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GOSLING, Ralph

A Plan of Sheffield from an Actual Survey by R. Gosling

Sheffield?, 1736
500 x 490 mm., with narrow margins top and bottom, two small areas of loss at double folds, also with light staining, otherwise in good condition.
The EXTREMELY RARE FIRST PRINTED PLAN OF SHEFFIELD. A separately published plan possibly engraved and printed locally. It is the work of the local surveyor Ralph Gosling (1693-1758). Born in Stubley near Dronfield just south of Sheffield he is described by Eden as a writing master, dialmaker and topographical draughtsman. The Dictionary of National Biography describes him also as a schoolmaster and land surveyor. He is recorded as being in Sheffield by 1720. He produced surveys of the River Don in 1730 and estate plans. He also produced the sundial sat Dethick Church in Derbyshire.

COPAC refers to just one example in the British Library from the Duke of Norfolk collection, to whom the map is dedicated. BL Maps 5994.(3.). Further examples have been traced locally in the Sheffield Library (Local Studies) S.2.L, S.30.L, S.31.L, S.38.L [acc. S.C. 15922], S.59.L [acc. S.C.29614]. It is not known which states these are. In the second state ‘Population 9695’ is placed below the two coats of arms of the Town and Cutlers. The “Map is an interesting transition from the highly pictorial sort exemplified by Cossins, to the severely planimetric sort exemplified by Rocque” (Kain). Notable buildings are depicted pictorially all of which are numbered to a key lower left identifying them. Workhouses, almshouses and hospitals are illustrated and most of the roads are named. Various watermills are shown as are various metallurgical processes such as hammers and wheels. The map is dedicated to Edward, Duke of Norfolk whose extensive titles are listed and ornate coat of arms are proudly displayed.

Sheffield is known for its cutlery industry and “Whilst the cutlery industry is known to have been in existence by the 13th century (Harman and Minnis 2003, 6), it is known to have undergone significant expansion in the 16th and 17th centuries with many new mills built on the Don and its tributaries in this period (Crossley et al 1989, vii). Estimates of the population of the town during the same period indicate a considerable expansion from an estimated 2,200 in 1600; to 3,500 by 1700; and 9,695 by the time of Gosling’s survey in 1736”. “By 1672, 46 per cent of Sheffield houses had a forge or smithy attached.” (Mayne & Murray). Daniel Defoe wrote that he thought Sheffield “populous and large … the streets narrow, and the houses dark and black, occasioned by the continued smoke of the forges” (ex ‘Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain’). ‘New Church’ (St Paul’s Church, built in 1720) near the bottom of the map is identified as no. 2 in the key. Nearby ‘Coal Pit Lane’ (now Cambridge Street) is a name which reflected the nearby coal workings near Fitzwilliam Street. Provenance: private English collection, sold to another collection in 2003. Eden (1975); Kain & Oliver (2015); Mayne & Murray (2001) ‘The Archaeology of Urban Landscapes: Explorations in Slumland’ p. 106; Pollard, S. (1956). ‘The Growth of Population’, iin: D.L. Linton (ed.), ‘Sheffield and its Region: A Scientific and Historical Survey’. Sheffield: British Association for the Advancement of Science. p.172; ODNB.
Stock number: 8232

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