The first edition of this atlas was published in 1829 and the title page of this issue states that the ‘whole [is] carefully revised & corrected to the year, 1832.’ In fact, the first true use of the plates was in Robert Rowe’s ‘English Atlas’ published in 1816. Only two examples of that atlas survive. Rowe (c.1775-1843) was a publisher and engraver but it is as the latter that he is most noted. It is possible that he both drew and engraved the maps in ‘The English Atlas’. Amongst his earliest works are the engraving of two sets of playing cards of the English Counties. Both are exceedingly rare; those of John Fairburn, 1798, and Joseph Allen, 1811.
Rowe continued selling the county maps until at least 1825. The date of their acquisition by Henry Teesdale (1776-1855) is not known. Born in London, his first known publication was a reissue of Christopher Greenwood’s large-scale map of Yorkshire in 1828. Teesdale was elected a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society shortly after its foundation in 1830. The earliest known edition is 1829, the date of issue is derived from the wording of the title ‘the whole carefully revised & corrected to the year, 1829.’ It was published in partnership with John Jordan and William Colling Hobson as Henry Teesdale & Co. All reference to Rowe is removed and Teesdale’s imprint added to each map. A new larger general map of England and Wales replaces the earlier one and two matching maps of Scotland and Ireland are added. The oval titles to each of the maps are replaced with a simple county name. The early railways in Durham, Lancashire, Middlesex and Surrey are amongst others included.
There were further editions similarly dated 1830 and 1831. All three issues contain gradual improvements and alterations to the plates. The Reform Bill of 1832 introduced big changes in the electoral system in England and Wales. Prior to the Bill the population electing each member varied considerably. Many rural areas were very small and dominated by powerful landowners. Since the industrial revolution, several large cities now had very large populations. This power was now more evenly distributed, and the electorate increased from about 400,000 to 650,000, or about one in five adult males.
Teesdale’s ‘Improved Edition of the New British Atlas’ of 1832 reflected these changes. The title page bears two additions either side of the contents list. The first reflects the electoral reforms and on the right side is an Explanation of the political symbols on the maps. The plates continue to reflect the ever-expanding railway network along with other improvements. Each also incorporated population statistics for 1831 and tax information from 1830. Provenance: early label ‘Bound by J. Martin & Son, 16 Westmoreland Place, City Road’ pasted inside front cover; private English collection; Clive A Burden Ltd. (2007) Catalogue I item 87; private English collection. Beresiner (1983) pp. 190 & 227-9; Carroll (1996) 71; Chubb (1927) 412; Smith (1982); Tooley’s Dictionary (1999-2004); Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).