Clive A. Burden LTD. Rare Maps, Antique Atlases, Books and Decorative Prints

The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden​
P.O. Box 863,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks HP6 9HD,
Tel: +44 (0) 1494 76 33 13

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In 1634 the Company of Conservators of the Great Level of the Fens, called Bedford Level, received letters patent of incorporation. The original grant still survives in the Fen Office at Ely. It set about the systematic drainage of the fens despite opposition and led to the creation of some of the most fertile land in the country which created whole new trades and wealth. Cornelius Vermuyden (1595-1677) the great Dutch engineer was appointed by Charles I in 1639 to undertake the epic task of draining the fens and thus reclaim hundreds of square miles of land from the sea – one of the greatest engineering achievements to that time. His famous discourse appeared in 1642 in which he sets out his methods. These included a radical new approach of providing ‘washes’, areas of land which could be flooded in times of excess rain in order to absorb the extra water. The work continued into the 1650s and provided us with what is today much of East Anglia.

Several attempts had been made without great success dating back to the Romans. The region contained busy trading ports and there was much opposition to any such work. The first map of the region was by William Hayward in 1604 which it appears was never engraved. The first printed map apparently derived from Hayward is that of Henricus Hondius published in Amsterdam, 1633, which was followed by a similar map by Joan Blaeu. A few small maps were printed to accompany books published on the subject in the middle of the seventeenth century.

The minutes of a meeting of the Conservators held on 1 April 1654 state that leave was given to Jonas Moore to print and publish his map and book which he undertook to complete by Michaelmas. Only one example of the first edition in 1658 survives which is at the National Archives (MPC 1/88). On 31 May 1677 Moore is asked to “reprint” his map, on which the faults are to be corrected. There is also a note about the buying “of his old plates”. This issue by Moses Pitt appeared in 1684 and again survives in just one known example at the Bodleian Library (Gough Maps Cambridgeshire 2). The next issue identified is that bearing the imprint of Christopher Browne which is dated in the catalogues tentatively at 1706 for reasons unknown. One last issue was published c.1824 and can only be identified by the watermark ‘S & A 1824’, the same is found on the example offered here. It has not been possible to examine the examples at the Cambridge University Library to determine whether they are the 1706 issue as claimed or this later version.

Carroll states that “the first very large scale map of all in England was not of a county but of the Fens – mapped by Jonas Moore and published on sixteen sheets”. It was engraved at the large scale of two inches to the mile. The detail is remarkable, each plot of land is identified and in many cases the owner named. Carroll (1996) refer no. 44; Fordham, George (1914) ‘Descriptive List of the Maps of the Great Level of the Fens 1604-1900’, in ‘Studies in Carto-Bibliography’ pp. 61-91; Rodger (1972) nos. 135, 137.

MOORE, Sir Jonas

A Mapp of Ye Great Levell of Ye Fenns Extending into Ye Countyes of Northampton, Norfolk, Suffolk, Lyncolne, ...

London, 1706-[1824]
Four sheets each 1040 x 750 mm., the whole 1920 x 1360 mm. Dissected and laid on linen with marbled endpapers and a worn slipcase. Some light offsetting, otherwise in good condition.
Stock number: 5241


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