This work, though limited to U.K. local history, is also of value to Americans engaged in genealogical research or working in the field of British social history. It is a dictionary-type summary of socioeconomic, historical, critical, architectural, and occasionally biographical information on Great Britain during the last eight centuries. Typical entries are Board of Trade; Camden, William (1551^-1623); Docks, Dockyards; Fire Insurance; Irish Emigration; Obituaries; Railways; and Surnames. These articles are usually brief, often only a few lines; a few, such as Local Government and Scottish Local and Family History, may run to six or more pages and are usually signed by one of the 17 contributors, whose names and affiliations appear at the front of the book.
There are almost no see references in the book. For example, there are no references from the words Catholic or recusant to Roman Catholicism, and no reference from U.S. to the single, brief article, America. There are no entries for house or habitation, though there is the entry Medieval Peasant Houses. Asterisks are used to note internal see also references. An example is the entry Abbey, which has nine asterisks, mostly for names of specific abbeys.
Perhaps the greatest lack is in the field of occupations. There is no general entry for it, and only a very few, unusual occupations are defined--Farmer, in its obsolete sense, as a tax gatherer; Jagger, a teamster in charge of heavy merchandise; and Reddleman, one who marked sheep with red ochre. Omitted are more common job titles, such as cordwainer, hostler, and mercer. A useful feature of the work is that whenever an entry notes records housed in the Public Record Office, the precise code letters and numbers at the PRO are given. (See Genealogical Research in England's Public Record Office [RBB Ag 96].) The work concludes with an appendix listing the name and address of the principal County Record Offices in Great Britain, arranged by county or region. For comprehensive genealogy collections.
"Once you have it, the Companion will remain a treasured part of your reference library..." Kitchener-Waterloo Record
`Reliable works of reference are a boon and a blessing to scholars, teachers, amateur enthusiasts and the reading public alike, and this volume will be warmly welcomed ... all historians working in the field of British history should have the book on their shelves as a most convenient and accessible guide: it is ideally useful for the study of much more than 'local and family history' narrowly defined ... a most companionable volume, a guide to current knowledge as well as a stimulus for further work, well produced and excellent value.' G C F Forster, History, January 2000