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The Mapping of North America

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Jean Rocque (c.1704-62), to use his native name, was a Huguenot émigré who with his family settled in England by about 1709. By 1734 he was a surveyor, engraver and publisher and worked first in the region of Soho, a known centre for French emigrants. His next move was to the outskirts of London at the time in Piccadilly. His early work appears to be related to garden design as his brother Bartholomew was a landscape gardener. Indeed the region of Piccadilly at the time was renowned for its gardens, and suppliers of material for them. The connection to engraving possibly came about due to their cousin, also Bartholomew who worked as one in Mannheim, Germany. John Rocque’s earliest works reflect these beginnings many of which were of gardens or estates. The first was of Richmond Gardens, now Kew, in 1734.

He progressed towards town plans as he noted these were poorly mapped, and with the burgeoning wealth of the time there was a growing demand for them. In conjunction with John Pine he began in 1737 work on a plan of London, obviously an enormous task it would be 1744 before it was finished. By then it appears that he had sold his partnership in the project to John Tinney. The finances were clearly strained; the final work in 24 sheets was published in October 1746. In 1741 Rocque began work on a further London survey this time taking in the environs. It is possible to surmise that it was about 1741 that Rocque relinquished his share in the 24 sheet plan. The environs would be of more value to Rocque as it covered many estates which would likely bring further business. The work for this map was completed in 1745 although the first sheet was published 13 February 1744. The remaining were issued over a period of months and completed around May of 1746 in 16 sheets, a few months prior to the 24 sheet map. Although this map is not to the same scale as the 24 sheet which is focused more on the city. It is in some ways more interesting as many of the present day inner suburbs are here fields and farms with small villages. These are all depicted at the large scale of five and half inches to the mile. The whole work measures 1450 x 1800 mm.

“It is hard to understate Rocque’s importance. While other mapmakers had issued such large-scale maps before, no individual had attempted such a broad range. Perhaps more importantly, Rocque began work at a time when English mapmaking was at a low ebb, with much of the material being published being long out of date. His work made an enormous contribution to the impetus for what has been termed the ‘Remapping of England'” (Baynton-Williams). Rocque was ahead of his time in showing towns and villages in plan.

The map extends from Canonbury to Mile End, St. George’s Fields and Osterley. It conforms to Darlington & Howgego’s (D & H) fifth edition and is the third state of the map. State one is known in just one example at the London Metropolitan Archives and may well be a parts issue. The first published edition as a complete map with a separate title page ‘An Exact Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster …’ followed with minor additions to the map. The next state bears an altered title beginning ‘A New and Accurate Survey …’, as here, and the addition of ‘Kings Old Road’ & ‘Kings New Road’ in Hyde Park, ‘Peace Bridge’ near Barnes Common is altered to ‘Priests Bridge’ and ‘Hannuel’ changed to ‘Hanwel’ with one ‘l’ not two as cited in all references.

One of the first and finest plans of London in the Georgian era. Provenance: composite French atlas; private English collection acquired January 1999. Barker, Felix & Jackson, Peter. (1990). ‘The History of London in Maps’ pp. 54-65; Barber (2012) London pp. 110-11; Baynton-Williams, Ashley 27; Darlington & Howgego (1964) no. 94.5; ESTC N48736; ODNB; Varley, J. (1948). ‘John Rocque: engraver, surveyor, cartographer and map-seller’, in ‘Imago Mundi’, 5, 83–91.


An Exact Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, the Borough of Southwark, with The Country near ten Miles round; Begun in 1741, and finished in 1745, and publish'd in 1746, according to Act of Parliament, By John Rocque Land-Surveyor: Engrav'd by Richard Parr, and Printed by W. Pratt

John Rocque next the Duke of Grafton's Head, in Hyde park-Road, London, 1746
Eighteen folio sheets, 2 single page comprising title-page printed in red and black including an engraved vignette featuring the Arms of the City of London, verso blank, Index with List of Subscribers to the verso, and 16 double-page maps, plate XIV with some minor restoration to centrefold split, otherwise in good condition.
Stock number: 7767


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