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Originally Collected by Thomas Blount and Republished with

Large Additions and Improvements in 1784 and 1815

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A REPRINT, after a lapse of nearly sixty years, of a work of such established and well-merited reputation as Blount's Fragmenta Antiquitatis, or Focular Tenures, did not seem to require an apology. In reproducing the book in a more convenient form than that of the large quarto of 1815-a volume which has become scarce and dear-certain changes, which it is hoped will be regarded as improvements, have been made. An alphabetical arrangement of the contents has for the first time been adopted; the explanatory notes have been revised, and placed by themselves in a Glossary at the end ; and a variety of misprints and other errors--a greater number, it is to be confessed, than was anticipated—have been removed. The corrections introduced into the new impression have, in fact, been on a most extensive scale; and when it is recollected that in such a work accuracy is of peculiar value, it may not be claiming too high a character for these corrections to add that they are, on the whole, of considerable importance, since the text of 1815 was found, on a careful examination, to abound with mistakes vital to the sense. The formation of a separate glossary got rid of a certain typographical complication, and of a series of useless repetitions and cross-references, in addition to an index to the notes, now rendered superfluous; and the alphabetical plan, besides superseding the necessity for an Index of Places, has gathered into a single point of view the notices of particular localities and their tenures, previously given in a scattered and confused shape.

In regard to the new matter, which is comparatively limited in extent, amounting perhaps to rather more than one hundred new articles, it may be remarked that a considerable number of authorities has been consulted in the hope of obtaining desirable accessions to the work, and of course a catalogue of mere tenures

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Preface to the Fourth Edition.

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might have been interminably augmented; but the scope of inquiry was restricted by the consideration, that in each case it was obviously essential to show the existence either of a custom or a service.

At the same time, it may be convenient to take this opportunity of explaining that the Editor did not feel it indispensable, even where undescribed tenures, involving customary obligations, presented themselves, to insert such in all instances, inasmuch as it frequently occurred that the practice was one of which our pages possessed already abundant examples or types, and which exhibited no particular feature of interest.

A certain amount of revision has also been extended to the names of places and persons, but it was considered that in some degree the obsolete forms of these might have their archæological value. In other cases they have, no doubt, been ignorantly or carelessly corrupted; but it was not always practicable to rectify this defect, especially where extinct proper names, obscure localities, or mere manors which are no longer capable of identification, were concerned.

The arrangement and correction of the glossarial matter has amounted, in the long run, to a new writing of the better part; so many repetitions, mistakes, and contradictions presented themselves in preparing this portion of the work for the press, and so many places occurred in which the note, as it stood, was unintelligibly confused.

Notwithstanding the errors of the former edition, there are, perhaps, few publications of the kind and period which are more exempt from censure on that account; and the highest credit is due to the Beckwiths for the zeal and ability with which they successively corrected and supplemented the imperfect labours of the original compiler.

There is no doubt that, by a process of elaborate research and patient investigation, a large body of additions might have been accumulated; but it was considered that, in the first place, Blount's book carefully revised, with certain necessary improvements, presented, for a general treatise, a very abundant store of examples belonging to all descriptions and types of tenures; and secondly, that the adoption of an exhaustive principle would have swollen the work far beyond practicable limits.

The general tenor and instruction of the following pages will be, that our ancient landed gentry, in return for certain privileges

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