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SIMPSON, Samuel

The Agreeable Historian, Or the Compleat English Traveller: Giving A Geographical Description of every County in that Part of Great-Britain, call'd England

Printed by R. Walker, in Fleet-Lane; and Sold by the Booksellers in Town and Country, London, 1746
Octavo, three volumes (175 x 110 mm. each), full contemporary calf, gilt panelled boards, spines with raised bands and blind ruled compartments, calf gilt title labels, gilt embossed dates, first and third volumes rebacked to style. With typographic title page to each volume, pp. (2), 554 with 12 maps; (2), 638 with 10 maps; (2), paginated 639-1194 with 20 maps, offering 42 maps in total, Gloucestershire with loss to lower left, Northumberland with repaired split, Somerset split, light water stain to beginning of first volume, light foxing as usual, otherwise in good condition.
The date of issue of the first part of this work is deduced from an advert placed for the second in the ‘Universal London Morning Advertiser’ for 9-12 December 1743. It stated that ‘the first Number was published last Monday’ which meant 5 December 1743. This is only nine days after the first part of the ‘English Traveller’ was printed by Thomas Read. This is more significant given the great similarities of the descriptive text. The compiler of the text for the ‘English Traveller’ is unknown and that for this series is identified as Samuel Simpson. We know nothing of him, he is otherwise entirely unidentified. The main difference is that Simpson drops the list of roads at the end of each county description and instead offered to publish a new complete list at the completion of the work which he announced at the end of the first county description, Bedfordshire.

Hodson debates the connection between the two works and concludes that due to the narrow time frame between the two there was a common unknown compiler of the text. The advert describes the format of the parts issue as being issued weekly stitched in blue paper for the price of 2d. and that ‘several Maps of each County shall be deliver’d gratis in their proper Places’. A large map of England and Wales was also promised with the last number, which Shirley listed as a lost map. Since then, it has been identified, but only two examples are recorded; at the Guildhall Library and in the Burden Collection bound curiously into an example of Read’s ‘English Traveller’. Robert Walker it appears had an established network of distributors as the work proved more successful. This no doubt was helped by the price of 2d. when the ‘English Traveller’ was being sold for 3d.

Hodson calculates that if Walker applied the same printed format, the 109 parts required would have taken until 30 December 1745. The title page of the three bound volumes of the work, are all dated 1746. The title pages are here in a different text setting to that cited by Hodson, the third line of the main paragraph here ends ‘… Fortifications,’, i,e, not hyphenated. Each ensuing line also differs. The accompanying maps are drawn from various sources which if identified are noted by Hodson. Provenance: Kentish (2012) ‘A Catalogue of County Atlases …’ item 45. Chubb (1927) 184; ESTC T194858; Hodson (1984-97) 204; Shirley (2004) T.Simp 1a.
Stock number: 10154

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