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JEFFERYS, Thomas

Jefferys's Itinerary; or Travellers Companion through England, Wales, and Part of Scotland ...

R. Sayer and J. Bennett, Map and Print Sellers, No. 53 Fleet-Street, London, 1775
Oblong quarto (185 x 240 mm.), recent half calf, marbled boards, with marbled endpapers. With typographic title page, Preface, 16 page index to places named and 104 numbered road strips printed back to back. Title and final leaf browned, title with slight tear near binder’s tie, otherwise in good condition.
This is an example of a series of French engraved plates on England and Wales being acquired by the English for publication at home. Despite being published in 1775 circumstantial evidence leads us to surmise that the plates for this work were acquired sometime in 1766. The preface states that ‘The plates for the following Work were originally intended for an account of these Roads in French’. They were first published by George Louis Le Rouge in 1759 and re-issued by Louis Charles Desnos in 1766-[67]. It goes on to state that by ‘falling into the hands of the late Mr. Jefferys and the Editor, it was thought they might be the foundation of a work in English’. We may assume therefore that it was Thomas Jefferys who acquired the plates which is interesting as he declared bankruptcy in November 1766, the year found on the title page of the Desnos edition. Robert Sayer came to his rescue and enabled him to continue in business albeit now owning much of his stock. Therefore, it may be concluded that Jefferys, a frequent traveller to Paris, acquired the plates late in 1766 and ownership of them passed to Robert Sayer. Together they finished the project.

Jefferys died in 1771 which may have contributed to the delay in publication. The Preface goes on to state that ‘to render it the most compleat and exact of any yet published on this useful plan, all materials on the subject have been consulted … so that it contains several thousand names of places on and adjacent to the Roads, which are not to be found in any other collection: and … there are added all the smaller branches leading from the considerable market-towns to each other, together with a very full Index, which, we flatter ourselves, will make this Book the best direction for travelling through this Kingdom’.

The original plates were in French and a remarkable amount of work has gone into translating this. Hundreds of routes which used to be marked ‘à Kensington’ for instance are altered to become ‘to Kensington’ in many cases the accent remains. However, it is not comprehensive for instance on plate 5 the fifth strip still bears two unaltered. As alluded in the Preface there are extensive additions to all the plates of new information. Many also bear English notations in the lower margin and all the imprint of Sayer and Bennett dated 16 January 1775 either top or bottom. Each plate title is translated into English and now includes the distances of many towns along the route. Three entirely new plates are engraved, the first covers the road From London to Aylesbury. The second includes the routes from London to Rygate in Surrey and The New Road from Paddington to The Eagle on Epping Forrest. The final plate includes St. Alban’s to Ware and London to Hitchin. These are numbered 102-104.

New preliminary leaves include three indexes to places named on the Principal Roads, Cross Roads and finally a list of the ‘Principal Roads’. Provenance: with indecipherable manuscript initials to the title page; private English collection. Bennett (1996) pp. 72-4; Carroll (1996) App. 13; Chubb (1927) 144; Fordham (1924) p. 29; Shirley (2004) T.Say 3a; Smith, David (1991a & b).
Stock number: 9174

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