County Lives: F – Fife, Forfarshire; Flintshire

map of Flintshire showing historic county

From the North Sea to the Irish Sea, and to the landlocked Flintshire exclave, Maelor Saesneg.

Flintshire is visible, if not visitable, from Liverpool – you can see the long stretch of the Clywdian Hills, though not the detached exclave of the English Maelor. John Speed’s map clearly shows ‘Clawdh Offa or Offa’s Ditch’ running through the hills, and he fills the ample space around the smallest Welsh county with plans of Flint, St Asaph, and ‘St Winffrid’s Well’. All these places are described in the locally-published Gleanings of the histories of Holywell, Flint, Saint Asaph, and Rhuddlan, their antiquities and surrounding scenery (1831). Rhuddlan’s Eisteddfod of 1850 also features in Special Collections, and the only surviving copy of a wedding sermon preached in the parish church over 300 years ago.

Former Flintshire residents include Thomas Davies, a joiner in Mold, who wrote his name and the date, 24 May 1816, in his copy of Ystyriaethau o gyflwr dyn, yn y bywyd hwn ac yn yr hwn sy i ddyfod (1724: Contemplations of the state of man in this life), and the schoolboy Adrian Henri (1932-2000). Copies of the St. Asaph Grammar School magazine for May 1946 to July 1947 include Henri’s ‘Spring’, ‘An aspect of school life’, and his drawing ‘For whom the bell tolls’.

map of Fife showing historic county

Fifeshire and Forfarshire (now Angus), separated by the Firth of Tay, drew praise in the first (1794) series of the General Views survey for the Board of Agriculture:

The climate of Fife is temperate, the inhabitants healthy, and the soil has been found fruitful when properly cultivated

and

The writer of this, has himself seen, very fine barley and oats, ripen in due season, on the summit of a hill in Forfarshire, elevated 700 feet above the level of the sea.

map of Forfarshire (now Angus) showing historic county area

Some of the crops grown had doubtless been subject to the malt-tax that caused riots in 1725, as related in the anonymous Copy of a letter from a gentleman in Fife to his friend at Edinburgh, upon the subject of the malt-tax.

Walter Simson colourfully described The Fife Gypsies in his 1817-1818 series of Anecdotes for Blackwood’s Magazine, edited posthumously by James Simson (1826-) in his History of the Gypsies (1865). Simson’s work was part of the growing fascination which led to the Gypsy Lore Society: John Sampson (1862-1931) made notes from Simson for his classic work on the Romani language and R.A. Scott Macfie (1868-1935) owned and annotated copies of Simson’s books. Perhaps some of the Fife Gypsy families featured in the 3 million-a-week postcards produced by the Dundee firm of Valentine & Sons, Scotland’s most successful commercial photographers.

Special Collections classmarks:

Flintshire

  • Poole, J. Gleanings of the histories of Holywell, Flint, Saint Asaph, and Rhuddlan, their antiquities and surrounding scenery; with a statistical and geographical account of North Wales in general (Holywell, 1831): SPEC J22.39
  • Ieuan Glan Geirionydd (1795-1855), Eisteddfod Frenhinol Rhuddlan (1850): SPEC Y85.1.14.
  • Ellis Lewis (1662 or 1663-), A wedding sermon preach’d in the parish-church of Rhuddlan in Flintshire, on Sunday, October 21, 1716: SPEC LGP 406 /box 23.
  • Ystyriaethau o gyflwr dyn, yn y bywyd hwn ac yn yr hwn sy i ddyfod. Selections in Welsh from the 1672 English translation of Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, De la diferencia entre lo temporal y eterno (1724): SPEC G53.13
  • Adrian Henri,  ‘Spring’, ‘An aspect of school life’ (v. 2/1), ‘For whom the bell tolls’ [drawing] (v. 2/2), St. Asaph Grammar School magazine. Vol. 2 no. 1-2 ; May 1946-July 1947: SPEC Henri 176-177

