button to main menu  Otley's Guide 1823 (5th edn 1834)

Jonathan Otley's Concise Description of the English Lakes, 1823.

The transcription, and notes, are from the Concise Description of the English Lakes, by Jonathan Otley, 1823, published by the author, Simpkin and Marshall, London, and Arthur Foster, Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmorland, 5th edition, 1834. The copy used is in a private collection.
source type: Otley 1823


Deciding how to arrange a transcription in 'records' which are destined to become html pages is not always easy. Jonathan Otley's text is well structured in sections with regular use of headings; but to match previous efforts this transcript is made page by page, ignoring the problems that a section or sentence might be split across page breaks. The original markers for the few footnotes are a star (asterisk), which are replaced in the transcript by a serial number within each page.
Somewhen, the text, at present in MODES records, will migrate to xml. At this change the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) should be considered, though that methodology is biased towards academic study of 'Literature' rather than everyday text. TEI would mark up the whole of Otley's text as one document, the particular arrangement into pages for an edition treated as a subsidiary feature. I need to have smaller units as records, which will become html pages. The book here is being treated as an object in its own right, rather than a text which just happens to be in a book.
Some of the exact typesetting has been ignored, though italics and some characters are indicated using html markup. Hyphenation across lines has been removed, judging as well as I am able to retain the hyphen where it likely belongs, comparing with the same word elsewhere in the text if possible. A word split across pages is left that way, but the beginning part of the word is added as inferred data to its continuation on the following page.
Peculiarities of spelling and grammar are preserved; they might be confirmed by '(sic)', but not always: I have typed and have proof read as accurately as I can.
Transcription rules are given in Topics.

Text Indexing

Keywords for indexing the text have been recorded, as well as I am able: mostly using today's placenames rather than the text's version; recognising unnamed places if possible; using locality type terms if nothing else is possible, in particular trying to spot 'stations' ie special viewpoints; indexing objects and topics only if useful. Thus, I have tried to interpret and understand the text to make the indexing helpful and comprehensible in today's world; a basic rule is 'would you want this page if you were searching with this keyword?' The placename spellings of the text are put into the Old Cumbria Gazetteer, where all sorts of spellings are indexed. References to different rocks are mostly indexed by the keyword geology, as I am not always able to make a reliable interpretation of Otley's rock names. Botanical names are indexed with spellings standardsised to today's pattern, but no attempt has been made to regularise the binomial to a modern term.
placenames If Otley's placename is similar but not exactly the same, index under the regularised form, eg:-
    Crummock Water
for Crummock Lake.
If there is probably confusion, then add a locality term to the placename, eg:-
    Raven Crag, Longsleddale
using the place identifier in the standard gazetteer. For streams this might appear as:-
    Sour Milk Gill (2)
If Otley's placename is really different then record two keywords, eg:-
    Bleaberry Tarn (Burtness Tarn) & Burtness Tarn
The first explains what the regularised term refers to, the second indexes Otley's term which would otherwise be unfindable.
Uncertainty is marked by an added detail:-
    Tarn How (?)

Gazetteer Extracts

Chunks of text relevant to each place are extracted and gathered together, and loaded into the record for the place in a gazetteer. This is much easier to use for a place than searching through pages in the guide book; you can go to the original text and read it all in context if you wish. The gazetteer is arranged using standard placename spellings, today's version of the placename, but will be indexable on all sorts of spellings, and by other place data. The gazetteer can also hold extracts from other sources, and map square images, including Jonathan Otley's map.
Not all keywords allocated to the text will prompt a gazetteer entry. Some places in the text will be unidentifiable some keywords are for other topics than places, char, botanical species, rocks, etc.


Jonathan Otley makes little formal use of 'stations' as were proposed by Thomas West in his Guide to the Lakes, 1778. Good viewpoints from which to appreciate a view are suggested, and might be considered as stations. The gazetteer entries, and indexing keywords, use the term 'station' followed with a pertinent placename when this seems a useful thing to do.

Binomial Names

In his botanical notices, Jonathan Otley makes does not follow the regular pattern of leading capitals that we recognise today. In many instances he has a leading capital for the Genus and not for the species, which is now normal practice; but in the same paragraph he will mix this with other styles. When a genus is repeated he might or might not indicate this with a capital letter abbreviation. I have followed his spelling accurately, I hope. None of the variations are marked by '(sic)'. The pattern of a leading capital for genus but not for species is a recent convention. The preface of Clapham, Tutin and Warburg, 1952, has:-
In the spelling of certain specific epithets it has been customary to use an initial capital letter when the epithet concerned is derived from a personal name or is a noun, e.g. the name of another genus, or the pre-Linnean name for the plant. This custom is not made obligatory by the International Rules of Nomenclature but is mentioned in a recommendation attached to these Rules. The use of the initial capital has certain advantages; for instance it conveys some information about the origin of the name and explains the apparent lack of grammatical agreement between a generic name and a specific epithet which appears when written with a small initial letter to be adjectival (e.g. Selinum Carvifolia). We found upon inquiry, however, that many botanists in this country prefer, as a matter of convenience, to drop the initial capital. We have therefore adopted small initial letters for all specific epithets in the body of the book, but have indicated those which are commonly spelled with capitals.
Jonathan Otley's botanical data is not ordered by any obvious plan; not listed by species or place.

Clapham, A R & Tutin, T G & Warburg, E F: 1952: Flora of the British Isles: Cambridge University Press
For indexing the modern style of spelling is used.

Gazetteer Extracts?

The botanical data is NOT used for gazetteer extracts. Instead an attempt has been made to tabulate the data by:-
binomial / common name / habitat / placename
binomial as given, no attempt to modernise.
The few missing binomials have been added, using modern terms, marked by being in [ ]s.
common name as given, except put into lowercase and unecessary hyphens removed to match other conventions in this project.
habitat a simple list of keywords, sometimes deduced rather uncertainly from Jonathan Otley's information, some detail kept in ( )s.
placename standardised terms, matching the gazetteer.
All this means that what you get is not what Jonathan Otley wrote: if you want his form of words you will have to look at the original text. If the data is not edited it remains a confusing muddle, edited it is no longer the original data.

Following Otley

Jonathan Otley's descriptions of his routes use no grid references of locations. He travelled on foot and horseback on roads and tracks that will have changed, perhaps improved perhaps faded away; though paths are remarkably longlived.
When travelling around, Jonathan Otley could presume on other gentlemen. He could ask to cross their private grounds, stand in their gardens for views, and so on. Today this is not possible. As an individual you may be well behaved, even gentlemanly, but the number of people wanting to see what there is to see, is too great for access to be granted so easily to private land.

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