'The Complete Peerage' (full title: The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom Extant, Extinct, or Dormant; first edition by George Edward Cokayne, Clarenceux King of Arms; 2nd edition revised by the Hon. Vicary Gibbs et al.) is a comprehensive and magisterial work on the titled aristocracy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and, later, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The Complete Peerage was first published in eight volumes between 1887 and 1898 by George Edward Cokayne = G. E. C.). This version was effectively replaced by a new and enlarged edition between 1910 and 1959 edited successively by Vicary Gibbs (Cokayne's nephew), H. A. Doubleday, Duncan Warrand, Lord Howard de Walden, Geoffrey H. White and R. S. Lea. The revised edition (published by the St. Catherine Press Limited), took the form of twelve volumes with volume twelve being issued in two parts. Volume thirteen was issued in 1940, not as part of the alphabetical sequence, but as a supplement covering creations and promotions within the peerage between 1900 and 1938.
It has subsequently been reprinted in a number of formats, most notably by Alan Sutton Publishers who reduced it in size to six volumes in a photographically reduced format (this contains four page images on each smaller page and the text is difficult to read for some people). It is also available on CD. A further reprint in six volumes appeared in 2000, together with Volume 14, which is an appendix, updating briefly from original publication (1910–1938) to 1995.
This is a highly respected source, much more reliable than Burkes.
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About the Author
George Edward Cokayne was born on 29 April 1825. He was the son of William Adams and Hon. Mary Anne Cokayne.1 He married Mary Dorothea Gibbs, daughter of George Henry Gibbs and Caroline Crawley, on 2 December 1856.2 He died on 6 August 1911 at age 86.
George Edward Cokayne was baptised with the name of George Edward Adams.1 He graduated with a Master of Arts (M.A.).2 He was a barrister.2 He held the office of Clarenceux King of Arms.2 On 15 August 1873 his name was legally changed to George Edward Cokayne by Royal lience.1,2 He was invested as a Fellow, Society of Antiquaries (F.S.A.).2 He wrote the book The Complete Peerage, 1st edition, published between 1887 and 1898.1 He has an extensive biographical entry in the Dictionary of National Biography.