Category Archives: Historical Notes

Survey of New Zealand maps: a general review

A REVIEW OF NEW ZEALAND SURVEY MAPS

This information is taken from Sheen N146, of the 1st Series Survey of New Zealand dated 1950

In the 1st Series of the 1940’s the Surveyor General was R G Dick.

The sheet is large.

The OSNZ which here calls itself the NZS, used a transverse Mercator projection at a point of origin which is 175 degrees 30’ east and 39 degrees South.

This map shows 175 degrees exactly on the eastern edge so the datum is 1/2 a degree east of this map area.

This map is at 41 degrees and 27’ 58” south on the bottom edge so this datum is north of here by some 2 1/2 degrees.

The map is called N164, I guess that this N represents: North Island and that the others would have neen coded S followed by a sheet number.

The Grid is somewhat like a British Cassini grid in metre squares and the false datum for this New Zealand grid is 210 km west of here and 100 km south of her (bottom south west of this map). I assume that this false datum is used for North and South Islands but that latitude figure of only 100 km from the datum might suggest that the NZS is using a different datum for the two islands.

The most unusual aspect, from the point of view of an inhabitant of the Northern Hemisphere, is, of course, that the latitudes increase north to south- not decrease.

Assuming that the Meridian for Longitude is Greenwich in London/Kent, this map is, at its south easterly corner, almost exactly 5 degrees shy of the true antipodean 180 degree meridian: though that may not be the same as the Date Line.

The printer on the examined sheet was Mr R Owen of Wellington- the Government Printer.

This series was called the “1st Edition.”

There were no N sheets west or south of that examined, which showed the city of Wellington: that north was N160. That north east was N161; that due east was N165, and that south east was N168.

There was a reliability table printed on NZ surveys and this map rates A which means Aerial Photos, Ground Control and Plotting Machines.

B is Aerial photos and Plane table.

C is just a Plane table

D is Existing Survey records.

Contours are at 100 ft intervals- and the scale is One Inch to a mile so here, as in England, one has a rather curious amalgum, of metric and Imperial. The survey work is probably metric, the National NZ Grid is Metric but the altitudes and scale gloss are Imperial.

The True Origin in the Transverse Mercator Projection was indicated at 175, 30’ E Longitude and 39,00’ Latitude. But the False Datum used for co-ordinates is here expressed as 300,000 yds west and 400,000 yards to the south of that true origin.

Looking at the key to symbols one notices a few differences between this survey and an England and Wales one. One also notices differences in language: that is in the use of the English language:

Bush: a New Zealand term perhaps for woodland.

Stopbank: which might mean a dyke or a levy or embankment. Plantation: the symbol for this looks like a England &Wales Ordnance Survey symbol for an orchard: perhaps “plantation” means “orchard”.

Caves: a dot with a horizontal short line under it.

Water Race: Ditch or irrigation canal?

Swamp: Marsh?

Mining Tailings: Slag Heaps?, but this suggests a certain moving manner of excavating for ore.

Scattered Scrub: heathland?

The hydrographic symols differ as follows:

Sandhills: Dunes

Mangroves: you don’t get them on a n E&WOS map so there is no symbol.

Depression Contours: These are a very gooid feature, presumably these are below sea level and seem not to occur on E&WOS even where they should do in Cambridgeshire.

The full name for the cartographic body is:
“The Land and Survey Department of New Zealand”.

LANGUAGE

An interesting aspect of the map is the extensive use of two languages in the toponyms.

Generally the names in towns such as Wellington, and of local bays in the precincts of the city are in English or Scots. The majority of the geographical features without thye city are in a native tongue which is presumably a form of Maori used iun this part of the North Island. Maori was the majority language in this archipelago until 1860. Maori is a Polynesian language. It was classified with three dialects, South Island (extinct), Western North Island and Eastern North Island. In the south west of North island (seen on the examined sheet) the sub-dialect used “h” as a glotteral stop. This has led to the changing in spelling of some place names over the years. Toponyms in New Zealand may therefore change over cartographic history due to the current politically correct stance on a given English , Scots, Maori, or Maori dialect use.

When a Maori name is used, the explanatory suffix defaults to New Zealand English. As has been already discussed with the map key, it is useful to differentiate between Standard English and New Zealand English between which meaning and usage might shift significantly.

Examples of an NZE gloss on a Maori name are: “Oteranga Bay”, “Cape Terawhiti”.

The largest rivers tend top be Maori such as Orongorongo River, the smaller steamns tend to be English such as Cameron Creek or Thistle Steam or Catchpole.

The large coastal hills tend to be Maori such as Ohau, Te Kopahou, Waimarara. And these differ from bays and rivers as not having an explanatory affix in English. The fells of the interior (of this map tend to be named in English or Scots: White Rock Hill, Hawkins Hill, Mt Misery. The use of “Hill” and “Mountain” are markedly different from English standard or regional usage.

Very often the district names in a city are Maori such as: Karori and Hataitai in Wellington.

Of the districts of Wewllington 7 are Maori names and 6 are English Scots or perhaps even from the Indian sub-continent in the case of Berhampore.

One wonders, looking at the Maori names if they are tautologiucal : so a (for example Oteranga Head) may actually contain an element meaning promontory in the Maori which is then doubled in the explanatory English affix.

The common Maori affixes are:

Au: current

Awa: river

Iti: little

Kai: food

Mānia: plain

Manga: stream

Maunga: mountain

Moana: sea, or large inland lake

Motu: island

Nui: big

Ō: ‘of’ (a person)

One: sand, earth

Pae: ridge, range

Papa: flat

Poto: short

Puke: hill

Roa: long

Roto: lake; inside

Tai: coast, tide

Wai: water

Whanga: harbour or bay

Thus on the examined sheet map, one can see that Oteranga Bay is indeed a tautology, and Taputeranga Island is probably really the name of the bay.

Likewise Wainuiomata River seems to have a word for “river” as its prefix “Wai”- again rendering the map’s bi-lingual name tautological. This process is very common in toponyms. In England, for example, Dun Mail Raise is a triple tautology as one language replaced another. “River Avon” is another famous English example of a simple topographical tautology.

The style of a place name, its form and spelling, are determined by who is asked. Thus on the Survey of Ireland would ask local people for toponyms, but they would be a) middle class professionals: doctors, lawyers, land holders, teachers, priests, and b) anglophone. This affected the names written on the first full survey and caused a kind of anglisised Gaelic. A similar process might be observed anywhere such as here in New Zealand. The problem is that those initial surveys tend to fix toponyms “in aspic.”

It is interesting how on the examined map settlement quickly ended without the town’s limits, and much larger regions lying without the town had very few signs of human construction: Old Hut (2) Old Mine (2) Yards, Horse Track. And little else except for geographical toponyms.

NOSTALGIA FOR ANCESTRAL HOME.

It is interesting that the settlers of the area studied seemed to have had no particular nostalgia for their home villages or towns in Scotland or England; or at least none that was refected in place-names. The names are almost explusively those of people: surnames; and of the very few place names one was Gibraltar (probably from a superficial resemblance) and the other is Dorset Point (a point perhaps superficially like Portand. Eastbourne Point may have had a superficial resemblance to Beachy Head: these are places named from the sea by sailors not settlers.

One Scots toponym was seen: Kilbirnie: but generally these settlers left the British Isles behind both geographically and emotionally and this is quite unlike the pattern seen in the USA or Canada.

The South Island (excepting its north western coasdtal provinces) was extensively settled by Scots and the North Island by English. The dominence of Catholicism in centreal west North Island and north west South island might suggest Irish settlement in those places.

A

SERIES 5 ORDNANCE MAPS 1930’S

SERIES 5 ORDNANCE MAPS 1930’S

(BLUE COVERED-ELLIS MARTIN IMAGE)

The 5th Series from the 1930’s which introduced two important aspects later to appear in the post war Ordnance maps. The general aesthetic of the post war 6th Series was established here: the size and the use of lithography. Also MOT road numbers were used, though the standard road colours of the post war years were yet to be established.

On this series in 1933, main roads (A roads) are a raw umber colour; B roads are ochre coloured and others are uncoloured. This, post war, was to change to red for A roads and yellow for B roads.

This map is perhaps double the size of the old Ellis Martin cyclists and walker’s maps of 1919+. This series shows, on the cover, a hiker in an idyllic English landscape. He was an updated figure and replaced Ellis Martins 1919 tweed clad cyclist who had epitomised the youing soldier returning from the tren ches of Flanders.

The Increase of size no doubt signifies recognition of changing techgnology: cars and motorcycles are now frequent and privately owned. Motor coach and bus travel is common and greater distances are travelled- not only to a destination of leisure- by train, but from that destination. It is , in a strange way, the return to a “touring culture” seen in the Victorian age by wealthy travellers- but now it was a mass phenomenon.

The railways of Series 5 are the Big Four which came into being in 1921-23: The SR, the GWR, the L&NER and the LM&SR.They are named on the lines.

Note a curiosity of these maps which continued, I think, onto Series 6 but not further: here, one cannot tell the nature of a wood from the simple green marking; they might be deciduous, coniferous or mixed. They might be ancient or plantation: the cartographers in this small period alone did not consider this to be important information.

Note also that there is a kind of National Grid but it is expressed in yards. Thus the south west corner of this map is 1,180,000 yards north of the Datum (off the Scilly Isles) and 760,000 east. This odd system lasted until the War when the General Staff Geological Section, War Office imposed the Cassini Grid and kilometre squares which was to become the standard on civilian maps on series 6 post war maps. The large grid squares on this map are 5,000 yards apart. The outer scale cited is in minutes of a degree. There is also a scale for kilometres, but this is not on the map edge. Thus the National Grid, as understood today, is a legacy of the war and the kilometre use a legacy of the army who had used metric measurements for some time. But interestingly, even then the maps were given an Imperial measurements gloss for public use: 1” to the mile etc.

THE LEGACY OF SERIES 5 MAPS

This was the modern large series of the 1930’s. During this decade a new Series 6 was planned and was being prepared. During the war, the masters of the new Series 6 were lost in bombing raids on Southampton (they had not been photographed for security); and that Series 6, which appeared 1945+, was essentially, out of necessity, an update of these maps. Thus a generation of OS evolution was lost and the genuine new surveys of Series 7 (1950’s-60’s) were probably what was intended in the lost masters of the late 1930’s .

Thus, this mapping (new to c1930), became the stop gap for 1945+ with the slight alterations already mentioned: the road colours mainly.

There are unsatisfactory aspects of this cartography- most serious probably, being the opaque black used for urban areas which prevented the easy marking of important buildings like churches. No doubt the OS was working on correcting these aesthetic faults but then came the disaster of the War years and the continuation of this series in an adapted form, for another generation.

The Ordnance Survey had tried Chromo Lithography in the Edwardian Age with their Large Sheet topographically shaded series in white linen covers. Here the printing and colour intensity was problematic and probably led to the stalling of lithography for a time

ELLIS MARTIN’S FAMOUS COVER IMAGE

THE 1930’S RAMBER’S IMAGE:

Here is an idyllic landscape and distant coast which could be in many places in England and Wales. Cliffs frame an estuary and a wooded valley is in the middle ground. A man, a rambler, sits on a hill and surveys the scene and his map. He no longer has a bicycle which on a 1920’s version was propped against the bushes to his right. Here he sits with a rucksack and clothes clearly of the 1930’s- cardigan without sleeves, shirt with rolled up sleeves, turned up hemmed long trousers, shoes and no cap: gone are the tweed cap, a tweed jacket and gaiters with plus fours of the 1920’s cover: This is a young map who would have remembered the Great War mainly through the stories of his elders- not the older version which depicted a person who had endured the trenches, and was seen as a civilian in an idyllic English or Welsh landscape. Both young men- the cyclist of the 20’s and the rambler of the 30’s smoke pipes. Ellis Martin signed these pictures with his full name at bottom right: previously this image had been initialled at bottom left. To modern eyes this reworked plate has an added poignancy for in the early 1930’s, he, and society, did not know they would be at war with Germany again before the decade was out.

Ellis Martin was born in 1881 and died in 1977. He was the house designer of the Ordnance Survey from about 1913 (aged 33) through to the 2nd War in 1939. His greatly respected covers have become collectors item,s in their own right and his employment was a push by the OS to popularise their maps- both for commercial reasons and out of a sense of moral duty after the Great War. The first OS cover I know of was a Rolls Royce type open tourer on 1/4” motor maps which first appeared in 1913. Ellis Martin, before the First World War, produced posters and advertising designs for Selfridge’s and W.H. Smith and others. When the Great War broke out he went to France with the Royal Engineers and the Tank Corps, as an artist sketching the landscapes over which the army and its heavy vehicles would have to move. When the war ended, Martin was invited to join the Ordnance Survey which was struggling to enter the growing market in maps for ordinary people; and within a year the OS was reporting the highest map sales in its history. Martin helped make Ordnance Survey a household name; his cover designs are much collected today. He was 96 when he died as recently as 1977.

I have not seen a Scottish map using the Ellis Martin Covers: either this or the earlier cyclist version.

