Introduction and end matter from Essex Record Office publication A Reproduction of a Map of the County of Essex 1777 by John Chapman & Peter André, 1950.
Between 1675, when John Ogilby published his strip road maps in Britannia, Volume I, showing all the main thoroughfares of England, and the issue of the ‘Popular Editions’ of the Ordnance Survey map (like Ogilby’s on a scale of one inch to the mile), there was a great advance in the preparation of very detailed maps of English counties by surveyors who achieved but little fame outside their own territory and are scarcely known except to geographers.
Of these pioneers, John Rocque, a French surveyor and engraver who came to England about 1734, is perhaps the most celebrated. His maps of Middlesex, Berkshire, Shropshire and Surrey, and his plan of London, 1746, are in detail such as was previously employed only on manuscript estate plans, and served as a model for his successors. Shortly after, the Society of Arts offered an annual prize for an accurate survey of any English county, and this was first won in 1765 by Benjamin Down for his map of Devon which was engraved by Thomas Jefferys, who as surveyor, engraver, and publisher, shares with Rocque the credit of setting a new standard in map production.
Essex was not neglected in this rush of cartographic activity. The maps of the county by Ogilby and Morgan (1678) and by John Oliver (1696)† on scales of one inch to three miles and three-quarters of an inch to the mile respectively have been hailed as the first surveys to show any real improvement since the time of Saxton and his imitators, but almost a century was to elapse before anything like a really reliable map of the whole county – a map which was detailed as well as accurate – was produced. Although part of Essex was included in A Map of the Country Sixty-five mile round London, by John Andrews and Andrew Drury, published by John Stoke in 1776-7, it was not until the latter year that an individual map of the entire county, on a scale of two inches to a mile, was available. This was the achievement of John Chapman and Peter André, of London, between 1772 and 1774; it is this outstanding contribution to the geography, and incidentally to the history, of Essex which is now reproduced.
Their atlas consists of twenty-six engraved sheets, each 21½ by 29½ inches with engraved surfaces 19 by 24 inches. The absence of unnecessary decoration, except on the title-page, is a pleasing feature of the map. The arrangement. as a volume, does not follow the numeration on the plates; the title-page is Plate XXV, the list of subscribers Plate XX, and the key-sheet, showing the arrangement of the plates, is not numbered. Plates I, II and III cover the northern strip – west to east – of the county; Plate IV is a large-scale plan of Colchester; Plate V is a large-scale map of the upper reaches of the river Stour and an inset plan of Harwich Harbour. Plate VI is the country adjacent to the Hertfordshire border immediately south of Plate I, and then the survey continues eastwards across the county until Plate X. By this method, the remainder of the county is mapped on Plates VI–X, XI–XIX and XXI–XXIV.
Only a limited number of copies was printed in 1777 and as few mint copies survive they command a high price. Because of their value the copies in public libraries are normally not available for loan, and owing to size inconvenient for practical purposes such as home study or exploring the country. With its wealth of interesting detail, the atlas deserves to be widely known and readily accessible to all Essex people. These are among the reasons which have led the Records Committee to issue this half-scale reproduction. On this present scale comparison with the one-inch Ordnance Survey map is simple.
To enumerate the many features which the map reveals would diminish the reader’s pleasure in seeking them out for himself, but a few points of a more general nature must be mentioned. The title-page shows an Essex fulling-mill with two cloth beaters; on the left of the tree is a distant view of the Stour estuary with Harwich and Dovercourt churches in the background. The list of subscribers (not reproduced) comprises 216 names headed by those of the Dukes of Gloucester and Cumberland, with some other members of the nobility: the many Essex men – there are no ladies – whose part in local affairs is still remembered is indicative of the wide appeal of these large-scale county maps in an age more leisurely than our own. In the Essex Review, vol. xix (1910), pp. 83-88, following a general account of the atlas, is a list of the nobility and gentry whose seats are marked; this list is virtually a directory of the chief landed proprietors in the county in 1777.
Chapman and his partner followed the lead of their immediate predecessors in the use of conventional signs for natural and artificial features. Hills are shown in what the late Dr. Lynam called the ‘woolly caterpillar’ style; woods are groups of elliptical shapes massed within a definite outline, while individual trees or avenues are similarly shown with the vestige of a shadow. Greens, roadside wastes, and commons are lightly engraved to depict herbage, and saltings are clearly differentiated from marshes. Moated farmhouses are shown as such. Wind and water-mills are distinguished, but not the types of windmills; purposes for which some mills were used are stated, such as fulling-mills. Churches are shown in ‘perspective’ view, with some attempt to denote styles of towers; see, for example, the dissimilar Willingale churches (Plate XII). The lettering used throughout the map is pleasantly varied, and the use of Gothic ‘black letters’ to mark Icening Street on Plate I anticipates the practice by the Ordnance Survey of marking certain antiquities in the same manner.