Fife and Forfar

  • Robert Beatson, General view of the agriculture of the County of Fife (1794): SPEC Y79.3.964.
  • Mr Roger, General View of the agriculture of the county of Angus or Forfar (1794): SPEC Y79.3.290(2)
  • Copy of a letter from a gentleman in Fife to his friend at Edinburgh, upon the subject of the malt-tax (1725): SPEC Thomson 35(2)
  • Walter Simson, Anecdotes of the Fife Gypsies. Blackwood’s Magazine (1818): SPEC Scott Macfie B.4.45(4,6)
  • Walter Simson, A History of the Gipsies, with specimens of the Gipsy language (1865): SPEC Scott Macfie A.4.23

Maps from wikishire.co.uk CC-BY-SA

County Lives: E – Edinburgh, Elgin & Forres, Essex

map of Edinburgh showing historic county area

E is for East Coast, from Elgin & Forres, to Edinburgh and Essex

Edinburgh’s 500-year-long history of printing and publishing, which pre-dates Speed’s Tudor map by a century, is well-represented in Special Collections: in anatomical atlases illustrated by Audubon’s Edinburgh engraver, W. H. Lizars (1788-1859), in the Bannantyne Club’s Scottish historical works (1831-1896) and in private presses such as Alan Anderson’s Tragara Press (1954-2012).

In addition to the city’s beautiful books, the beauty of the city itself is celebrated in Edinburgh: picturesque notes (new edition, 1890) by one of Edinburgh famous ‘makars’, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), illustrated by etchings and vignettes. Sadly less beautiful, John Hutton Balfour’s Flora of Edinburgh (1871) contains not a single illustration.

map of Elgin and Forres (Morayshire) showing historic county area

Elgin & Forres, with its complicated boundary, features in two volumes of the Board of Agriculture’s General Views (1794), both surveyed by the busy factor, or property manager, James Donaldson: General view of the agriculture of the county of Elgin or Moray, lying between the Spey and the Findhorn, including part of Strathspey, in the county of Inverness and General view of the agriculture of the County of Nairn, the eastern coast of Inverness-shire and the parish of Dyke, and part of Edenkeillie in the County of Elgin and Forres. Donaldson, factor for the Honourable William Ramsay Maule of Panmure, also surveyed Banff and the Carse of Gowrie (Perth) but commends the country around Elgin as, “In general greatly superior, in beauty, fertility, and riches, to any northward of the Grampian mountains”

map of Essex showing historic county area

The Essex of Speed’s map is a long way from Scotland geographically, historically (the map shows the Roman walls encircling “the most antient and fayre Towne Colchester”), and topographically (no hills on any size, let alone mountains). The county was surveyed in 1794, 1795 and – by Arthur Young – in 1807 for the General Views series; Young comments approvingly on improvements to a chalk quarry; that geology is evident in Essex’s first Flora (1862), issued with coloured lithographed plates, and maps. Charles Raymond Booth Barrett’s two series of sketches of Essex show a county “not deficient in natural beauty” including that “isolated place”, Barking, which “had claims which could not be disregarded”. Other artistic celebrations of Essex include the 18th century music of John Arnold (1720-1792): Essex harmony, being a choice collection of the most celebrated songs, catches, canons, epigrams, canzonets, and glees and the 20th century poems of Donald Davie (1922-1995). Davie lived and worked in many countries, but the strong sense of place in his poetry is especially evident in Essex Poems (1969) and in his county-by-county tour of England, The Shires, published as the 1972 Local Government Act’s reorganisation of counties came into force in 1974 – both published after Davie had left Britain for America.

Special Collections classmarks:

Edinburgh

  • Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), Edinburgh: picturesque notes (1890): SPEC SMITH 103)
  • John Hutton Balfour (1808-1884), Flora of Edinburgh (1871): SPEC Y87.3.108)

Elgin & Forres

  • James Donaldson, General view of the agriculture of the county of Elgin or Moray, lying between the Spey and the Findhorn, including part of Strathspey, in the county of Inverness. With the means of its improvement . (1794): SPEC Y79.3.291(4) & Y79.3.977
  • James Donaldson, General view of the agriculture of the County of Nairn, the eastern coast of Inverness-shire and the parish of Dyke, and part of Edenkeillie in the County of Elgin and Forres. (1794): SPEC Y79.3.978

