THE FIRST ROAD BOOK OF SCOTLAND. The first road strip maps of England and Wales were published by John Ogilby in his landmark ‘Britannia’ in 1675. A similar work on Scotland did not appear until this one by George Taylor (fl. 1772-1807) and Andrew Skinner in 1776. Following unification, the eighteenth century saw a large expansion in the road network of Scotland. With military oversight about 1000 miles of roads were built between 1725 and 1767, most being constructed following the Rebellion of 1745.
George Taylor was one of three brother who all worked in cartography. George was a land surveyor in Aberdeen and by the mid-1770s was working in partnership with Andrew Skinner (fl. 1776-81) in Edinburgh. Taylor & Skinner’s ‘Survey and maps of the Roads of North Britain or Scotland’ was dedicated to the Duke of Argyll, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces in Scotland. Several engravers were employed including John Barber, Thomas Bowen, John Luffman, Stephen Pyle, John Roberts, Isaac Taylor and Garnet Terry. Its format was unusual being very tall plates about 47 by 19 cms. each. The 61 maps each contain three road strips. The work enables over 3000 miles of roads to be covered to a scale of 1 inch to the mile.
The project began most likely in 1775 as each plate is dated between June 1775 and February 1776. It was not however a financial success and in July 1775 and 1776 they applied for financial support from the Commissioners for the Forfeited Estates. A manuscript road book by George Taylor survives in Cambridge University Library entitled ‘Sketches of the Roads in Scotland’ dated 1785. It contains 103 detailed coloured maps complete with written notes.
References: Adams, I. H. (1975). ‘George Taylor, a Surveyor o’ Pairts’, in ‘Imago Mundi’ no. 27 pp. 55-63; Chubb Scotland 17; ESTC N63223; Fairclough, R. H. (1975) ‘Sketches of the Roads in Scotland, 1785′; The Manuscript Roadbook of George Taylor’, in ‘Imago Mundi’ no. 27 pp. 65-72; Fleet, Wilkes & Withers (2011) pp. 208-10; Fordham (1924) p. 31; Moir, D. G. (1973) I pp. 122-3, 142, 196, II pp. 30-1; Shirley ‘Atlases in the British Library’ T.Tayl 1a; Tooley’s Dictionary.