William Pinnock (1782-1843) was baptized in Alton, Hampshire, on 3 February 1782 and began his career as a schoolmaster. He then became a bookseller in Alton and wrote his first book in 1810. At the time, levels of literacy in the nation were rising rapidly, creating a large new market for educational material. He moved his business to Newbury, Berkshire, in 1811 and in December 1814 married Ann Maunder, sister to Samuel Maunder (1785-1849) from Devon. In 1817 the pair went into partnership and moved to London acquiring the ‘premises of the ‘Literary Gazette’ at 267 Strand and took shares in that publication’ (ODNB).
They began to publish a series of highly successful catechisms in Pinnock’s name, constructed in the manner of questions and answers. A total of 83 were published at 9d. each, on a vast range of subjects including for instance, chess and algebra. From about 1819 he began a series entitled ‘Pinnock’s County Catechisms’. It is unclear if they were issued for every county, but ‘Pinnock’s County Histories’ issued from at least 1819 was completed around 1825. It appears that the questions for each were largely the same. Each issue included a map engraved by Samuel John Neele (1758-1824). They are slightly larger versions of those found in Cary’s ‘Traveller’s Companion’. Although advanced in age by now, Neele was engraving to the year of his death.
The set of maps were clearly completed before the intended accompanying text, as in about 1820 they were issued alone as ‘The Traveller’s Pocket Atlas’. Undated in the title, the assumption is made based on the map of the environs of London which is dated 1 February 1820. It is very rare, only two examples being recorded. Pinnock was often in financial stress, which might explain how George Byrom Whittaker (1793-1847) and his brother William Budd Whittaker (d.1834) became involved in the project. George had also been a schoolmaster, from Southampton, which may well explain how they met. With sales poor, or the cost of publication too much, at about this time, the Whittaker’s stepped in. Imprints were added to the maps and most dated to 1821. Chubb records that Sir H. G. Fordham possessed an edition of ‘The Traveller’s Pocket Atlas’ dated 1821. However, no example has since been traced. The edition dated 1823 is the one usually encountered.
This is the collected form of the individual parts of ‘Pinnock’s County Histories’, it is extremely rare. This included the 40 English counties, North and South Wales, and London with its environs which had its own part. Because of the nature of the size of the book, many of the imprints below the maps are trimmed out as usual so little information can be gleaned from them. Following each set of questions and answers is a table of the market towns with population and distance data, a list of Fairs, seats of the gentry and curiously a list of rare plants and where to find them. They conclude with an index. Beresiner (1983); BBTI; Carroll (1996) no. 77; not in Chubb (1927); Darlington & Howgego (1964) 280 (Environs map); ODNB; Tooley’s Dictionary (1999-2004); Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).