Essex

  • Arthur Young (1741-1820), General View of the agriculture of the county of Essex. By the Secretary of the Board of Agriculture (1807): SPEC Y80.3.420
  • George Stacey Gibson (1818-1883), Flora of Essex (1862): SPEC Y86.3.65
  • Charles Raymond Booth Barrett (1850-1918), Essex: highways, byways, and waterways written and illustrated by C.R.B. Barrett (1892): SPEC Noble D.6.18
  • Charles Raymond Booth Barrett, Essex: highways and byways (1893): SPEC Noble D.6.19
  • John Arnold (1720-1792). Essex harmony, being a choice collection of the most celebrated songs, catches, canons, epigrams, canzonets, and glees, for two, three, four, five, and nine voices, from the works of the most eminent masters (1795): SPEC J7.21
  • Donald Davie (1922-1995), Essex poems, 1963-67 by Donald Davie; drawings by Michael Foreman (1969): SPEC S/PR6007.A667.E71

Map of Essex from wikishire.co.uk CC-BY-SA

County Lives: D. England – Derbyshire; Devonshire, Dorset, Durham

map of Derbyshire showing historic county area

From Devonshire dumplings via Dorset to the ‘minecraft’ of Derbyshire and Durham.

John Speed’s Derbyshire map shows 36 deer parks, clustered to the east and south of the “black and mossy ground” of the High Peak. Buxton spa is depicted, as well as the town plan of ‘Darbye’. Derbyshire landscapes, and the rocks which formed them, feature in a number of our Special Collections: The Buxton diamonds; or, Grateful Ellen: for the amusement and instruction of children (1820) was published by the famous firm of William Darton, as were more than 50 other titles in the Children’s book collections. A century later, the Derbyshire dales were celebrated in the poetry of Brenda Murray Draper (1880-1962): The dales of Derbyshire (1920), was a gift from the author to Katharine Bruce Glasier, who celebrated the area in her own Tales from the Derbyshire hills: pastorals from the Peak District (1907). Both pamphlets are part of the Glasier Papers. Local geology is the subject of both Anthony Tissington’s 18th century Letter to a friend on the mineral customs of Derbyshire … By a Derbyshire working miner (1766) and William Martin’s 1809 Petrificata derbiensia; or, Figures and descriptions of petrifactions collected in Derbyshire, which could be bought from the author in Buxton.

map of Devon showing historic county area

Devonshire is famous for its seafarers, including the slaver Sir John Hawkins (1532-1595), and Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596), both contemporaries of Speed (1551/2-1629), as was Tristram Risdon (c.1580-1640). Risdon’s manuscript account of his county has a usefully descriptive title: Chorographical description or survey of the county of Devon, with city and county of Exeter; containing matter of history, antiquity, chronology, the nature of the country, commodities and government thereof with sundry other things worthy of observation. Collected by the travail of Tristram Risdon of Winscot, gent, for the love of his country and countrymen. The manuscript circulated for nearly a century before its first, inaccurate, publication by Edmund Curll in 1714. Another century on, Plymouth publishers Rees & Curtis produced a much better version (1811). Devon’s famous faces were celebrated in the republication, in 1810, of John Prince’s 1701 Danmonii orientales illustres; or, The worthies of Devon. A work, wherein the lives and fortunes of the most famous divines, statesmen, swordsmen, physicians, writers, and other eminent persons, natives of that most noble province, from before the Norman conquest, down to the present age, are memorized … out of the most approved authors, both in print and manuscript. The siege of Plymouth during the English Civil War is recounted for children in Mrs Paull’s Benjamin Holbeck: a story of the siege of Plymouth, although Benjamin has actually travelled from Yorkshire to take up the cause alongside his father. There are more tales of derring-do by children visiting Devon (from London) in Mrs Paull’s Six Devonshire dumplings (1910?). Or the county’s sights can be safely enjoyed at a distance in Besley’s views of Devonshire, published in Exeter, c.1853.

map of Dorset showing historic county area

Next-door Dorset has its own delights for children, including the singing games collected by Alice Gillington (1863-1934), who shared with fellow Gypsy Lore Society members their fascination with Romany culture, and atttempts to adopt aspects of the travelling life. Her last collection, Old Dorset singing games (1913) including some from Wiltshire and the New Forest, may include some from the Gypsies she lived alongside. Two of the best-known are The Mulberry Bush and Oranges and Lemons. Alice Gillington spent much of her life living in caravans, and died on a caravan site near Poole. The famous local poet William Barnes (1801-1886) captured another aspect of Dorset in his Poems of rural life, in the Dorset dialect with a dissertation and glossary (1844, first edition). The Summer poem ‘Haven oon’s Fortun a-tuold’ evokes Romany Gypsy customs.

