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Landmarks in British Cartography

Author(s): G. R. Crone, E. M. J. Campbell, R. A. Skelton


Source: The Geographical Journal, Vol. 128, No. 4 (Dec., 1962), pp. 406-426
Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of
British Geographers)
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LANDMARKS IN BRITISH CARTOGRAPHY

G. R. CRONE, E. M. J. CAMPBELL and R. A. SKELTON

I. EARLY CARTOGRAPHIC ACTIVITY IN BRITAIN

G. R. CRONE

aim of this brief paper is first to consider an approach to the early history
The of cartography, and then to suggest some directions in which research might be
profitably pursued. In the past, the interest in early maps has largely been anti-
quarian and bibliographical, and much work has been done in attempting to classify
these maps by a close comparison of their outlines and of the names included in
them. Too much importance should not, in my opinion, be attached to these
features. Many of the individual points used in such differentiation can be shown to
be merely copyist's errors, and place-names have often been omitted, either at the
whim of the copyist, or because he was unable to find room for all the names in his
source material. This is not to argue that it cannot be established that one map may
be the copy of another; in fact a great deal of copying went on. It is now generally
accepted that the largest class of medieval world maps was derived from a late
Roman prototype of the fourth century a.d. or earlier. The main features were com?
mon to many; it is the details that are liable to differ, and to cause confusion.
This late Roman prototype was some centuries later altered fairly considerably
to bring it into conformity with Church doctrine, and it is these features which have
attracted the attention of previous commentators. Without suggesting that these
are not of great significance for an understanding of the medieval mind, I would
point out that an explanation of the presence of the rather jumbled town names,
mountains and rivers on, for example, the Hereford Map, would be of greater im?
portance cartographically. As regards the town names, K. Miller has argued that
there is no evidence for the use of Roman itineraries. However, if these names are
plotted accurately on a modern map, it becomes clear that some of them at least are
derived from that source. A striking example is the great route across the north
Italian plain from Aosta to Ravenna. It can also be shown that the names on the
North African coast are drawn from the same source, the Antonine Itinerary.
It may be accepted, therefore, that the Hereford World Map of c. a.d. 1300 em-
bodies material from late Roman itineraries; by applying a similar method of
analysis it can be shown that this particular map also draws upon medieval itineraries.
An example of this are the traces of the medieval pilgrim route from northern France
to S. lago de Compostella. The obscure word 'Recordanorum' near the eastern end
of the Pyrenees can be equated with the 'Voie Regordane', the pilgrim route across
France. The crossing of the Pyrenees is indicated by the insertion of the town of
Yacca, on the Spanish side of the traverse, and Compostella itself is inserted in the
west. Evidence of contemporary interest and understanding of cartography is also
shown by the insertion of two towns in Gascony which were prominent at the time
the map was drawn, i.e. Fronsac and Libourne. Similarly in Wales two 'new' towns,
Caernarvon and Conway, are inserted. These instances are evidence that the Map
was not regarded entirely as a historical or ecclesiastical document, but that this
version had been made by a draughtsman with some interest in cartography, or for
some one who shared this interest (Crone, 1954). This is not altogether unexpected,
in view of Matthew Paris's work fifty years earlier, but it puts that work in a rather
LANDMARKSIN BRITISHCARTOGRAPHY 407

different perspective. There is another feature, which has apparently escaped notice
hitherto, which strengthens greatly this view; this is the general accuracy with which
the river system of the Yorkshire Ouse-Trent is drawn. As can be seen from Figure
ia, the main components are indicated and the towns are remarkably accurately
placed in relation to them. No other rivers in Britain, except to a limited extent the
Thames, display this degree of local knowledge, and this applies generally to the
rivers elsewhere on the Map.
It can scarcely be mere coincidence that it is quite probable that much of the
Map was drawn at Lincoln, where Richard of Haldingham was Prebendary of
Sleaford, before moving to Hereford, and that he had access to map sources which
have now disappeared. It should be noted that one of the earlier maps by Matthew
Paris {c. A.D. 1250) shows the northern portion of the river system in much the same
way, while another shows the southern portion similarly. The complete representa?
tion, however, is not to be found on any of his four maps. Whether the representa?
tion on the Hereford Map rests on earlier sources or not, it is demonstrable that this
area of England, or more exactly this river system, continued to be the best mapped
in the country.
It is not my purpose to trace here the development of British maps in detail, as I
have dealt with this elsewhere (Crone, 1961; 1962); the remainder of this paper
examines the historical cartography of one limited area.
The Gough Map, now dated at r.1360, develops this representation ofthe Ouse-
Trent river system considerably (Fig. ib); the headwaters of the Trent and the
Pennine tributaries of the Ouse are indicated clearly, though direction is not always
preserved. Another conspicuous feature is the oval-shaped Isle of Axholm, which
in this form was preserved in subsequent maps for another two centuries, e.g. in the
Lily map of 1546. As has been pointed out by, among others, E. J. S. Parsons
(1959), the Gough Map appears to have been the standard map of England and
Wales during this period.
The next stage in the mapping of England and Wales developed in the first half
of the sixteenth century, partly influenced by the development of survey methods
on the continent, in response to demands for more accurate maps from officials,
statesmen and antiquarians (Crone, 1962). This activity bore fruit in the large
Mercator map of 1564 and the county atlas of Christopher Saxton, 1579.
John Leland, the antiquarian, who travelled widely throughout England, sug?
gested in 1546 that a map of England and Wales should be engraved, but nothing
appears to have been done immediately. He had progressed as far as to collect some
map material. One of his sketch-maps has survived, and, curiously enough, it covers
the Trent basin (Fig. ic). The drawing is rather crude, but Leland has disentangled
the Don from the Axeholm area and has a more correct idea than the Gough
draughtsman ofthe direction ofthe rivers (Sheppard, 1912).
Leland's proposal was taken up shortly afterwards by Lawrence Nowell, some of
of whose cartographical work has survived in manuscript, particularly a map of
England and Wales. His representation of the Ouse-Trent area is a little more care?
fully done than Leland's, but on some points, e.g. the course of the Don, is less
accurate (Fig. id).
Mercator states on his large map of 1564 that he was indebted to an unnamed
English correspondent. There has been much speculation as to the identity of
this cartographer; the most favoured candidate is Nowell, whose map may have
reached Mercator through John Dee. A comparison ofthe Trent-Ouse area on these
maps shows that they have much in common, but it cannot be asserted that Mer?
cator's map is an enlargement from Nowell's as we have it (Fig. ie). It is, of course,
th (fttujh

le JSAercator

Figure I
landmarks in british cartography 409

possible that Nowell's surviving map is a copy of a larger one by him and that it was
this that Dee gave to Mercator, but on the existing evidence we cannot go further
than to accept a common source.
In an attempt to establish the relationship of Mercator's work with other con?
temporary maps, and to throw light on the methods of compilation, I have applied
the method used on the Hereford Map to Ortelius's map of 1570 (a reduced version
of Mercator's large map) and Humphry Lluyd's map of 1573. Unfortunately the
available reproduction of Nowell's map is not sufficiently clear to be used for this
purpose.
On Figure 2, the names from Lluyd and from Ortelius are distinguished, those
common to both being underlined. As a first step, I have inserted the main con-

jnmtLloyd.Jdrkby, Snaps,
Jfamesj
Barnard L/ \^ Kam&sj Ortelius.Thinsk, Sruzpt,
JVamesjfrum
Castle Stockton. ? _ ?\~. . Jfamesfrom(joughmarked*

Bowes
?StokesUw
?}Robin-Xood'sBay

JVarduzllertoTi*
?Wensley
MtddUharrt
c \ v y ?Rievauhc
&&&} \ .Tb\rsk* ?Hefmsley
\Newborcnxcjk.
Rjoon'
VovmZains ? ?Crayke
?Pateley ^?Borcnuj
hbridge
'SuMmV
VipUy. \
Xnar&sborotiqh?
'Bolton,Bridge
Weth&rby*
Marewood*

SwiU^jton? I Sd*&.;?.WressU
?U?Ufn* -Rathwell Hemin^brough ^3^.... Systerkirk
Wdkefidd
* . FerrybrUge- *' BlacKtort
Pqntefract*

Thorne.

