Biglands Historical, Monumental, and Genealogical Collections Relative to the County of Gloucester (1791-1889)
Ralph Bigland was distantly related to the Bigland family of Bigland Hall, near Cartmel, Lancashire. He was a herald of the College of Arms, becoming Garter King of Arms in 1780. His interest in Gloucestershire was awakened in 1737, when he married Ann Wilkins of Frocester, and he embarked on research for the Collections in 1750, aiming to produce a new county history in the mould of Sir Robert Atkyns’s work. On his death in 1784 at the age of seventy-three none of the Collections had appeared in print, and the task of seeing his work through the press fell to his son Richard, the Rev. James Dallaway, Sir Thomas Phillipps and T. Fitzroy Fenwick. The volumes covering parishes from Abenhall to Newent appeared in 1791 and 1792, but the parishes from Newington Bagpath to Yate followed only gradually between 1836 and 1889.
The Gloucestershire Collections is a work of considerable value for local historians. The author’s interest in genealogy and history is strongly represented. Bigland and his assistants copied the arms and inscriptions on monuments throughout the county, a massive undertaking in ill-lit church interiors and in churchyards where tombs were frequently masked by moss and lichen. Many have since been lost or obliterated. The historical material for each parish includes manorial descents, the names of incumbents, tables of marriages, births and burials, and comments on markets and other features of the local economy. For some parishes there are brief essays on geology and botany. The work is enriched by engravings by Thomas Bonnor, Thomas Ravenhill, and other artists including the author
This new edition will make this rare work accessible. For some parishes only fifty copies of the original edition were printed, and complete copies are extremely scarce. Several plates intended for the last parishes were not published in the nineteenth century and are reproduced for the first time. The present volume completes the new edition. It includes an introduction and indexes. The four volumes of the Collections will be of great interest not only to family and parish historians but also to students of social and cultural history, since they deal with all classes and illustrate. Among much else, social relationships, naming practices, and attitudes to death and the dead.