The Gentlemen of Georgian Nottinghamshire were spoilt for choice if they wanted a map of what Chapman described as their ‘beautiful and fertile County’. However, many of the maps they might have chosen left a great deal to be desired in terms of accuracy and utility. Numerous maps of the county had been published since the Tudor map-maker Christopher Saxton surveyed the English and Welsh counties in the 16th century (Wadsworth 1930). In Saxton’s ‘Atlas’, published in 1579, Nottinghamshire shared a double page with its much larger neighbour, Lincolnshire.
Until Chapman’s survey, nearly 200 years later, maps of the county were essentially derivatives of the Saxton Atlas and in the 70 years preceding Chapman’s survey, 21 maps were published by London based map-makers and nearly always in an atlas. The smallest at 10 miles to 1 inch, and drawn from ‘the latest Surveys’, appeared in a 1759 publication, ‘New and Accurate Maps of the Counties of England and Wales’. The largest at 5 miles to 1 inch, was published in the ‘Atlas Anglicanus’ of 1767.
The latter was the most recent map to be published before Chapman’s survey in 1774. Had purchasers wanted something more picturesque, there was George Bickham’s map from ‘The British Monarchy’ published in 1753.
A New Map
That the Gentlemen of Nottinghamshire lacked a map of the county based on a modern survey is clear. Evidence that they took any action, individually or collectively, is not at all compelling. However it is reasonable to assume that in common with landed and commercial interests in other counties they experienced the same ‘frustrations of inadequate maps’ and
‘… were the most likely supporters of a map-making venture:’ (Harley 1965 p.62).
Some would have been aware of the bounty offered by the Royal Society of the Arts to promote new, large-scale surveys of the counties based on modern surveying techniques, and in particular, the use of triangulation to establish geodectic accuracy. Harley(1964a) provides a detailed account of the activities of the Society and the response of surveyors throughout England and Wales. The Society announced the bounty in 1759 and by 1765 had received proposals from 11 interested parties. These included an application in November 1764 from Charles Wilkinson of Nottingham.
Charles Wilkinson (c.1741–1786)
Wilkinson, who described himself as a land-surveyor and engineer, had already published a broadsheet to potential subscribers in June of that year.
The form of his proposal was similar to those issued by surveyors in other counties and by Chapman himself for an earlier survey he had undertaken of Newmarket.
The timing of Wilkinson’s proposal suggests that the Royal Society’s bounty was not the only reason for the proposed survey, and that there were indeed interested parties in the county who were promoting a new survey. Even so Wilkinson did not proceed. After a delay of 5 years a notice appeared in the Nottingham Journal in September 1769 informing the public, and possibly frustrated subscribers, that Wilkinson was withdrawing his proposal and that ‘MR JEFFERYS, … Has begun the SURVEY of the County of NOTTINGHAM’.
The explanation given for Wilkinson’s withdrawal was the ‘TIME being entirely engaged in his Academy’, but this does not adequately explain the delay and we can only speculate as to why Wilkinson did not proceed. The evidence of his capabilities is limited. In his Proposal he says he was for ‘many Years past in the Employment of John Grundy … and late with Mr Jefferys’. Wilkinson appeared to be confident of his abilities because he invited ‘GENTLEMEN who are inclined to give encouragement to the DESIGN’’ to inspect examples of his work at various locations around the county, but what those examples were we do not know. Wilkinson’s name appears in connection with only one estate survey within Nottinghamshire in the preceding decade, that of the Manor of Stanton in the Wolds executed in 1763 (Nicholls 1987). John Grundy was a well-respected Lincolnshire engineer but the published works on his life make no mention of Wilkinson.
Jefferys, although not a surveyor, was an established London map publisher and engraver. He had responded to the Royal Society’s initiative and commissioned surveys in several counties and between 1765 and 1771, his team of experienced surveyors were at work in several counties, but Wilkinson does not appear to have been involved.
A more likely reason for not proceeding was that local enthusiasm was not matched by the response of potential subscribers. The extent of local support for the survey was a key factor. A condition of Wilkinson’s proposal was that the survey would proceed if he was ‘… encouraged with a Subscription adequate to so arduous an Undertaking’. Thomas Whyman made a similar stipulation in his 1768 proposal for a survey of Leicestershire.