Figure 2

temporary highroads. A fair proportion of the names, as would be expected, lie on


or close to them, but the distribution of the others is sporadic. It will also be
noticed that all the coastal names from Kingston-upon-Hull to Filey are common
to both, which is perhaps slight evidence for a common source in this area. If these
names plus those on the highways are excluded, eighteen are found on Lluyd only,
and eight on Ortelius. This analysis suggests that, allowing that some names might
be omitted by the engraver for lack of space, each cartographer was interested in
particular areas, or, that they were using different sources. The majority of Lluyd's
names are in the west, and he may possibly have been concentrating on routes across
410 LANDMARKSIN BRITISHCARTOGRAPHY

the Pennines. Where they are apparently indicating the same feature, e.g. a route
from York to Rievaulx Abbey, they give a different selection of place names.
It would appear, therefore, that Lluyd and the Mercator-Ortelius map had dif?
ferent sources for their place-names. Since Ortelius made a somewhat haphazard
choice from the large Mercator map, taking about 50 per cent of the names only, I
have also checked Lluyd's names against the latter, and the difference still holds;
in the area around York, 50 per cent of Lluyd's names are not on Mercator. Lluyd,
at least, can be ruled out as Mercator's anonymous correspondent.
Unfortunately, a sufficiently clear photograph of Nowell's map of England and
Wales was not available to allow all the names to be examined. One point, however,
is clear?the close similarity between the coastal names. In the stretch from Patring-
ton to Robin Hood's Bay, there are nine names on Mercator, and of these eight
occur on Nowell. In view of what has been said regarding the hydrology, and other
similarities, e.g. in Irish names, the relation of Nowell to Mercator is very close
indeed, but further work is needed in this direction.
In conclusion there are one or two general points to be made. The evidence so far
available suggests that, like their predecessors, these Tudor maps were based on
itineraries, portions of which were inserted rather haphazardly into a common
framework. They do not seem, therefore, to be the result of a survey in the field in
any strict sense. This does not apply so strongly to the representation of the river
systems. It is perhaps not going beyond the evidence to suggest that between 1540
and 1560, a good deal of work had been done to plot these more accurately, pro-
ceeding from a conventional pattern which goes back at least as far as the Bodleian
map.
As far as the itinerary sources are concerned, it is curious that the earliest road
book listed by Sir George Fordham is no earlier than 1570?that is, Grafton's
Abridgement ofthe Chronicles ofEnglande. The tables contained in it, however, are
nothing like as detailed as would be required to compile, for example, Mercator's
1564 map.
No doubt our history colleagues might be able to suggest possible sources for this
material. Finally, having studied sixteenth century maps from the above point of
view, one cannot but wonder whether all Saxton's county maps can have been in
fact the results of actual surveys by Saxton himself. The time required to visit each
county would seem to be prohibitive for one individual; also a preliminary exam?
ination of his map of Yorkshire suggests that there are omissions of names similar
to those noted above.

References
Crone, G. R. 1954 The world map in Hereford Cathedral. (Introd. to R.G.S. Reproductions
of early maps, v.)
-1961 Early maps of the British Isles, ad. 1000-1579. (Introd. to R.G.S. Reproductions,
vii.)
-1962 Early mapping of the British Isles. (Scottish Geogr. Mag. 78, no. 2.)
Grafton, R. 1572 The high wayes . . . (In Abridgement ofthe Chronicles of Englande).
Parsons, E. J. S. 1959 The Gough Map of Great Britain, c. a.d. 1360. Bodleian Library.
Sheppard, T. 1912 The lost towns ofthe Yorkshire coast. P.73.
II. THE BEGINNINGS OF THE CHARACTERISTIC SHEET
TO ENGLISH MAPS
E. M. J. CAMPBELL

An interesting theme in the history of cartography is the inception and develop?


ment of the characteristic sheet or, more simply, the explanation of signs. The
need to explain the conventions used on chorographical and topographical maps was
not felt until the sixteenth century and then the first signs to be tabulated and
explained were those which denoted a 'difference of places'. As I have noted else?
where (Campbell, 1952, pp. 426-7) the earliest map extant to carry a key appears to
be Peter Apian's map of Franconia?Das Francken Landt. Chorographia Francia?
engraved at Ingolstadt in 1533. On this map, the symbols denoting Schloss, Dorf
Kloster, Markt and Stadt are tabulated and explained in the cartouche below the
representation of Franconia. In using variations of the tower motif and circle to
*
denote the difference of places', Peter Apian followed a convention established by
Italian line-engravers in the fifteenth century, a convention which the line-engravers
ofthe maps in the Bologna edition of Ptolemy's Geogr aphia (1477) adopted from the
miniaturists who illuminated maps and charts (Lynam, 1941, p. 21). This convention
continued to be used on small-scale maps engraved in Europe until well into the
eighteenth century.
To come to my main theme?the introduction of explanation of signs on maps
drawn by English map makers. The map ofthe British Isles published at Rome in 1546
?reproduced in R.G.S. Reproductions of early maps, VII (Crone, 1961)?has long
been recognized as a landmark in the history of English cartography. In the present
context, the 1546 map is noteworthy because it is the first map of these islands?
and one of the earliest line-engraved maps known?to bear a key to the 'difference of
places' marked. As is well known, the circumstances of its publication are still
obscure. It is associated with George Lily from the initials G.L.A. engraved in the
lower border of the principal cartouche and with other unknown Englishmen from
the signature Anglorum studio & diligentia within the cartouche. Neither the en-
graver nor the publisher is known, nor can we be certain that the former worked
from a fair copy prepared by one of the unknown Angli, or from a draft drawn by
Lily himself. Edward Lynam showed that there are strong grounds for believing
that Lily drew a map of the British Isles, but we cannot teil to what extent he was
responsible for the engraving which bears his initials and device (Lynam, 1934,
pp. 2 and 6). The Italianization of a number of place-names may indicate that the
engraver worked from a draft prepared by an unknown Italian collaborator. Thus
we cannot teil who decided to explain the signs for Metrop[olitanus], Episcopatus,
Comitatus and Castra. The first edition of this map is rare, but it is noteworthy that
of the eight re-issues or derivatives printed between 1549 and 1589, only two bear
keys to the town stamps employed. The earlier of these, printed at Antwerp in
1549, adds the symbol used to denote Communia to the four signs explained on the
original; signed Per Joannem Mollijns, this derivative is rare (at the British Museum,
Maps C.2. cc.2 (7), there is a photograph of the copy in the Bibliotheque Nationale
at Paris). The other copy to bear a key, printed at Venice in 1556, defines only the
four symbols of the first edition; it is signed Apud Iouannem Andream Valuasionem
(there is a copy at the British Museum). The first edition is rare and may have
been 'issued in a limited edition and not for general sale' (Lynam, 1934, p. 6); thus
it is unlikely that it introduced many Englishmen to the device of explaining the
meaning of signs within the framework of a map sheet. The re-issue of 1555 must
have been the edition best known in England. It was by Thomas Geminus who
412 SHEETTO ENGLISHMAPS
THE BEGINNINGSOF THE CHARACTERISTIC

purchased the original copper plates which had been brought to England, but he,
or another, erased the symbols from the margin of the cartouche. No other map of
the British Isles published in the sixteenth century carried a key. This want of so
convenient a device for the better interpretation of a map was in accordance with
general cartographical practice on the Continent at the time.1 This is un?
doubtedly why the county maps of Saxton want for legends. The conventions used
on his maps were in the style of topographical maps engraved in the Netherlands;
Flemish engravers rarely added an explanation of signs. Thus explanations to the
conventions employed were given on only five maps in the first edition (1570) of
the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum of Abraham Ortelius. Very little is known about
Saxton's methods of work, but his enormous task of mapping the whole of Eng?
land and Wales within the space of seven years (1572-1579) can have left him little
time in which to prepare fair drafts for the engravers. So far as is known it was
Thomas Seckford, an official of the Queen's Court, who recruited and paid the
engravers of Saxton's maps and made himself responsible for the publication of the
atlas. It therefore seems reasonable to suppose that he also arranged for fair drafts
of the maps to be prepared for the engravers and that Flemish draughtsmen in exile
in London were employed; they alone would have had the necessary experience.
Fourteen years after the publication of Saxton's Atlas, the first map engraved in
England to bear an explanation of signs was issued?Norden's well known map of
Middlesex which accompanied the first part of his Speculum Britanniae (1593). On
this map, what Norden called the 'difference of places' is distinguished by an
ingenious but simple set of characters?variations on the open-circle with central
prick convention. The fourteen characters are tabulated and explained in an en-
tablature (Plate 1).
Norden's map of Middlesex was a marked advance on his first known map?the
crude sketch which accompanied his meagre description of Northamptonshire which
he had completed some four years earlier.2 This sketch is noteworthy because it
is the earliest known map drafted by an Englishman to bear a marginal index of
letters and numbers. Apart from the introduction of this device, the map showed no
advance on the work of Saxton; indeed it is clearly a crude reduction of Saxton's
map of Northamptonshire. On it Norden used only two signs?a simple building
stamp for Northampton (and for the county towns of the adjoining counties, if
they fell within the framework of the map) and an open symbol with central prick
for all other places. Thus there was little need for a key.
It has long been conjectured that Norden was introduced to the device of insert-
ing a key to his symbols by the herald and topographer William Smith, who had
himself probably first become familiar with it?as with the idea of the marginal
index of letters and numbers?during his long residence in Nurnberg (Skelton,
1960, p. 49). In the design of the earliest known draft of his own map of Cheshire,
dated 1585 (now MS Harleian 1046 folio 132 at the British Museum), Smith ex?
and
plained his conventions for market towns, castles, parish churches, houses
last the simple open circle with central prick). A
villages (the being represented by
similar set of conventions was also employed on the 1588 draft of the same county
draft of
(now MS Rawlinson B 282 at the Bodleian Library) and on Smith's
Staffordshire (now MS Ashmolean 765 e 2 at the Bodleian Library). His MS map
of Lancashire (1598) has similar conventions but does not bear a key (now MS
1 Thus of one set of maps bound together by the Italian publisher Lafreri under the general
title Geografia Tavole Moderne de la Maggior Parte del Mondo di diversi autori, 1560-1570, only
one bears a notarum explicatio; it shows the sites of religious houses in Flanders.
2 At the British Museum, there is a photostat copy of Norden's holograph MS of North?
amptonshire with map, now at the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris.
SHEETTO ENGLISHMAPS
THE BEGINNINGSOF THE CHARACTERISTIC 413

