19th Century Mapmakers

Joseph Nightingale

Detail of Map of Shropshire by Joseph Nightingale and J Roper showing the Route of Offa’s DykeNightingale, Joseph, 1816. English Topography: Or a series of historical and statistical descriptions of the several counties of England and Wales, accompanied by a map of each county

Detail of Map of Shropshire by Joseph Nightingale and J Roper 
showing the Route of Offa’s Dyke

Joseph Nightingale (1775-1824) preached variously in both the Wesleyan Methodist and Unitarian churches but never held a pastoral position, supporting himself financially through his prolific writing1. Religious publications are certainly included in his works but the greater part of his books dealt with topographical subjects including A Guide to the Watering Places(1811); accounts of Staffordshire, Somerset, and Shropshire; and surveys of London and Westminster (1814–15)1.

Nightingale’s map of Shropshire was engraved by J. Roper and depicts the route of the Dyke, which Nightingale identifies as Offa’s Dike. Curiously, Nightingale also refers to the dyke as The Devil’s Ditch and although two other surviving Anglo-Saxon earthworks are commonly known as ‘The Devil’s Ditch’, these are situated in Cambridgeshire and on the South Downs respectively.  

Nightingale, Joseph, 1816. English Topography: Or a series of historical and statistical descriptions of the several counties of England and Wales, accompanied by a map of each county. London: Printed for Baldwin, Craddock and Joy. (PHI 00253). Presented to St. David’s College by Thomas Phillips in 1846.

Notes: 1 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/20194 accessed 23/09/13

Thomas Dix

Illustration of Swansea from the Map of South Wales
Dix, Thomas, 1822. A complete atlas of the English counties.

Illustration of Swansea from the Map of South Wales


Little is known of Thomas Dix (1769/70-1813) beyond the fact that he came from North Walsham in Norfolk and worked as a surveyor in Northamptonshire and Norfolk. A Complete Atlas of the English Counties was instigated by Thomas Dix but he died before its publication; it was William Darton (1781–1854), a skilled engraver, stationer, and printer who completed the work and published it under their joint names at his premises in Holborn Hill, London, in 1822.  

Dix, Thomas, 1822. A complete atlas of the English counties. London: William Darton. (ODS 00001)

Illustration of Snowdon from the Map of North Wales Dix, Thomas, 1822. A complete atlas of the English counties.

Illustration of Snowdon from the Map of North Wales

‌The full title of the work is A complete atlas of the English counties, divided into their respective hundreds, & c.: On which are carefully marked the whole of the turnpike and parish roads, the situation of towns, villages, parks, and gentlemen's seats; churches, chapels; navigable canals and rivers, and every object tending to illustrate the history and antiquities of England; Accompanied with maps of North and South Wales, on two distinct plates, divided into their respective counties and shires; to which is added, various explanatory notes, illustrative of the boundary, extent, population, produce, and manufactures; the land tax, poor rates, number of houses, the civil and ecclesiastical divisions of each county, with the respective number of members returned to parliament; also a description of the rivers, canals, climate, and the market towns, with the days on which the markets are held; the distances of each market town from the metropolis, and the intermediate distances in miles from one place to another. As the title of the atlas so comprehensively describes, the maps are exceptionally detailed, with meticulous explanatory notes, each plate bearing an attractive circular title cartouche and an uncoloured vignette, illustrative of a location on the map. 

‌The maps in A Complete Atlas of the English Counties are dated variously from July 1816 to February 1821; those of North and South Wales are both dated June 13th 1820. Before the production of the atlas in 1822, it is likely that the maps were available to be purchased individually.    

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