Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section

Estate Maps at Guildhall Library

Stacey Gee


This talk was delivered on 14 September 2004. It was the first in a series of lectures organised by Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section for the Archive Awareness Campaign 2004. The lecture was designed to complement Lords of All They Survey, an exhibition of manuscript estate maps at Guildhall Library, 9 August to 30 October 2004. Stacey Gee, Assistant Archivist in the Manuscripts Section, was one of the organizers of the estate maps exhibition.


This presentation focuses on some maps and surveyors which we were unable to show in the exhibition, either because the maps were too big or awkward to be displayed, or because there simply was not enough room. I have prepared a small display of six items from the Prints & Maps and Manuscripts Sections of Guildhall Library to illustrate the themes of this talk [a descriptive list of the items on display follows the text of this talk]. These include a volume of maps from the archive of the Ironmongers’ Company. Volumes can be problematic items to show in an exhibition. As well as the dangers of damaging the book by holding it open, you are also restricted to showing one page spread only, thus hiding what may be contained in the rest of the volume.

It is a difficult process, I have discovered, to plan an exhibition of maps. On the one hand, you want to show off the most eye-catching and interesting items in the archive, but on the other hand, you don’t want to give a misleading impression that all estate maps were colourful, detailed and carefully executed by surveyors who had long and distinguished careers. We tried to balance the beautiful, intricate maps in the exhibition by also showing a simple plan which had been scrunched up for use as a wrapper for deeds. But in this talk I have decided to focus on the hey-day or golden age of surveying so that I can show off some particularly attractive and striking maps. They are not representative of estate maps as a whole, but they are splendid, so I give no apologies for discriminating in this way.

An historian of Essex estate maps, Stuart Mason, stated that “around 1775 the cartography of estate maps reached a peak of excellence.”  Late 18th-century maps, on the whole, are clear and precise.  The use of colour is more careful and restrained. In general, the maps of the late 18th century do not have the bold, almost garish, decoration of earlier maps. Buildings are shown in the more accurate block form, rather than face-up (as if they are lying on their backs) as they generally were in the 16th and 17th centuries. Another development is that the direction of north is usually up, certainly not something you can take for granted on earlier maps. Certainly there was more consistency and accuracy in maps of the late 18th century. Perhaps you will think that they are less interesting because of this, but I hope not.

By the late 18th century, a profession of surveying had developed. Men who were skilled in mathematical techniques, drawing and surveying, followed careers in which they undertook commissions for various landowners in various counties. In this talk I am going to focus on certain surveyors who were at work during the 1760s and 1770s. They were employed by landed gentry, parishes, livery companies and other institutions, and they travelled widely in order to obtain profitable contracts.

To talk of a ‘profession of surveying’ suggests that these men had specialist skills and training. Certainly many books on surveying techniques were available during this period, and there are some examples of these in the exhibition.  But surveyors also needed more formal education and training, in particular a firm foundation in mathematics.  This could be obtained at one of the mathematical schools which were established during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Christ’s Hospital’s Royal Mathematical School was founded in 1673. The mathematical school was an integral part of Christ's Hospital, from which its pupils, all boys, were chosen at the age of 11 or 12. They were educated in mathematics and navigation, and were intended for service in the Royal Navy.

This small display includes a plan made by a pupil of the Royal Mathematical School. It shows Oxley Wood in the parish of Colne Engaine in Essex. The plan is a rough but exact copy of a small portion of Ralph Treswell’s 1602 map of Christ’s Hospital’s estate in Colne Engaine. The Treswell map is also displayed here, so that the two can be compared. Treswell was a highly experienced and accurate surveyor. He carried out a number of commissions for Christ’s Hospital (more examples of which can be seen in the exhibition). It makes good sense that the mathematical school of Christ’s Hospital used this old, perhaps obsolete, map by Treswell to set a good example for its pupils to emulate. The note at the bottom of the plan states that it was drawn up “as it was taken in the surveigh in the yeare 1602 and since extracted by one of the mathematicall schollers this 30th day of Aprill 1690”.

Having gained a firm grounding in mathematics at a school, a trainee surveyor of the 18th century would probably have sought an apprenticeship under an experienced surveyor. An example is Peter Bernard Scalé, a London born Huguenot, who learned the art of surveying by working under his brother in law, John Rocque. Rocque, the best known of the 18th-century Huguenot cartographers, made plans of the royal parks and gardens in Richmond, Kensington and Windsor, and then developed a thriving business as a London cartographer, mapping the City in 1746. His expertise would have been invaluable to the young Peter Bernard Scalé, who travelled with him to work in Dublin before setting up his own business in 1758 at the age of nineteen.

Scalé stayed in Dublin for sixteen years during which he surveyed Trinity College Dublin with its parks and gardens, he engraved town plans of Waterford, and he published Directions for navigating in the Bay of Dublin, and Tables for the easy valuing of estates. In 1774 he moved to Great Warley near Brentwood in Essex, but he kept a house in Dublin and his two partners continued on his business there under the name of “Scalé and Co”.  Over the next few years, Scalé worked both in the Home Counties and in Ireland, surveying the estates of prominent landowners such as the Duke of Devonshire. In 1776 he published a Hibernian Atlas.

