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CAPPER, Benjamin Pitts

A Topographical Dictionary of the United Kingdom; containing every City, Town, Village, Hamlet, Parish, District, Object, and Place, in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and the Small Islands Dependent

Sir Richard Phillips and Co., London, 1829-[c.32]
Octavo (230 x 140 mm.), original quarter green vellum and marbled paper boards, printed paper title label affixed to spine. With typographic title page, pp. iv, (2), unpaginated signatures B8-3Y2, 10, (2), with folding engraved general map of the British Isles and 40 English county maps (Yorkshire folding) and folding maps of Wales, Scotland (2 maps) and Ireland (2 maps), light offsetting, otherwise in good condition.
This is a later edition of a work first published by Richard Phillips (1767-1840) under the same title in 1808. Born in London to a Leicestershire family he founded the ‘Leicester Herald’ in 1792. He was sentenced to 18 months in gaol for selling Thomas Paine’s ‘Rights of Man’ the following year. In 1795 his premised burnt to the ground and with the insurance money he returned to London where he founded ‘The Antiquarians’ Magazine and Monthly Magazine’. He became Sheriff of London and Middlesex in 1807 and was knighted in 1808.

In the same year he published the ‘Topographical Dictionary’ by Benjamin Pitts Capper who worked in the Secretary of State’s office. The first edition states that the ‘compiler having assisted in preparing the abstracts of the answer and returns made to the Population Act, as well as in arranging the returns of the Cultivation of the Kingdom, which were laid before Parliament, in 1802, he has been enabled to correct in this Work every error which appeared in the account printed for the Parliament’.

To accompany the work, he employed Henry Cooper (fl.1804-19) to engrave a series of plates. They are loosely drawn on those of Cary. Wales is described in the list of maps as consisting of two plates when in fact it is just one. Phillips was bankrupted in 1811 and sold the rights in the book to the new publishers Longman, Hurst, Rees and Co. Ownership would change hands again to George Whittaker for later editions in 1825 and 1826. By 1829 however Phillips appears to have regained control and published this edition.

The work was priced at £1. 11s. 6d. according to the label on the spine and title page. The alphabetical text is broken into three sections: England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland. This example dates from circa 1832 based on the inclusion of a ten page list of population data drawn from the 1831 census. A fifth edition was issued in 1839. Provenance: with bookseller’s label of Holloway and Sons, Bampton, Oxon, pasted inside front cover. Carroll (1996) no. 64; Chubb (1927) 331; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).
Stock number: 9936

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