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Up to the time of this book's original publication in 1883, nearly 2,000 British peerages had succumbed to extinction or dormancy, the result of proscriptions in the laws governing descent. This nobility--dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, and barons--though no longer able to claim title through legitimate descent in the male line, is nonetheless represented in numerous and widespread connections, some of whom retain the family name to this day. Descendants of these noble houses, whether in the female line or a collateral line, today must number in the tens of thousands.
This work sets forth, alphabetically, the lineage of each of the nearly 2,000 noble houses that had succumbed to extinction up to 1883. In preparing the volume, author John Bernard Burke examined public and private records, heralds' visitations, Post Mortem Inquisitions, Patent Rolls, Lords' Entries, funeral certificates, and printed books, among them the works of Dugdale, Douglas, Lodge, and Nicholas. The result is a compilation of unsurpassed authority.
Each article begins with the exact date of the patent's creation and proceeds to the lineage, which commences with the first known representative of the line and carries through successive generations up to the time of the extinction of the title. The lineages are fleshed out with a wealth of incidental detail, including births, marriages, and deaths; references to military and official service; estates; occupations; honors; collateral families; and places of birth, residence, and death. The text refers to about 40,000 persons.