Scalé’s third and last English survey was commissioned by Worshipful Company of Broderers, and the map produced by this survey is on display here. In 1780 the Company discovered that its estate in Stifford was neglected. They had a list of the tenants in a lease of 1742, but they realized that these names were up to 150 years out of date. Many of the fields had been divided, and so their information about field boundaries was also unreliable. The company therefore commissioned Scalé to survey the estate. A committee of the Company visited the estate with Scalé, who had been given an old map by a tenant’s solicitor.  Land and buildings were inspected; they found Stifford Hall, for example, “a very small and contemptible building”.  A note in the Company’s minute book stated that they were pleased with Scalé’s work as it gave “pleasing hopes of considerable future benefit.”

The polar indicator on the map is worth particular mention as it is draw as a spear, surrounded by agricultural implements. Another unusual detail is the crumpled or torn paper style of the borders around the cartouche and reference table. This personal decorative detail of a torn paper, which characterizes maps signed by Scalé, suggests that he not only surveyed the estate, but that he drew the map as well. We cannot assume this with every surveyor. The surveyor may have employed a draughtsman or calligrapher to assist him.  This assistant may have drawn the whole of the map from a draft prepared by the surveyor, or the assistant could have just filled in the more ornate features, such as the script.

The danger in assuming that the surveyor was solely responsible for the execution of the map is shown by the next example on display here. This is a map of lands in West Ham, Essex, belonging to the Ironmongers’ Company.  The map states that the land was surveyed in 1778 by William Jupp and John Dugleby, but there is also a note that “Tomkins scripsit” [Tomkins wrote this]. The map is notable for its clarity and attention to detail. The shadow from each of the trees has been drawn in.

William Jupp was an architect and surveyor who belonged to the Carpenters’ Company.  Although I will concentrate on his surveying work in this talk, it would do him an injustice not to mention Jupp’s architectural achievements as well.  He rebuilt the London Tavern in Bishopsgate Within after its destruction in 1765.  He designed the entrance hall and principal staircase of the Carpenters’ Hall in around 1780.  The archway over the entrance was also designed by Jupp. Unfortunately his work for the Carpenters’ Company has been lost as the hall was later demolished. 

As well as working as both architect and surveyor for the Carpenters’ Company, Jupp surveyed estates of St Thomas’ Hospital, the parish of St Edmund King and Martyr, and the Ironmongers’ Company (such as the map shown here).

Jupp worked in partnership with John Dugleby in the 1770s and 1780s.  Dugleby is not known to have undertaken any surveying work before working with Jupp.  So it is possible that Dugleby was a younger assistant, learning the surveying trade from Jupp.  Dugleby was later regularly employed as a surveyor to the Haberdashers’ Company and produced in 1783 the map of the manor of Knighton in Adbaston, Staffordshire, on display in the exhibition. 

Tomkins is much more of an elusive figure.  There were two artists at work at this time called Tomkins, both of whom produced topographical views of London.  William Tomkins died in 1790, and his son Charles died in 1810.  The date of this map (12 years before the death of William) suggests that William was probably the author.  This example of an artist signing an estate map is quite rare.  Other surveyors may have used the services of a draughtsman or artist, but did not let them sign their work!

I have another example of the work of Jupp and Dugleby here on display.  This is not signed by Tomkins, but it is decorated so beautifully that an artist may well have had a hand in it.  Again it is a plan of an estate belonging to the Ironmongers’ Company, this time in East Ham and Barking in Essex, and Woolwich in Kent.  The reason why I chose this map is obvious: the stunning drawing of the Company’s barge.

The plan was drawn in 1769.  Six years before a new barge had been built for the Company.  It was 68 feet long and 12 feet wide. The keel was made of white English oak.  The house had 36 plate glass sash windows. The whole boat was gilded and painted with historical devises. On 14 August 1769 (the same year this plan was made), an excursion was made on the barge, followed by a dinner at Richmond for 60 people.

In 1765 the Ironmongers’ Company employed another surveying partnership, Thomas Marsh and James Crow, to map part of its Irish estate. The plan book displayed here contains surveys of the 43 townships in Lizard manor in the county of Londonderry. On 17 May of that year, Marsh and Crow were contracted to “distinguish every township which belongeth to the Company by a bounder line and within the bounder line of each township to distinguish the different quallitys of land and the quantity of each sort [namely] arable, meadow, the best sort of pasture, also pasture that is rocky, whinny or bushy, bogg, highways and water, [and] the ground plot of buildings.”  However, Marsh and Crow were instructed not to take account of the present occupiers, or to give their opinion or judgement on the value of the land, or to propose any future improvement or management.  The work was to be done within eighteen months, and Marsh and Crow were to be paid 6d an acre.

They actually managed to complete the plans in less than a year, and received over £250 for their work. Was £250 a lot at that time? It’s difficult to say. It has been estimated from the 1801 census (that is, 35 years later) that the average income for men with professional skills, such as engineers and surveyors, was £200 a year. £200 a year, whereas Marsh and Crow together received £250 for just under a year’s work. No wonder then many surveyors had other sources of income as well. Some worked, for example, as architects (William Jupp), painter-stainers (Ralph Treswell), or heralds (Thomas Browne, about whom you will hear about shortly).