Burdett was more precise in his 1768 proposal for a survey of Lancashire specifying a requirement of 400 subscribers. Yates and Chapman’s proposal for Lancashire in 1775 specified the same figure. Notice of the handover from Wilkinson to Jefferys in Nottinghamshire specified a requirement for 200 subscribers.
Thomas Jefferys (c.1719-1771)
Jefferys’ proposal for the Nottinghamshire survey appeared in 10 issues of the Journal between September and November 1769, presumably to make sure all possible subscribers in the county were notified. We will consider the conduct of the survey later, but we can assume it was completed because a year later in October 1770 Jefferys published proposals to engrave and publish a new map of the county.
However the map was never published:
‘The late Mr. Jefferys published proposals for making a map of this county, and accordingly caused it to be surveyed; but the drawing being examined by many gentlemen, was found to be very incorrect.’ (Gough 1780 vol.2, p.78).
The drawings have not survived and there is no record of their short comings. Was it the accuracy of the survey or the quality of the draughtsmanship? As we shall see later the evidence suggests that the survey of Nottinghamshire was not carried out by one of his trusted surveyors and perhaps during the last year of his life, he died in November 1771, he exercised less control over the work of his draughtsmen.
Whatever the explanation, by the early 1770’s 20 large-scale county maps had already been published and after two abortive attempts, Nottinghamshire was lagging behind. Was this keenly felt by the Gentlemen of the county? What action did they take? Where could they find a surveyor with the necessary skills? There were local surveyors who produced estate plans and other maps for the landowners of the county, the likes of George Kelk and William Attenburrow, competent men by the evidence of their work (Nichols 1987), and well known to the local Gentry.
But, for whatever reason, they were not trusted with the execution of a countywide survey. John Grundy was engaged in survey work along the River Trent in 1770, but he was a drainage engineer more than a county surveyor. John Varley undertook several surveys of the route of the proposed canal from Chesterfield to the Trent, but he was principally an engineer not a surveyor.
The Gentlemen of Nottinghamshire would have been aware of Burdett’s survey of Derbyshire completed in 1767 for which he received the approval of the Royal Society, but he moved to Liverpool in 1769. Thomas Whyman had worked with Burdett on the survey of Derbyshire, but he was seeking support for a survey of Leicestershire which he eventually began in 1775. Another name linked with Burdett and the Derbyshire survey was William Yates, but he was a Customs Officer in Liverpool, engaged in local surveys there, and a survey of Staffordshire which he began in 1769. John Chapman had also assisted Burdett on the Derbyshire survey, but as well as a land-surveyor, he was an engraver, had surveyed, engraved and published maps of Newmarket in 1769, had published Armstrong’s map of Durham in 1768, and was engaged in a survey of Essex with the surveyor and engraver, Peter André. Was he the man for Nottinghamshire?
John Chapman & Richard Kaye
The first evidence of any connection between Nottinghamshire and Chapman is a broadsheet ‘proposal’ he issued in May 1774.
Compared to the standard form used by other county surveyors this ‘proposal’ was unusual, not to say unique. It is very brief and makes reference to events that have already taken place, as if it was updating an earlier notice:
- the rejection of Jefferys’ ‘Drawing’;
- ‘the Noblity and Gentry have entered into a new Subscription’;
- the ‘many respectable Names already on the List’;
- the ‘proposed Number of Subscriptions’; and
- the ‘Time proposed’.
This ‘proposal’ was included in papers from the library at Wollaton Hall and was presumably addressed to Francis Willoughby, 3rd Baron Middleton, one of the county ‘Nobility and Gentry’. Copies sent to other Gentlemen of the county have not survived, neither have any earlier versions. There were no announcements concerning Chapman’s new survey in the Nottingham Journal between October 1770 and June 1774. Reputation was an important factor in securing subscriptions and despite being Geographer to the King, Jefferys had failed to win the support of Nottinghamshire’s Gentlemen, and yet Chapman, a relative unknown, succeeded. Why? Perhaps the explanation is the involvement of Richard Kaye.
Kaye graduated from Brasenose College, Oxford in 1754, was ordained in 1760, and appointed Rector of Kirkby–in-Ashfield in 1765, a position he retained until his death. As well as his clerical duties Kaye had many interests including travel, topography, antiquities and natural history. He was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1765, the Royal Society in 1772, and also a trustee of the British Museum. Goulding(1925) is the main source of biographical information and he relies heavily on Kaye’s correspondence with his lifelong friend and supporter, William Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland (1738–1809), twice Prime Minister and owner of the Welbeck estate. The other source is Kaye’s notebooks, preserved in the British Library.
