Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Early English Books Texts Free Online

When I read that "the texts of the first printed editions of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Milton as well as lesser-known titles from the early modern era can now be freely read by anyone with an Internet connection" I was doubtful about the genealogical relevance. Now available through the University of Michigan Library are the texts of more than 25,000 manually transcribed documents from the first 200 years of the printed book (1473-1700).

It got a bit more interesting when I read the collection includes "thousands of less famous texts which offer unexplored avenues for discovery. Gardening manuals, cookery books, ballads, auction catalogues, dance instructions, and religious tracts detail the commonplace of the early modern period; books about witchcraft and sword fighting document its more exotic facets."

Still not convinced I did some searches and came across this item from 1698:

A BLACK LIST Of the NAMES, or Reputed NAMES, of Seven Hundred Fifty Two Lewd and Scandalous Persons, who, by the Endeavours of a SOCIETY set up for the promoting a Reformation of Manners in the City of London, and Suburbs thereof, have been Legally Prosecuted and Convicted, as Keepers of Houses of Bawdry and Disorder, or as Whores, Night-Walkers, &c. And who have thereupon been Sentenced by the Magistrates as the Law directs, and have accordingly been Punished (many of them divers times) either by Carting, Whiping, Fining, Imprisonment, or Suppressing their Licenses. All which (besides the Prosecution of many Notorious Cursers, Swearers, Sabbath-breakers, and Drunkards, not here incerted) hath been effected by the Society aforesaid.
There is no genealogical information, just the name and the behaviour which earned them a perpetual remembrance in the book.

If your ancestry is more noble you may be interested in this from 1675-6:
The baronage of England, or, An historical account of the lives and most memorable actions of our English nobility in the Saxons time to the Norman conquest, and from thence, of those who had their rise before the end of King Henry the Third's reign deduced from publick records, antient historians, and other authorities. 
Read more about the collection at and search from

1 comment:

turner said...

Oh, I hope my relations were the scandalous ones!