80A Aaron Arrowsmith 1814


Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823) was a well-known engraver of maps, who together with his sons, Aaron and Samuel, and later a nephew John, established a reputation for their maps of the Americas and the new discoveries. Aaron was born in humble circumstances at Winton, County Durham, on 14th July 1750. Largely self-taught he received some mathematics training from William Emerson of Durham. By about 1770 he was in London. Not much is known about Arrowsmith´s early career and conjecture is that he received some training from John Cary; possibly in surveying as this is how Arrowsmith advertised himself in his early years. His name is linked with Cary´s Actual Survey of the Great Post Roads (1784): by A Arrowsmith, Land Surveyor.1

The Arrowsmiths also published a number of maps, including Devon, for government publications: Aaron Arrowsmith engraved this map of Devon and Cornwall in 1814; a map of Devon and Somerset was completed for a report in 1833, probably by Samuel (110); and a map of Devon and Cornwall in the Third Report from His Majesty’s Commissioners was signed by Samuel (117). This earlier map was a map of the diocese. It is more detailed than Samuel’s later map, and it is surprising that Samuel did not copy it for his later report. The map was one of a set of 15 maps drawn by Aaron and his son Samuel to accompany the 5 volume Eccliasticus, temp. Henrici VIII, auctoritate regia institutus edited by J Caley and the Rev. J Hunter.

Aaron’s original engraved map was lithographically reproduced, reduced in size and included in a late nineteenth century work on the state of the World Church in the Historical Church Atlas. This was published in London by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (founded in 1698) and printed by Stanford's (many maps are signed Stanford's Geographical Establishment). A Christian atlas of the world, it included various chapters and maps on such topics as the Roman Empire, Gothic Invasions, Rise and Spread of Mohammedanism, and the Crusades. The author, Edmund McClure had associations with both the SPCK and the West Country. He was secretary of the SPCK from 1875 for 40 years and an honorary Canon of Bristol Cathedral. He died in 1922. Although the map of Devon and Cornwall is a double-page map, it has been split and there is a margin down the middle of the page. This map of 1814 was copied in 1854 by the Reverend George Oliver (129).

In 1815 Aaron Arrowsmith completed a Map of England and Wales on 15 full and 3 half sheets. This was published both as book and individual sheets and reissued 1816 and 1818.2 The plates were reused in the 1870s by Stanford to produce a Railway & Station Map of England & Wales in 24 Sheets. Central and west Devon was on sheet 193, with south Devon below Torquay on sheet 24 and east Devon (from Exmouth) on sheet 20.


Size: 392 x 552 mm.                                                                                                                                                                            No scale.

DIOC’ EXON’.Imprint: Tabula Juxta Valerem Eccliasticum XXVI; Henrici VIII Institutum Geographica (CaOS). Signature: A Arrowsmith (EaOS) and dated AD MDCCCXIV (EeOS). In addition it has 2 inset tables: NOTAE EXPLAN. and Civitas Exon. Graticulated border with degrees. Explanation (Ee).


1. 1814  Eccliasticus, temp. Henrici VIII, auctoritate regia institutus  
    London. Ed. J Caley and Rev. J Hunter. (1810-34).  RGS.
2. 1897 Map is reduced to 230 x 320 mm and printed in two parts, on two pages. The earlier imprints and signature are erased, leaving the title and the inset tables. Left page has page number 66 (AaOS) and imprints: HISTORICAL CHURCH ATLAS. (AcOS) and EXETER WESTERN SECTION. (EeOS). Right page has page number 67 (AaOS) and imprints: HISTORICAL CHURCH ATLAS. (AcOS) and EXETER EASTERN SECTION. (EeOS). Place names have been added.  
    Historical Church Atlas by Edmund McClure M A  
    London: SPCK. New York: E & J B Young and Co. 1897. BL, RGS, KB.

[1] For a good overview of Arrowsmith´s work see Aaron Arrowsmith – Hydrographer to the King by Ashley Baynton-Williams in MapForum issue 5, Spring 2005.

[2] The British Library has various copies: BL K 5-74 England Tab II; Maps STE (3); and Maps 148.d.25.

[3] Large Scale Railway & Station Map of England & Wales with Scale of Miles (10 = 90); 630 x 470 mm. Editions of individual sheets (sold as folding maps) are known dated from 1876 to 1884. The sheets covering Devon and Cornwall were brought together to form a folding map of the two counties in 1880 (see Victorian Maps of Devon entry 154A).