That Kaye had some part in the story of Chapman’s map is clear from the dedication:
‘To the Rev Dr. Richard Kaye, … This Map undertaken by his Direction is Inscribed by his most faithfull humble Servant Jno Chapman’.
Kaye was a minor local figure and Chapman’s dedication, although not unique, was very much the exception. Generally, if there was a dedicatee it was one of the county elite:
- ‘most noble prince, Peregrine, Duke of Ancaster’ (Newmarket);
- ‘The President, Vice President and … Members of the Society, for the Encouragement of Arts’ (Derbyshire):
- ‘Marquis of Rockingham’ (Yorkshire);
- ‘Nobility, Gentry and Clergy’ (Staffordshire); and
- ‘Francis Earl of Huntingdon’ (Leicestershire).
The explanation for Chapman’s choice is revealed in the dedication, the map was ‘undertaken by his [Kaye’s] Direction’. There is a parallel with the Leicestershire map but significant differences as well. In 1779 John Prior, a schoolmaster and clergyman, published his map of Leicestershire and an announcement in the Leicester and Nottingham Journal reported that the map was from a survey by Joseph Whyman ‘under the Direction of the Rev. J Prior’.
For whatever reason Whyman had not proceeded with his earlier proposal for Leicestershire, perhaps lack of reputation came into play again, in any event he was recruited by Prior. Having completed the survey presumably Whyman produced the manuscript map, but that was the end of his involvement. The map was engraved in London by Luffman and printed by Dawson, a bookseller in Paternoster Row. Prior retained control of the process, and presumably the plates, and he was the map-maker who received the Society’s premium of 20 guineas and a silver medal in 1778.
Apart from the dedication we have no evidence of the relationship between Chapman and Kaye. There is no mention of map-making or Chapman in Kaye’s notebooks, nor in his surviving correspondence with Bentinck and other members of Nottinghamshire society. Kaye’s own letters were burnt in accordance with instructions in his will (M&SC(6)). What we do know is that Chapman undertook the survey, drew, engraved, printed and published the map and retained ownership of the plates. He was the map-maker and Kaye the dedicatee. Unlike Prior, there is no evidence that Kaye had a commercial interest in the venture, in any case he was from a different social group, becoming Dean of Lincoln in 1783 and succeeding to a baronetcy in 1789. We can speculate that in some way Kaye ‘sponsored’ Chapman and encouraged subscription for the survey and map. Perhaps connections, either direct or through Bentinck, were made with subscribers to Chapman’s maps of Newmarket and the survey of Essex, and they endorsed his capabilities as surveyor and map-maker. Unfortunately there is no evidence to support this speculation.
We can assume that Chapman raised the ‘proposed number of subscriptions’ but there is no evidence that a list of subscribers was ever published. Prior secured 264 subscribers for his map and Chapman himself included a list of 216 subscribers with his map of Essex. On many of the county maps the names of the Gentry were inscribed adjacent to their houses and estates, both as an encouragement to subscribe and evidence that they had. Names were not inscribed in situ on Prior’s map, or the first edition of Burdett’s map of Derbyshire, or Yates’ map of Staffordshire. Chapman had included names on his maps of Newmarket and Essex. There are 58 names of landowners inscribed on the Nottinghamshire map, including Dr Kaye, and it is reasonable to assume that they were all subscribers (Landowners). Only 40% of the names on the Essex map were on the subscription list, so we can assume that there were more than 58 subscribers for the Nottinghamshire map even if they must remain anonymous.
Compared to other counties, the circumstances surrounding the large-scale survey and mapping of Nottinghamshire are unusual. After Wilkinson’s abortive proposal and Jeffery’s unacceptable survey, Chapman, with no apparent connections to the county, secured the backing of subscribers, completed the survey and published his map. Precisely what role Richard Kaye played we cannot say, but his involvement is a unique aspect of the Nottinghamshire map. Further research in the correspondence and estate papers of the Gentry of the county, and in Essex and Suffolk, may provide some explanation, but is beyond the scope of this dissertation. Having shed some light on the circumstances that led to the map being produced, the story moves on to the next stage in the life-story, the conduct of Chapman’s survey.