Harleian 6159 folio 2 at the British Museum). Recently, Mr. Skelton has shown that
there is, in fact, 'testimony to direct communication between the two men, which
must have begun before Norden completed, his survey of Northamptonshire
(Skelton, 1960, p. 50).
The great improvement to the lay-out of his map of Middlesex suggests that
Norden may well have modelled it on that of a map, now lost, which Smith brought
back from Niirnberg. Or he may owe its design at least in part to discussion with
Peter van den Keere, almost certainly the engraver, who two years earlier had en?
graved a map of Ireland (Hyberniae Novissima Descriptio) for his brother-in-law,
Jodocus Hondius (Hind, 1952, p. 204). On the other hand, it may well be that
Norden himself invented the ingenious but simple set of characters employed on his
map of Middlesex in an effort to reduce the cost of publication of the first parte of his
Speculum Britanniae. We cannot be certain, but the last is possible because it is
known that failing to find a patron he arranged to publish at his own expense the
full work including the map of the county and the two 'birds-eye' plans of London
and Westminster; and that it was only at the last moment that he received a sub?
stantial contribution towards the cost of publication (Lynam, 1950, p. 17). Cer?
tainly the simple set of characters is eminently suitable for a map on a scale of
approximately 1:192,500 and one which included a substantial amount of detail.
Similar sets of characters to those employed on his map of Middlesex were also
used on Norden's map of Surrey (1594), engraved by Charles Whitwell, and on his
map of Sussex (1595 ?) engraved by Christofer Schwytzer. Each of these maps
carried a key to the 'difference of places'; the map of Sussex distinguished beacons
by a neat pictograph?a beacon crowned hill?which was explained in the key.
By 1594, Norden had also completed 'Speculi Britanniae Pars: an historicall and
chorographicall description of the county of Essex'. Of the three surviving manuscript
copies of his map of Essex, the most interesting in the present context is that which
he presented to the Earl of Essex (now Add. MS. 33,769 in the British Museum), for
it alone included a key to the characters representing market towns, parishes, ham?
lets, castles, houses of nobility and houses of gentlemen. A fine manuscript copy
also survives of Norden's map of Hampshire (B.M., Add. MSS 31,853). It also has
a key (Plate 2), and is of particular interest as the line-engraving of his map of
Hampshire [1595?] is known today only in revisions published by Peter Stent
(c. 1650) and John Overton (c. 1680).x Peter Stent's edition of c. 1650 is interesting
because he inserted a title to the key?'Explanation of the Map'?and also extended
the cartouche to include the pictographs denoting 'woody places', 'divisions for
hundreds', rivers and bridges (no roads are marked either on the surviving MS copy
or on Stent's printed edition), and parks.2 Thus for the first time the key to an
English county map was extended beyond the customary settlement types and
beacons. The only other of Norden's county maps known today is that of Hert-
fordshire; it is known chiefly through the line-engraving of William Kip (1598).
This version does not bear a key to the symbols employed, but it is impossible to
deduce anything from this omission. The only known MS copy of the map of
Hertfordshire also lacks a key (now MS 521 in Lambeth Palace Library).
The desirability of including an explanation of signs does not appear to have been
appreciated by any of Norden's contemporaries, other than William Smith, yet
they must have been familiar with his maps. Neither Symonson nor his engraver
Charles Whitwell thought it necessary to include a key to the symbols employed on
the former's map of Kent (1596);?yet Whitwell would have been familiar with the
1 Camden based his of on a draft of the county by Norden.
map Hampshire
3 There is a copy of P. Stent's version at the R.G.S.
414 THE BEGINNINGSOF THE CHARACTERISTIC
SHEETTO ENGLISHMAPS

device, having, as noted above, engraved Norden's map of Surrey, some two years
before he was employed by Symonson. Of the maps in Camden's Britannia (1607),
only those based on Norden's maps, including his map of Kent, now lost, have keys
to the conventions employed, but they are limited to the signs showing the dif?
ference of places. There are no entablatures of signs to the maps engraved by
Jodocus Hondius in John Speed's Theatre of the empire of Great Britain (folio ed.,
1611). Furthermore, the neat conventions adopted by Norden found no permanent
place in the English cartographical alphabet. His contemporaries and their suc-
cessors preferred variations on the tower symbol embracing the simple open circle,
sometimes with a central prick, to his 'variations' on the open circle alone. In this
connection it is interesting to set the key to Norden's map of Surrey alongside that
of Surrey {Surriae Comitatus, n.d.) in the so-called anonymous series (Plate 3).
Edward Heawood showed that there is testimony to the maps in the anonymous
series having been engraved in the Amsterdam workshop of Jodocus Hondius about
1602 (Heawood, 1932, p. 5). Eleven of these maps carry an explanation of signs
similar to that on the map of Surrey; that of Essex has a different design. This map
of Essex (1602) is exceptional in being the only one of the anonymous series to be
signed by Hans Woutneel?over a half-erased inscription attributing the map to
Christopher Saxton (see Edward Heawood, 1926, p. 330). Woutneel's imprint is
also on the MS of Worcestershire?but not on the engraved version of the county;
see Skelton, 1960, p. 49. The plates for this anonymous series had a long life; pulls
were still being used in the seventeenth century. Heawood believed that Norden
was probably associated with the production of the original edition, but who pre?
pared the drafts for the engraver remained a mystery until a few years ago when
Mr. R. V. Tooley discovered four manuscript maps which are clearly drafts pre?
pared for the engraver of the maps of Cheshire, Hertfordshire, Warwickshire and
Worcestershire in the anonymous series (Skelton, 1960, p. 50, n. 10). These
drafts, now in the British Museum, have been described by Mr. Skelton who has
shown that they 'point with a high degree of probability to William Smith as the
cartographer of the Anonymous 1602-3 series and the intermediary by whom
unpublished information from Norden, Burton, and perhaps other topographers
was collected for it' (Skelton, 1960, p. 49). Perhaps the most interesting ofthe four
drafts in the present context is that of Hertfordshire which is an enlarged and cor-
rected version of Norden's map of 1598. In its lower right hand corner (Plate 4),
there is a notarum explicatio in which the symbols are given in English in one hand,
and in Latin in another hand. Both languages were employed on the copper plate.
On the drafts, the 'difference of places' is shown, as Mr. Skelton has already noted,
by signs in the same style as those used by Smith on his MS map of Cheshire, 1585.
The engraver employed the map conventions then current in Amsterdam (Skelton,
1960, p. 49, pl. XIX facing p. 50).
During the seventeenth century, the number of variations on the tower symbol
representing the difference of places increased and the explanatory tables likewise
grew. How overworked the tower symbol became during the century is shown by
the 'explination' [sic] on John Ogilby's map of Kent (1670) which employed it with
minor modifications to distinguish cities, archbishoprics, bishoprics, deaneries, shire
towns, corporations, market towns, fair towns and Cinque Ports (Plate 5). But even
Ogilby did not consider it necessary to explain the signs for woodland, parks,
bridges and other features.
The extension of the explanation of signs to a more or less full characteristic
sheet took place in England, as on the continent, during the eighteenth century. It
was during this century that topographical maps on the scale of 1163,360 or greater
THE ORIGINSOF THE ORDNANCESURVEYOF GREATBRITAIN 415

became true proportional renderings of the ground. This demanded?especially


on the continent where topographical maps were used to aid the movement and
quartering of troops?a carefully considered set of conventions so that every sign
and every letter should convey a precise meaning. Then a full explanation of signs
became essential and indeed was included on many of the maps published by
English county surveyors during the century. A noteworthy example is that on
Richard Budgen's map of Sussex, 1724 (Plate 6).