Scottish Series 6 1″ Maps

A GENERAL REVIEW OF THE SCOTTISH SERIES 6 ONE INCH MAPS

SCOTLAND

Scottish Series 6 maps were published from Southampton, not Edinburgh They differ from the English and Welsh Series in that they have floating covers and the Lion Rampant on the front cover rather than the full Royal Arms. These arms have “GR” written about them. The numbering is shown on the index map in Red with the England and Wales maps in Black, and the numbering system is unique to the country. 1 to 70 are only Scottish maps but 71 to 92 appear in both series as different maps. Not all Scotland is in the Scottish Series, for example 75 England has Gretna and the region near Dumfries as well as Wigtown

Cumberland (Solway) and these places do not appear on a Scottish map. Scotland No. 75 is much the same region and England 64, that is: Berwick Region. The other maps which cross the border are: Scotland 85, 86, 81; and England 71, 77, 76.

The Isle of Man is in the England Series as number 87.

Scottish maps of the 6th Series use the English Datum of Newlyn LWMMT and they use the National Grid citing 2 figures. Scottish National Grid numbers confirm just how small the island is:  Kirkcudbright is still only 543 km north of a point south of the Scilly Isles.

LANGUAGE

The languages seen in the toponyms of Scotland on Series 6 maps are: Scots, Gaelic, Norn, Old Western Norse, Anglo Norman and Old Welsh.

The map betrays language use by choosing not only the language of the toponym but its spelling “Ben” or “Beinn” might show a defunct language or a living one. It is a country of isoglots and language overlay and theoretically there are two if not three forms of Gaelic toponyms: Pure, or overlaying and absorbing Old Western Norse, Defunct and written in a Scots orthography. Old Welsh survives but is nowhere spoken. It is synonymous withy Pictish and can be seen in “Aberdeen” and other similar names- It is most apparent in the north east of the country. It is the ancestral tongue of the country with Scots (a Germanic tongue) and Gaelic, both arriving in the 6th century.

Small lochs betray language use, particularly when they use the terms Lochan, Lochanan, Lochanain or Loch. Rivers from them- being “River…” or “Abhainn” also show language.

Scottish maps show how languages spread into a landscape- and which are essentially rural, which urban and which maritime. Two Scottish language groups are preserved only in toponyms: Norn and Old Welsh.

GENERAL

There was a hiatus in civilian mapping from 1939-1945.

The Sixth Edition was essentially the Survey of 1930-35 revised for 1945+. A new survey had been planned but its plates were destroyed when the Southampton offices of the OS were bombed- so this 1945+ series returned to a previous set of surveys. The lost survey plates had not been photographically recorded.

It is said that the masters used for Series 6 map were still electrotype engraved for those maps north of Birmingham but the masters were already lithographic for those Series numbers south of that rough line across the English Midlands. The 6th Series itself was entirely lithographic.

The standard dates are 1930 revision -1946 edition

The earliest and latest dates seen are about

1928 revision- 1948 publication.

Some were published in the War : 1940+. These must have had restricted sales

In this series, RAF and RNAS airfield from the 2nd World War are redacted. Royal Dockyards tend to be simply redacted and left white and blank. Army camps tend to be marked because they were visible on pre war maps anyway. Sea Plane stations were redacted.

One might have imagined that post 1945 these could again have been included but it was probably a matter of timing- also, operational RAF and RNAS fields were to remain hidden even onto the Series 7 maps.

RAILWAYS

Scottish railways od this period were dominated by the LM&SR and the L&NER. It was the East Coast L&NER which ran the Flying Scotsman express.

This was the last survey to show the full Pre-British Railways’ network, with the Old Company named written by the lines. The country was covered by the Southern Railway, London & North Eastern Railway, Great Western Railway, and London Midland and Scottish Railways. Some smaller railways remained, notably “Lancashire and Cheshire Lines”, “Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway”, “Norfolk and Suffolk Joint Committee Railway”.

Here was the last survey to definitely show all the branch railways of the district open, prior to the mass closures of the 1950’s- 1960’s.

There were no preservation railways at this age.

ROADS

Series 6 maps named roads with their MOT numbers for the first time on 1 inch maps. This was the last survey to never show Britain motorways.

A roads showed MOT numbers and were red between black base plate lines. B roads had MOT numbers and were orange-yellow between black base plate lines. Other roads were just shown with parallel black lines on the base plate.

LAND USE

Woods are quite a yellow green and symbols show coniferous or deciduous. Orchards had regular tree symbols and are uncoloured. Park land was stippled- perhaps the last remnant of the electrotyped maps of old. Rough Pasture and marshes were shown with a black stippled symbol. Fields were not surveyed. Arable is not differentiated from pasture and a hop garden is not marked as an orchard, but as open land

FORMAT AND STYLE

Series 6 maps tended to be about 27 inches by 31 inches.

Then were sold on cloth or paper. They were not dissected and mounted in sections unless seen as a bespoke preparation for libraries or by cartographic suppliers such as Edward Stanford.

Covers were 8 ¼ inches by 5 inches. Some early ones are shorter and fold the bottom margin in-to accommodate the same sized sheet.

There were 190 maps in the Series, numbered north to south. No 1 was Shetland; No 190 was Truro.

In Series 6 Scottish Maps were still separate from English and Welsh and has different covers- Both were called “1 Inch New Popular Edition” The numbering of the Scottish Series was different. On the index map, printed on the back cover, one sees Scottish sheets numbers in Red 1 to 92 and English and Welsh maps numbered 71 to 190 in black on the Index Map. English series No 64 is an oddity. It showed Berwick. But is remote in numbering from the rest of the English Series. Scottish map 64 was Dundee.

Therefore maps 71 to 92 were found in both Series as different maps. Maps 1-70 were Scottish maps alone and 93-190 were English or Welsh maps alone. The Isle of Man is No. 87 in the English Series.

Paper was not bleached to white and was not gloss. Larger places were names in Roman Serif and smaller places were Italic and capitalised only on their first letters. District or Parish names were an Italic Roman.

There was no shading – either relief of topographic, though close contours form an effective form of relief shading in fell districts. Welsh place names defaulted to the common usage of the region : Afon or River, etc.

NATIONAL GRID

The average map showed 40 km x 45 km or 1800 km squared. This was roughly 25 miles by 30 miles or 600 miles square.

The point 00 or “False Datum” for the National Grid was south west of the Scilly Isles. It thus allowed all Britain to be east or north of that datum. The only exception was Rockall. Ireland was a different survey.

The grid divided the archipelago into 69 100 km squares numbered 1-69. Being asymmetrical, some of these 100 km squares contained no land: 00 ,01, 02, 03, 0-4, 05, 06, 07, 09, 13, 14, 15, 49, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 64, 65. 66, 67, 68, 69. Others hardly touched land: 11, 47, 50, 55. Interestingly very few showed no coast water: 43 & 42. Nos 32, 44, 52 showed almost none, and perhaps the only square to show no tidal water was 43.(100 km square No 43- not Map 43).

Some important points on the National Grid were: 500-500: near Flamborough; 199-900, just off Harris; 500-100 near Portsmouth; 200-200 near Pembroke. 400-400: a reasonable Centre of England: inland from Liverpool or Skegness, due north of Poole. Very little of Scotland was east of the E400 line. The E600 is a good approximate for the Greenwich Meridian. London is centred quite near 550-180.

This series was, despite its grid, a “1 inch Series” which was 1/63360. On it One Centimetre represented 0.6336 of a kilometre.

The projection used was a Transverse Mercator. This differs from a Standard Mercator, on which latitude is correct at the Equator, by having two latitudes which are precise- roughly at the tropics and thus the world between those two latitudes is mapped in a compressed manner and the world north and south of them is progressively elongated to the poles. This reduces the distortion and the latitude of the British Isles- which would have been too sever on a Standard Mercator Projection.

ALTITUDE

Altitude was calculated above Mean Sea Level. By this date, that would be from the Newlyn Datum in Cornwall (LWMMT). The old Pre 1915 datum was at Liverpool. Some maps did not fully covert until the 1960’s. The difference between the two data is significant and not standard over the whole of the country. In Kent, for example, it ranged from about 0.9 ft to 1.6 ft. with the Liverpool figure being higher.

Lakes had bathymetric data in feet from water level. So altitude at the bottom would be shore line altitude minus Bathymetric depth. Land lochs have Bathymetric data, Sea lochs have fathoms. Scotland is unique in having many freshwater lochs which plunge well below sea level. Isostatic Rebound must have cause some sea lochs to become freshwater lochs. 100 ft interval contours were surveyed; interim 50ft contours were observed. Contours were umber in colour Series 6 did not revise using Aerial Photography, but the War heralded this form of cartography for Series 7.

COVERS

The cover aesthetic was almost Edwardian and quite unlike that of Series 7 maps. OS did not use gloss covers then.

All editions cited revision and publication dates on the cover.

The covers of Series 6 maps hinged in the English and Welsh series; Scottish maps had floating covers.

HYDROGRAPHY

Series Six maps do not show Admiralty soundings , as earlier terrestrial Ordnance 1” maps did. But the shallows and tidal flats were shown in great detail in a grey stipple- and the major tidal flats are named. The marine contours of a Series 6 map are 5 and 10 fathoms. Note that inland waters are measured in feet not fathoms (if measured at all). A fathom, for safety at sea, was calculated from the lowest tide, not the Mean Tide. Thus you cannot strictly calculate combined terrestrial and submarine altitude by adding on to the other. A fathom is 6 ft so the two contours on a Series 6 OS map equate to 30 ft and 60 ft sea depth. A shallow water which can be measured by plumb line is “sounding”. “Beyond Sounding” is deeper than 100 fathoms. Interestingly, burial at sea has to be at least 6 fathoms: called “Deep Six”. Technically a fathom is 1/1000 of an Imperial Nautical or Sea Mile, which is a little more than 6 ft.

TOWNS

1” OS maps did not show bomb or war damage- there was no new survey work between the Pre war revision date and the publication date. There might have been a couple of exceptions to the above rule, one might have been Portsmouth, where cleared streets seem to be seen near the docks. One has to fine 25” or 50” surveys- used by the Land Registry and Planners before the word “ruin” is seen on buildings, plots and parcels of land.

Urban blocks of buildings were, on Series 6 maps, represented with opaque black. This is the first full lithographic series. Previous editions of the 1” survey used hatching on urban areas, as is necessary with an intaglio, engraved or electrotyped process. The aesthetic result is that this Series 6 seemed bolder, darker and broader lined than that which preceded it. The electrotypes were light, high key and thin lined. This use of black for urban areas was short lived and somewhat problematic. By the 1950’s it had been replaced with lithographic grey in which individual buildings such as town halls and churches could again be differentiated, in black, from the general urban shading.

……………………..

Series 6 Ordnance One inch maps

A GENERAL REVIEW OF SERIES 6 MAPS

There was a hiatus in civilian mapping from 1939-1945. The Sixth Edition was essentially the Survey of 1930-35 revised for 1945+. A new survey had been planned but its plates were destroyed when the Southampton offices of the OS were bombed- so this 1945+ series returned to a previous set of surveys. The lost survey plates had not been photographically recorded.

It is said that the masters used for Series 6 map were still electrotype engraved for those maps north of Birmingham but the masters were already lithographic for those Series numbers south of that rough line across the English Midlands. The 6th Series itself was entirely lithographic.

The standard dates are 1930 revision -1946 edition

The earliest and latest dates seen are about

1928 revision- 1948 publication.

Some were published in the War : 1940+. These must have had restricted sales

In this series, RAF and RNAS airfield from the 2nd World War are redacted. Royal Dockyards tend to be simply redacted and left white and blank. Army camps tend to be marked because they were visible on pre war maps anyway. Sea Plane stations were redacted.

One might have imagined that post 1945 these could again have been included but it was probably a matter of timing- also, operational RAF and RNAS fields were to remain hidden even onto the Series 7 maps.

RAILWAYS

This was the last survey to show the full Pre-British Railways’ network, with the Old Company named written by the lines. The country was covered by the Southern Railway, London & North Eastern Railway, Great Western Railway, and London Midland and Scottish Railways. Some smaller railways remained, notably “Lancashire and Cheshire Lines”, “Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway”, “Norfolk and Suffolk Joint Committee Railway”.

Here was the last survey to definitely show all the branch railways of the district open, prior to the mass closures of the 1950’s- 1960’s.

ROADS

Series 6 maps named roads with their MOT numbers for the first time on 1 inch maps. This was the last survey to never show Britain motorways.

A roads showed MOT numbers and were red between black base plate lines. B roads had MOT numbers and were orange-yellow between black base plate lines. Other roads were just shown with parallel black lines on the base plate.

LAND USE

Woods are quite a yellow green and symbols show coniferous or deciduous. Orchards had regular tree symbols and are uncoloured. Park land was stippled- perhaps the last remnant of the electrotyped maps of old. Rough Pasture and marshes were shown with a black stippled symbil. Fields were not surveyed. Arable is not differentiated from pasture and a hop garden is not marked as an orchard, but as open land

FORMAT AND STYLE

Series 6 maps tended to be about 27 inches by 31 inches. Then were sold on cloth or paper. They were not dissected and mounted in sections unless seen as a bespoke preparation for libraries or by cartographic suppliers such as Edward Stanford.

Covers were 8 ¼ inches by 5 inches. Some early ones are shorter and fold the bottom margin in-to accommodate the same sized sheet.

There were 190 maps in the Series, numbered north to south. No 1 was Shetland; No 190 was Truro.

In Series 6 Scottish Maps were still separate from English and Welsh and has different covers- Both were called “1 Inch New Popular Edition” The numbering of the Scottish Series was different. On the index mapo, printed on the back cover, one sees Scottish sheets numberes in Red 1 to 92 and English and Welsh maps numbered 71 to 190 in black on the Index Map. English series No 64 is an oddity. It showed Berwick. But is remote in numbering from the rest of the English Series. Scottish map 64 was Dundee.