This is the first map of the whole county to show the course of the minor roads, ‘green lanes’ and even some of the tracks; milestones and turnpike gates on the arterial roads of the time are carefully drawn. The wide expanses of the former ‘open fields’ in North-West Essex (recognisable largely by the unfenced roads) and of the heaths are a reminder that the Parliamentary Enclosure period had scarcely begun. The great alteration in the face of Essex, following the later railway development and the growth of London, the manufacturing towns and the coastal resorts, is perhaps not less remarkable than the absence of change which has taken place in some of the more rural parts.
The accuracy of the map is extraordinary. The surveyors would have been justifiably pleased had they known that their work, when extensively checked with large-scale contemporary estate maps nearly two centuries later, stood the test.
As a source for the study of place-names, the atlas is invaluable. The changes in pronunciation and forms of names since 1777 are often curious; for example, Pharisee Green in Great Dunmow is marked as Fairs Green and Tryndehayes in Rawreth as Trainlay. Chapman is the earliest source for many of the names quoted in Dr. Reaney’s Place-names of Essex (1935), which is a useful companion to any map of the county.
Those whose interest in local topography is aroused, perhaps for the first time, by this reproduction and who are tempted to trace the history of a road or building before and after the date of the survey, are invited to consult the Catalogue of Maps in the Essex Record Office, 1566-1860. This gives detailed descriptions of over 1,000 large-scale MS. maps relating to every town and village in Essex.
Readers are referred to the following books on eighteenth-century and later maps :–
A Description of Ordnance Survey Small, Medium and Large Scale Maps (1947).
E. Lynam. British Maps and Map-Makers (1944).
H. G. Fordham. The Rood-book and Itineraries of Great Britain, I570 to 1850 (1924).
— Some Notable Surveyors and Map-Makers of the Sixteen, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries and their work (1929).
† The unique copy of this attractive map has been reproduced in colour by the Essex Record Office (which acquired it in 1945) on a scale of half an inch to the mile (E.R.O. Publications No. 5).
CHAPMAN AND ANDRÉ’S MAP OF ESSEX, 1777
The original publication of this exceptionally detailed atlas marked a great advance in the surveyor’s skill and the cartographer’s art. Copies rarely come on the market and for many years have been much sought after by collectors. To enable a wide public to enjoy this remarkable map the Records Committee of the County Council has published photographic reproductions at low prices.
Surveyed between 1772 and 1774 and published in 1777 for the use of landowners, professional and businessmen, the atlas shows about 10,000 place-names, 5,000 farms, 400 churches, 400 mills.
BUILDINGS. Except in streets, nearly every house and cottage is shown. Conventional signs denote windmills and watermills. The principal seats and their owners, and most of the manor-houses and farmhouses, are named.
ROADS. This is the first printed map of Essex to show minor roads. Bridges, milestones and turnpike gates are indicated.
THE COUNTRYSIDE. Parks, woods, and heaths – mostly named – are drawn. The atlas indicates accurately the areas of many a common and village green lost, or drastically reduced, because of the Enclosure Acts.
THE COASTS. Every creek, wharf, quay, ferry, duck-decoy, and cliff is shown. Distinction is made between marshland and saltings.
ESSEX THEN AND NOW … Astonishingly accurate, whenever compared with a large-scale MS. estate map the correctness of the survey of 1777 is vindicated. Originally engraved to a scale of two inches to the mile, the new, easily portable reproduction, is identical in scale with the Popular One-Inch Ordnance Survey Map. If you are exploring the country, you will find absorbing interest in tracing the changes in the face of Essex since 1777.
ATLAS FOR THE WHOLE COUNTY consists of title page and introduction; twenty-four plates and key plate; printed on heavy cartridge paper, size 10″ by 12½” :–
Bound full cloth, lettered in gold … Price 21/- (22/- post free)
Stitched in heavyweight limp covers … Price 8/6 (9/- post free)
Obtainable from Booksellers or from the Essex Record Office, County Hall, Chelmsford.
SEPARATE SHEETS 6d. EACH … … … … OBTAINABLE ONLY FROM BOOKSELLERS.