References
Campbell, Eila M. J. 1952 The development of the characteristic sheet, 1532-1822. In Proc.
Vlllth General Assembly-XVIIth Congr.-Int. Geogr. Un. Washington 426-30.
Crone, G. R. 1961 (Ed.) R.G.S. Reproductions of early maps, VII: Early maps of the British
Isles a.d. 1000-1579. Twenty facsimile reproductions with introduction and notes.
Heawood, Edward 1926 Some early county maps. Geogr. J. 68, 325-7.
-1932 English county maps in the collection of the Royal Geographical Society.
Hind, A. M. 1952 Engraving in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, I. Cambridge.
Lynam, Edward 1934 The map of the British Isles of 1546. Jenkintown, Pa.
-1941 The first engraved atlas of the world. Jenkintown, Pa.
- 1950 English maps and map-makers of the sixteenth century. Geogr. J. 116, 7-28.
Skelton, R. A. 1960 Four English county maps. Brit. Mus. Qtly. 22, 47-50.

III. THE ORIGINS OF THE ORDNANCE SURVEY OF


GREAT BRITAIN
R. A. SKELTON

The national survey of Great Britain owes its origin in the late eighteenth
century to two men?the Duke of Richmond and Major-General William Roy
?one in the administrative field, the other in the scientific. Sir Charles Close's
monograph has deservedly become the standard history of its subject (Close, 1926).
In printing extracts from records now lost, notably the papers of General Colby,
Close performed a valuable piece of historical salvage; but he had not the advantage
of using the archives of the Board of Ordnance (in the Public Record Office) and
the personal papers of the Duke of Richmond (now for the most part on deposit in
the West Sussex Record Office). Without this vital documentation the adminis?
trative processes leading to the establishment of the Trigonometrical Survey in
1791, and its development within the framework of the Board of Ordnance, must
seem arbitrary. Study of the personalities and motives of Roy and the Duke of
Richmond, and of the relations between the two men, exposes the background of
politics, administration and technology against which the concept of a national
survey grew up under the auspices of a military department of government.
English county surveying in the eighteenth century.?In 1799 Captain William Mudge,
director of the Trigonometrical Survey, made some severe criticisms of 'the very
erroneous state' of English county cartography (Mudge, 1799, P- x*)- The eigh?
teenth century had nevertheless been a period of extraordinary activity in the map?
ping of the English counties. Topographical surveys of every county had been
made, on scales of 1 inch or 2 inches to a mile, by private undertakers. On such a
scale the cartographers could delineate the human landscape in greater detail than
had yet been seen in county maps; and the eighteenth
century county maps pro?
vide precious evidence of man's use of the land and its resources?the
pattern of
settlement and communications, land cover and land utilization, industrial enter?
prise and social life. Yet, technically considered, these maps mark the end of an
epoch in English regional cartography. The processes of survey and construction
employed generally differed little from those in use at the end of the sixteenth
416 THE ORIGINSOF THE ORDNANCESURVEYOF GREATBRITAIN

century, and many of them had as their basis no more than a road-traverse with
topographical in-filling (Gardiner, 1737, ch. v).
Richard Gough, writing in 1780, singled out for particular censure the map of
Sussex published by Richard Budgen in 1724, which (he considered) 'deserves but
the name of a map at most, and even as such is neither correct nor well executed'.
To these strictures he was able to add the more encouraging announcement that
'Yeakell and Gardner, surveyors, propose . . . to publish a topographical survey' of
Sussex, on a scale of 2 inches to a mile, and that the first sheet, dated 1778, had
been 'engraved . . . under the patronage of the Duke of Richmond' (Gough, 178,
II, pp. 297-8).
The three men named?Thomas Yeakell, William Gardner and the 3 rd Duke of
Richmond?were to play leading parts not only in the mapping of Sussex but also
in the national survey of England.
The Duke of Richmond.?Charles Lennox, 3 rd Duke of Richmond, was born in 1735
and succeeded to the title in 1750 (Plate 7). After graduating in mathematics at the
University of Leiden in 1753, he served for seven years in the army and there?
after turned to politics, in which his opinions were liberal to the point of
radicalism. In March 1782 he was appointed Master-General of the Ordnance,
then a Cabinet office. The Duke resigned this post a year later (April 1783), but
resumed it under Pitt in December 1783 and retained it until 1795. Of this, the
climactic, phase of his career more will be said later. He was a conscientious public
servant; but while his political friends (such as Horace Walpole) respected his
intelligence and integrity, his adversaries could represent him as wilful, ambitious
and inconsistent. King George III remarked that there was 'no man in his domi-
nions by whom he had been so much offended, and no man to whom he was so
much indebted, as the Duke of Richmond'. The Duke was a man of wide and eager
intellectual curiosity, whose bounty was enjoyed by painters, engravers and archi-
tects, by mathematicians, instrument-makers and surveyors. As a landowner he
was active in consolidating, enlarging and developing his estates round Goodwood,
in West Sussex; to the lands in West Lavant, Singleton and Halnaker Park which
he inherited, he added the manors of East Dean (about 1760), Boxgrove, Halnaker
and Tangmere (in 1765), East and Mid Lavant (1775 and 1777).
Thomas Yeakell and William Gardner.?Whether the Duke's patronage of surveying
had its source in the management of his great estates at Goodwood, or in his mathe?
matical interests, or in both, we do not know. His household accounts testify to his
regular employment of Thomas Yeakell as a salaried surveyor from 1 November
1758; to his provision for having Yeakell instructed in mathematics by 'Mr Cowley',
in
presumably John Lodge Cowley, Professor at the Royal Military Academy,
to his of in and of
February-March 1759; and employment James Sampson 1763-6
William Gardner from about 1767 as surveyors on regular wages (West Sussex
R.O., Goodwood Papers, Ae/i, Af/i). The wages-book notes against Sampson's
name 'run away Aug* 1766, hanged May 11, 1768' (this was for setting fire to General
Conway's library); but Yeakell and Gardner were to remain in the Duke's service
until, in 1782 and 1784 respectively, they entered that of the Board of Ordnance, in
which they were to remain for the rest of their lives. The Duke of Richmond seems
to be alone among eighteenth century landowners in maintaining professional sur?
veyors in regular salaried service.
No record of Thomas Yeakell's birth has been found; his surname suggests that
he was of German origin, perhaps picked up by the Duke on his military campaigns
in the 1750's. He worked as an engraver as well as surveyor; in the latter capacity
be carried on a private practice, from about 1770, in association with Gardner, no
i. Explanation of signs on John Norden's map of Middlesex, 1593

2. Detail from John Norden's MS map of Hampshire, now in the British Museum
NOTARVM EXPLICATIO.
^k'Z ty<^&*
m

3. Explanation of signs on early maps of Surrey: above, anonymous map {undated)


below map by Norden, 1594

tllllf

?iililii|llSlali|pf^?

#' !l^i^|^l|IiillS^S|

4. Explanation of signs on unsigned MS map of Hertfordshire, now in British Museum


5. Detail from John Ogilbys map of Kent, i6jo

W^^M^^^M

^>. ^,-^//;.

Slll

6. Explanation of signs on Richard Budgen's map of Sussex, 1724.


7. Charles, 3rd Duke of Richmond, by Romney
8. The Goodwood terriers of Yeakell and Gardner {details): above, r., ist recension
{20": 1 mile) and l. 2nd recension {6": 1 mile); below, jrd recension {2": 1 mile)
g. Six-inch map of the Chichester district, engraved by Glot:
detail {reduced)

10. Two-inch map of Sussex by Yeakell and by Gardner: detail {reduced)


ii. Six-inch map of the Plymouth region, surveyed by Gardner, 1784-6: detail
{reduced)

12. The Trigonometrical Survey: two-inch drawing of West Sussex, 1804-5, detail
(reduced)
a ^?

v5-? 8
S'?-?