Therefore maps 71 to 92 were found in both Series as different maps. Maps 1-70 were Scottish maps alone and 93-190 were English or Welsh maps alone. The Isle of Man is No. 87 in the English Series.

Paper was not bleached to white and was not gloss. Larger places were names in Roman Serif and smaller places were Italic and capitalised only on their first letters. District or Parish names were an Italic Roman.

There was no shading – either relief of topographic, though close contours form an effective form of relief shading in fell districts. Welsh place names defaulted to the common usage of the region : Afon or River, etc.

NATIONAL GRID

The average map showed 40 km x 45 km or 1800 km squared. This was roughly 25 miles by 30 miles or 600 miles square.

The point 00 or “False Datum” for the National Grid was south west of the Scilly Isles. It thus allowed all Britain to be east or north of that datum. The only exception was Rockall. Ireland was a different survey.

The grid divided the archipelago into 69 100 km squares numbered 1-69. Being asymmetrical, some of these 100 km squares contained no land: 00 ,01, 02, 03, 0-4, 05, 06, 07, 09, 13, 14, 15, 49, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 64, 65. 66, 67, 68, 69. Others hardly touched land: 11, 47, 50, 55. Interestingly very few showed no coast water: 43 & 42. Nos 32, 44, 52 showed almost none, and perhaps the only square to show no tidal water was 43.(100 km square No 43- not Map 43).

Some important points on the National Grid were: 500-500: near Flamborough; 199-900, just off Harris; 500-100 near Portsmouth; 200-200 near Pembroke. 400-400: a reasonable Centre of England: inland from Liverpool or Skegness, due north of Poole. Very little of Scotland was east of the E400 line. The E600 is a good approximate for the Greenwich Meridian. London is centred quite near 550-180.

This series was, despite its grid, a “1 inch Series” which was 1/63360. On it One Centimetre represented 0.6336 of a kilometre.

The projection used was a Transverse Mercator. This differs from a Standard Mercator, on which latitude is correct at the Equator, by having two latitudes which are precise- roughly at the tropics and thus the world between those two latitudes is mapped in a compressed manner and the world north and south of them is progressively elongated to the poles. This reduces the distortion and the latitude of the British Isles- which would have been too sever on a Standard Mercator Projection.

ALTITUDE

Altitude was calculated above Mean Sea Level. By this date, that would be from the Newlyn Datum in Cornwall (LWMMT). The old Pre 1915 datum was at Liverpool. Some maps did not fully covert until the 1960’s. The difference between the two data is significant and not standard over the whole of the country. In Kent, for example, it ranged from about 0.9 ft to 1.6 ft. with the Liverpool figure being higher.

Lakes had bathymetric data in feet from water level. So altitude at the bottom would be shore line altitude minus Bathymetric depth. Such lakes were generally found in Cumberland and Wales. An artificial lake or reservoir had no bathymetric data because the water level was not constant: Examples might be Hawes Water, Thirlmere, Lake Vyrnwy or Abingdon Reservoir.

100 ft interval contours were surveyed; interim 50ft contours were observed. Contours were umber in colour

Series 6 did not revise using Aerial Photography, but the War heralded this form of cartography for Series 7.

COVERS

Original Series 6 covers were vermilion and off-white with red and black lettering, the Royal Arms marked GR, the edition number was at top right and on the front cover was a cartouche map. The name was “NEW POPULAR EDITION ONE INCH MAP”.

The cover aesthetic was almost Edwardian and quite unlike that of Series 7 maps. OS did not use gloss covers then. All editions cited revision and publication dates on the cover. The covers of Series 6 maps hinged in the English and Welsh series; Scottish maps had floating covers.

RAILWAYS

The Railways of Series 6 maps were the Company Railways following the amalgamation of 1921-23. This created the G.W.R., L.& N.E.R., L.M. & S.R. and the Southern Railway. Some smaller systems survived- notable Cheshire Lines near Merseyside, the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway in East Anglia and the Norfolk and Suffolk Joint Committee Railway in those counties.

The maps show some peculiarities of this system: At Shoeburyness in South East Essex one finds the LM&SR, not the L&NER and at Ilfracombe one finds the SR nor the GWR.

There were no preservation railways at this age. Welsh narrow gauge railways would still have served quarries. The Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway was marked, for it opened in 1926.

These maps do not show a completely steam railway system. The Liverpool Overhead Railway was electric from 1893; the Metropolitan and District Railway used some electric traction from 1900. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway began electrification in 1904. The Midland Railway began in 1908 and the LB&SCR to Brighton in 1909 but is was the Southern Railway of 1925+ which greatly increased electrification- and those would be so powered on these maps. Interestingly they used a 3rd rail where as their predecessor the LB&SCR has used overhead power.

HYDROGRAPHY

Series Six maps do not show Admiralty soundings , as earlier terrestrial Ordnance 1” maps did. But the shallows and tidal flats were shown in great detail in a grey stipple- and the major tidal flats are named. The marine contours of a Series 6 map are 5 and 10 fathoms. Note that inland waters are measured in feet not fathoms (if measured at all). A fathom, for safety at sea, was calculated from the lowest tide, not the Mean Tide. Thus you cannot strictly calculate combined terrestrial and submarine altitude by adding on to the other. A fathom is 6 ft so the two contours on a Series 6 OS map equate to 30 ft and 60 ft sea depth. A shallow water which can be measured by plumb line is “sounding”. “Beyond Sounding” is deeper than 100 fathoms. Interestingly, burial at sea has to be at least 6 fathoms: called “Deep Six”. Technically a fathom is 1/1000 of an Imperial Nautical or Sea Mile, which is a little more than 6 ft.

TOWNS

1” OS maps did not show bomb or war damage- there was no new survey work between the Pre war revision date and the publication date. There might have been a couple of exceptions to the above rule, one might have been Portsmouth, where cleared streets seem to be seen near the docks. One has to fine 25” or 50” surveys- used by the Land Registry and Planners before the word “ruin” is seen on buildings, plots and parcels of land.

Urban blocks of buildings were, on Series 6 maps, represented with opaque black. This is the first full lithographic series. Previous editions of the 1” survey used hatching on urban areas, as is necessary with an intaglio, engraved or electrotyped process. The aesthetic result is that this Series 6 seemed bolder, darker and broader lined than that which preceded it. The electrotypes were light, high key and thin lined. This use of black for urban areas was short lived and somewhat problematic. By the 1950’s it had been replaced with lithographic grey in which individual buildings such as town halls and churches could again be differentiated, in black, from the general urban shading.

England & Wales Series 7 Maps

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF SERIES 7, ONE INCH SCALE ORDNANCE MAPS OF ENGLAND AND WALES

The Ordnance Seventh Edition was the first true survey after the 2nd World War; the Series 6 maps having been from surveys of the 1930’s. Series 7 maps were usually published from Chessington following bomb damage to the Southampton OS Office.

They doe not cite revision from earlier survey work.

The standard dates are c1952 with revisions to c.1966 The earlier publications of the 1950’s tend to have shorter covers and the sheet folds to 30 rather than 24.

Series 7 maps tended to be about 27 inches by 32 inches and show an area of 40 km of longitude by 45 km of latitude.

The maps were lithographed. It is said that in the preparation of the 6th series, maps south of Birmingham used masters which were already lithographic, but north of that latitude the masters were still engraved. By Series 7, the age of the Engraved or electrotyped map was gone.

There were 190 maps in the Series, numbered north to south. No 1 was North Shetland; No 190 was Truro. The last maps published were of Shetland, and one often reads on the back cover a 1961 “expected completion date” for the entire series.

The National Grid of 1 and 10 kilometre squares did not alter from Series 6 – Point “00” on the grid was located off South West of Cornwall. This was referred to as a False Datum- because the point was arbitrary- unlike the Sea Level Datum. It was fixed there to make all map references “positive”: that is, east or north of the Datum . The exception was Rockall.

The scale was expressed as 1 inch or 1:63,360. Scales in yards and Kilometres are also given. For many decades the Ordnance Survey had been metric but the maps were given an Imperial measurements gloss for the public.

The datum for measurements of altitude is not stated except as “Mean Sea Level” but since 1915 this was LWMMT at the Tidal Observatory, Newlyn, Cornwall. Series 7 is fully re-levelled, so no reference is made to the older Liverpool Datum.

This re-levelling to the new datum at Newlyn LWMMT from the old datum at Liverpool LWMMT was slow; often large scale maps cite dates as late as 1950-52 for re-levelling. The new readings were undertaken as civil engineering projects were carried out. Thus a 1932 re-levelling date on a 6” map probably indicated the year that mains water entered a rural district.

Series 7 did sometimes revise using aerial photography, which had been introduced in the 2nd World War. Like the National Grid, it was a spin-off of military usage.

AIRFIELDS

In this series, RAF and RNAS airfield from the 2nd World War are shown, usually if they are redundant. Operating military airfields may still be redacted, as are naval bases. Old RAF fields are usually shown blank and crossed by footpaths with the word “Airfield” on them. Rarely are they surveyed and when they are, they usually show a runway plan in the form of a number “4”. Some research is needed to establish the original airfield name, which might not have been that of the nearest village. A few are named thus: “Wattisham Airfield”. All military airfields were RAF or RNAS- even if operated by the USAF, RAAF, RCAF or RNZAF.

COVERS

Covers were 8 ¼ inches by 5 inches. Some early ones are shorter and fold the bottom margin in-to accommodate the same sized sheet. The shorter format is roughly 7 1/2 inches by 5 inches.

On Series 7 covers, Scottish Maps had a different coat of arms: a Lion Rampant.

Original Series 7 covers are vermilion and off-white with red and black lining and lettering, the Royal Arms do not say either GR or ER. The edition number was at top right and on the front cover was a cartouche map of the district shown. The cover aesthetic was not unlike that of Penguin Book. They only have gloss covers in the latest Series 7 maps.

All editions cited revision and publication dates on the cover. Note the Edition date is not the printing date which was generally later.

The covers of Series 7 maps were all hinged; Scottish maps had floating covers on Series 6 maps.

TOWNS

Urban areas were grey with white roads. This allowed major buildings to be rendered black, named, and clearly seen: thus solving a major fault on the Series 6 maps which has rendered urban areas black.

One inch maps do not show bomb or war damage- though a considerable amount remained as this survey was being carried out. One has to fine 25” or 50” surveys- used by the Land Registry and Planners for the word “ruin” to be seen on buildings, plots and parcels of land into the 1960’s. Roman names were written under the modern name thus “CAMVLODVNVM”- using that Latin form.

WOODLAND

The greatest ambiguity on any Series 7 map concerns land use.

Woods were shown as deciduous, coniferous or mixed (that was a change), Parks were grey stippled, as were tidal reaches, perhaps these might be seen as the last aesthetic remnants of the engraved or electrotyped map. Arable land was not differentiated from pasture and orchards were not differentiated between Apple, Pear, Cherry, Plum, and Damson. Hop gardens were not shown as orchards, they were marked as open arable land. Deciduous or Coniferous woods did not indicate age. One cannot prove the existence old, primeval or ancient woodland from the symbols an OS map. On English maps one can assume that a coniferous wood is a plantation as the tree is not endemic.

RAILWAYS

This was the first and last survey to show the full British Railways’ network. So the company names had gone and “British Railways” was unnecessary- being universal. The maps were contemporary to many line closures and these were marked with white dots at the stations. On the early 20th century OS maps a white dot just indicated a station. Occasionally the map post dated an early closure and the line was shown only by “track of old rly”. A line with white marked stations was not necessarily a closed line- for it may have remained open for freight use.

A few branch lines were open on Series 6 but gone by Series 7. It was common on series 7 maps to see a line being “rolled back”: closed with white station over part of its course and “track of old rly” over another part. This provided interesting historical information- showing the process of closure and track lifting.

British Railways was formed in 1948 under the Attlee government and dismantled in 1997 under the Major government. It was an amalgamation of the Big Four 1921-1923 companies: L&NER, LM&SR, SR and GWR, as well as some smaller networks such as the Midland and Great Northern Railway, Norfolk and Suffolk Joint Committee Railway, and Cheshire Lines. From 1995 it was known as BR.

The Series 6 maps were contemporary to the phasing out of steam traction- the last steam hauled train was in 1968. Lines were electrified or changed to diesel traction. The Southern Region used the 3rd rail system whereas the rest of the country used overhead lines and pantographs. On the map double lines are shown with a continuous black line and single lines with a black and white dashed line. Principal stations were shown rectangular, other stations were marked as circular- both were red. Level crossings were no longer marked with a red diagonal cross which was a remnant, on Series 6 maps, of their subsidiary used by War time flyers of the ATA

Until 1962 the network was technically “The Railways of the Railway Executive of the British Transport Commission”.

ROADS

Series 7 maps named A & B roads with their MOT numbers. A roads were red, B roads were bisque brown and none numbered minor roads were yellow. Unmetalled roads were white and footpaths, tracks and bridle paths were shown with a dashed black line. Maps always state that an OS marked route does not prove a legal right of access or usage. Motorways were rare but can appear on late revisions. A dashed red line indicates an unfinished or proposed new road.

GEOGRAPHY, GEOLOGY

Generally Series 7 maps looked less busy than Series 6 because there was less black and finer lines. The paper was more bleached that previously but without the stark whiteness of later maps. The outer border cited degrees and minutes of longitude and latitude.

