28 Thomas Read / (John Rocque) 1743


The English traveller was a part-work advertised late in 1743 to appear weekly complete with a map. Thomas Read, the advertiser, had produced 38 county maps by mid-1744 with accompanying texts rewritten from Thomas Cox’s Magna Britannia (22). The maps were issued before the text. The Devon map appeared in January 1743/4 and the text over six weeks, March-April 1744. Title pages, preliminaries and indexes were printed in 1746 to allow subscribers to bind the collected parts into three 8vo volumes which included 32 or 33 maps (editions vary). The maps are very similar to those used by Robert Walker (29) and both include engravings of the old and new Eddystone lighthouses copied from Herman Moll (25) on which the map is based, including his upside-down directions. Devon is one of the few counties with such embellishments. There may well have been some cooperation between Read and Walker.

In 1753, the maps without the texts appeared in The Small British Atlas under the imprint of John Rocque. Of Huguenot extraction, Rocque began his career in 1734: his French extraction is reflected in the sub-title to his Small British Atlas, which was Le Petit Atlas Britannique. Surveyor, engraver and publisher, Rocque earned a considerable reputation as a skilled large-scale surveyor, especially for his town plans including a very large scale plan of London on 24 sheets, a large-scale map of Exeter and a smaller plan of Exeter published posthumously by his wife.1 By 1753 he had become Topographer to the Prince of Wales. A fire in 1750 destroyed a large amount of Rocque’s stock and this might have encouraged him to acquire the Read plates. His Small British Atlas contained the maps that had already appeared (separately and bound) in The English traveller plus 19 modified Read maps of the outstanding counties. On his death (c.1762) his wife, Mary A Rocque, carried on the business. There is an unusual composite atlas in the Bodleian Library (Gough - Cornwall 17) that includes the Read maps of Devon and Dorset together with both John Norden’s and Pieter van den Keere’s maps of Cornwall.

Size 150 x 190 mm.    English Miles  (20 = 50 mm).

DEVON SHIRE. (CaOS). Compass (Aa).

1. 1743  The English traveller - Part 9 published 28. Jan. 1743/4 H197.
    London. T Read. 1743.  
    The English traveller Vol 1  
    London.T Read. 1746. CLXXXV, H197, BL, (DevA).
2.  1753 Plate number has been added and erased, traces can still be seen (Ea).  
    The Small British Atlas, Being a New Set of Maps of all the Counties in England and Wales; to ... (title set on 4 lines)                 
    London. John Rocque. 1753.      H198, [P].
    The Small British Atlas Being a New Set of Maps ... (title set on 6 lines)   
    London. John Rocque. 1753. H199, C, [CB].
    The Small British Atlas  
    London. John Rocque and Robert Sayer. 1753.  CCVII, H200, BL, RGS, W.
3.  1762 Plate number 9 added (EaOS).  (NDL).
    The Small British Atlas  
    London. John Rocque. 1762, 1764. CCVIII, H201, B, C; CCIX, H202, W, C.
4. 1764  Page number erased and other changes, eg Hart on erased at Hartland Point.   (FB).

For a full account of Thomas Cox’s Magna Britannia, see Magna Britannia: Robert Morden´s smaller series of maps.

[1] See Printed Maps of Exeter by Francis Bennett and Kit Batten; now available on-line at Kit´s Blog.