1593 John Norden

1593 John Norden

by Mark Wardell

From his map of the county of Middlesex

Middlesex Olima trinobantibus habitata Johannes Norden, descripsit

John Norden (c.1547–1625) planned, but did not complete, a series of county maps and accompanying county histories of England, to be published as Speculum Britanniae (The Mirror of Britain). Only the first two of these counties were published: Middlesex in 1593 and Hertfordshire in 1598. Dedicating his work to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, chief advisor to Elizabeth I, who had encouraged other map-makers, Norden was “forced to struggle against want,” living in “my poore house neere Fulham.” Born in Somerset, Norden also wrote 24 devotional works, and in 1609 was appointed Surveyor of His Majesty’s Woods. He was one of the first to work as a professional surveyor. His maps were among the first to include roads on English maps, as well as town plans, boundaries of the Hundreds (an administrative area), a gazetteer (index of street names), grid references, and triangular tables (showing distances between towns in each county) – all innovations at the time, but he failed to complete his great project.*

This map is based on the 1593 survey, though the actual map used was published a few years later (1607) within William Camden’s Britannia, a topographical and historical survey of all of Great Britain and Ireland that included maps by cartographers Christopher Saxton and John Norden. The catalogue entry notes that it includes “market towns, houses of the King, houses of nobility, gentlemen’s houses, castles and forts, monasteries, hospitals, and mills.”

Acknowledgement: From the collections at London Metropolitan Archives, City of London.

* Carl Moreland & David Bannister, Christie’s Collectors Guides: Antique Maps, Phaidon – Christie’s Ltd, Oxford 1986; Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers, edited by Valerie Scott, revised edition, Early World Press, 2003

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