Contours were surveyed in 100’s of feet: 50 ft contours were interpolated. Contours are russet brown but shown with thinner lines which could clutter Series 6 maps.

HYDROGRAPHY

Submarine contours are still shown to 5 and 10 fathoms.

Series Seven maps did not show Admiralty soundings, as much earlier terrestrial Ordnance 1” maps had done. But the shallows and tidal flats were shown in great detail in a grey stipple- and the major tidal flats were named. The marine contours of a Series 7 map were drawn at 5 and 10 fathoms. Inland waters were measured in feet not fathoms (if measured at all). Bathymetric surveys can be quite old- 1870’s-1900’s and were seldom repeated. Some inland waters were cited with a height above sea level at the water surface. Fathoms were measured from the almost the same datum as land altitude: LWMMT Newlyn. A sea chart defines: “Chart Datum is the level below which the tide never falls”. which is not quite the same as the terrestrial LWMMT (Low Water Mark of Medium Tides). A fathom is 6ft (1.8288 metres), anciently defined as the distance between a man’s outstretched arms; so the two contours on a Series 7 OS map equated to 30ft and 60ft sea depth. A “shallow” is water which can be measured by plumb line: called a “sounding”. Water deeper than 100 fathoms is “beyond sounding”. Interestingly, burial at sea had to be at least 6 fathoms or “Deep Six”. Technically a Royal Navy fathom is 1/1000 of an Imperial Nautical or Sea Mile, which is 6.08 ft.

The hydrographic significance of the 5 fathom line on a Series 7 map was that water less than 5 fathoms was measured in feet. Of course sea depth needs a datum, but fresh water depth cannot have one- for its surface never equates to a standard datum and can be at any altitude.

The altitude of a lake bed must be calculated arithmetically; it equals terrestrial altitude at the lake’s surface minus the greatest bathymetric measurement.

Bathymetric data, common in Scotland, is rare in England and Wales with the Lake District being a notable exception. Any lake adapted for reservoir use- such as Hawes Water or Thirlmere, did not have bathymetric data because its water level was variable. Reservoirs, such as Abberton, often showed intricate parish boundaries, following then flooded fields and lanes.

 

Early Road Maps- cycles versus motorcars

EARLY MAPS FOR CYCLISTS AND CARS

(This article cites Berkshire and Oxfordshire as the “typical” counties, and gives statistics known for London)

In this Edwardian period it is interesting to consider the relative importance of bicycles and motor cars to a cartographer such as George Bacon.

England: Cycle maps versus motor maps

Looking at a map of Southern England: one wonders how important the motor map market would have been at any particular date.

Rudyard Kipling down at Batemans in Sussex, owned a car in 1897, but he never drove himself: that was the level of society which used them then: perhaps there were 1000 machines on the road, at weekends in fine weather and locally.

In 1901 let one assume there were 5,000 vehicles. (some argue 8,000), of which perhaps 50% were serviceable at any one time. In that year 623 people wrote “Chauffeur” as their occupation on the census. Let one assume that twice that number had other titles too: Valet, Gentleman’s Gentleman, carriage Driver etc. That would suggest about 1900 people chauffeured which accounts for about two fifths of the cars being driven.

The early OS motor maps show a chauffeured car on the cover.

In 1904 there were 23,000 cars on the roads of Britain- incidentally most were French. In 1910 there were 100,000.By contrast, in the 1890’s 50,000 people were employed making bicycles. By 1893 roller chains, triangulated frames and pneumatic tyres were established.

If one was printing a map in circa 1910 of an average county- perhaps Berkshire or Oxfordshire – there would be a market for about 4,000 cars owned by rich people many with chauffeurs. They would have bought their maps from Praed and Sifton or Edward Stanford of London and those would have been bespoke. The market for a motor map would have been small and filled by such bespoke vendors. Such a county’s population was about 400,000 in at that time,so 1 car per 100 people. I this year there may have been 100,000 bicycles (one per family) 1 for every 4-5 people. There was no way one would have published a speculative map for the motorist in this period: railway and cycle maps would dominate.

In London the precise figures are known: there were 100,000 driving licences in 1920 (roughly a decade after this map), and 261,000 in 1930. In 1920 Greater London had 7,386,755 people and Inner London: 4,484,523 people. So take the capital as about 6 ½ million: that is a driving licence for every 65 people. In 1930 the capital’s population was 8,000,000 there was a driving licence for every 33 people or so. But in London there were about 2 million bicycles. The market for cycle maps in London in 1930 was 8 times bigger than that for car drivers.

Regarding tipping points: an astonishing fact is that the year in which people, on average, traveller further by car than by bicycle in England was 1950. The proportion of car miles to cycle miles today is 99:1. It is interesting that one reason why England did not go down the Dutch route of building self-contained cycle roads was that the CTC (Cyclists’ Touring Club) opposed the idea; in 1934 they argued that space should be made for cycles on the public highway and they should not be pushed off by cars onto a secondary network.

Gall and Inglis, mapping specifically for cyclists, described road quality- loose, dusty, rough etc on their strip maps. They also chose routes to avoid heavy traffic, leaving London, as early as the Edwardian Age- which may have been buses or horse and carts, more than cars. They took particular note of trams, the slot-rails of which were a hazard for cyclists. The companies which worked most with the CTC were Philip’s and Bartholomew’s- the former at the turn of the century and the later roughly between 1915 and 1928- when the CTC chose roads in three grades. These Bartholomew maps were the first to show cycle routes which were challenging or in any way “off-piste” or non-vehicular. Prior to that, most so called cycle maps seem quite lazy: highlighting major roads- usually on far older map bases: roads which would in the mid 19th century have been turnpikes. The criterion for an early “cycle road” was condition- was it a stable surface and was it seasonal? Roads chosen where direct routes between towns and many early maps noticeably avoided the coast: one is tempted to infer that the  cyclist was not within the same demographic as the resort holiday maker. Philip’s maps marked gradients, hotels, coffee taverns and Temperance establishments and also marked with a symbol any town which has a CTC ambassador. Gradients were shown by Philip-, Bacon, Gall and Inglis. Bacon called them “danger hills” and there severity was shown with chevrons. Temperance was very strong with the cycling fraternity and might be inferred from the map publishers’ choice of recommended hotels as well as the advertisements for Bourneville Cocoa, Fry’s Chocolate and other products of those famous Quaker confectioners who supported the movement.

CTC -Cyclist’s Touring Club

CYCLIST’ TOURING CLUB HISTORY

The Bicycle Touring Club was its name from 1878-1883, when it became the Cyclists’ Touring Club CTC ). It still exists. It worked specifically with Bartholomew, choosing roads and tracks from 1911-1928. Bartholomew maps later than 1928 still use some CTC road choices.

Most towns had a “Consul” for the club. They approved hotels and guest houses and published their names in the annual route books. In 1911-1928 it cooperated with Bartholomew and chose roads for their topographically shaded maps – placing their logo at bottom centre on the map sheet. This map proves that much earlier- c 1880’s, it cooperated with George Philip. Stanley Cotterell from Edinburgh founded it, but its headquarters became established at 139-140 Fleet Street. It put up road signs. Its members wore uniforms for a time. It encouraged women to cycle and advocated “sensible clothing” which meant trousers: not long dresses and bonnets, which were generally deemed suitable. Their uniform was a dark green jacket, knickerbockers and a peaked helmet. The uniform changed to grey. They often rode in groups with a bugler at the front. The pioneer for Women’s modern clothing was Lady Harberton, who had a “Western Society for Sensible Dress” or some such named body. In the late 1920’s they campaigned for not to support cycle paths; fearing that they would loose their rights on the open road. They were often in court, trying to further or protect cyclists’ rights. In 1906 it almost became a motoring organisation too but a court blocked this saying it could not represent the interests of both cars and cycles. The CTC used to put up road signs and signs in hotel and shop windows – as do the AA- They published route books with suggested hotels and guest houses of which some 50% were (at times) Temperance. There was a strong link between Temperance and Cycling which is why Bacon’s Cycle maps often have. Bovril, Fry’s Cocoa, Cadbury’s Chocolate etc advertised. Those Quaker confectioners were strong in the Temperance Movement. In 2016, with stunning lack of history and crassness, the CTC voted to call themselves “Cycling UK”. The badge was a cycle wheel with three wings within it and the initials CTC- an iconic badge which no doubt they have also changed for some modern graphic. I have just looked it up: “We are cycling UK” in yellow and blue play-school lettering; so that is that then- all that was sacred is profaned.

Mercator

Gerardus Mercator

After the biography are notes on the Mercator projection.

BIOGRAPHY

1512 Mercator was born Geert de Kremer or Kramer at Rupelmonde, Flanders on the 5th of March 1512. Some cite his first name as Gerherdt. His parents were German, to the degree that modern nationality has any meaning in the 16th century) and he did not stay long in Rupelmonde: But this has led to him being claimed as a national figure by three modern countries. He was the seventh child of Hubert Kremer and his wife Emerance. Their home town was Gangelt in the Princedom of Julich, now Germany. The family were visiting Hubert’s brother, Geert’s uncle, Gisbert de Kremer in Rupelmonde, Flanders- now Belgium- at the time of his birth. Hubert, his father, was of the artisan class, a cordwainer; Gisbert, whom they were visiting, was a Catholic cleric. Their stayed in Rupelmonde about half a year after which they returned to Gangelt and there Geert passed his infancy. Gangelt lies one and a half miles from the modern Dutch border where the closes town is Schinveld.

1518 Six years later, in 1518, the Kremers returned to Rupelmonde Flanders; some because Gangelt had been touched by plague, food shortages and the ensuing crime. Rupelmonde. Rupelmonde lies of the north bank of the Scheldt River and is now a district of Bazel, which has become a south west suburb of Antwerp . By the roads of the time, the two towns are about 200 km or 125 miles apart on almost exactly the same latitude: that is Rupelmonde is due west of Gangelt.

1520 circa: In this year, when Mercator was 8 years old: the German Erhard Etzlaub born 1461 died 1532) engraved miniature “compass maps”, about 100mm×80mm in size of Europe and Africa, from latitudes 67° north to the Equator- some say he produced a projection “identical to Mercator’s”

1522   In this year Geert was 10 years old, and in this year the Italic Script arrived in the Low Counties. Mercator was to become a great advocate of this script and wrote Literarum latinarum, an instruction manual and advocation of it. He must have written this many years after 1522, probably about the time he was engraving for his globe. It is said Mecator first used it on the globe of Gemma Frisius -which would have been in 1536.

1526    Geert de Kremer was 14 years old: Geert’s father Hubert died in 1526 and Gisbert, his uncle, became his guardian. It was anticipated by Gisbert that Geert might enter into the priesthood. Gisbert sent Geert to the School of the Brethren of the Common Life at Hertogenbosch in the Brabant province. This may well be the home town of the famous painter Jerome Bosch. Hertogenbosch is on the Merse River in modern day Netherlands and is north of, but equidistant from, Rupelmonde and Gangelt. Coincidentally the three towns form and almost exact equilateral triangle, when plotted. While at the school his headmaster was Georgius Macropedius (which seems to mean “big foot”; Geert studied the bible under him, as well as the Trivium and Pliny’s Natural History, and, most importantly, it has been said, the Geography of Ptolemy. Due to the Latin culture of 16th century education he took a Laminated version of his name and Geert de Kremer van Rupelmonde became, Gerardus Mercator Rupelmundanus (Gerard Merchant of Rupelmond). Mercator is the Latin translation of Kremer which means merchant. If that was the meaning of the family name, preposition “de” seems wrong. The Hertogenbosch school had a famous scriptorium and Mercator was particularly interest in cartography: later advocating certain scripts. Erasmus was an alumnus of this same school forty years before Mercator. (Erasmus’s biography actually records: Erasmus was educated in monastic and semi-monastic schools. At the age of nine, he and his brother Peter went to one of the best Latin schools in the Low Countries, at Deventer run by the chapter clergy of the Lebuïnuskerk; though some earlier biographies assert it was a school run by the Brethren of the Common Life. So could Hertogenbosch and Deventer refer to the same school? No Deventer is 80 miles north east up on the same parallel as Amsterdam. The truth seems to be that Erasmus and Mercator both attended schools which were run by the Brethren of the Common Life. Erasmus seems to have had nothing to say on the subject of geography or cartography)

The Bretheren of the Common Life, or Fratres Vitae Communis in Latin was a Catholic community from the Low Countries. They had an ancient origin but ran schools in the 1500’s. They were founded on the teachings of the earlier Gerard Groote, 1340- 1384 who, after a life changing experience, had began to preach living by simple devotion to Christ. These were not formal monks for they did not take full vows. They were one of proto-socialist groups which so interested Marx in his works such as “The German Ideology”, as a template for his idea of how a society might be ordered. They were a working order- not simply contemplative and had science laboratories, observatories, workshops and scriptoria. The ate in common as so displayed many aspects of life which are reflected in the university college. One might call theirs didactic literate and artisan based religious community.

1529 Lemma and Gaspar Van der Heyden, future teachers of Mercator from whom he learned instrument engineering, completed a terrestrial globe in his year.

1530 Mercator was 18 in this year- reaching adulthood. Mercator was born into a family which broadly kept to the Catholic faith at a time when Luther’s Protestantism was gaining ground. Old Testament Creationism was always extolled in his publications and occupied large sections of his atlases. It might be said that he wasted his talents on calculations of specious time lines based on Old Testament texts. Yet he must have accepted Copericus- there must have been conflict between his religious upbringing, his scientific leaning and empirical knowledge. However sympathies for some of Luther’s ideas were to force him to flee Leuven where he had been imprisoned for “Lutheran Heracy” by Inquisitionists at the University of Leuven.

