."-D'ISRAELI.

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ERALDRY had its origin with the Feudal system, and is one of the appendages to that rude combination, which has never been abolished; but in reference to the necessary distinctions of Rank, its evident utility in society is still acknowledged, and the gentilitial assumption of hereditary armorial bearings has consequently been retained, as a convenient and powerful bar to the encroachments of one branch of the community upon the privileges of the other.

As its acquisition was originally in the field by military prowess, this hereditary distinction was first borne on the shield of the victorious warrior; next upon the banners, pennons, and housings, and was afterwards embroidered on

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the surcoats or tabards of the knights: the mantles of the ladies were even subsequently decorated with the family bearings.

Heraldry was very early connected with the sciences of architecture, sculpture, and painting, and was adopted as a tasteful and splendid decoration in churches and mansions, on the walls, pavements, monuments, windows and hangings, and still retains its use upon seals, and upon coins of the realm.

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Its history is a theme so fraught with pleasure to the imagination, ever ready to indulge in romantic ideas, that a generous mind is unable to resist the rational desire of information respecting it, and its ultimate design being to give due influence to all classes of society, it becomes at the same time so connected with the institutions and usages of our established constitution, that its investigation cannot fail to be considered as a most instructive, entertaining, and useful pursuit, to every one whose studies are directed to the history and antiquities of the kingdom.

When the numerous list of publications on this interesting subject is examined, it must

surely be a matter of great surprise, that no attempt has hitherto been made to bring them all under one view, and by that means to unfold the vast extent of research that has been devoted to the study, affording also an opportunity of selecting those works, where it has been treated in the most perspicuous manner.

This profitable advantage, an important desideratum in every science, is now attempted for Heraldry, by the publication of a "Bibliotheca Heraldica," a work not accomplished without much time having been consumed in the collection of materials, and a patient investigation of a great number of volumes: the result, it is hoped, will be found to convey decided information to the Genealogist, and not unworthy the attention of the Historian and the Antiquary.

In the year 1674, the second edition of a small tract, in Latin, was published by Thomas Gore, Esq. of Alderton, in Wiltshire, entitled a "Catalogue of Writers upon Heraldic Subjects." This work displayed much talent, and the books were classed in a scientific method, but the list was confined entirely to an enumeration of the names of authors, and brief titles of their works. The tract has become so exceed

early encouragement and assistance. The luminous analysis of the Cheshire and Lancashire Genealogical MSS. have stamped a value on that part of his work which he could have hardly expected it to attain.

To Francis Freeling, Esq. F.S. A. he is infinitely indebted, for affording the most liberal access to his curious and valuable library, which, besides its well-known abundance in rare articles of old English Poetry, contains almost every work relating to the public transactions of the kingdom, during the reigns of Elizabeth, James I. and Charles I.; and references to many scarce volumes, there to be found, frequently appear in the ensuing pages.

He has many acknowledgments to make for the useful communications and obliging assistance of Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bart. particularly for the Catalogue of MSS. in his extensive genealogical library. To Michael Jones, Esq. F.S.A. for a constant and unremitting attention to his numerous inquiries, during the progress of the work. To Sheffield Grace, Esq. F.S.A. he is indebted for his kind permission to make extracts from MSS. in his possession, and for

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