Lewis Topographical Dictionaries
Samuel Lewis produced a series of "Topographical Dictionaries" in the early 19thC. These were large and impressive publications with a list of places together with associated maps and indexes. The text describing places was often very long and covered subjects such as Ecclesiastical Management, Soil Conditions, Farming Standards, Houses of Note, and Schools.
The Lewis Topographical Dictionaries are available on the Internet Archive website in pdf format. The data below has been derived by processing the Lewis pdf files as follows:
- Digital text has been extracted by OCR.
- Software has been designed and run to:
- clean up the extracted text
- parse the extracted text
- extract the fields associated with each placename entry
- create an html file to form an index
- create a file of extracted text for each entry
The intention has been to produce a placename gazetteer rather than the complete dictionary provided by Lewis. The full text of each entry has been made available, linked from the Placename field. However, because the OCR is imperfect, and it was never intended that good quality text should be provided, imperfections (sometimes significant) remain in the text files.
Notwithstanding the intention to produce only a placename gazetteer, in the case of London, Norwich and York, the text has been reformatted in order to retain Lewis' tables of parishes, livings, etc.
The fields for each country differ slightly because of the specific country's administrative structure, e.g., Ireland has Provinces and Baronies whereas Scotland has Wards, Districts and the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. England has been divided into the 4 volumes provided by Lewis.
The extracted data consists of:
- The Placename with blanks replaced by hyphens, and brackets removed. This field links to a file containing the plain text of the Lewis entry.
- Up to 3 alias placenames ("or", "also called", "otherwise")
- Any onward referenced placename ("see")
- The County ("county of")
- For England:
- The Placename Qualifier
- The Wapentake ("wapentake of")
- The Rape ("rape of")
- The Riding ("riding of the county of YORK")
- The Hundred ("hundred of")
- The Liberty ("liberty of")
- For Ireland:
- The Province ("province of")
- The Barony ("barony of")
- For Scotland:
- The Stewartry ("stewartry of")
- The Ward (e.g., "upper")
- The District ("district of")
- For Wales:
- The Old Spelling
- The Union ("union of")
- The Hundred ("hundred of")
- The Parish ("parish of")
- The Type of place (e.g., "sea-port")
- Up to 3 place descriptions (e.g., "market-town")
Qualifications such as "partly" and "chiefly" have been actioned. Special cases such as "Queen's county" have been recognised.
- These are massive html files of nearly 2 MB each.
- The OCR is not perfect, and garbled text arising might be misleading. If readers are to rely on the text, the original Lewis should be consulted in pdf form.
- Special apologies to Welsh readers: the OCR doesn't take account of accented characters, I don't speak Welsh and had great difficulty correcting errors in the Place names and their old spelling. I've done the best I can but there might still be some serious errors.
The following dictionaries have been completed and the indexes are available below:
- England: by county, 1831.
- England: 4 volumes, 1831.
- Ireland. 1837.
- Scotland. 2nd Edition, 1851.
- Wales. 1833.