This database is a topographical dictionary of England, containing information on several of England's counties, cities, boroughs, corporate and market towns, parishes, chapelries, and townships, as well as the Islands of Guernsey, Jersey, and Man. This dictionary contains historical and statistical descriptions of these areas in England, along with maps of the different counties and islands. Information provided in the descriptions include the name of the place, its location, the number of inhabitants, and when available, any interesting facts such as landmark descriptions, industries, prominent individuals, schools, churches, and local activities. This work also includes a map of England that shows the principal towns, roads, railways, navigable rivers, and canals. This database would be very useful for pinpointing a specific locality in England or for learning more about a particular place in which your ancestors lived. Genealogists often find references to localities that are no longer in existence and have trouble finding exactly where that locality is. Historical topographic and geographic works like this can be very helpful in solving these types of problems, as they are more likely to mention these historic places than are the topographic or geographic dictionaries of our day.
Some family researchers believe it is necessary to find an old map to locate an old town. An old map will not necessarily show all towns in existence when the map was printed because small towns might have been omitted.
A useful tool for locating towns is a gazetteer, which is a geographical dictionary that lists place names (for example, those of states, territories, counties, cities, towns, and townships) alphabetically for a geographical region. The type of information given in various gazetteers differs, but usually the state and county (and sometimes township) [for example, in U.S. gazetteers] are listed. This information will help to locate a place name on a map and to determine the town or county in which the major records (for example, vital, land, probate) are located.
Taken from Chapter 3: Geographic Tools: Maps, Atlases, and Gazetteers, Printed Sources: A Guide to Published Genealogical Records by Carol Mehr Schiffman; edited by Kory L. Meyerink (Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry Incorporated, 1998).