We owe a great deal to the many people who have researched the history of Surrey in the past and written up and published books containing their work. Without this much information they recorded would have been lost forever. It was often hard work as William Bray described in the Preface to The History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey (vol. 2, 1809):
'The qualifications required for a work of this kind are, industry in searching for records and papers, patience in examining, and accuracy in extracting them'.
One of the first county histories was that by John Aubrey, begun in 1672, but not published until 1718, over 20 years after his death.
Two further histories of Surrey were published by Nathanael Salmon, in 1736, and Daniel Lysons, in 1792. Lysons became curate of Mortlake in 1784 and of Putney in 1790. Encouraged by Horace Walpole of Strawberry Hill, he wrote this book in four volumes between 1792 and 1796. Lysons work is based far more on original records than previous county histories. He used registers of baptism and burial to estimate population and study the effects of epidemics. He used manuscripts at Lambeth Palace to trace the history of benefices and delved into the records of central government. He and his brother, Samuel, also drew and sketched many plates for the book.