1530 From school, Mercator, as he was now called, entered to the University of Leuven, where his Latin name appears in the study records of 1530. He lived in the teaching institution, the Castle College. Fellow students included the anatomist Andrea Vesalius, the statesman Antoine Perrenot, and the theologian George Cassander. The “Bachelor” degree was, at Leuven, called “Magister”. And the core Trivium were: Philosophy, Ancient Greek and Theology; Greek Philosophy was Aristotelian. The Trivium was complemented by the lay subjects, the Quadrivium: Arithmetic, Music Astronomy, and Geometry. These subjects were secondary to Theology and Philosophy . Mercator graduated from Leuven as “Magister” in 1532.

1532 Mercator, aged 20, left the University of Leuven.

1532 -1534 Aged 20 to 22, Mercator was at Antwerp. Normally any good student having graduated as Magister might have gone on to study in one of the four faculties at Leuven: Theology, Medicine, and Law (Canon or Roman). Gisbert hoped Mercator would further study Theology and enter the Church but this did not happen. The dates suggest that meeting a young lady, Barbara Schellekens, may have ended this aspiration. There were also academic problems trying to reconcile Aristotelian Philosophy, Church teaching and his own empirical scientific observation and mathematical proofs. A particular problem arose with the Genesis Creation. Conflict leads to doubt, and doubt was heretical. He avoided the worst consequences of this intellectual conflict because he was not publishing in print. He went to Antwerp to study Philosophy. At Antwerp, Mercator exchanged views with the Franciscan monk Monachism of Mechelen- hardly a name, more a nom-de plume of anonymity for Monachus just means “monk”. This cloak over his identity was due to his humanism and challenging of the Aristotelian model of the world: he himself investigated and recorded observations. It is to be wondered that a pagan such as Aristotle would hold sway with the Catholic Church. Mercator studied Monachus’ map collection including the globe he had constructed for Jean Carondelet, Court Advisor to Charles V. The armature of the globe was built by Gaspar van der Heyden of Leuven (1495–1550). Later would be apprenticed to him.

1534 Mercator is 22 years old and leaves Antwerp University. He married Barbara Schellekens. (but other accounts say the marriage was in September 1536 when he was 24). Their children were: Arnold, Emerentia, Dorothes, Bartholomew, Rumold, Cartharina.

1534 At the end of 1534, aged 24, Mercator returned to Leuven and studied Geography, Astronomy and Mathematics informally under Gemma Frisius. Mercator’s natural gift for geography was not matched by his mathematical ability and he struggled for two years to master the basics, after which Leuven University permitted him to take some private pupils. Gemma had designed mathematical instruments and it was from him that Mercator learnt how to manufacture his own instruments. The other craft skill necessary was engraving on copper, and, particularly with cartography, the engraving of a mirror script: for this form of printing is intaglio and cannot be off-set.

1535. Mercator is 23 years old. Gemma, Van der Heyden and Mercator, planned a new globe to show their latest geographical discoveries. The paper elliptical panels, called gores, were to be engraved on copper, not wood, and the text was in the italic script, replacing the older Roman lettering formerly employed. Gemma produced the mapping, Van der Heyden engraved the geography and Mercator engraved the wording and scripts, including a title cartouche which published his name for the first time.

1536 Mercator is 24 years old. The Gemma, Heyden,Mercator globe was finished in 1536 and they produced its celestial partner a year later. Widely lauded, these were expensive and sales provided Mercator with additional income (to add to his sales of mathematical instruments and from teaching fees). Thus he was able to marry.

1536 Mercator’s marriage to Barbara Schellekens was in September 1536. (others cite 1534). In this year Mercator first used the Italic Script on the globe of Gemma.

1537. Arnold, the first child of Geert and Barbara Mercator was born. They were eventually to have six children; and, in 1537, aged 25, Mercator cemented his reputation with his Map of the Holy Land” which he researched, engraved, printed and partly published in league with others. It was dedicated to Francis van Cranevelt who was a member of the Mechelen Grand Council.

1537 Mercator is 25 years old in this year. The Portuguese cosmographer Pedro Nunes, who was born 1502 and died in 1578, became the first to describe the loxodrome and show its use in navigation. He argued for a marine atlas of several sheets in a cylindrical equidistant projection as, he pointed out, this would minimize distortion of directions (Rhumb lines). An assemblage of these would substantially produce a Mercator projection

1538 Mercator, aged 26, produced his first Map of the World called the Orbis Imago. It was dedicated to Johannus Drosius, a colleague and a student who became a radical priest and may have had Luthern sympathies. It has been contended that some of the symbolism on the Orbis Imago World map were hidden references to Mercator’s Lutheran sympathies. Mercator was putting himself in some danger from the Catholic theologians of Leuven University.

1540 Aged 28, Mercator made a Map of Flanders dedicated to the Emperor.

1540 Benjamin Mercator, Geert’s second son, was born in this year.

1541 Aged 29, Mercator made a terrestrial globe. All these early works were admired and sold well. The globe was dedicated to Nicholas Perronet, the Emperor’s chief advisor.

1542 In this year Mercator was thirty year old . Leuven was besieged by the troops of the Duke of Cleves, a Lutheran supporter but supported by the French, he was taking advantage of religious strife unrest for the advantage of both parties. Ten years later Mercator would petition the Duke of Cleves for aid. After the siege Leuven was impoverished and its merchants, traders and artisans suffered greatly- one of whom was Mercator. But of more seriousness for a young man whoi had flirted with Lutheran ideas, the Inquisition arrived in this year.

1543 Mercator was 31 years old in this year. His family had links to Molanus, a religious reformer who would later fled Leuven. He was also a friend of Melanchthon, the Lutheran reformer, and wrote to him. Mercator knew the free thinking Franciscans of Mechelen well and visited them. He may have, through these acts, come to the attention of Inquisition practitioners from the University of Leuven- notable Ruard Tappen and Jacob Latomer. Through them, Mercator was added to a list of 52 heretics of Leuven. The others were arrested, but Mercator was at Rupelmonde executing the will of Gisbert and managing his estate: Gisbet, his uncle, was recently deceased.

Mercator was arrested in Rupelmonde and imprisoned in the castle. He was accused of correspondence with the Franciscans of Mechelen but proof was not forthcoming. Some friends petitioned for his release, which happened after seven months, say some accounts; others say six months. Many of the 52 arrestees were tortured, two were burnt at the stake, one beheaded and two women were entombed alive, three others died in custody.

1545 Mercator was 33 in this year. Nicholas Perrenot recommended him to the Emperor, to make a set of instruments. The order was for Compasses, Globes, Astrolabes and Astronomical plane-rings. The work was finished in 1545 and Mercator was granted “Royal Approval” for his atelier. The instruments were to be lost on military campaign and Mercator had to make a second set, the whereabouts of which is not known.

1545 He returned to his major project for a highly detailed Wall Map of Europe. He had said on his 1538 world map, that this project was well advanced, but the map was not to appear until 1555.

1551 In this year, when 39 years old, Mercator’s Celestial Globe was finished It was the accompanying project to the 1541 Terrestrial Globe- and from this date, they were sold as a pair. Mercator globes were never updated but were still valued some ½ a century after the gore plates were cut.

1552 In this year, aged 40, Mercator moved from Leuven to Duisburg in Cleves. New teachers were required by the recently opened university there. Due to his birth he had not been granted full citizenship in Leuven. In Duisburg, Mercator established himself as a publisher of maps, and a maker of instruments and globes. He made globe for John Dee. Mercator became a friend of Walter Ghim, the twelve times mayor of Duisburg and, later, Mercator’s biographer. Duke Wilhelm of Duisburg appointed Mercator to the position of his Court Cosmographer. Mercator worked for the Duke to survey a disputed boundary between Duisburg, the County of Mark and Westphalia, a neighbouring Duchy.

1555 Mercator is 43 years old. The Detailed Wall map of Europe was published. It had been started in about 1534. Some give its publication year as 1554. It was dedicated to Antoine Perrenot, now a Cardinal. Some say it had been a 12 year project which would make its commencement 1542 (from 1554) It sold in large quantities for the rest of the century with a second edition in 1572 and a third edition in the atlas of 1595. Some Mercator maps are seen on the walls in Vermeer Van Delf’s paintings of the 17th century.

1558 Mercator is 46 years old. Arnold, the eldest, son of Mercator produced his first map. It showed Iceland, in this year. Years later Arnold took over the Mercator map globe and instrument business.

1559 When Mercator was 47, the Akademisches Gymnasium was founded in Duisburg when the Duke and the Duchy’s authorities finally lost interest in the planned University after years of Papal obfuscation. The Gymnasium did not require papal authority. In this year Mercator was asked to teach mathematics and cosmography.

1560 In this year, aged 48, Mercator was involved in the appointment of Jan Vermeulen, whose name was latinised to Molanus, as rector at the Gymnasium. Vermeulen then married Emerantia, Mercator’s daughter.

1562 Mercator is 50 years old. Bartholomew Mercator, Geert’s second son, took over the teaching of his father’s three year lecture-course at the Gymnasium which- Mercator had only taught once. Bartholomew was 22 years old.

1564 In the year 1564, when 52 years old, Mercator published his Map of Great Britain, a map of greatly improved accuracy which far surpassed any of his previous representations of the island. This map predated the Union of England and Scotland and in 1564, the English monarch was Elizabeth who had acceded to the throne following the death of her half sister Mary Tudor in 1558. This fact rather scotches some cartographic historian’s notions that it was anti Henry VIII, but the circumstances were certainly unusual . The fact that it is not dedicated suggests that the cartographer on the ground would have been at risk from such an acknowledgement. Mercator says in the script that it was not his map but that he engraved it for a “good friend”. Some say it was drawn by a Scots Catholic priest called John Elder, who smuggled it to a French priest who passed it to Antoine Petitioner, a friend of Mercator’s. Such subterfuge may not have been necessary if the source was in Scotland and this tale again seems to avoid the fact that the Kingdoms were not then united. Smuggling of texts would not have been necessary between Scotland and the Low Countries. The map is said to have been Catholic in its bias. It showed Pre Reformation institutions and none of the Tudor monarch’s “replacements”. The legends on it play down English history in favour of Scottish and Irish events- but this may just show the nationality of the cartographer. Hidden sources may also have been to protect Benjamin Mercator who was working in publishing houses in London in this Elizabethan age. Some say it proved to be an important document in the preparation for invasion by Phillip II of Spain with his Armada: but that project was wrecked by storms and the seamanship of Drake and the English Navy.

1564. This was the year when Mercator began engraving his Lorraine Map. After the Map of Britain was published Mercator was asked to survey and map Lorraine or Lotharingia and it was formerly called. This was the first time he was required to travel and undertaken surveying and information gathering “in the field” himself. He was not a traveller or surveyor. He set out, aged 52, accompanied by his second son, the academic, Bartholomew. Mercator undertook the work and produced through triangulated measurements in the wooded, and deep valleys of the region. His son claimed that the expedition “gravely imperilled (his father’s) life and weakened him so much that he came very close to a serious physical and mental breakdown: a derangement of his senses- brought about by those terrifying experiences.” Mercator returned home weak and ill and took to his bed. Bartholomew was left to continue in the field and collate the material back in Duisburg. No published map resulted, perhaps the Duke never intended the material to be commonly published. Slowly Mercator regained his health and spirits.

1565-1569 Mercator was 53 in 1565 and between these dates he was engaged on what he considered his most important work: a very large scholarly piece which would today be considered of no historical merit at all: the “Chronologia”,comprising a supposed table of the significant events since the beginning of the world compiled according to a literal reading of the Old Testament and 123 other sources: consisting of histories, genealogies and accounts of all regimes, empires and dynasties that, to his knowledge, had ever existed. Mercator made the first attempt to link recorded history to records of solar and lunar eclipses, calculated by him according to his understanding of the motions of the sun, moon and Earth. He linked in dates from other calendars and events recorded according to them: events from Babylon, Israel, Ancient Greece, the Annals of Rome. He married the eclipsed recorded by them with those known to him and calculated by him in the past. Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden, he reckoned, some 3,965 years before the birth of Jesus. The 400 page word was lauded and its false chronology was still being cited in the late 19th century by Bible commentators- ironically, mainly fundamentalist non-conformists. Mercator considered this his greatest achievement. Back in Leuven the Catholic Authorities placed it on the prohibited list because it included the acts of Protestant reformers and Luther. This greatly added to the work’s attraction – for there was some prestige in being on the “Index Librorum Prohibitorum”

The Chronologia developed into an even wider project: the Cosmographia, his description of the Universe. Mercator’s outline was (1st) the creation of the world; (2nd) the description of the heavens (astronomical and astrological); (3rd) the earth comprising modern geography, the geography of Ptolemy and the geography of the ancients; (4th) genealogies and history of the known states; and (5th) The Chronology. Of these: the Chronology had already been accomplished, the account of the creation and the modern maps would appear in the atlas of 1595,

This period around 1565 must be about the last time when the idea that one could essentially publish the combined knowledge of the World – even in outline form- in one work- could be entertained. It is interesting that this is contemporary to Shakespeare of whom, it has been said, that he was the last person to have read all (non-trivial) works available in the English Language.

