41 Richard Bennett 1761


During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there were a number of county topographical projects that started but were never completed. Often the project was abandoned before Devon was included: George Rollos completed five maps and Eugene Burden has written about a series of Neele maps based on Cary’s Traveller’s Companion that included Bedfordshire to Derbyshire, but neither included Devon. However, some incomplete series did include Devonshire; the Universal Museum series (32) and a series by Richard Bennett.1

Donald Hodson recorded the finding of a collection of eleven county maps which had been discovered by David Smith in a copy of Owen’s New Book of Roads (published by Goadby & Son). They were not printed in the original volume but had been bound in some time after publication with other maps from magazines. The maps were Bedfordshire to Essex omitting Devon. 2

Since then another set of these maps has been found.3 These maps were bound into a copy of A New Present State of England Vol I printed for Henry Woodgate at the Golden Ball in Paternoster Row which it is assumed was published about 1760. This second set contains fourteen county maps: the eleven already recorded together with maps of Devonshire, Herefordshire and Rutland. Although Devon was bound in opposite page 76, the page on which the text of Devonshire begins, they were not intended for inclusion in this publication: the reference letters on the maps do not relate to the text. Roads are shown with distances between main towns in small circles, for larger towns such as Exeter and Barnstaple, the distance from London is given in a square frame. There are other symbols, eg R, V and S (rectories, vicarages) but no key. A note to Exminster Hundred (identified with an A) is in the Bristol Channel (Aa).

Hodson postulated that the maps were originally intended for inclusion in The New English Atlas. This was a project planned by Richard Bennett which never materialised. An advertisement in The Public Advertiser of June 30th, 1761 announced the issue of The New English Atlas to be issued in parts. The atlas was to be printed for the proprietors and sold by Richard Bennett, Engraver, C G Seyffert, J Flyn, Engraver, S Hooper, C Corbett and J Pottinger.

The map of Devonshire obviously fills a gap in the first set. However, the other two maps present a puzzle: were they printed out of sequence or are there other counties still waiting to be discovered? Whatever the facts of the matter it seems certain that the Atlas was never completed and that collectors of the first maps bound them into other publications.

Size 163 x 132 mm.    English Miles (20 = 34 mm).


1. 1761 Found in A New Present State of England  
    Imprint of A New Present State of England is London. Henry Woodgate. 1760. KS4.


[1] Eugene Burden; A minor mystery solved; in The Map Collector 59, Summer 1992.

[2] Donald Hodson; County Atlases of the British Isles Vol. II; Tewin Press; 1989; pp179-181.

[3] See The Map Collector 61, Winter 1992, p.54.

[4] Illustration courtesy of the late Eugene Burden.