William Tunnicliff (fl.1784-96) was a land surveyor and cartographer. In 1786 he began publishing a series of ‘Topographical Surveys’ of individual counties. In that year he was also advertising for employment and it seems that the series was a stop gap to further employment. Those of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Lancashire were all issued with maps dated 1786 and bearing ‘Price 7 Shills.’ in the title. These three were then brought together under one title in 1787. Clearly successful he decided to expand the work with three further neighbouring counties, namely Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, and Somerset. The six appeared as ‘Topographical Survey of the Counties of …’ in 1789.
Two years later this further volume was issued covering six south-western counties. The county of Somerset appeared in both works, although here it is represented by an entirely new map and reset text. The structure is broadly the same except each now bears a triangular distance table. A more detailed ‘Travelling Index’ or table now accompanies each one also. At the beginning is a folding map of the whole.
The work was supported by subscription, a list of whom is provided for each county. Many are encouraged by the plates of coat of arms, here bound together at the end of the volume. This is followed by a six-page index to the market towns. A large amount of industrial information is included, for example a focus on canals, a feature which was dramatically changing the landscape at the time. This was a time that the industrial revolution was rapidly changing the country. The six new maps are all oversized for the work and engraved in the new plain style being popularised by Cary. They are also now in early wash colour. That of Cornwall I have noted in two states, this is the first of the two with the title in the lower right corner.
This was the last of the surveys. We do not know what happened to Tunnicliff beyond this publication, certainly no further publications appeared. A clue might be found in a letter at the National Archives in America addressed to Thomas Jefferson. An attached note records that this may be the same gentleman who was a surveyor back in England. If so, he arrived in Washington in 1796 under the employ of Robert Morris, a land promoter. The city was at the time being developed to become the capital of the newly independent United States of America. ‘He operated the Washington City Hotel near the Capitol on A Street, 1799–1804. Tunnicliff later became a merchant in Washington, in which capacity he imported books, maps, scientific instruments, two globes, a telescope, and London porter for Thomas Jefferson’ (Bedini).
Provenance: with bookplate of Thomas Weld Esq., Lulworth Castle, pasted inside upper board; along with later ‘Dorset Collection’ bookplate; further older bookplate inside back cover of ‘Caroli Weld de Chidcock’; private English collection. Batten & Bennett (2008) no. 58; not in Beaton (2001); Bedini, Silvio (2000) ‘With Compass and Chain: Early American Surveyors and Their Instruments’, p. 574; Fordham (1924) p. 39; Needell (1995) Somerset no. 107; Quixley (1966) no. 46 & (2018) no. 55; Smith (1989a) ‘The Maps of William Tunnicliff, Reluctant County Map-Maker’, in ‘IMCoS Journal’ 39 pp. 19-27; Upcott (1968) I p. xxvii; Whittaker (1942) nos. 260 & 266.