John Ogilby 1600-1676 by Anthony Wright
Langham Village History Group
Langham Village History Group Langham Village Web Site
John   Ogilby   was   born   in   or   near   Kirriemuir,   Scotland,   in   1600 and   was   a   man   of   many   careers.   His   first   venture   was   that   of   a dancing      teacher.      A      fall      during      a      masque      (courtly entertainment),   allegedly   at   Burley   on   the   Hill,   Rutland,   made him   lame   for   the   rest   of   his   life   and   ended   that   particular vocation.   He   next   became   a   tutor,   then   literary   translator,   a theatre    owner,    finally    becoming    a    printer    and    publisher. However,   his   last   business   came   to   an   abrupt   halt   when   in   1666 disaster   struck   and   his   premises   in   Fleet   Street   were   destroyed in    the    Great    Fire    of    London.    Ogilby    emerged    from    this catastrophe,   with   luck   on   his   side,   when   he   became   one   of   the ‘four     sworn     viewers’     (surveyors),     appointed     by     the     City Corporation ,   whose   job   it   was   to   survey   the   parts   of   London destroyed   in   the   fire   and   to   establish   land   ownership   of   those areas.     The     resultant     plan     was     published     in     1667     at approximately twenty-five inches to the mile. In   1672,   because   of   Ogilby’s   work,   King   Charles   II   appointed   him   as   His   Majesty’s   Cosmographer   and   Geographic   Printer. Thus,   encouraged   with   such   high   status   patronage,   a   salary   as   Royal   Cosmographer   and   financial   help   from   other quarters,   Ogilby   pioneered   the   first   major   development   in   road   mapping   and   hence   the   first   practical   road   atlas.   His idea was   to   publish   five   volumes   of   a   world   atlas,   the   last   of   which,   in   three   parts   was   to   be   entitled   ‘Britannia, Volume   the First:   or,   an   Illustration   of   the   Kingdom   of   England   and   Dominion   of   Wales:   By   a   Geographical   and   Historical   Description of   the   Principal   Roads   thereof.’    However,   only   the   first   part   was   completed   in   its   entirety.   This was   a   survey   that consisted   of   a   hundred   plates   depicting   the   principal   roads   (post   roads)   of   England   and   Wales   emanating   from   London with   some   of   the   important   cross   roads.   The   principal   roads   were   shown   in   strip   form   with   each   page   consisting   of   seven strips in the form of an unwinding parchment scroll. Each   route   began   from   a   designated   city,   town   or   village   starting   with   the   strip   at   the   bottom   left   of   the   page   and progressing   up   the   strip   to   the   top.   By   following   the   same   pattern   on   adjacent   strips,   the   route   led   you   to   another settlement   at   the   top   right   of   the   page.   Each   strip   had   a   directional   compass   and   distance   was   marked   in   miles   and furlongs.   Hills,   bridges,   rivers,   county   boundaries,   fenced   and   unfenced   roads   were   shown   on   each   map   which   had   a   scale of   one   inch   to   the   mile.   This   scale   was   later   adopted   as   a   standard   by   the   Ordnance   Survey   whose   first   work   was published in 1801. This   map   was   the   first   to   establish   the   statute   mile   of   1 , 760   yards   as   a   standard   measurement   throughout   the   country. Until   this   time,   although   the   measurement   had   been   decreed   by   Statute   in   1593,   many   people   still   used   the   three   types of customary or local miles namely: the great, the middle and small mile. Ogilby’s measurements were later used also for the   setting   up   of   milestones   along   the   post   roads.   The   scroll   containing   Langham   showed   it   to   be   ninety   six   miles   from London and was entitled ‘The Extended Road from Oakham to Richmond in Yorkshire.’ Langham   was   depicted   with   a   stone   bridge   over   the   brook,   on   the   road   from   Oakham   to   ‘Milton’   Mowbray,   at   a   point   near the   Cold   Orton   Road.   After   leaving   Langham   the   map   shows   nearby   Raukes   Burow   Hill   and   roads   leading   to   Whitsonden and Ashwell   followed   by   the   ascent   and   descent   of   three   hills    all   drawn   in   great   detail.   On   the   approach   to   Langham   from the   South   at   Berleythorp   a   wood   bridge   over   a   brook   is   shown   near   to   where   a   road   from   Burley   to   Braunston   crossed. Ogilby’s    road    maps    were    an    immediate    success    and    he    had    every    intention    of    publishing    the    other    volumes. Unfortunately,   he   died   in   1676,   the   year   after   ‘Britannia’    was   published,   and   thus   the   other   volumes   and   parts   were never   completed. Three   issues   of   ‘Britannia’    appeared   in   1675   and   another   in   1798. There   is   little   doubt   that   Ogilby,   was a   visionary   and   an   avant   garde   map   maker.   Indeed,   his   legacy   was   such   that   his   road   maps   were   the   bench   mark   for others   such   as   John   Senex   (this   was   a   reduced   Ogilby’s   1675   map),   Thomas   Gardner,   John   Bowen   and   Emanuel   Bowen   to emulate.   Although   they   generally   followed   Ogilby’s   idea   they   all   dispensed   with   the   unwieldy   size   of   his   road   map   and published   theirs,   usually   in   quarto,   octavo   or   pocket   size   volumes.   This   move   was   to   satisfy   the   increasing   numbers   of those   travelling   the   roads   for   pleasure   rather   than   necessity.   A   man   of   many   talents,   Ogilby’s   final   endeavours   ensured the adoption of the statute mile of 1 , 760 yards as standard and from 1675 on practically all county maps included roads. Each   individual   road   map   covers   two   pages   of   the   Volume.   In   the   first   edition   (1675)   there   were   no   plate   numbers. The second   state   (1675),   third   state   (1675)   and   fourth   state   (1698   after   Ogilby’s   death   and   printed   for   Abel   Swale   and Robert   Morden)   all   had   plate   numbers   in   the   bottom   right   hand   corner   of   each   map.   Measurements   vary   slightly   from   map to    map.    However,    the    following    apply    to    the    printed    areas    of    two    of    the    maps    containing    Oakham    namely: Plate 47 (London   to   Oakham)   measures   17    inches   (430mm)   across   with   a   top   to   bottom   measurement   of   12    ½    inches (316mm)   and   Plate   48   (Oakham   to   Barnsley)   measures   17    inches   (430mm)   across   with   a   top   to   bottom   measurement   of 13  inches (330mm).