ss
e> ?>2"^

s
.? (/f^*l:^%.
THE ORIGINSOF THE ORDNANCESURVEYOF GREATBRITAIN 417

plans by Yeakell alone being known. He lived at Westhampnett, near Goodwood,


and his name appears in the parish registers from 1764; there his son Thomas, who
followed his father into service as a surveyor at Goodwood and under the Board of
Ordnance, was born in 1762/3, and there the father was buried in 1787. William
Gardner was married at Boxgrove in November 1770, being described as a widower
aged 30, so that he must have been born in 1739 or -40; his earliest private com?
mission for an estate plan, outside the Duke's service, was in 1767; and since a good
deal of work by him alone, not in collaboration with Yeakell, survives, we can
identify his cartographic style with more assurance.
From about 1765, or a little later, Yeakell in association with Gardner executed a
fine series of terriers, with maps, of the Duke of Richmond's estates and manors.
These surveys, now in the West Sussex Record Office, are presented in a form both
ingenious and original?indeed (so far as can be ascertained) unique in their period.
There are three versions of the terriers (Plate 8). The earliest is entirely in
manuscript, drawn in the conventions of estate plans, generally on a scale of 20
inches to a mile. In the second recension, the maps are cut-outs of an engraved
map on a scale of 6 inches to a mile, with the holdings coloured; the device elimi-
nated the costly process of copying by hand. This 6-inch map, which was never
published, is the earliest printed delineation, in English cartography, of an extensive
tract of country?some 72 square miles?on so large a scale (Plate 9). The maps of
the third recension are similar cut-outs from engraved maps at 2 inches to a mile.
Two engravers executed the plates for the printed 'base-maps' used in the second
and third recensions: Thomas Yeakell and Glot, apparently a French engraver.
In the Goodwood accounts regular payments to Yeakell continue until Christmas
1782, and to Gardner until Midsummer 1784 (West Sussex R.O., Goodwood Papers,
A/4). As we have seen, both men, in addition to their salaried work at Goodwood,
carried on private practice as surveyors. Their most ambitious enterprise was the
2-inch map of Sussex announced by Gough?the 'Great Survey', as it was called
(Plate 10). This offered a wealth of detail more common in large-scale plans than in
county maps, as Gough, evidently quoting from a (now lost) prospectus, indicates:
it would 'not only contain an accurate plan of every town and village, but every
farm-house, barn, and garden, will have its place. Every inclosure . . . with the
nature of its fence, whether bank, ditch, pale, or wall, will be described; every road
public or private, every bridle way and foot path will be delineated; the rivers with
their bends, fords, and bridges and each rivulet will be traced. The hills and vallies
will be clearly distinguished from the low lands, and their shape and even height
made sensible to the eye' (Gough, 1780, II, pp. 297-8). The county map was in
fact the child of the surveys of the Richmond manors carried out before this by
Yeakell and Gardner; and the cartographic technique foreshadows that to be em?
ployed by Gardner a few years later in his surveys for the Board of Ordnance.
Only four sheets of the Great Survey, covering the southern half of the county,
were published; the first three dated 1778, 1780 and 1783, the fourth undated. The
financial return had been disappointing, but the cessation of work on the map need
not be ascribed wholly to this circumstance. By this time both surveyors, and their
patron, were in a different service. On 18 April 1782 the Duke took his seat at the
Board of Ordnance as Master-General (P.R.O., W.O. 47/99). On 30 October he
wrote from London to Yeakell at Goodwood about an 'Appointment in the Drawing
Room', i.e. the office of the Ordnance draftsmen in the Tower of London; and
Yeakell replied expressing his wish to have the post. The Duke wrote back, on
November 1, that he could not 'absolutely promise' it? but would 'endeavour to get
it done for you' (P.R.O., W.O. 46/14). On December n he appointed Yeakell
28
418 THE ORIGINSOF THE ORDNANCESURVEYOF GREATBRITAIN

Chief Draftsman at the Tower, in succession to Mr. George Haines retired (P.R.O.,
W.O. 47/100). In 1784 we shall find Gardner conducting surveys for the Board in
the Plymouth area; and in 1787 he too came on its regular establishment.
The Board of Ordnance.?The Board of Ordnance, as reconstituted by Royal
Warrant of King Charles II in 1683, had wide duties and manifold powers (Clode,
1869, I, pp. 74-5; and passim). It was responsible for commissariat and ordnance
supplies to both the Army and the Navy; it controlled the engineer and artillery
arms; and the Master-General was ex officio Colonel of the Royal Regiment of
Artillery and of the Corps of Engineers. In this capacity he was responsible for
fortifications and the military defence of the kingdom. Until 1828 the Master-
General had a seat in the Cabinet and was its principal military adviser; the Board
was eventually dissolved in 1855.
Military surveying and map-making was an engineer service, supervised by the
Commanding Engineer of a district or formation, under the direction of the Board.
A large civil establishment of surveyors and draftsmen was maintained for this work.
These men normally entered the service of the Board, as cadets in the Drawing
Room, at a very early age; Charles Blaskowitz, for instance, was only twelve years
old when, as an Ordnance cadet, he surveyed Narragansett Harbour in 1764. They
rose through four grades, from the highest of which the Chief Draftsman and his
deputy were normally selected; and they were eligible for commissions into the
Engineers and Artillery. Their training was therefore entirely in military survey;
their duties included instrumental survey in the field, compilation, drawing, correc-
tion and copying of maps, and the custody of the maps and plans in the Drawing
Room.
Promotion usually followed seniority, and the introduction of Yeakell?a civilian
?at the top of the ladder, over the heads of men with thirty or forty years' service,
can hardly have been popular. This appointment is characteristic of the Duke's
resolute but urbane methods in public business. He carried out a thorough reor-
ganization of the Ordnance Office, introducing stricter control of expenditure, new
establishments, better terms of service. Some of his measures have a modern look;
just as in 1764 he had forbidden his servants to receive tips and had raised their
wages in compensation (West Sussex R.O., Goodwood Papers, Af/i), so in 1783 he
obtained a Royal Warrant increasing the salaries of the Ordnance surveyors and
draftsmen and prohibiting their acceptance of any 'Gratuity, Fee, or Reward'
(P.R.O., W.O. 54/217).
In his first years at the Ordnance Office, the Duke made proposals to Shelburne
for fortifying the naval dockyards of Portsmouth and Plymouth 'against a regular
Siege' (P.R.O., W.O. 46/18). They encountered violent Parliamentary opposition,
and in the debates 'his Grace's passion for engineering' was likened to an old man
falling in love. The Duke's plans for new defence works were based on recom?
mendations made by Lieut-Colonel William Roy (as Inspector-General of Coasts)
after a tour of the dockyard towns in the summer of 1770, brought up to date by
Roy in 1779, and confirmed by a commission in 1783 (P.R.O., W.O. 30/54, arts.
10-15).
New maps were needed for the work, and this was the occasion which brought
William Gardner into Ordnance service, obviously at the Duke's instance. He was
commissioned to survey the Plymouth region; his instructions were issued on 11
as a
February 1783 (P.R.O., W.O. 46/18); a year later, on 5 February 1784?still
private practitioner?he signed a contract with the Board of Ordnance (P.R.O.,
W.O. 47/119); and his map of the area, at 6 inches to a mile, was completed in the
next two years. This fine map, whose style of drawing closely resembles that of
THE ORIGINSOF THE ORDNANCESURVEYOF GREATBRITAIN 419

Gardner's estate plans, was never printed; but it was to become the prototype for
future work by the Board's surveying draftsmen (Plate 11).
On 3 April 1787 Thomas Yeakell presented his last monthly return as Chief
Draftsman; he had made his will on March 30, and he died at some date before
May 30 (Wills, P.C.C. Major 307; P.R.O., W.O. 47/109). The Duke seized the
opportunity to reconstruct the surveying service (P.R.O., W.O. 47/109). Thomas
Chamberlain, the next in line, was promoted Chief Draftsman in Yeakell's place;
Gardner was appointed to a new office of Chief Surveying Draftsman, 'to rank next
to the Chief Draftsman'; and 'a Surveying party was to be formed, to consist of the
Chief Surveyor and a certain number of Draftsmen'. Besides their established pay,
this party was to receive zd an acre for surveying and drawing two fair plans, at 6
inches to the mile, 'in the same manner as those done by Mr Wm Gardner of the
environs of Plymouth, with these additions, viz1. that they are to be coloured and
that the height of the principal Hills from the level with the Sea and their distance
in the straight line from each other should be expressed in red Ink'. Of this zd an
acre, the Chief Surveyor was to receive *2d, and his responsibility was 'to take great
Tryangles, a general sketch of the hills and their heights . . . and calculate all the
triangles and was also to fill in, if he had afterwards any leisure'. All work was to be
certified by 'the Engineer when there was one'.
Gardner's surveying party went into the field at once. In the summer and autumn
of 1787, with five other surveyors, he surveyed Guernsey and Jersey at 6 inches to
the mile; two of his assistants?Thomas Yeakell the younger and Thomas Gream?
were Sussex men. Both maps were engraved, the former in 1787, the latter in 1795
From now on, the Ordnance records in the Public Record Office show Gardner con-
tinuously employed in military surveys and in the field-work, computation and map-
drawing arising from the trigonometrical survey begun by General Roy in 1784 and
resumed in 1791.
General Roy.?As a young military engineer William Roy had made his mark with
the survey of Scotland executed, on a scale of 1000 yards to 1 inch, in the years 1747-
55 (Macdonald, 1917, pp. 163-6). Although (as Roy wrote at the end of his life)
this was 'rather to be considered as a magnificent military sketch, than a very
accurate map of a country', it brought to light the aptitude for survey which
dominated his career. In 1763, as Deputy-Quartermaster-General, he first formu-
lated a plan for triangulation of the whole country, in which the map of Scotland
would be incorporated. The scale of the map was to be 1 inch to 1 mile. Many
years later he wrote: 'On the conclusion of the peace of 1763 it came for the first
time under the consideration of Government to make a general survey of the whole
island at public cost' (Roy, 1785). This project, which was to be directed by Roy,
seems to have been turned down as 'a Work of much time and labour, and attended
with great Expence to the Government' (Windsor, Georgian MS 314).
In 1765 Roy had been appointed Inspector-General of Coasts under the Board of
Ordnance, with responsibility for coastal defence. To his pen we may attribute an
unsigned scheme, dated 24 May 1766, in the Royal Archives at Windsor, for making
'a General Military Map of England' (Windsor, Georgian MS 314). In this
modest project, which could be executed 'at a moderate Expence', Roy proposed to
make use of existing materials by correcting and combining the published
county
maps and running 'Serieses [sic] of Triangles along the Coast, and along the Ridges
of Hills and principal Rivers'; but his grander geodetic vision, 'to render the Work
of more extensive and general use', is not concealed. The 'great Base of the first
Triangle serving as the Foundation of the Work' was to be 6 or 8 miles long,
reduced to sea level; and the principal triangles were to be carried along 'one
grand
420 THE ORIGINSOF THE ORDNANCESURVEYOF GREATBRITAIN

