The author begs respectfully to remind those who may consult this work, that he does not profess to have compiled a complete and exhaustive Heraldic Dictionary of all the past and present armigerous families of Worcestershire; for, to use the language of one of his predecessors,* "there are doubtless many others in the said county that are of ancestry, the which are not yet come to his knowledge and acquaintance."
For these his sins of omission he must crave the reader's indulgence; but he thinks it right to state that some few of them have been occasioned by the silence of those to whom, after exhausting every available source of information, he addressed letters of enquiry. And not being armed with the potent authority enjoyed by the Heralds of old, he could only ask as a favour what those officers demanded as a right.
There is another matter which seems to require a few words of explanation.
Inasmuch as the Author has not confined his attention exclusively to the seated families,—the owners of estates in * "J. H.," the author of the Winnington Manuscript.
the county—it may be asked what in his opinion constitutes a Worcestershire family?
To answer this question fully would be a matter of some difficulty; but he has in a great measure followed the plan adopted by the Heralds in their periodical visitations of their provinces; and there will consequently be found in this work heraldic notices of several families and persons who, though not indigenous in Worcestershire, have either by residence, or by filling some important public office, identified themselves with the interests of the county and thereby established a local claim.
The Author avails himself of this conspicuous place to return his warmest thanks to the many kind friends who have encouraged and assisted him in this undertaking. More especially does he desire to record his many obligations to the late Sir Thomas Edward Winnington, bart., who took the kindliest interest in his labours, and afforded him on several occasions the most valuable assistance and advice. He is also greatly indebted to the late Thomas William King, York Herald, to Sir Albert W. Woods, Garter King of Arms, to Richard Woof, F.S. A., of Worcester, and to the Rev. T. P. Wadley, M.A., of Bidford, Warwickshire.
"The fashion of armorial bearings" (says a writer in the Quarterly Review*) "is one which some may be surprised to find still maintaining itself, in spite of the Utilitarians. It would seem, at first view, a task of difficulty to account for its resistance to that 'reforming spirit of the age,' which announces such a philosophical scorn for hereditary honours of all kinds. For in truth, besides its apparent 'inutility,' the noble science of blazon, with its quaint language and strange symbols—the chiefs, pales, bends, fesses, chevrons, saltires, and so forth—is such an unknown tongue to the million, nay even to the thousands who inscribe these hieroglyphs on their equipages, that it is really almost a matter of marvel how so antiquated, and, with our present habits, incongruous a practice, should not long since have gone out of use, with the jousts and tournaments of the age of chivalry, to which it appropriately belonged; whereas on the contrary, it has not, that we are aware of, been in the least degree relaxed.
* Vol. lvi., p. 1.t
"It is a strong example of the tenacity of associations once generally adopted. And so enduring is a notion which has once rooted itself in the mind of a people, that even now, though centuries have elapsed since the armour of chivalry was consigned to the museums of the curious, no one who lays claim to gentility, would like to be supposed deficient in his due attributes of crest, shield, and motto."
In these matter-of-fact days men occupy themselves in matters of more vital importance, and though few really despise Heraldry, many are apt to look upon it as trivial and fanciful ; and are disposed to regard as childish pageantry what is in fact the distinctive mark of gentle birth. To those, however, who, with a veneration for the actions and events of a by-gone age, devote themselves to historical research, and consume their midnight oil in poring over the records of the past, Heraldry has ever been a fascinating study; and a knowledge of Armory has been considered by many eminent authors a most efficient aid to the study of our national antiquities. And not only have many historic writers derived material assistance from Heraldry, but instances are not wanting in which families have recovered estates by virtue of preserving the armorial escutcheons of their ancestors.
Heraldry is daily becoming more popular. It is no longer regarded as the "science of fools," still it does not hold the same honourable place in men's estimation as formerly, when a knowledge of it was deemed (according to Peacham)
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