In the preparation of this Index the effort has been made to include every proper name and every proper adjective every time it occurs and in each different connection; to index under each heading to which it can properly be assigned every historical fact that is sufficiently definite to be tangible and to make each of these references sufficiently full in itself without the necessity of cross references.
In the matter of proper names the Compiler has not felt himself at liberty to abandon the spelling used in the text unless it was some historical character the form of whose name has been rigidly fixed by modern usage. So far as possible, cross references have been given from each form of the proper name to the others, but it will be wise for the user to remember that in the eighteenth century, even as now, there were many forms of the same proper name and that phonetic spelling in the hands of the uneducated produces the most astonishing results. The searcher should therefore be prepared to search for every conceivable and also every inconceivable form of the name in which he is interested.
So far as his judgment would permit the Compiler has grouped the references to one man under his name, but it should not be taken for granted that all the references to John Smith, for instance, found under the head of that particular worthy can refer only to that particular individual. Where there are two or three hundred references to be divided among half a dozen claimants all with the same name and all belonging to the same period the Compiler may be pardoned if his judgment is now and then in error and on the other hand perhaps it occurs that in many cases the references that should be grouped under a single name have been scattered among half a dozen individuals who as far as the name itself goes have an equal right to the distribution of honors. The grouping is simply the judgment of the Compiler from his general knowledge of the subject, aided by the time at which the individual is on the stage with any other help that he was able to secure for the moment. An absolutely correct grouping could be had only by the most minute and particular and painstaking comparison of the facts furnished by the records supplemented by exhaustless sources of outside information.
The arrangement has been rigidly alphabetical and nothing has been allowed to break in upon this order (See Cutter’s Rules).