The Harleian Society was organized on May 28, 1869 in England. Its chief objective was the publication of the Heraldic Visitations of Counties and any manuscripts relating to genealogy, family history, and heraldry.
Beginning about 1530, and continuing into the late 1600s, heralds visited regions throughout Britain, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland for the purpose of establishing pedigrees and ancestry relationships. Many of those regions were visited more than once over a period of years.
This project of gathering pedigrees began because of rampant misuse of coats of arms and false declarations of nobility. As the heralds visited each region, they summoned people who were using titles, or arms, and had them present their arms and proof of their right to use them. If an official grant of arms was made, it was recorded.
The visitation series includes a narrative description of each family, as well as a pedigree chart. Branches of large families were labeled by region, and relationships were clearly defined. Birth and death dates were not usually given. Remember, the visitations are not infallible. The documents presented may not have been accurate, and the heralds may have recorded details incorrectly.
CD: Volume 27, Visitation of the County of Worcester Made in the Year 1569 (1888). Edited by W. P. W Phillimore.