Meridian line, thro' the whole extent of the Island, marked by Obelisks . . , like
that thro' France'. In this way an are of 8*2 degrees of the meridian would be mea?
sured, 'intermediate to those measured in France and at the Polar Circle'; and a
more accurate determination of the 'spheroidical figure of the Earth' could be
obtained. Emphasis is laid on precise delineation of the topography, 'with respect
to Military purposes'; and Roy concludes that, 'if particular Buildings & Inclosures
or Fields were to be represented truely topographically', a proper scale for the map
would be i inch, or ix4 inches, to the mile.
Here, not for the first time nor for the last, we find Roy's mind ranging beyond the
requirements of military engineering and coastal defence, to which he was bound by
his Ordnance duties, to those of a national survey?and indeed making use of the
former to promote his concept of the latter.
Roy's second project was stopped by the American War, and his ideas had time
to mature. In 1783?'for my own private amusement', as he tells us?he measured
a base 'across the fields' between Marylebone and St Pancras, and observed a
series of triangles in and round London (Roy, 1785, p. 388). In 1784, under the
auspices of the King and the Royal Society, operations were begun for connecting
the observatories of Greenwich and Paris by triangulation. Roy measured a base of
five miles on Hounslow Heath, and three years later the triangles to Dover and
across the Straits were completed (Roy, 1785; Roy, 1790). The instrument used
was the 3-foot altazimuth theodolite?the 'great theodolite' they called it?con?
structed by Jesse Ramsden for the Royal Society at the King's expense. This gave
azimuthal readings within 2 seconds of are at 70 miles. Although Roy, a temperate
man, was driven by Ramsden's procrastination to the use of language so violent
that it had to be excised from his Royal Society paper of 1790 before printing, it
was upon the technological accomplishment of the London instrument-makers that
the standards set by Roy for the national survey depended (Plates 13, 14).
The Trigonometrical Survey.?Roy envisaged both his surveys of the invasion coasts
and his triangulation of south-east England as (in his words) 'the foundation of a
general survey of the British Islands' (Roy, 1790). In his letter of 28 June 1784 to
the Royal Society, he recalled 'that many years ago it was in agitation to carry on a
survey ofthe whole Island, whereof I was to have had the Direction', and he recom?
mended Hounslow Heath for the base-line as 'being very conveniently situated for
. . . any future operations His Majesty may please to order to be extended . . . to
more remote parts ofthe Island' (Royal Society Minutes, 29 July 1784).
The specifications for the national survey are prescribed in Roy's writings. At
the end of his Royal Society papers of 1787 and 1790 he laid down the plan for the
basic geodetic and trigonometrical operations. Among his papers in the Public
Record Office is an undated (and unpublished) memorandum, written by him for
the Duke of Richmond and setting out 'general Instructions for the Engineers to be
employed in surveying the Coast and Districts of the Country near it' (P.R.O.,
W.O. 30/54, art. 22). Later?evidently between 1785 and 1790?Roy revised this
paper as a directive for a map of 'the Island in general' on a scale of 1 inch to a mile.
The revisions show how Roy's professional thought came increasingly to be directed
towards the project ofthe national survey, for which in fact the document as amended
furnishes the specification; and, as the technical charter of the first Trigonometrical
Survey, it is printed below (pp. 423-6).
Roy's base-measurement and triangulation had been carried out with technical
assistance, in men and equipment, furnished by the Duke of Richmond as Master-
General ofthe Ordnance; but when he died in June 1790 no regular establishment
existed for continuing the trigonometrical survey which he had begun.
THE ORIGINSOF THE ORDNANCESURVEYOF GREATBRITAIN 421

The Duke in due course provided for the prosecution of Roy's work. In June
1791 he took 'His Majesty's Pleasure for proceeding with the Trigonometrical
Operation begun by the late Major General Roy', and he 'procured from Mr
Ramsden a proper Instrument for this Purpose' (P.R.O., W.O. 46/22). On July 10
the Master-General informed the Board that he had appointed 'Major Williams and
Lieutenant Mudge of the Royal Regiment of Artillery to carry on the Trigono?
metrical Survey with the Assistance of Mr Dalby' (P.R.O., W.O. 46/22). Under
these officers the surveying draftsmen of the Board's civil establishment were to be
employed on the work.
The 'proper Instrument' was the second 3-foot theodolite (now in the Science
Museum), constructed by Ramsden to the order of the East India Company for
triangulation in India, but not delivered because of a business disagreement
(Phillimore, 1945, pp. 164-6). As Close points out, the suggestion made by the
earliest official historians of the survey (Mudge, 1899, p. 204), that the 'casual
opportunity' of purchasing 'a very fine instrument' prompted the Duke to resume
the survey, 'appears to be quite inadequate' (Close, 1926, p. 29); and it can hardly
be doubted that the measures which he took in 1791 were dictated equally by con?
siderations of national policy, by his personal interest in topographical survey, and
by his desire (as Colby wrote many years later) 'to support the scientific reputation
of the Country and to improve the Corps under his Command' (P.R.O., W.O.
44/614).
Roy's revised memorandum to the Duke had defined the principles on which the
survey was conducted. The primary tasks of base-measurement and 'determination
of the great triangles' were assigned to the senior engineer on the spot; 'the filling in
or surveying of the interior parts of the great triangles', to subordinate surveyors
using 'the small Theodolets and chains provided'. They were to make measured
traverses of the coast, river-courses, roads and lanes. Not only were boundaries of
'Forests, Woods, Heaths, Commons, or Marshes' to be surveyed; but also 'in the
enclosed parts ... all the Hedges, and other Boundaries of Fields are to be care?
fully laid down'. Such detail could not be represented 'on a less scale than two
Inches to a mile'; this was in fact the standard scale adopted for the survey and
manuscript maps. All these, wrote Roy, 'may afterwards be reduced to a Scale of
one Inch to a mile for the Island in general'; and this was to be the scale of the map
engraved from the surveyors' drawings.
In 1791 Roy's Hounslow Heath base was remeasured, and in the following sum?
mer triangulation was carried southward through Surrey and West Sussex. In
1793-4 tne surveying parties were in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The re?
mainder of Sussex and most of Kent were triangulated in 1795-6. William Gardner,
who in 1794 succeeded Chamberlain as Chief Draftsman (his former office of Chief
Surveying Draftsman being abolished), was engaged in all these operations; and
Mudge acknowledged, in 1792, 'the services of Mr. Gardner . . . by whose assis?
tance, from his intimate knowledge of the County of Sussex, we have been able to
determine, with certainty, the names of many places, which we might otherwise
have considered as doubtful'. In setting up the station at Rook's Hill, just east of
the Trundle at Goodwood, Gardner was indeed on familiar ground (Plate 15).
While he was promoting the national survey, the Duke of Richmond did not
neglect the mapping of his own county. In June 1791 Gardner and Thomas
Gream announced a i-inch map of Sussex, to satisfy 'the wish of many Gentlemen
that if the Great Survey [that is, the 2-inch map of Yeakell and Gardner] cannot be
completed, one at least as good as that of any other County should be published'.
(Gream had resigned from the Ordnance service in April 1791 to take up private
422 THE ORIGINSOF THE ORDNANCESURVEYOF GREATBRITAIN

