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Let me indicate a few directions in which we may usefully work, and here I would suggest that the ladies and gentlemen composing this society should intimate to the secretaries the subjects in which they are mostly interested, as in this way those of kindred tastes may be brought together, and committees formed for the study of special subjects.
First and foremost I venture to think that the ethnography of the district should be carefully studied, for it is not a matter of little importance when we remembered how diverse are the races which have inhabited our country. The "Races of Great Britain," by Dr. Beddoe, and the memorandum recently issued by the Congress of Archæological Societies, will be found invaluable for those who wish to work systematically upon this fascinating study. Closely akin to this is the subject of the dialect of the district, which I need not tell Nottingham men is a very pronounced one. School Boards though but slowly affecting mere pronunciation, are rapidly extinguishing local words, and it is very needful that no time should be lost in recording them. We want for Nottinghamshire such a record as the "Shropshire Wordbook," a most admirable work, compiled by a lady, the late Miss Georgina Jackson. Who will act as our dialect correspondent, and organise a number of observers in our villages, to collect material for a "Nottinghamshire Wordbook?" Our county is not rich, perhaps, in remains of its prehistoric inhabitants, like Wiltshire or Berkshire. I am told that we must not expect to find implements of the older stone age, though we may meet with those of the neolithic period, and certainly we have remains of the bronze workers, as shown by a find in our town a few years ago of quite a number of bronze implements all together which now are in the Museum, and I presume there may be some barrows or early graves in the county. Certainly we have Roman remains in various parts which will afford plenty of work for a long time to come. What we much require is an archæological survey of the county, and a map properly marked to indicate all our antiquities of a date prior
to the Norman Conquest. Who will undertake this survey? For practical purposes in local matters Doomsday Book may be taken to be the commencement of written history. This great record forms the basis of the history of every parish in the county, and I would remind members that now they may read the Conqueror's great fiscal record in the accurate fac-simile form issued by the Ordnance Department. We require an analysis of the Nottingham Doomsday much of the same nature as that which the late Rev. R. Eyton did for Dorset, and the Rev. C. T. Taylor has done for Gloucestershire. Models are thus ready for the use of those who with local knowledge are prepared to undertake this work, which I need hardly tell you forms the basis of the written feudal history of the county.
This feudal history was outlined in an able manner by Dr. Thoroton two hundred and twenty years ago, and now that the original edition has become an expensive rarity, I venture to think that it would be a great convenience and an incentive to carrying out the objects of our society if the "Antiquities of Nottinghamshire" could be reprinted in an inexpensive form. Yet the "Antiquities of Nottinghamshire" is, after all, but an outline, and we need to enlarge it and to add to it. For this it is absolutely necessary that we render available some of the documents preserved in the Public Record Office, London. Few beyond those who have actually searched them have any idea of the wealth of historical material which is there treasured up. There are two classes upon which the society might make a start at an early date— the inquisitions post-mortem and the records of transfer of land, known by the barbarous legal term of "Feet of Fines." Their value may be guessed when I mention that they are practically complete for nearly seven hundred years.
Then another subject, to which some members might direct their attention, will be found in the history of the monastic establishments in this county. Lenton, Thurgarton, Newstead, Welbeck, and Worksop, not to mention the establishments in our county town, deserve fuller treatment than they have yet received. The groundwork will be found
in Tanner and Dugdale, but those works, of course, will need to be supplemented by independent research.
Then we require the parish history to be written, not merely from the aspect of the descent of property to which Dr. Thoroton mainly devoted his monumental work, but to include the ecclesiastical history of each village. One corner of the county, Rushcliffe Hundred, has already been done in a really excellent manner by Mr. J. T. Godfrey, and it is to be hoped that others will be found ready to undertake the remaining divisions of the county. Those who contemplate writing a parochial history cannot do better than consult Dr. Cox's little monograph, "How to write the history of a parish," which will prove a very efficient guide.
Our ecclesiastical and domestic architecture will readily form a special subject, and we want our churches to be properly surveyed, and photographs and drawings made by those competent to deal with them from a technical point of view. Our architectural members might form themselves into a committee for dealing with this subject in a systematic manner. Then such comparatively minor subjects as church plate and church bells should receive special attention in this county as they have done elsewhere. The monumental inscriptions of the county have so far been hardly touched, and they ought undoubtedly to be at once transcribed and printed, for paper is more lasting than brass, and yearly their destruction goes on. Fortunately a start has been made. Most of those in the Hundred of Rushcliffe have been printed, and my associate, Mr. Standish, has undertaken to continue the work, but it need hardly be said that he requires help in the task. And undoubtedly the more important memorials, such as brasses and effigies, should be sketched or photographed.
This subject brings us to the question of the family history and heraldry of the county, which, after all, is the history of ourselves, and it cannot but add to our interest in a district to realise that our ancestors right back in the centuries, may be, were interested in the self-same spots with which we ourselves are familiar. For their history we
must go to their wills, most of which are in York, and to our parish registers. We require very badly indices to the calendars of wills, both in our local probate registry and at York. What has been done in other counties can surely be done in Nottingham. Public interest is, though slowly, still surely awaking to the importance of printing our parish registers. Several have been printed by a member of our council in North Notts., and your secretaries have in preparation a volume dealing in extenso with some of the marriage registers of South Notts. We possess an important series of marriage licences, beginning at an unusually early date. Those at Southwell are still untouched, and Dr. G. W. Marshall, Rouge Croix, has very generously offered to contribute to the expense of calendaring them if some other Nottinghamshire gentleman will agree to similarly assist in this work. Who will accept this challenge?
Lastly, but not least, perhaps, is the question of the photographic survey of the county. Now, when there are so many devotees of the camera, there should be no difficulty in organising such a survey for Notts. It has been done in great measure by Birmingham and Warwickshire, and surely we must not be behind them. Those ready to take up this department will find suggestions in the memorandum upon photographic surveys lately issued by the Congress of Archæological Societies.
More might be said as to the "Work we have to do," but enough has been said in the way of suggesting subjects to occupy the varied energies of our members. The principal duty of such a society as ours is "organisation," and our secretaries will be glad to hear from those who may be willing and able to take up and study special departments. It is only in this way that we can do effective work. To be of permanent value it must be systematic and original, and not merely the repetition in different words of that which others have written before us. What above everything we require is original work-it is not worth while to write up, with the aid of the scissors and paste pot, matter which has already appeared
in print. It is easy work thus to quarry from the collections of our predecessors, but it is work which has no permanent value.
In Nottinghamshire we have an almost untouched field of research before us. A few years in the history of the Thoroton Society will show how far we have availed ourselves of our opportunities.