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compiled. But, notwithstanding this great disadvantage, BEAtson's Political Index is, even to this day, a favourite, though wanting the character of a standard, Work. No other Work has hitherto been attempted to supply its place, or in continuation of it; and latterly it has become so scarce, as to have entirely disappeared from the shelves of the modern bookseller.
In the Work we now place before the Public, we owe little more than the plan to BEATSON. The Book OF DIGNITIES includes many lists (among them, the Administrations of England, and the Judges of the Ecclesiastical Courts) not to be found in the Political Index, and we have rejected other lists that had neither antiquarian research nor usefulness to entitle them to a place in the present volume. For the earlier dates we have consulted our most esteemed antiquaries, drawing our information directly from the authors themselves, instead of relying upon the transcripts made from th
by a writer who errs so frequently. Were we to enumerate those authors here, we should crowd a page with the most illustrious names in our literature; but as we quote, with scrupulous fidelity, our authority in every case throughout the Work, we deem such an
It is right to observe, that we have had a pre-eminent advantage over BEATSON. We have been honoured by the chief members of the Government with their especial permission to search the records of their respective departments, and where records did not exist, either on account of the comparative newness of the office, or some particular contingency, they have graciously directed that the information essential to the completion of our Work should be supplied to us from the minutes of their Boards, or from some equally authentic
To acknowledge, in this place, the condescension of the highest personages in the State, might seem ostentatious and impertinent, yet we may be allowed to mention, that the roll of the Privy Councillors has been compiled from the registers of the Council, and is now published, for the first time, by permission of the Marquess of LANSDOWNE, the Lord President. Several of our lists are the contributions of the most distinguished individuals. Our lists of the Judges of England are (from the Restoration to the present year) the compilations of the late Lord LANGDALE.
Of the numerous writers that have sprung up within the past half-century, we have, of course, availed ourselves. We have not gone, for instance, to DUGDALE for our list of the Lord Chancellors. The indefatigable antiquary, Mr. HARDY, of the Tower, has recently produced, after much laborious research, a roll of the Lord Chancellors, the most accurate that has ever appeared, and of this roll, ours is nearly a transcription.
We conclude with the expression of our humble hope, that the Book OF DIGNITIES will be found of some usefulness to the Official Gentleman, the Historian, and the Scholar. If we shall have achieved this chief object of our labours, we shall be satisfied to mingle undistinguished in the crowd of useful writers, desiring no higher fame, or greater reward.
London, October 1851.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
LORD PRESIDENTS of the COUNCIL