practice.) In the summer of 1792, Mudge tells us, 'at the time of our visiting the
station on Hindhead . . . we received instructions from his Grace the Duke of
Richmond, to be minute in our Survey of Sussex; and to furnish Mr. Gardner . . .
with materials for correcting a Map of that county, intended, at some future period,
to be published under the patronage of his Grace'. During the next two years,
accordingly, 'Mr. Gardner generally attended us, having been supplied with suffi?
cient materials for correcting all the southern and western parts of his map' (Mudge,
1799, pp. xi-xii).
The map advertised for 1792 was not ready until June 1795, when it was published
by William Faden with a dedication to the Duke. The title states that the survey
was 'begun by W. Gardner and the late T. Yeakell, completed by Thomas Gream'.
Although on half the scale, the topographical survey is little less detailed than that
of the 2-inch map. As it is constructed from the data of the official triangulation,
this might well be considered the first printed map of the Trigonometrical Survey.
In these years Gardner was also kept busy with computation and map-drawing
for the Trigonometrical Survey. Mudge recorded that 'a great part of the objects
[i.e. trigonometrical points] in Sussex, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight were
verified by Mr Gardner'; in 1795 he was observing triangles in Kent with the
theodolite; and he checked the trigonometrical data for Essex and parts of Suffolk
and Hertfordshire. In 1799 he completed 'in a masterly manner' the drawing ofthe
i-inch map of Kent which was published, from Ordnance materials, by Faden on
1 January 1801, ten months after Gardner's death.
Conclusion.?The Duke of Richmond was dismissed from the office of Master-
General of the Ordnance in 1795, eleven years before his death. William Gardner
died in Ordnance service in March 1800. In December of the same year, the sur?
veyors on the Board's civil establishment were by Royal Warrant constituted into a
'Corps of Royal Military Surveyors and Draftsmen, to be subject to the Rules and
Discipline of War' (P.R.O., W.O. 55/421); the Corps was disbanded, as a post-war
economy, in 1817 (P.R.O., W.O. 44/517).
In 1799 Mudge had written that 'in the Survey now carrying on, our operations
are intimately connected with those of Mr Gardner, as very important advantages
have accrued to Government from the accuracy with which their plans have been
made. This has arisen from the union of the parties'. By this he meant the col-
laboration between the military surveyors and the draftsmen of the civil branch.
Mudge's statement vindicates the introduction of Yeakell and Gardner to office
under the Board by the Duke of Richmond. The continuity of cartographic tradi?
tion in England is exemplified no less by these appointments, of men who had learnt
their trade in estate and county surveying, than by the affinity of their topographical
workmanship in private practice and in public service. By putting in harness to?
gether the civilian surveyor and the military engineer, the Duke created the national
survey of Great Britain, fitly known as the Ordnance Survey.

References
Original records
British Museum, Map Room
Surveyors' drawings for the Trigonometrical Survey of England and Wales, 1791-1842.
Public Record Office: Board of Ordnance papers
W.O. 30/54-60 (Invasion and defence; W.O. 30/54, 'General Roy's Papers'); W.O. 44/517
(Corps of Military Surveyors and Draftsmen); W.O. 44/614 ('Precis ofthe Progress ofthe
Ordnance Survey . . . 1783-1834, by Ll Colonel Colby'); W.O. 46 (Out-letters of Master-
General and Board); W.O. 47 (Minutes of Board); W.O. 54/197-236 (Establishments);
W.O. 55/330-538 (Warrants); W.O. 78 (Maps and plans).
THE ORIGINSOF THE ORDNANCESURVEYOF GREATBRITAIN: APPENDIX 423

Royal Society
Minute-books of Council, vols. 6-7 (1769-1810).
Somerset House
Wills of Thomas Yeakell (proved 23.vi.1787; P.C.C. Major 307) and William Gardner
(proved 3.iv.i8oo; P.C.C. Adderley 275).
West Sussex Record Office, Chichester: Goodwood Papers
Household Accounts; Letter-books; Maps and plans.
Windsor, Royal Library
Georgian MS 314 ('Considerations on the Propriety of making a General Military Map of
England . . .*, dated 24 May 1766). Printed in Fortescue, Sir J. (ed.), The Correspondence
of King George the Third, I (1927), 328-34.
Parish Registers of Boxgrove (Sx) and Westhampnett (Sx).
Printed works
Clode, C. M. 1869 The Military Forces of the Crown.
Close, Sir Charles 1926 The early years of the Ordnance Survey. Chatham.
Gardiner, William 1737 Practical Surveying Improved.
Gardner, William, and Gream, Thomas 1791 Proposals for publishing a New Plan of the
County of Sussex. Sussex Weekly Advertiser or Lewes Journal, 6 June 1791.
Gough, Richard 1780 British Topography.
Macdonald, George 1917 General William Roy and his 'Military Antiquities of the Romans
in North Britain*. Archaeologia 68, 161-228.
Mudge, William, et al. 1799 An Account of the Operations carried on for accomplishing a
Trigonometrical Survey of England and Wales. vol. I [1784-96]. W. Faden.
Phillimore, R. H. 1945 Historical Records of the Survey of India. vol. I. Dehra Dun.
Porter, R. W. 1889 History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Chatham.
Roy, William 1785 An Account of the Measurement of a Base on Hounslow-Heath. Phil.
Trans. 75, 385-480.
-1787 An Account of the Mode proposed to be followed in determining the relative
situation of the Royal Observatories of Greenwich and Paris. Phil. Trans. 77, 188-226.
-1790 An Account of the Trigonometrical Operation, whereby the distance between
the meridians of the Royal Observatories of Greenwich and Paris has been determined.
Phil. Trans. 80, 111-270.

Note
The documentation is not as complete as could be desired. There are important defici-
encies in the Ordnance records delivered by the War Office to the Public Record Office. The
invaluable collection of papers assembled by General Colby, and including letters of Roy,
Williams, Mudge and their successors and associates, is now known only in the extracts printed
by Close in 1926; deposited with him by the Misses Colby, it cannot now be traced, and must
be presumed to have perished by enemy action during the last war, with other records of
the Ordnance Survey. The only documents surviving from the first Trigonometrical Survey,
apart from those in the Public Record Office and Goodwood Papers, are the surveyors* plans
in the British Museum and one letter-book in the possession of the Ordnance Survey.
Nevertheless the materials for the history of English military survey, up to and in the eigh?
teenth century, exist and await exploitation. For the opportunity to explore some of them, and
for facilities in doing so, I wish to thank the Leverhulme Trustees; Mr. Francis Steer, f.s.a.,
County Archivist of West Sussex, and members of his staff; and successive Directors-
General of the Ordnance Survey. The substance of this paper was read before the Chichester
Branch of the Historical Association in 1957 and at the International Geographical Congress,
Stockholm, 1960.

Appendix
Printed below is the memorandum (undated and unpublished) written by General
Roy for the Duke of Richmond (see p. 420). It is set out so as to show Roy's revisions
to his original draft. Deletions are indicated by square brackets; additions, insertions
and substitutions are in italics,
The document is unpublished Crown copyright material in the Public Record
Office and has been reproduced by permission of the Controller of H.M. Stationery
Office; its reference number is W.O. 30/54, art. 22.
[Memoranda submitted to His Grace the Duke of Richmond, by way of general
424 THE ORIGINSOF THE ORDNANCESURVEYOF GREATBRITAIN: APPENDIX

Instructions to the Engineers to be employed in surveying the Coast and Districts of


the Country near it.]

General Instructions for the officers of Engineers employed in surveying.


