For the period up to and including the early 19th century, The Commoners is the standard genealogical guide to families in Great Britain and Ireland who enjoyed territorial possession or official rank, but were uninvested with heritable honors. In the narrative style so characteristic of Burke formulations, the contemporary representative of the family is introduced with an illustration of his arms, a brief statement regarding his parentage and present position, the names and dates of birth of his wife and children, and such incidental information as might be helpful to the reader. There then follows his lineage, commencing with the earliest ancestor of record and proceeding in a straight line of descent through successive generations, enumerating births, marriages, and deaths and other details relevant to the pedigree. The four volumes together comprise something on the order of 2,000 pedigrees. Each volume is separately indexed, the aggregate total of names running in excess of 50,000.