1568 Mercator is 56 years old. Bartholomew, Mercator’s second son, died aged 28, died. He had taken over some of his father’s courses at the Duisburg Gymnasium.

In 1587 Rumold, Mercator’s third son, returned to Duisburg and later, in 1594, it fell to his lot to publish Mercator’s works posthumously. Rumold would spend a large part of his life in London’s publishing houses providing for Mercator a vital link to the new discoveries of the Elizabethan age. In 1587 Mercator was 75 years old.

1569    Mercator was 57 years old. The most important date in the history of Mercator’s cartography. This was the year of the publication of the Mercator projection which mapped the surface of the earth flat, as if on a cylinder not a sphere and so created as to make the Rhumb lines remain accurate and straight- for navigation. This type of map projection is often described as the “cylindrical projection”. The meridians (of longitude) are equally spaced, parallel vertical lines, and the parallels of latitude are parallel, horizontal straight lines, spaced increasingly far apart as they distance themselves from the Equator. The projection is widely used for navigation charts, because a straight line is a line of “constant true bearing” enabling a navigator to plot straight-line courses. It is less practical for world maps because the scale is distorted; areas farther away from the equator appear disproportionately large. Mercator’s 1569 map using his new projection was a large flat projection measuring 79 1/2 inches by 49 inches. He called this his “new and augmented description of Earth corrected for the use of sailors”.

1569 Perhaps his most famous World Map was published in this year. It was accompanied by about 5100 words of engraved script arranged on 15 panels or explanations. Contemporary to the World map, Mercator published: Nova et Aucta Orbis Terrae Descriptio ad Usum Navigantium Emendate Accommodata (A new and more complete representation of the terrestrial globe properly adapted for the use of navigation (or sailors). In a preface to a map series. Mercator cites Atlas, the mythical king of Mauritania, not the Titan, who was his father. Mercator read of this Atlas as having been a learned figure and skilled in the geographical sciences of his (mythical) age, “Atlas, a King notable for his erudition, humaneness, and wisdom” so much so as to form a “model for my imitation.” Hence the modern term “Atlas” is coined.

1570 Around 1570 the Military Commander of Julich asked Mercator, then aged 58, to prepare a suite of Regional Maps of Europe to accompany Johnannes, the Heir to Julich on a tour. This has been called the Atlas of Europe, though Mercator did not coin that title. Some of the pages were parts of large Mercator wall maps and some were not by Mercator at all: such as the 30+ maps from Abrahamus Ortelius’s “Theatre of the Sphere of the World”: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. At this time the word for a map collection was hovering between Atlas (Blaeu and Mercator’s term, and “Theatre” used by Ortelius and most of the English 16th century cartographers.

1578 Mercator, aged 66, published an edition of Ptolemy’s Geography. This was the world as described in toponyms and a kind of grid reference by the Romano Egyptian geographer from Alexandria.

1578 Mercator’s Mauretania map appears in the greater folio.

1578 Mercator’s 28 maps of Ptolemy appeared. The work has been described as an “Epitaph to Ptolemy”. Ptolemy had worked on two projections and listed the supposed latitude and longitude of over 8,000 sites: usually towns, promontories, islands, river mouths. The 28 map project had started in 1568 and had lasted 10 years- with breaks for other commissions. Ptolemy, an Egyptian of Alexandria, wrote in Greek.

1585 In 1585 Mercator, aged 73, published a folio of 51 maps of France, Germany and the Netherlands.

1586: Barbara Schellekens, Mercator’s first wife died. Mercator was 74; his eldest son Arnold was to die in the following year leaving Rumold and Arnold’s sons to continue the family firm. The deaths prompted an interest in philosophy philosophy and theology. Three written works appears at this time. “On the Harmonisation of the Gospels”, and Commentaries on the New Testament Epistles of Paul and the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel.

1587. Arnolf, Mercator’s 1st son died a year after his mother. Mercator was 75 years old.

1587 In 1587 Rumold ,Mercator’s third son, returned to Duisburg from England. Later, in 1594, he published Mercator’s last works works posthumously, having finished them, or readied them for publication.

Rumold, spent many years in London, working in publishing houses. This is said to have furnished Mercator with much geographical information from the navigators of the English Elizabethan age. It is interesting to speculate on which cartographers he may have met: certainly Saxon, perhaps Lord Burghley his patron, possibly Rudd, probably not Speed.

1589 Mercator married a second wife: Gertrude Fingerlings. He was 77 years old. Mercator had a new zest for life. Gertrude Vierlings, was the widow of a mayor of Duisburg. Rumold married her daughter at the same time.

1590 In this year Mercator, aged 78, has a seizure or stroke and was left incapacitated. He tried to finish his remaining map projects, so religious works and a new account of the Creation of the World, which was finished. It was, to him the philosophical and theological background to all his map making and underpinned his oeuvre and atlas.

1594. Mercator, aged 82, died after two strokes in this year. It was 4 years after his first stroke (if he had not suffered and undiagnosed one on his field trip of 1564. He was buried in St. Salvatore’s Church in Duisburg. He died on the 2nd of December at the age of 82. Then Duisburg was in the United Duchy of Cleves, Berg and Julich- a part of the Empire.

1644 A memorial to Mercator was placed in St Salvatore’s, Duisburg 50 years after his death. The inscription praises him for his excellence in mathematics and for his globes which “represented the heaven from beneath and the Earth from above. He was man of erudition in theology.”

1595 Mercator’s Atlas of smaller maps with 100 new maps bound: his previous maps had tended to be large for wall hanging. This Atlas has some 100 pages of maps and 20 pages of illustrated titles. Then many pages are given over to an explanation of the creation of the Universe. He then describes the countries shown. His chronology is about 400 pages long and cites dates from the Biblical Creation. He also codifies Ruling families and dynasties, Battles and War, events of social import, notes eruptions of volcanoes, eclipses of the Sun, notable earthquakes etc.

1598 The death of Ortelius in 1598 but his atlas, the Theatrum continued to sell well and this is considered to have hampered sales of Mercator’s atlas and works. Ortelius produced more decorative work. An analogy might be made between Saxton and Speed maps in England.

1599 Rumbold Mercator died.

1599 The English mathematician Edward Wright, born in 1558, died in 1615, published tables for the construction of an accurate Mercator type projection from 1599 to 1610.This was, of course, after Mercator’s map.

1600 An English mathematicians called Thomas Harriot, who was born in 1560–and who died in 1621,independently associated the Mercator projection with its logarithmic formula, a connection later demonstrated by calculus.

1602 The existent family posthumously produced a second volume of the atlas in which texts were changed but no addition cartography was produced.

1604 The sale in Leyden in the Netherlands of Mercator’s Library which is said to have shown that the existent family were in some financial trouble. A book of particular interest from this library is Mercator’s self annotated copy of Copernicus’s book “De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium “which is now housed in Glasgow.

1604 The Mercator family sold his copper plates to Jodocus Hondius in this year; Hondius re-edited the atlas with 40 more maps, including Portugal and Spain.

1606 In 1606 a new edition of the posthumous atlas appeared, now with Hondius as author; he did still acknowledge the authorship of those maps drawn by Mercator.

1645 English mathematician Henry Bond, born 1600–died 1678, independently in 1645 calculated and linked the Mercator projection to its modern logarithmic formula.

MERCATOR’S PROJECTION

Mercator’s 1569 map showed a large rendering of the earth on a flat surface measuring 79 ½ inches by 49 inches, printed originally on eighteen leaves. It is a cylindrical projection in which parallels and meridians are straight and perpendicular to each other. So at every point location the east-west scale is the same as the north-south scale, making the projection “conformal”, and on such a projection, angles are preserved from any location.

Because the linear scale of a Mercator map increases with latitude, it distorts the size of objects far from the equator, an effect which can be alleviated- particularly locally with a Secant Projection.  At latitudes greater than 70° north or south the Mercator projection is impractical: the linear scale becomes infinitely long at the poles. This form of Mercator map can never fully show the polar regions but a Transverse Mercator projection can. The Ordnance Survey uses the Transverse Mercator Projection for its survey of Great Britain- however on such a projection rhumb lines are no long straight but arc.

All lines of so-called rhumb lines or loxodromes are straight on a standard Mercator map. The two properties, conformality and straight loxodromes, make this projection most suited for marine navigation.

Mercator’s 1569 world map was entitled “Nova et Aucta Orbis Terrae Descriptio ad Usum Navigantium Emendata”: “A New and Improved Description of the Sphere of the Earth Corrected for the Use of Navigators (sailors)”. Although the method of construction is not explained by the author, Mercator probably used a manual graphic method, transferring a sample of rhumb lines, plotted on a globe, to a grid formed out of lines of latitude and longitude, and then adjusting the spacing between parallels so that those lines became straight.

It was much ahead of its time: the old navigational techniques were not compatible with its use in navigation. Two factors prevented its immediate adoption: the impossibility of determining the longitude at sea accurately; and, that magnetic directions, not geographical directions, were used in navigation. Only in the 18th century, when the marine chronometer was perfected by Harrison- which led to the distribution of magnetic declination being known, could Mercator’s projection be adopted.

For maps, the ellipsoid of the Earth is approximated to a sphere of of a given radius x. Many different methods exist for calculating x. They throw up variations of about 21 miles which for most maps may be ignored, and one arrives at mean values giving a radius of 3959 miles and circumference of 24,873 miles. Cylindrical projections: The spherical Earth with radius “x” can be modelled by a sphere internal to a cylinder of radius “r”, which determines the scale of the map. The cylinder is unrolled to give the planar map.

Since the cylinder is tangential to the globe at the equator, the scale between globe and cylinder is completely accurate on equator but nowhere else.

A classic way of showing the distortion inherent in a Mercator projection is to use Tissot’s indicatrix. Nicolas Tissot (1824-1897) was a French cartographer who noted that for cylindrical projections the scale factors at a point, define an ellipse at that point of the projection. The axes of the ellipse are aligned to the meridians and parallels. His distortion circles, show the level of distortion at any latitude from accurate at the Equator to very elongated eclipses near the poles.

One measure of a map’s accuracy is a comparison of the length of corresponding lines on the map and globe. Therefore, by construction, the Mercator projection is perfectly accurate along the equator and nowhere else. At a latitude of 25 degrees north or south of the Equator it is about 1.1 of the equatorial length, and therefore the projection may be deemed accurate to within 10% in a strip of width 50° 9north and south and centred on the equator). Therefore, the Mercator projection is adequate for mapping countries close to the equator: hence the development of the secant Mercator variant.

In a Secant Mercator projection the globe is projected to a cylinder which passes without the sphere at two parallel latitudes in the north and south hemispheres. The scale is now true at these latitudes whereas parallels between these latitudes (near the equator) are contracted by the projection and their scale factor there must be less than one. The result is that deviation of the scale from unity is reduced over a wider range of latitudes.

The scale on the equator is less than 1:1; and is dead accurate at the two secant latitudes, where the sphere touches the cylinder. But the inaccuracy is generally reduced and spread over a wider band of latitudes.

Therefore, the projection has a better general accuracy compared with the standard Mercator projection, particularly for seas beyond the tropics.

Converting ruler distance on the Mercator map into true (great circle) distance on the sphere is straightforward along the equator but nowhere else. The scale varies with latitude.

The distinction between rhumb (sailing) distance and great circle (true) distance was well understood by Mercator. He stated that the rhumb line distance is an acceptable approximation for true great circle distance only for courses of short or moderate length, and particularly so at lower latitudes. He said: “When the great circle distances to be measured are in the vicinity of the equator do not exceed 20 degrees of a great circle, or 15 degrees near Spain and France, or 8 and even 10 degrees in northern parts it is convenient to use rhumb line distances”.

In his general descriptions of usage, he e thus divided the world known to him into three zones of navigation:

1:  “Northern”, which meant  British  Isles , North Germany, the Baltic etc.

2.  France and Spain.

3. Tropics.

On the equator: Scale is correct on the equator. Therefore, interpreting ruler measurements on the equator is simple: True distance  equals ruler distance.

On a meridian: A meridian of the map is a great circle on the globe but the continuous variation of scale as one travels s=north or south of the Equator means ruler measurement cannot show the true distance between points on the meridian. However, if the map is marked with an accurate and finely spaced latitude scale from which the latitude may be read directly—as is the case on three of the 18 plates which form the Mercator 1569 world map,  and on all subsequent nautical charts.

Joan Blaeu

 WILLEM, JOAN AND CORNELIUS BLAEU 

1571  Willem Janszoon Blaeu was born in Amsterdam
 (He died also in Amsterdam in 1638). He was the founder
 of the Blaeu Publishing House and established the great 
reputation of Blaeu cartography. Willem Blaeu can also be
 found as Willem Janszoon Blaeu, Willem Jansz Blaeu, 
Guilielmus Janssonius, Willems Jans Zoon, Guilielmus or G. Blaeu.
  Blaeu was a maker of globes and scientific instruments and 
purchased some  early map plates from Jodocus Hondius. Hondius 
was more of a  craftsman engraver than a cartographer and so
 Blaeu was buying the work of other- possibly English- map makers.
 Hondius was the Amsterdam engraver who had worked with Speed,
 and so Speed works could have been among those early purchases, 
and Speed copied much from Saxton, so a given map- say Blaeu’s 
Herefordshire- could have this complex provenance.  From this 
small beginning  the Blaeu house was to emerge one of the largest
 and most prolific map publishing businesses of the seventeenth
 century.  Willem’s great interest in mathematics and astronomy
 led him to travel to Denmark to meet Tycho Brahe where he learned 
globe-making. He  returned to the Netherlands,  set up a business
 in Amsterdam , produced globes and  added a printing press which
 was to be the embryo of the family company.