In every District to be surveyed, the first thing to be considered will be; What
situations are the best, for the Base or Bases to be measured, as the foundation of the
work, and for connecting the different Serieses of triangles together ?
These Bases should therefore be as long as the circumstances of the ground will
permit; not less than a Mile, or a Mile and a half: and as often as possible, they should
be measured on the sand of the Sea Shore; because in such cases no Reduction of any
kind will be necessary on account of difference of level.?
Every Base should be measured at least twice; and oftner if there should be any
remarkable disagreement between the first and second measurement.?For this pur?
pose, one chain should be kept as a standard, with which those in common use will be
from time to time compared at least at the beginning and end of any operation, that a
true mean may be taken for the ultimate length. And with a view to still greater
accuracy it will be proper to observe the heat of the Air, as shown by the Thermo-
meter at stated intervals, while the operation is going on.?
The principal Triangles, connected with the Base or Bases, will be such as are nearly
equilateral, formed by the Church Steeples, Windmils, single Trees, or other con-
spicuous objects and in each of these Triangles all the three Angles should be as often
as possible actually observed with the large Theodelet, that the reduction to 1800 may
be properly made.
In many cases it will be advisable and even necessary, to establish signals by Camp
Colours or otherwise on the chief eminences, whose situation being permanently
marked on the ground, so as to be referred to occasionally, will form so many aux-
iliary triangles for connecting the Survey, where other remarkable Objects may be
wanting.?
With regard to profil or elevation, the relative heights of the angles of the great
triangles, are such, as on all occasions should be first determined: Because these being
once settled, the relative heights of all other chief commanding points of any general
Range running parallel to the shore, or to a River, such as an Army would occupy to
oppose the Descent of an Enemy on the coast, or his penetration into the country after
he had effected a Landing, will be subsequently ascertained with respect to the first;
and the whole should refer to Low Water Mark at spring Tides, by some permanent
Mark, taken on a Quay or Wharff, or some other substantial Building situated near
the Shore, to which reference may be had on any future occasion.
In certain cases, the smaller heights near the shore will be best determined by the
accurate application of the Telescopic Spirit Level. But in general, the Business will
be greatly expedited, by taking the Angles of elevation or depression, with Ramsden's
best Theodelet, from some centrical point, whose distance from a number of others
has been already ascertained by trigonometrical computation, and from which point all
the others can be distinctly seen.?
In levelling, if the Telescopic level be adjusted by inversion in its Ys at any intermedi?
ate point exactly half way between the two Station Staffs, the relative heights of the
vanes, or their distance from the centre of the Earth will be obtained at once, without
any allowance for curvature or Refraction. But by the Angles of elevation or depres?
sion, allowance, according to the distance, must be made for curvature and Refrac?
tion, at the same time, that great accuracy must be observed in adjusting the Instru?
ment, and taking the Angles repeatedly, that a true mean may be obtained for the
ultimate Result.?
One method of keeping the Books must be adhered to by all the Engineers, that any
one of them may be able to lay easily down the observations of the others. Perhaps
for common Surveying, the best kind of Book would be one of the quarto size, with
certain Columns ruled on the page towards the left hand to contain the Angles and
measured distances of the stations, commencing at the bottom of the page; while the
THE ORIGINSOF THE ORDNANCESURVEYOF GREATBRITAIN: APPENDIX 425

Right hand page, contained the corresponding Sketch or Eye Draught: or the mode
recommended in the Appendix to these Instructions may be made use of and whichever
found best in practice will of course be adhered to.
The Commanding Engineer on the spot will charge himself with the determination
of the great triangles, and will register in a Book kept by himself every thing concern?
ing them; as well as what may relate to the relative heights, whether determined by the
Level or by the vertical appartus [sic] of the Theodelet.
The filling in or surveying the interior part of the great triangles will [probably] be
executed in the common manner by the Junior Engineers, with the small Theodelets
and chains provided for the purpose. They will [of course] consequently proceed
[along] around the contours and Creeks of the shore; along the great Roads and lanes;
and also along the courses of the Rivers, Rivulets, [and principal Drains or Water-
gangs]. The Boundaries of Forests, Woods, Heaths, Commons or Morasses, are to be
distinctly surveyed, and in the enclosed parts of the Country all the hedges, and other
Boundaries of Fields are to be carefully laid down. althoy the exact Turn of every one
need not be surveyed, if frequent Cuts in different directions are made throi the inclosures
and the direction of thefences laid down where they intersect these cuts, the remainder may
generally be taken by the Eye.
The Risings or irregularities of the ground are every where to be expressed with
care; so as to render the plan truly topographical, by preserving that gradation or
keeping which should distinguish at first sight the higher part above those that are
lower; and these last above such as are quite flat. To do this in the best manner, the
plan of the Lines, or great features of the Country, should be first laid down ; which
being done, the particularities of the surface, will be more readily and truly repre?
sented afterwards.?
The first survey will be made from the Magnetick Meridian; But in every district
it will be necessary by observation of the Sun or Stars to determine a true Meridian;
by ascertaining the Angle that it makes with some one of the longest sides of the
great triangles; whence the variation of the Compass will at the same time be deter?
mined.
Each Field cannot be represented on less scale than two Inches to a mile; which
may be that generally made use of for the [whole] general plan [of the Coast]. Particular
Sea Ports of consequence, such as the Thames and the Medway &c, [would] will
require a scale of about six Inches to a mile. [But] These may afterwards be reduced to
a Scale of one Inch to a mile [seems to be sufficient for a whole County; and perhaps]
for the Island in general, [half an Inch would suffice].?
A Book of general miscellaneous Remarks should also be kept, wherein may be
entered every thing that occurs relative to the nature of the Coast, such as, what parts
of it are accessible, and what not; at what distance from the shore, ships of war may
come to an Anchor to cover a debarkation from Boats; and what sort of communi?
cations there are leading from the Coast to the interior Country, in case an enemy
had made his landing good: also the nature of the soil, how far the clay, chalk, or Gravei
country Extends. Whether there is plenty of Timber and of what sort, and size. And as in
every chalk country the Rivulets generally run underground & the Inhabitants are
supplied by wells dug to a considerable depth; it will be proper to mention the depths
of such wells.
It would also be useful to endeavour to ascertain, what may be the numbers of
Horses, Black Cattle and Sheep, in each district, noting the seasons of the year when
they are in the Marshes or grazing lands near the Coast; and when not ?
When the Engineers have made themselves thoroughly acquainted with any parti?
cular district where they may be employed, they will be able to point out the Routes
by which the Cattle should be driven back on the landing of an Enemy; and the place
of Rendesvous where they would be most secure.
The number of Carriages of different kinds in every district should be estimated
noting the distance of their Wheels, and the width of the Tracks in each Parish.
The Collectors of Taxes will be able to give information of the number of Waggons
426 THE ORIGINSOF THE ORDNANCESURVEYOF GREATBRITAIN: DISCUSSION

& carts in each Parish and the Clerks of the Militia Subdivision Meetings will be able
to say how many men are on the Lists for Balloting in each Parish.

DISCUSSION
Afternoon Meeting, 26 March 1962
Before the paper the Chairman (Professor H. C. Darby) said: This afternoon we
are going to hear three papers, by three people whose names must be very familiar to
this audience. The three papers summarize the results of recent research and are
arranged in order of time and their common theme is the continuity of map-making
activities in Britain from a very early date. The first paper is by Mr. Crone, the
Librarian and Map Curator of the Society. Mr. Crone will present evidence for a link
between late Roman maps and the earliest maps of Britain, and for work in the field,
throughout the Middle Ages down to the sixteenth century. The second paper is by
Miss Campbell, who is Lecturer in Geography at Birkbeck College, University of
London. She will deal with the early development of some of the symbols used on
English maps during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The third and last
paper is by Mr. Skelton who is in charge of the Map Room of the British Museum.
Mr. Skelton will describe the results of his recent researches into the early history of
the Ordnance Survey, emphasizing the part played in its early work by private
surveyors.
Mr. Crone, Miss Campbell and Mr. Skelton read their papers
The Chairman : I think I see in the audience Mr. Parsons who is in charge of the
Map Collection at the Bodleian Library.
Mr. E. J. S. Parsons : I should like to say how much I enjoyed the lectures this
evening and I have just two observations to make. The first, to Mr. Crone, is to ask if
he has any record of a sixteenth century manuscript map of Great Britain which was
advertised for sale, and an illustration given, in Mercurius Britannicus, a publication of
Maggs Brothers, in 1939. The map, drawn on two quarto pages, was included in a
manuscript dealing with astrology and magic and was obviously based on the Gough
Map: it is signed by Thomas Buttler. I only discovered this on Saturday last and I
wrote immediately to Messrs. Maggs and learned that the manuscript had been sold
to Mr. Kraus of New York in 1946. I am writing to him tomorrow to find out more
information. Perhaps Mr. Crone would say whether he knows of this map or of
Thomas Buttler.
The second comment is on the lecture about the Ordnance Survey and the part
played by civil surveyors. These surveyors, indeed, played a great part in delineating
Britain before the establishment of the Ordnance Survey. As Mr. Skelton said, some
became part of the Royal Corps of Surveyors and Draftsmen and were paid a
retainer and so much per acre surveyed. But after the first years of the Ordnance
Survey, we find that Major Colby had no great opinion of them and this dissatisfaction
led eventually to the establishment of the first military survey company when he took
charge of the Survey of Ireland. He said that the prejudice of the civil surveyors
against new methods and the impossibility of bringing them down to a military disci?
pline made the use of soldiers a much better proposition. The first Survey Company
(the 13th of the Corps of the Royal Sappers and Miners) was formed in 1824 and the
second (the 14th) in 1825. Both saw service in Ireland. In 1828 Sir Henry Hardinge
spoke of the services of the Corps on the survey before a Select Committee on Public
Income and Expenditure. He said that when a comparison was made between civil
surveyors working with military officers and 'sapper' surveyors working under their
officers, the pure military combination made the greater and more satisfactory pro?
gress. Not only was it more accurate, but also very much cheaper. That, of course,
carries the story a little further than Mr. Skelton took it this evening. But it does show
that, although the civil surveyors were responsible for much good work in the early
years of the Survey, after 1824 the military took over and carried out most of the
future work.