Bold colours are used in the plan book to show the different types of land. An attempt has been made to represent the relief of land by darker shading. There was no accurate way of showing relief in the 18th century. Contour lines were not introduced until the following century. Few land surveyors even attempted to show relief; it was not essential to their purpose of recording boundaries and areas.

The Ironmongers clearly had a very definite idea of what they did and did not want, which the surveyors had to comply with. The company controlled the limits of the survey; the Ironmongers wanted only the information that was useful to them, and were not interested in extra details. The company would have been influenced by other maps they had seen, commissioned by other livery companies. In this case, Marsh and Crow were instructed to follow the method and design of an estate map of Mercers’ Company previously made by Crow, this time working with the surveyor Thomas Browne.  Unfortunately Guildhall Library does not hold the archives of the Mercers’ Company.  It would be fascinating to compare the Mercers’ Company map with this plan book. I suspect that they would be very similar in style, as Crow worked on them both.

Crow is first known to have worked with Thomas Browne in 1749 (sixteen years before this plan book was made). They worked together on a survey of Thurrock in Essex. It was not a partnership of equals: Browne was described as ‘esquire’, while Crow was called ‘surveyor’. Browne was a herald at the College of Arms. Crow was a local man; in court records he stated that he was well qualified to survey in Thurrock as he had lived in or near the parish for many years and knew the land well.

Crow’s later work was in partnership with Thomas Marsh. They must have been respected and highly regarded as their commissions included surveys of some huge estates. As well as producing this plan book for the Ironmongers’ Company, they also surveyed a 1200 acre estate in South Ockendon in Essex, and the 2000 acre estate of Lord Grimston, also in Essex.

In this talk I have focused on the “golden age” of manuscript estate maps. The maps are clear and precise, but they are also artistic and ornamental. The tendency was for greater simplicity and accuracy but, even when the surveyor was given very strict instructions by the estate owner, there is still opportunity for personal touches. These personal touches are sadly lacking on many printed maps of the 19th century, in particular the Tithe and Ordnance Survey maps.

The maps surveyed for the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 provided by the middle of the 19th century what was in effect an almost country-wide survey. About twenty years later the Ordnance Survey began to issue 6-inch and 25-inch maps. As a result, there was little need for manuscript maps to be made. It was simpler to copy details from the Tithe and Ordnance Survey maps, or to just add extra information onto Ordnance sheets. Manuscript maps were replaced by cheaper printed copies. No doubt many manuscript maps still held pride of place in the estate records, but as archive treasures rather than current tools of estate management.


Items on Display


1. Oxley Wood in the parish of ‘Gains Colne’ (Colne Engaine), Essex, 1690

This small plan of Oxley Wood was copied from Ralph Treswell’s map of Colne Engaine, by one of the scholars at Christ’s Hospital’s Mathematical School.

Prints & Maps Section, Pr. COL II (1)

2. Estate in Colne Engaine and the surrounding area, Essex, 1602

This plan was made by Ralph Treswell (senior). It was probably produced in conjunction with a survey book containing copies of leases and copies of the court roll of Colne Engaine manor (held in the Manuscrips Section Ms 13568).Three maps by Ralph Treswell (senior) are also on display in the exhibition.

Prints & Maps Section, Map case 302

3. Part of the manor of Stifford in the parishes of Stifford and West Thurrock, Essex, 1780

This survey of an estate of the Worshipful Company of Broderers was Peter Bernard Scalé’s last major English survey. Details to note are his personal motif of a torn or crumpled paper adorning the reference table, and the polar indicator which is decorated with drawings of agricultural tools.

Prints & Maps Section, La. Pr. II STI

4. Mill-Meads, Little Pigwell Marsh and Barrowfield in the parish of West Ham, Essex, 1778

William Jupp and John Dugleby surveyed this estate of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, but they were not solely responsible for the execution of the map. The map is also signed ‘Tomkins scripsit’. ‘Tomkins’ may be William Tomkins, a London artist, who died in 1790

Prints & Maps Section, Map case 117

5. Estate in East Ham and Barking, Essex and in Woolwich, Kent, 1769

The plan of the Ironmongers’ estate in Essex and Kent appears almost of secondary importance to the stunning depiction of the Company’s barge. The lands were surveyed by Jupp and Dugleby but, like the 1778 West Ham map, it seems likely that they employed an artist to draw the map and the decoration.

Prints & Maps Section, Map case 137

6. Lizard manor in the county of Londonderry, Ireland, 1765

This book contains plans of the 43 townships within the manor of Lizard, owned by the Ironmongers Company. The estate was surveyed by Thomas Marsh and James Crow. A key to the colours used on the plans, and the scale (given for both the English and Irish chain measurement) can be found at the beginning of the volume.

Manuscripts Section, Ms 17297/1

If you would like to use or reproduce any of this text please contact the Keeper of Manuscripts.

Last updated January 2006

Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section