43 Thomas Kitchin 1764


Thomas Kitchin, Hydrographer to King George III, engraver and cartographer, was born in London in August 1719. He appears to have been the eldest of several children of Thomas Kitchin, a hat-dyer, and his wife Mary Birr.1 Kitchin was apprenticed to the map-engraver Emanuel Bowen in December 1732. No premium was paid to Bowen, so it is thought that Kitchin was what was called an apprentice for labour - one to be trained as a journeyman assistant rather than as a future master. However, Kitchin married Bowen’s daughter, Sarah, on Christmas Day 1739, just three weeks after his apprenticeship ended. Sarah died young and Kitchin remarried in 1762. His second wife was Jane Burroughs, daughter of Joseph Burroughs, a learned and respected preacher. Kitchin moved to St Alban’s in the 1760s, where he died in June 1784; he is buried in that Abbey. The inscription has not survived.

Kitchin did not become a partner and by at least 1741 was operating on his own account. Nevertheless, Kitchin and Bowen often worked together in their later careers, most notably on the Large English Atlas (37). They both became prominent members of the well-known Barbican (Paul’s Alley) Chapel and very actively involved in the affairs of the Baptist community (Worms 1993).

Working at premises in London’s Holborn as an engraver and publisher, Kitchin produced a very wide range of books on many subjects as well as topographical works. He also worked with Thomas Jefferys (33) and apart from the atlases he published with him, he produced maps of every sort for magazines and books on history and the antiquities including county maps for The London Magazine (34).

In 1764 he engraved a map of Devon for R and J Dodsley’s England Illustrated, or, a Compendium of the Natural History, Geography, Topography, and Antiquities Ecclesiastical and Civil, of England and Wales (4to, 54 maps). These were also reissued in parts 1764-65 as advertised in the Public Advertiser 1 Feb. 1764. The same maps were re-used by the publishers in 1765 to produce Kitchen’s [sic] English Atlas: or, a Compleat Set of Maps of all the Counties of England and Wales. An 18th century reviewer commended the maps as being executed with a good share of elegance and neatness. Although the graticuled maps are not very scarce in themselves, they are not often found in 18th century colour. The map was copied by Ellis, Hatchett and Lodge including the locations of Moll’s mines, St. George’s Channel and Seaton in the Explanation table (see 46, 50, and 52).

Size 192 x 245 mm. British Statute miles 69 to a Degree (24 = 50 mm).

A New MAP of DEVON SHIRE, Drawn from the best Authorities: By Thos. Kitchin Geogr. Engraver to H.R.H. the Duke of York.

1. 1764 England Illustrated, Or, A Compendium Of The Natural History, Geography, Topography, And Antiquities Ecclesiastical and Civil, Of England and Wales.Vol I (DevA), (NDL), (DEI).
    London. R & J Dodsley. 1764 (First published December 1763). CCXIV, H231, BL, W, B,
    Kitchen’s English Atlas: Or, A Compleat Set of Maps Of All The Counties of England and Wales ... The Whole engraved ... By Thomas Kitchen, Geographer to His Royal Highness the Duke of York.  
    London. J Dodsley. (1765). CCXXXVIII, H232, BL, B.



[1] See Laurence Worms’ article in The Map Collector; Issues 62 and 63; Spring and Summer 1993.