G W Marshall’s The Genealogist’s Guide,1903 now available online for Society of Genealogists members

G W Marshall’s The Genealogist Guide, 1903 is now available online for Society of Genealogists members.

In 1906 a writer in the journal The Genealogist wrote “In every part of the world where the history of English families excites any interest, this book is well known and highly appreciated”.  Modern day genealogists still appreciate and regard The Genealogist’s Guide as a signpost  to printed and published genealogies published in the 19th Century or earlier.

Arranged by surname, The Genealogist’s Guide lists printed family history information to be found in local and county histories, biographical studies, national and local periodicals, transactions of county archaeological and record societies and a multitude of out of the way or forgotten books containing pedigrees and family histories; although from their titles many would not be expected to contain family histories.

Finding these titles can be a challenge as they are mostly now out of print and rare. However many are in the Library of the Society of Genealogists and thus The Genealogist’s Guide can be considered a practical guide to printed genealogies at the  Society of Genealogists. If you find an interesting citation then check the Society’s Library Catalogue to see if that title is held in the library. If you can’t visit the Society to look at the item yourself, then you can request a copy to be made through the Society’s search/and copy service.

Over a period of forty years  Marshall made notes of every tabular or narrative family history that he came across which gave at least three generations in the male line. He first indexed the pedigrees in the heraldic visitations and published his “Index to the Pedigrees contained in the Heralds’ Visitations in 1866 following with a “Catalogue of Pedigrees hitherto unindexed” in 1867. These he combined, with other material, in the first edition of The Genealogists Guide in 1879 with further editions appearing in 1885,1893,and 1903 thus superseding predecessors such as James Coleman’s “General Index to Printed Pedigrees, 1866 and Charles Bridger’s Index to Printed Pedigrees contained in County and Local Histories, the Heralds’ Visitations etc., 1867)

George William Marshall was born at Ward House, Aston in Warwickshire on 19 April 1839, the only son of a partner in the Birmingham Banking House of Spooner and Atwood. He took his first interest in genealogy while an undergraduate at Cambridge, having entered Magdalene College there in 1858. He passed to the Middle Temple in 1862 and was called to the Bar in 1865. A year later he published a history of his Mother’s family “Collections for a Genealogical Account of the Family of Comberbach” and in 1868 “A pedigree of the Descendants of Isaac and Rebecca Marshall of Perlethorpe, co Nottingham”. In 1883 he published the two volumes of his great “Miscellanea Marescalliana” which was of the first studies dealing generally with families of the same surname in the nature of what we might call One Name Study today. In 1887 he published two other family histories “Notes on the Surname Hall” and “Collections Relating to the Surname Feather”. For the Harleian Society he edited Visitation Pedigrees for Nottinghamshire and “Le Neve’s Pedigrees of Knights” and also privately edited Visitation pedigrees for Wiltshire and Northumberland.

He edited transcripts of several Nottinghamshire parish registers his extensive practical experience in transcribing wills and his practical knowledge of where particular records might be found enabled him to print his “Handbook to the Ancient Courts of Probate”, revised 1895. Moreover between 1891 and 1904 he published various lists of published and manuscript copies of Parish Registers which were not altogether superseded until the Society of Genealogists published in Catalogue of Parish Registers in its Possession in 1937 and the National Index of Parish registers in 1939.

G W Marshall became a LL.D of his old University in 1874 having been elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries two years previously. He was one of the founders of the Harleian Society (1869) and of the Parish Register Society and was appointed Rouge Croix Persuivant of Arms at the College of Arms in 1887, becoming York Herald in 1904. He died at Holmbush Barnes on 12 September 1905 and was buried at Sarnesfield in Herefordshire, having bought the Sarnesfield Court estate.









Similar bibliographies arranged along the same lines supplemented Marshall’s work and were published after his death. Researchers are recommended to look at the following titles for information about later printed and published genealogies:

A Genealogical Guide by J B Whitmore, 1953
A Catalogue of British Family Histories by T R Thomson, 1920
The Genealogist’s Guide by G B Barrow, 1977
Scottish Family History by M Stuart, 1930
Scottish Family A Histories held in Scottish Public Libraries by J P S Ferguson, 1986
Bibliography of Irish Family History and Genealogy  by B de Breffny, 1974
• Bibliography of Irish Family History by E Maclysaght, 1982

All these works can be found at the Society’s library as can many of the titles cited therein.


Introduction by Anthony Camp to the facsimile reprint of The Genealogist’s Guide, 1973
The Dictionary of National Biography

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