58 William Tunnicliff 1791


William Tunnicliff, land surveyor, produced a set of maps which are little known and rarely appear on the collectors’ market. However, as David Smith writes1, they deserve consideration as examples of the maps produced by the non-specialist map-maker to accompany roadbooks, commercial directories and so on.

In 1786 Tunnicliff published maps of three counties, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Lancashire. At first each map was priced individually, presumably to be sold separately, but the prices were deleted when A Topographical Survey (of the three counties) was published the next year. Three more counties followed, Somerset, Gloucester and Worcester in 1789 with earlier maps being altered to a limited extent; the six counties thus being brought together in one Topographical Survey with continuous pagination. This was followed in 1791 by six western counties including Devon - Printed for the Author, by B C Collins, and sold by him; also by S Crowder, Paternoster Row, London; Messrs Trueman and Son, Exeter, and all other Booksellers. Somerset was included in this survey – but this was a newly engraved map as these maps were larger than their predecessors. Tunnicliff used the well-known subscriber system to finance his publication but there were no further maps or surveys after 1791.2 Each county section included a short description of the main roads, an index of the same, an alphabetical list of local nobility and a list of subscribers.

The maps, especially the six later maps, have few topographical features and have scales from 3-6 miles to the inch represented by a scale-bar. The conventional signs were standardised for the 1791 series to show market towns, villages, gentleman’s seats, turnpike roads, parks and county and hundred boundaries. Devon has a few short unnamed river estuaries but no rivers are detailed - only the Axe is shown in any length - otherwise few features are shown. Cranmere Pool and Three Barrow Tor are prominent on Dartmoor and Exeter is shown as the County of Exeter. Although Tunnicliff seems to have paid close attention to the development of canals, updating information for other counties, the Topsham to Exeter canal is not shown.

The lettering is generally attractively engraved with the names of the hundreds, which were generally hand-coloured, and printed in bold letters. There is no signature of engraver. The map extends into the border to east and west.


Size 596 x 564 mm.                                                                                                                                                  Scale of Miles (10 = 72 mm).

A New Map of DEVONSHIRE, by Willm Tunnicliff Land Surveyor 1791.


1. 1791  A Topographical Survey of the Counties of Hants, Wilts, Dorset, Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall, commonly called the Western Circuit  
    Salisbury. B C Collins; London. S Crowder; Exeter. Trueman & Son. 1791. BL, B, RGS, BCL.

[1] David Smith: The Maps of William Tunnicliff; in The IMCoS JOURNAL; Issue No. 39; Winter 1989.

[2] There was an additional map: A New Map of the Western Circuit of England also dated 1791 and signed by Tunnicliff.