21 Robert Morden 1695


Robert Morden (fl. 1669-1703) was a highly successful instrument and globe maker as well as engraver and publisher. One of his first productions was a handbook on using large quadrants and in 1673 his catalogue (published in Francis Lamb´s Astroscopium) included globes of various sizes, Copernican spheres and an assortment of maps and finished “and instruments whatsoever are made and sold by Robert Morden at the Atlas in Cornhil”. Morden occupied premises in Cornhill and, as was the custom of the times, advertised his business address as under the sign of The Atlas. Morden supplied sold or published the works of many of the leading geographers of the day such as Francis Lamb, Wenceslaus Hollar, John Overton and Philip Lea (all of whom produced maps of Devon, see earlier entries).

Morden was probably an apprentice to Joseph Moxon, a well-respected member of the Weaver´s Company and may have served his term with William Berry, with whom he published a variety of works. Famous persons such as Robert Hooke and Samuel Pepys are known to have purchased items from him. He was church-warden of his local church. He died in 1703 and was buried beside his wife. He had two female apprentices, Mary Ward and Margaret Wearg (in 1674 and 75) and Philip Lea was also apprenticed to him.

He produced playing cards (15) in 1676, maps of various parts of the world before he embarked on a series of county maps for an issue of Camden’s Britannia ; a new translation by Doctor Edmund Gibson in 1695. Gibson, only 26 at the time, subsequently became Bishop of London. Morden may have first engraved another series of maps for this work which were rejected as being too small (see 22). In a second set of Proposals for this work it was pointed out that: The Maps mentioned in the former Proposals … were not thought Large and Comprehensive enough”.[1]

The maps were all based on earlier maps (Saxton, Speed etc.) and bear no decoration except the shell-type cartouches containing the title and Morden’s name: five are signed by Sutton Nicholls, and two by John Sturt, as engraver. Devon was based on Saxton, but with an error to the Dorset border, and shows latitude and longitude (from the prime meridian of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London) along the foot marked at 5’ minutes and along the top in minutes of time from London: this is the second set of county maps to have latitude and longitude (see Bill 8), and the earliest to have longitude from London and to indicate local time. Lundy is cut by the border line.[2]

Watermarks (horse, spread-eagle and running hare) have been suggested as a method of dating individual maps but these only show the earliest possible date of the paper[3]. The Morden map, despite its rough engraving and inaccuracies (Frostick[4] described it so: In spite of the claims which had been made for the drawing of the map, the overall effect is geographically disappointing) seems to have been quite popular and is occasionally found bound into copies of other works.

Size 355 x 420 mm.      A Scale of Miles (60, 56 and 52 mm).

DEVONSHIRE By Robrt. Morden. Imprint: Sold by Abel Swale Awnsham and Iohn Churchil. 


1. 1695  Camden’s Britannia, Newly Translated into English ... Publish’d by Edmund Gibson (DevA), (DEI), (NDL). 
    London. A Swale and A & J Churchill. 1695.[5]  CXIII, S117, BL,W,
2.  1722 Changes in Okehampton area; Sawford=Courtney for Samford and Hunichurch for Hunichurchligh, Sele becomes Zeal Monachorum, Swarton becomes Soreton; Chagford spelling corrected; Clifton Hundred erroneously changed to CLISTON.  
    Britannia: Or A Chorographical Description Of Great Britain. The Second Edition ... printed by Mary Matthews ... and sold by William Taylor  
    London. Awnsham Churchill. 1722. CXV, H169, BL.
    Britannia ... The Second Edition  
    London. James and John Knapton and 10 others. (1730). H170, B, BCL.
3. 1753 Main roads are now shown with double lines. (TQ).
    Britannia ... The Third Edition    
    London. R Ware and 14 others. 1753. CXVI, H171, BL, W.
    Britannia ... This Fourth Edition    
    London. W Bowyer and others. 1772. CXVII, H172, BL.


[1] Reported by David Kingsley; Printed Maps of Sussex; Sussex Record Society; Lewes; 1982.

[2] In the past few years copies of the Morden map have been cropping up on Ebay with Lundy within the border; it is presumed these are from a facsimile issued some time in the 1960s or 1970s.

[3] Eugene Burden; County Maps of Berkshire; (1988) 1991; p.27.

[4] Raymond Frostick; The Printed Maps of Norfolk; privately published; Norwich; 2011.

[5] A number of copies were printed on thicker paper.