1581   The Dutch Revolution and consequent  rise of the Dutch Republic, 
from 1581, freeing the Provinces from French German and Spanish 
authority, had been one of the most remarkable events of modern 
European history. A small, low-lying region,smaller than Yorkshire,
  where the Rhine Amsel and Scheldt met the sea : essentially a 
group of estuaries lacking natural resources, developed an mercantile 
society based on shipping which came to dominate Northern Europe
 and out perform England as a naval power. The rise in commerce 
saw a flowering of art and science. It was tailored to a bourgeois 
clientele, not an aristocracy and not the Church.  It was in 
cartography that these three disciplines: commerce, science and
 art, were to unite. The Dutch had a strong history in map making,
 most notably through Mercator and Ortelius, but by the middle 
of the 17th Century, it was the atelier of Blaeu stood out. 
The Blaeu workshop produced the fine atlases.  A perfectionist,
 Willem Blaeu used the best engravers, printers, colourists 
and materials to achieve his goals.

1594  Death of Mercator. His birth name was  Geert De Kremer- 
a German born in Flanders. Blaeu re-established the reputation 
of “Mercator Projection”.

1596  Joan Blaeu was born  on the 23rd of September 1596 in 
Alkmaar.  Joan Blaeu can also be found called Johannes Blaeu; 
John Wiliamson Blaeu; Johannes Willemszoon. Alkmaar lies north
 west of Amsterdam and about 38 miles distant near  the coastal 
town of Egmond aan Zee The Zuider Zee lay due east but now that
 is the Markermeer.

1608  Willem is 37 years old and here in 1608 his first 
publications appear including sea charts in “Het Licht Der Zee-Vaert”
 “The Light”, in 1608 and a revised issue of Copernicus’
 De Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestium. (Concerning the Revolution
 of Heavenly Spheres). The atlas was based around the printing 
plates acquired from Jodocus Hondius Jr.’s stock, who had himself
 published the later edition of Mercator’s Atlas. The Engraver 
Hondius was also the chief engraver working with Speed. The atlas 
contained some sixty maps. This work was expanded in 1631 to 
contain 98 maps and bore the joint imprint of father and son 
with the title Appendix Theatri A.Ortelii Et Atlantis G. Mercatoris.  

1612  Death of  Jodocus Hondius, who was really called  Joost de Hondt.
 (1563 – 12 February 1612). He  was the Dutch or Flemish engraver
 and cartographer who had sold plates Blaeu and had thus kick
 started that Cartographic house.  a Low Countries’ engraver 
and cartographer. Hondius is best known for his early maps of
 the New World and Europe. He re-established the reputation of
 Gerard Mercator, and engraved for John Speed.
It is interesting that Mercator’s star had waned at all. 

Mercator, 1512-1594, contributed two important things to 
cartography: first was the word “Atlas” which he took from 
the mythical  King of Mauritania. This was a legendary King, 
cosmologer, geographer: he was not the same as the mythical 
Atlas and when designers show Atlas bearing the world of his
 shoulders as a symbol of a geographical atlas, they mistake
 this point. Secondly Mercator produced his famous projection 
which envisages the world, not as a sphere, but as a cylinder 
and thus the lines of longitude are equidistant but the lines 
of latitude expand to the north and south pole and in the high
 polar regions become nonsense. This projection allows a world
 map to be printed on paper continuously without  “sections of
 a sphere” projecting north and south like fronds. It has the 
 immediately apparent consequence of grossly exaggerating the 
northern realms. Greenland begins to dwarf Africa. Baffin Island
 is almost “continental” in size.
The apparent magic of a Mercator projection is that bearings
 remain true;  lines of bearings or Rhumb lines are constant
 and the map is of immense use to shipping.  His new projection
 was introduced in 1569 as the “ Nova et Aucta Orbis Terrae Descriptio
 ad Usum Navigantium Emendate Accommodata”  : "A New and Complete 
Description of the Terrestrial Sphere properly adapted for
 Navigational Use". Mercator is Latin for Kramer (his birth name),
 which means “merchant”.

1620  In 1620 Joan Blaeu became a doctor of law but he chose to
 join the workshop of his father, William, rather than practise law.
1630 Willem's two sons, Joan and Cornelius, both entered the
 family business and in 1630 the firm published its first world
 atlas, bound as a single volume. This first world atlas, 
Willem’s “The Atlantis Appendix” was published  in association
 with his eldest son, Joan Blaeu. 

1631  The early atlas was expanded in 1631 to contain
 98 maps and bore the joint imprint of father William
 and son Joan with the title “Appendix Theatri A.Ortelii
 Et Atlantis G. Mercatoris.”: a form of words which recalls 
the official title of Speed’s atlas.
  
1634 This is the year cited by some for the publication 
of the two volume  “ Theatrum orbis terrarum, sive, Atlas novus”. 

1635. The Blaeu World Atlas was increased to two volumes 
in this year. This Atlas Novus was properly titled “Theatrum
 orbis terrarum, sive, Atlas novus”. That word “Theatre” had 
also been used by Speed for his British Atlas.  This two-volume 
work was more extensive still and now had up to 208 maps.  This
 atlas was published in four separate editions in four different
 languages: ( Dutch¸ Latin, French and ???? perhaps English?) 
clear evidence of the Blaeu ambitions. The success of this atlas
 and plans for follow on publications meant a move of premises 
became necessary in this year.

1638   Joan and his brother Cornelius took over the studio 
after their father died in 1638.  In that year Joan was 40 
years old.   Willem had been the founder of the Blaeu publishing 
house and established the fine reputation of Blaeu maps. 
1640 The Blaeu World Atlas Was increased to three volumes. 
Joan became the official cartographer of the Dutch East India Company.

1644. Cornelius died in this years. Joan would have been 48
 and Cornelius was his younger brother but his birth date is 
not known: one must assume he was about 44 when he died.

1645  Here Joan is working by himself – both Willem and 
Cornelius are now deceased. In 1645 Joan Blaeu published 
a county Atlas of England and Wales as part of his Atlas 
Novus, with maps based mainly on the earlier research of 
Saxton and Speed. The atlas was regarded as a masterpiece
 with a balanced style and calligraphic quality that has 
never been surpassed. Each map epitomised the craftsmanship
 and artistry of the Blaeu workshop being beautifully ornate 
with fine cartouches, heraldic shields and engraved calligraphy. 

1648  Blaeu's world map,”Nova et Accuratissima Terrarum 
Orbis Tabula”, incorporating the discoveries of Abel Tasman,
(after whom Tasmania was later named) was published in 1648. 
 This map was revolutionary for  it depicted the solar system 
according to the heliocentric theories of Nicolaus Copernicus:
 that is with the earth revolving around the Sun. Although 
Copernicus's book: “De Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestium”:
 “On the Revolutions of the Spheres in the Heavens” had been
 first printed in 1543, just over a century earlier, Joan Blaeu was,
 surprisingly,  the first mapmaker to incorporate this now not
 so revolutionary heliocentric theory into a map of the world.

1649  Around 1649 Joan Blaeu published a collection of Dutch
 city maps called “Toonneel der Steeden”: or Views of Towns. 
In 1651 he was voted onto the Amsterdam Council. 

1654  In 1654 Joan published the first atlas of Scotland, 
a work devised by Timothy Pont.  Pont, it will be noted, 
was long dead by some 40 years. Timothy Pont, 1565–1614, 
was a Scottish cartographer and topographic surveyor. He 
is said to have been the first to draw a detailed map of 
the Kingdom of Scotland. Pontius or Pont' drew  maps which 
are among the earliest surviving to show any country in 
accurate and close detail, from an actual ground survey 
carried out for the purpose. He was also involved in the 
Plantation of Scots in Ulster and so might have mapped the
 North of Ireland too.

1655  Blaeu's map was copied as the map of the world set 
into the pavement 
of the Groote Burger-Zaal of the new Amsterdam Town Hall,
 (he was on 
the Amsterdam Council) designed by the Dutch architect Jacob van Campen 
in 1655. This building is now the Royal Palace.

1659  Blaeu's “Hollandia Nova” or “New Holland”, by which is meant Au
stralia, was also depicted in his Archipelagus Orientalis sive
 Asiaticus published in 1659 in the Kurfürsten Atlas (called also
 the Atlas of the Great Elector). 

1662  In 1662 he reissued his Atlas Novus, also known as Atlas Maior,
 now in 11 volumes, and one for oceans. The English  maps reappeared 
in Volume V. of his Atlas Maior, perhaps, say some, the finest cartographic 
work ever produced. Joan Blaeu’s objective was the fullest possible 
description of Heaven, Earth and Seas and continually expanded the
 Novus Atlas in this limitless quest.  The work grew from one to two,
 to four, to nine, to eleven, to twelve folio volumes by 1662. 
 Generally regarded as the pinnacle of 17th century atlas- making; 
the Atlas Maior in its final state comprised 655 maps. 

1663  As "Jean Blaeu", he also published the 12 volume "Le Grand
 Atlas, ou Cosmographie blaviane, en laquelle est exactement descritte
 la terre, la mer, et le ciel": “ The Great Atlas or Blaeu’s Cosmology,
 in which is exactly described the Earth, the Sea and the Heavens”. 
One edition is dated 1663. That was folio sized (which is 540 x 340 mm), 
1664  Hollandia Nova was used by Melchisédech Thévenot to produce 
his map, Hollandia Nova: or Terre Australe  in1664. So perhaps
 “Australia” was first coined in French not English.

1672  Fire destroyed the atelier completely in the year 1672. 
Though his map production still continued in Amsterdam it never fully
 recovered from the catastrophe  of 1672. The events ended Blaeu's
 hegemony over the Amsterdam map trade. The loss of his life’s work 
(plates and equipment) probably contributed to the great man's death
 in the following year. It does however, mean that unlike Saxton or 
Speed: there cannot have been a great number of pirated plates and 
pulls following his death and this fact may have enhanced his reputation. 
In its day the Blaeu publishing house was one of the largest in the world.
1673  Joan Blaeu died in Amsterdam, Holland on the 21st of December 
in 1673. He was 77 years old when he died.

A Description of a Joan Blaeu Plate: taken from “Herefordshire”:
The map is on a double page sheet 22 3/4 inches by 20 inches.
The verso is printed in Latin Text describing counties.
The Map defaults to Latin for most of its major working but
 English for the local toponyms: Hundreds, villages and towns.
The points of the compass are in Latin as is the title in a 
scrolled decorative cartouche at top right.
The Surrounding county names are in a Latin form and the phrase 
“Latin name  “in English” English Name” is  varied  thus:
 RADNORIA Commitatis Anglice Radnorshire; SALOPAE COMITATUS Vulgo 
Shropshire; WIGORNIA COMITATUS Vulgo Worcestershre;  BRECHINIAW  
Vernacular Breknocke Shire; MONUMETHENSIS Vulgo Monmouthshire;
 ANGLOCENTRIST Anglice Gloucestershire.
A few pieces of English are suspect even for the date and probably
 a copy error and proof that Blaeu was not an English Speaker: 
Archenfeeilde (the double e is Dutch); Mounmouth Shire, Gilden Vale
 (Golden Vale). Bullingbrok (Bolingbroke). Munmow Flu (Monnow), 
 perhaps: Arro (Arrow), Lidbury (which is Ledbury in the verso text).
The  parks of gentlemen are circular fenced enclosures – sometimes 
named, sometimes not. Towns or boroughs have a red spot:  Kyneton,
 Hereford, Rosse (sic).  Hundred are names in Roman Capitals thus “
 HVNLINGTON HVND.” and are separated from each other by a dotted line. 
No reference to Wales is made and Blaeu counts this in the Kingdom of England.
Dettacjed parts or Islands of Herefordshire are seen in Brecknockshire
  about “The Forkoke”; Radnorshire (about Lytton); in Shropshire 
(about Rocheford);  and Part of Monmouthshire is on the western
 bank of the Wye between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire 
 containing Welsh Bicknor.
The  county border has a dotted engraved line and is highlighted 
in umber watercolour. This colour is also used  in lateral lines 
to give a landscape look to  certain districts- about the engraved
 hills, about the woodland, and in the parks.  The hills are
 engraved like quite realistic mountain ranges- not in the manner
 of the “mole-hills- of Saxton or Speed. They are uniformly lit
 by a sun in the south west and shaded to the north east.
The rivers are blue coloured in wash and line engraved in the 
intaglio. They are named  in English with the Latin  “Flu” behind
 thus: Wye Flu, Arro Flu, Lug Flu,  Bradfold Flu, Liddon Flu, Frome Flu, 
Teme Flu.
The Armorial Bearings are in a line down the right hand margin and
 on the bottom margin right, but those bottom ones are empty escutcheons. 
The shields shown William Fitz Osborn, a shield , field gules with
 a bend and bar. argent
; Robert Bossu E. with a Cinque-foil argent on or. Miles, Constable
 of England, gules with two bends argent . Henry Bohum, Lions azure
  on field or and lions or on a field azure, divided by a bend 
argent bordered gules.  Henry  Bullingbrok Duke: Royal arms of 
England and France with a bend argent. Stafford Field or, chevron 
gules.  Up in the top left is the escutcheon of the English Arms:
 gules three leopards- here uncoloured. 
The border is lines – a wide double, a thin double and a broad 
single line on the outer edge- Then the plate mark which is visible
 on all sides. This is quite near the outer engraved edging line and 
has hand chamfered rounded corners.
The paper is thick and tram lined in both directions in the watermark. 
The decorative cartouche about the title shows ears of grain, apples
 and pears with oak leaves. The grain looks like barley. So this 
festoon is designed to  represent the products of the county.
The allegorical figures at bottom left show  two putti holding the 
scale which is Milliaria Anglica quoru quatuor unum constituunt Germanicum: 
“ English Miles of which four constitute and German mile”. On the right 
of this group is an orb  with bands on which are fixed the  planets. 
This is a  symbol showing that Blaeu is fully supportive of the system 
as described by Copernicus.  On the left is a strange figure. He looks 
like a Norwegian in an almost Sami like costume – a smock top , blue 
breeches and boots and a tall red cap. In his cloth belt are instruments,
 set squares etch. Leaning to the left against the map border are his 
cross staffs and in his hand are dividers. I wonder who this figure is:
 Mercator perhaps whom the Blaeu Company did do much to advocate: maybe
 an English cartographer- Saxton or Rudd. He has a very long full beard
 in the Eastern European manner so I guess this is Copernicus.
The Hundreds of the county were those regions of Saxon times 
(here in the Kingdom of the Mercians) which were required to raise 
100 fighting men for the Fyrd when called upon to do so. Here they are :
WIGMORE; WOLSEY; BROXASHE; STRETFORDE; HUNLINGTON; EWIASLACY; 
WEBTREE; GRIMSWORTH; RADLOWE; GREYTREE; WORMELOWE. The Hundred
 of Herefordshire sure south east from Hay seems not to have a name,
 nor does the very small region  about Llantony and Trewin which 
might have been a district of  “Breknoke” and thus not required to 
raise troops for the Hereford Fyrd- being without the Kingdom.
Monmouth was a Marcher  Lordship and had an ambiguous status at 
the time of this map, though the Lordship had long been taken back 
by the English Crown from the  Baderon Breton lords. It only became
 officially Wales in 1972.
It is not apparent that Blaeu or his source had any good understanding 
of the  geography of hills: The Malvern Hills are shown in the east 
of this map and they are in fact a straight north south volcanic 
range but are here the same scattered 
 hill-symbols seen throughout the map.
The script is clear and uses the medial “s” in the form of an
 “f”: thus: Brinfop, Rofemaund, Kingefland. This causes some 
ambiguity when the medial letter might be an “f”:  Derefold Forest,
 Clyfford Castle.
The script tends towards “y” not “i”: Fowemynd, Mychaelchurch. Byllyngham.
 In vernacular toponyms the “V”is a “U”, and in the Latin 
toponyms the “U” is a “V”: MONVMENTHENSIS.
There are  language errors on the plate such as “Part of Moumouth Shire”.

