‘The Country About 15 Miles any Way from London’ is etched by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-77) and dated 1670 lower left. Both known examples bear the additional imprint of ’16 WM 83′ below the dedication to Thomas Wolstonholme (c.1622-91) indicating that this and the noted additions of roads are the work of William Morgan in 1683.
John Ogilby (1600–1676) had a remarkable life with earlier careers as a dancer and theatre manager before entering the world of books. The Great Fire of London enabled him and his relative by marriage, William Morgan (fl.1675-90), to be appointed as “sworn viewers”, a position involving the re-establishment of property boundaries. Through this office he became acquainted with Robert Hooke of the Royal Society. According to Hodson, these two events were likely the spur that encouraged him to enter the world of cartography. By 1669 he had a copyright for a planned description of the whole world. His Proposals (Bodleian, Wood 658, f. 792) announced five volumes to include those of Africa, America, Asia, Europe, and Great Britain. Whilst most were more accurately ‘geographies’ illustrated with maps and prints; the ‘Britannia’ was a cartographic milestone.
Ogilby’s ‘Britannia’, “remains unchallenged as the greatest advance in the mapping of England between the sixteenth-century surveys of Christopher Saxton and the county surveys of the second half of the eighteenth century” (Harley). It was the first national road-atlas of any country in Western Europe and a landmark in the mapping of England and Wales. However, it was originally planned in three parts. The road survey, a collection of twenty-five town plans, and a county atlas with descriptive text. In late 1670 he announced the plan to publish the ‘Britannia’ before those of Asia and Europe.
The plans for the work were changing all the time as recorded by Hooke and his contemporaries. Two of the county maps were printed early, that of Kent in 1672 and Middlesex c.1673. Essex was surveyed but was not published until 1678 by Morgan. That of Surrey was surveyed by John Aubrey in 1673, but was never completed. His history of the county, with map, was published posthumously in 1718.
It is interesting to note that these were all home counties. Van Eerde states that in 1670 “Ogilby apparently had in mind a travel book on England”. A field in which Ogilby was already knowledgeable. In that light this map dated 1670 by its engraver, taking in the environs of London makes sense, as it features the extensive network of roads in and around London. Indeed, Hodson thought the same. With much of London deposed outside the city following the Great Fire in 1666, many wealthier individuals would have moved to more comfortable surroundings in the home counties. Ogilby, ever an eye open for an opportunity, would have seen the market for such a work. However, it morphed into a county atlas and then a road book.
Until 2002 the only known example of this map resided in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. Then a second example was discovered by ourselves bound into an example of Ogilby’s ‘Britannia’, it was also in the second state. This is a third known example. No example survives in the first state, Hodson believing that the plate was shelved as the direction of the project changed. He goes on to state that “the significance of this map in the evolution of ‘Britannia’ has not previously been commented on”. Ogilby died 4 September 1676 and Morgan inherited the business. He was the grandson of Ogilby’s wife by an earlier marriage.
For this second state it is believed further roads were added which are engraved. Those by Hollar were etched. Certain placenames were also added including Rickmansworth, Watford, Epping, and Bromley. Likewise the initials of Morgan and date 1683 were added to the dedication cartouche. There is no clear evidence of a destroyed London from the fire just 4 years earlier. The map is key evidence supporting the original plan of a multi-volume atlas. The work is however, not original, being drawn from the earlier county maps of John Norden and Philip Symonson. It can however, lay claim to being the first map of the country surrounding London. Although most likely never made available in 1670, it was first issued in 1683 to accompany Morgan’s large 12 sheet plan of London issued in 1682. Darlington & Howgego (1978) no. 34, Eerde (1976); Ereira (2016); Harley (1970); Hodson (2000) pp. 404-8, n.17, ODNB; Pennington (1982) 666A; Skelton (1970) pp. 185-6; Thompson (2016); Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).
The Country About 15 Miles any Way from London By Ino. Ogilby & Wm. Morgan