Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Scotland 1847 and Atlas - CD
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Media: Data CD
File format: PDF, 199MB (2 vols, 1294 pages)
Author: S. Lewis
Year: (1869) 2007
Other: 2 vols + extra vol of maps
Publisher: Archive Digital Books Australasia
Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Scotland was published in 1847 as a 3 volume set (2 for the topographical dictionary and 1 for the atlas), and is very important reference work for historians and genealogists of the mid nineteenth century Scotland.
He gives details about every parish, town and village in Scotland, including numbers of inhabitants, the economy, history, topography, religion and parish structures, administration and courts, schools and much more. It includes a comprehensive index of the places described "embracing the mountains, hills, lakes, rivers, headlands, seats, antiquities, &c."
The third volume containing the Atlas is extremely rare, contains a series of maps covering the whole of Scotland in six parts in full colour. Scanned at high resolution, these can be enlarged to read the place names written on the maps.
CROY and DALCROSS, a parish, partly in the county of NAIRN, but chiefly in that of INVERNESS, 7 miles (S.W.) from Nairn; contains 1684 inhabitants. The etymology of the name Croy is altogether uncertain: the word Dalcross is derived from a Gaelic term signifying "the dale at the end of the ravine," and this description is strikingly applicable to the locality.
...The parochial school affors instruction in the usual branches; the master has the maximum salary, with a house, and about £20 fees. The parish contains several Druidical circles ...
High quality scanned images of the whole of the original books. This CD has been bookmarked for easy navigation, and pages can be searched, browsed, enlarged and printed out if required.
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Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Scotland was published in 1847 as an encyclopedia covering every parish in 1840s Scotland. It was part of a 10 volume work covering the whole of the UK.
It's hard to imagine any company setting out on this undertaking. According to the preface, the authors wrote to EVERY parish in Scotland, asking the minister to provide detailed written answers to multiple questions about their domain. What is extraordinary is that virtually every one of them replied, all free of charge. The authors then painstakingly cross-checked the information with Town Clerks and other sources.
Gould's product description says that it "gives details about every parish, town and village in Scotland". That's not quite true, but it does give a pretty comprehensive listing of localities. I was surprised at the level of detail. If you want to get a snapshot of the small parish of Halkirk in Caithness, you'll find it in this work. What was the population? The history? The minister's salary? What were the roads like? The condition of buildings? The landforms? All there.
It's supported by maps showing the roads, the landforms, and many localities. These are valuable in their own right.
It's great to see a digitisation project that brings this great reference work into the hands of modern-day genealogists. The CD is searchable. The volumes are best read by searching for the desired town or parish, and then absorbing the array of information in short bursts. For this reason, the CD is bookmarked A-Z
Lewis' book will appeal to historians, but perhaps more so to genealogists who wish to understand the social context of the locality where their ancestors lived in the 1840s.