THE VERSO
The page was never bound into Blaeu’s atlas. It was on a tab 
which was in turn bound in.
The verso script is Latin and described Radnor on the Left and 
Herefordshire on the right. There are two columns to a page with
 margin notes throughout. The pages here were 291-292 of the 
ordinal Blaeu Atlas. The text is set type not engraved but the
 italic script may have been  on  complete relief blocks for 
each phrase for they do not look separable  into letter blocks.
 Some words are in a Saxon Uncial Scrips and Anglo Saxon language 
and are then translated into Latin. Ledbury is so called in the 
text which suggests that “Lidbury” on the map is a script error.

John Speed

John Speed, born in 1551 Cheshire – died on 28 July 1629 in the City of
London. He was an English cartographer and historian.  He is England’s
best-known cartographer of the Stuart period, but his first maps were
printed in the reign of Elizabeth. He was an almost exact contemporary
of Shakespeare, whom he hated, and his cartographic career overlapped
that of Christopher Saxton who was half a generation older.
John Speed is the best known antique English cartographer, because his
maps are the showiest. His maps attract superlatives such as “visually
stunning”.

Speed was born at Farndon in Cheshire. Farndon is on the banks of the
Dee and very close to the Welsh border. It has a Welsh name: “Redynfre”.
Speed was christened in St Chad’s Parish Church in the village. Holt is
the village on higher ground just over the river in Wales. Farndon is
due south of Chester and north east of Stoke on Trent.
John Speed was the natural son of his father: Samuel Speed, and mother
Elizabeth Cheynye (born in 1530 aged 21 when her son was born). His
parents later married. It is said that John went into the tailoring
business of his father, but in fact John Speed was made a freeman of
the Merchant Taylor’s Company on the 10th of September 1580 through
patrimony not profession. No professional training or occupation is
written in the records of the Company. He was 29 years old when entered
into the Company. Speed removed to London, some say as a tailor, other
say not.
While working in London, Speed came to the attention of eminent people
who, for some unspecified reason (and here biographies become very
vague), were drawn to him and prepared to back him financially. One was
Sir Fulke Greville (one source gives him as: Sir Fulk Revil). Fulke
Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, 13th Baron Latimer and 5th Baron Willoughby
de Broke KB, born 1554 – died, 1628), known before 1621 as Sir Fulke
Greville. He was an Elizabethan and Jacobean poet, dramatist,
and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between
1581 and 1621, in which year he was raised to the peerage. Greville was
a capable administrator who served the English Crown under Elizabeth
and James I as Treasurer of the Navy, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and
Commissioner of the Treasury, for which service he was made Baron
Brooke. Greville was granted Warwick Castle in 1604, and set about
improving. Greville was the biographer of Sir Philip Sidney. He inclined
towards Calvinism which makes it all the more surprising that he
embraced Speeds decorative art and cartography. Greville saw the Canaan
map and realised Speeds potential. He became his patron and made him an
allowance: enabling Speed to devote his whole attention to historical
and cartographic research. Speed’s first map, Canaan, was produced, some
say, when he was still tailoring-in 1595. By 1598, Speed had enough
patronage to engage in full-time scholarship. Greville introduced Speed
to the Court and the Queen granted him the use of a room in the Custom
House. Why Speed, a tailor turned scholar should have attracted such
attention is not certain.
In 1575, Speed married Susanna Draper in London. They had children:
Sarah Speed, (The later Dr.) John Speed, Samuel Speed, Anne Speed,
William Speed and two other children. The Speed family was comfortably
off.
Speed presented Canaan and other maps to the Queen in 1598. In
1611-1612 he published his maps of Great Britain, with which his son
John assisting him to survey English towns.
Speed died age about 78, in August 1629, only one year after Greville.
He was buried alongside his wife in London’s St Giles-without at
Cripplegate Church formerly on Fore Street but now in the Barbican
Estate and used much by the Guildhall School of Music.  Later, a
memorial to John Speed was erected behind the altar. His was one of the
few memorials in the church that survived bombing during The Blitz. The
cast for the niche in which the bust is placed was provided by the
Merchant Taylors’ Company, of which John Speed had been a member.” .
Speed was a failed historian and a successful map maker but his Atlas of
Britain was conceived as an adjunct or appendix to his History. It was
with the encouragement of William Camden ( English antiquarian,
historian, topographer, herald, and author of Britannia) that Speed
began his “Historie of Great Britaine”, published in 1611. The atlas was
called “The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine” and that was
tellingly autobiographical for what he added to cartography after the
sober work of Saxton was “theatre”. He had access to historical
cartography, certainly Paris, Rudd and Saxton: but certainly  not Morden
as suggested by some, for Morden post dates Speed by many years. His
historical work is not highly regarded compared compared to his
map-making, of which his most important contribution is arguably
his town plans, many of which provide the first survey of those towns:
some appeared as plans others as views, there were border pieces to his
county maps. While compiling his atlas, Speed appealed by letters
to Robert Cotton, and English Governmental official asking for
assistance in gathering necessary materials. Cotton admired and helped
Speed: he was an elected Member of Parliament for Newtown, Isle of
Wight in 1601 and made a Knight in 1604. He helped devise the
institution  Baronet a crude device by which the King could raise funds
without giving seats in the House of Lords: Cottons immersed himself
in the study of old documents and came to see the King as a danger to
Parliament. Fearing him to be a radical the King confiscated his
library in 1630. The Cotton Library is of great importance for Old
manuscripts and often cited. Cotton must have been drawn to Speed’s
history and historical maps.

Speed’s atlas: “The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine” was
published in 1611-1612, One account contended that it “contained the
first set of individual county maps of England and Wales” which it
certainly did not: that honour fell to Saxton in his atlas of 1570-79.
Early editions of the “Theatre Of The Empire Of Great Britain” were
published by John Sudbury and George Humble. It included an  Ireland map
and a General Map of Scotland. In his introduction he claimed, in a
flowery style which was parodied by later cartographers even up to
Cruchley, that his purpose: “was to shew the situation of every Citie
and Shire-town by the help of the map and tables. Any Citie, Towne,
Borough, Hamlet, or Place of Note is shewn and it may be affirmed, that
there is not any one Kingdome in the world so exactly described as is
Great Britaine in this work. In shewing these things, I have sought to
give satisfaction to all.” (paraphrased)
The map plates were intaglio; copper plate engravings: which is not an
off-set process, so some engravers worked via mirrors, other were
proficient in engraved mirror-script which would print as positive text.
Etching may also featured on these plates as a cartoon or in some detail.
The pure engraving is cut cold with a burin; an etching cuts with acid.
Speed is said to have “copied, adapted and recompiled the work of
others,” and unlike Rudd and Saxton was no surveyor (thus it must be
assumed that they were his principal sources and he readily admitted
that this “groundwork” had not been his own). Speed, like Saxton before
him, laboured under exacting political restrictions and was used as an
instrument of State authority. Chance placed him at that time when the
two kingdoms were being unified under James I and VI and there was a
requirement to portray the first Stuart King of England as the Unifier
of the “Kingdoms of the British Isles.”. Having Cotton and the King as
patrons must have involved a certain dexterity.
Many, but not all, of the county maps have town plans on them. In 1627,
two years before his death, Speed published “Prospect of the Most Famous
Parts of the World” which was the first world atlas produced “by an
Englishman” say historians: which implies that others had done it in
England but were not English: probably Dutch. It cost 40 shillings.
The text of his atlas is found in both English and Latin. Most atlases
of the period used Latin and were to do so at least to the time of
Morden. Engraving was done in Amsterdam at the workshop of  Jodocus
Hondius, with whom he collaborated from 1598 to 1612.
He drew maps of the Channel Islands, Poland, and the Americas, the
latter published only a few years before his death. In 1629, the year of
his death, another collection of maps of Great Britain, prepared earlier
in the decade, were published.
Speed has been accused of being a Protestant or Puritan propagandist,
but the Court of James would not have tolerated anything else, and no
cartographer could have worked without its patronage. Speed was
particularly virulent in his condemnation of  William Shakespeare, who
he called “that Superlative Monster” and a “Papist”.
It is quite difficult to see what Speed was: perhaps he was first and
last a graphic artist with a eye to popularism. He was not a surveyor,
he had no use for the cross-staff. He did not travel to many of his
subject locations. He was not an engraver. His material was not first
hand. He was a packager, a showman, and- as his ability to attract
patronage to a migrant tailor shows- a self publicist. He produced
cartographic theatre and maybe he was quite conscious of that , for he
used the word in his atlas title and might have seen that other populist
William Shakespeare as, in some way, a rival- which would account for
him being so consistently rude about the playwright. I guess that the
dramatist Greville disliked Shakespeare and that Speed adopted his
opinions from him. Speeds works were show stoppers, by the standards
of Saxon, Rudd or the later Morden, they were extremely decorative,
bordered with multiple coats of arms and allegorical figures. The court
of James I praised him, but they did not use his maps for that slightly
menacing political control personified William Cecil, Lord Burghley,
the controlling “eminence grise” behind Saxton in the reign of
Elizabeth. It is quite difficult to study a Speed map: so much of the
plate is border, heraldry- the escutcheons of local nobility and
bishops, town and Dukedoms, pictorial cartouches, prose in panels,
allegory, vignettes of principal sites, border plans, compasses,
measures, knot-work edging. It is almost a pity he had to put a map in
the middle. It might be fair to call his work, “Highly decorative
embellishments of Saxton with town plans and colour”: a fairground
version of Saxton perhaps for a different kind of state and monarch.
He has been called The English Mercator: which he was not, neither as
surveyor nor mathematician; A personage of extraordinary industry:
which he was; “An Honest and Impartial historian”: which he definitely
was not; A faithful Chronologer: which, within his limitations, no doubt
he set out to be; “Our Cheshire Historian and Scholar”: certainly; “A
Great Cartographer”: well, in part perhaps. His great gift was to make
cartography appeal the the layman: cartography with embellishment:
sometimes embellishment with some cartography. and a map by him is
something to put in a frame or leave open on the library table rather
than to study.

Some of his map titles: rendered in Modern English:
The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain; The Chesapeake Bay Region;
Virginia; Maryland; the East Indies; The Russian Empire, Jamaica,
Barbados, A New Accurate Map of the World, A New Map of the Seventeen
Provinces (of Germany- but he meant the Netherlands); China; Canaan; A
New Map of the Roman World; Britain as it was divides in the time of the
English Saxons; Holy Islands, Poland; Guernsey, Farne (Lindisfarne) and Jersey;
a Map of the Isle of Man; The Invasion of England and Ireland with all
their Civil Wars since the Conquest; A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts
of the World.