74 Mudge / Ordnance Survey 1809


The Ordnance Survey was officially constituted in 1791 under William Roy with William Mudge (1762-1820) the Official Superintendent 1798-1820. Three of those principally responsible for the survey were Devonians: Mudge was born in Plymouth; Simon Woolcot (1760-1819), mathematician and surveyor, was born in South Molton; and Robert Dawson (1771-1860)1 was born in Plymouth and died at Woodleigh. James Gardner arranged the engraving then executed by Benjamin Baker (57). The survey continued after Mudge’s death under Thomas Colby (1784-1852), Superintendent to 1846.


Index map - label

Devon was the second Ordnance Survey county to be published after Essex.2 The complete map consists of eight sections with piano key border (to perimeter sheets only), 2372 x 1815 mm, with title sheet3, 340 x 422 mm, to be laid over the sea area. Part of Hartland Point is excluded and a small detached portion in Dorset. It was usually sold with the sheets cut up, mounted on linen, and folded in a book-like box with title sheet (sometimes with a paper label, see illustration left4), as a book (atlas style + below) or even complete and mounted on rollers (# below).

It was on sale as a complete (county) set from 1809. Before 1811 changes were only made to two sheets (see below). However, publication was halted from 1811 to 1816 partly due to military and partly commercial reasons. All maps issued before 1824 show the same changes seen in the list below. In.1824 James Gardner became agent for the sale of Ordnance Survey maps and added a piano-key border to each map, probably to encourage sale of single sheets, and his imprint was added Sold by Jas. Gardner, Agent for the Sale of the Ordnance Maps, 163, Regent Street, London.

 All sets seen subsequent to this change present map sheets in various states: individual sheets before c.1840 had up to ten states5 and only the earliest states of the complete county map are listed below. Four main stages in sheet alterations can be identified: scale bars were added to each sheet (but were sometimes trimmed for the boxed sets – * below); Ramshaw added his printer’s imprint and prices; these prices being too high, most were soon reduced; and finally, post-1835, geological information based on Henry de la Beche was added. Transfers Printed from an Electrotype were taken and single sheets, double sheets and boxed sets were produced (sometimes including the detached parts previously missing or even lacking sheet XX which has only a small portion of Devon) until c.1880.

Sheet sizes:  602 or 585* x 905 mm.                                                                                                                        Scale One Inch to a Mile.  

Each sheet has number No___ (EaOS), and imprints: Published 11th Octr. 1809 by Lt Coll. Mudge, Tower (AeOS or CaOS) and Engraved at the Drawing Room in the Tower by Benjm. Baker & Assistants ... The Writing by Ebenr. Bourne (EeOS or CaOS). Sheets XXIV (DeOS) and XXVII (AdOS) have Meridian of Butterton Hill Longitude 3o52'47“. West; XXIV has Scale One (EeOS).


1. 1809  As described. BL, FB*, AA.
2. 1809-11 Sheet XX – Blayden Hill now Blagdon Hill and Sampford Bret corrected to Brett; XXIII has Inch to a Mile added (EeOS). BL, KB+, KB#.
3. 1816-23 All sheets have added scale-bar (CeOS - see above). Other minor changes, eg XXII - XXIV - ENGLISH CHANNEL removed, South Wales coast added to XX.    BL, KB.
4. 1824        All sheets have borders. Gardner imprint added (not to XXII & XXIV). RGS, C, BL.
5. 1835 Geological information added to maps.     BL.



[1] Artist and draughtsman and inventor of hillscape drawing, he was the father of R K Dawson, see 104, 105.

[2] William Faden’s Kent, although based on the survey’s results, was privately engraved and published in 1801.

[3] THE SECOND PART OF THE General Survey of England and Wales Containing the whole of DEVON And a portion of the adjoining counties DONE BY THE Surveyors of His Majesty’s Ordnance, under the Direction of Lt. COL. MUDGE, OF The Royal Artillery, F.R.S.

[4] Ordnance Survey of Great Britain PART the IID CONTAINING NEARLY THE WHOLE OF DEVONSHIRE. Part of Somersetshire, Part of Dorsetshire, Part of Glamorganshire, and in the Eastern Part of Cornwall COMPRISED IN Plates No. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27.

[5] It is not possible here to detail every change. This information is condensed from the facsimile of the West Country OS mapping  produced by Harry Margary with an excellent introduction by J B Harley and Yolande O’Donoghue in; The Old Series Ordnance Survey Maps of England and Wales - Vol II; Lympne Castle; 1977. Maps listed in Margary but missing in this list were incomplete sets.