map of Durham showing historic county area

The County Palatine of Durham, like the County Palatine of Chester, is border territory, and Speed’s map includes an episode from its already long history of warfare – a picture of the battle of Neville’s Cross. More peaceful pursuits are recorded in Dinsdale’s Glossary of provincial words used in Teesdale in the County of Durham (1849). And the splendours of Durham architecture, especially its cathedral, are described in numerous works: Winkles’s architectural and picturesque illustrations of the cathedral churches of England and Wales (1851-1860) featured Durham in volume three of a new edition, which added Manchester cathedral; Robert Billings devoted an entire work to Durham Cathedral in 1843; but Robert Surtees made a lifetime’s work of his weighty four-volume History and antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham; compiled from original records, preserved in public repositories and private collections: and illustrated by engravings of architectural and monumental antiquities, portraits of eminent persons, etc. (1816-1840). Returning to maps, Durham was surveyed twice for the General Views series, by Joseph Granger in 1794 and again by John Bailey (1750-1819) who toured the county from 1807-1809. Bailey’s account of its ‘geographical state and circumstances’ includes a hand-coloured soil map marking the coal mines by heavy dots.

Special Collections classmarks:

Derbyshire:

  • The Buxton diamonds; or, Grateful Ellen: for the amusement and instruction of children (London, William Darton, approximately 1823: JUV.A659)
  • Brenda Murray Draper (1880-1962), The dales of Derbyshire; and other poems (Burton-on-Trent, The author, 1920: SPEC GP/6/2/17)
  • Katharine Bruce Glasier, Tales from the Derbyshire hills (Independent Labour Party, 1907: SPEC GP/6/1/62)
  • Anthony Tissington, A letter to a friend on the mineral customs of Derbyshire … By a Derbyshire working miner (London, printed for the author, 1766: SPEC Knows. pamph 253)
  • William Martin (1767-1810), Petrificata derbiensia; or, Figures and descriptions of petrifactions collected in Derbyshire (Wigan, 1809: SPEC G47.38)

Devon

  • John Prince, Danmonii orientales illustres; or, The worthies of Devon.(1810: SPEC Y81.5.87)
  • Tristram Risdon (approximately 1580-1640), The chorographical description or survey of the county of Devon. Printed from a genuine copy of the original manuscript, with considerable additions (1811: SPEC Y81.3.90)
  • Mary Anna Paull (1838-1910), Benjamin Holbeck: a story of the siege of Plymouth (date not known: JUV.A151:5)
  • Margaret Batchelor, Six Devonshire dumplings (1910? JUV.A239)
  • Besley’s Views of Devonshire (1853: SPEC Y85.3.604)

Dorset

  • Alice E. Gillington (1863-1934), Old Dorset singing games (1913?: SPEC Scott Macfie A.7.50/6)
  • William Barnes (1801-1886), Poems of rural life, in the Dorset dialect with a dissertation and glossary (1844: SPEC Y84.3.413)

Durham

  • Frederick T. Dinsdale, Glossary of provincial words used in Teesdale in the County of Durham (1849: SPEC Y84.3.1872)
  • Benjamin Winkles, Winkles’s architectural and picturesque illustrations of the cathedral churches of England and Wales; the drawings made from sketches taken expressly for this work; with historical and descriptive accounts (1851-1860: SPEC Y86.3.284)
  • Robert William Billings (1813-1874), Architectural illustrations and descriptions of the Cathedral Church at Durham (1843: SPEC Ryl.D.2.24)
  • Robert Surtees (1779-1834), The history and antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham; compiled from original records, preserved in public repositories and private collections: and illustrated by engravings of architectural and monumental antiquities, portraits of eminent persons, etc. (1816-1840: SPEC Q20.1-4/oversize)
  • John Bailey (1750-1819), General View of the agriculture of the county of Durham (1810: SPEC Y81.3.242)

Map of Durham from Wikishire.co.uk CC-BY-SA.

County Lives: D. Wales and Scotland – Denbighshire; Dumfries, Dunbarton

D is for Denbighshire, Dumfries and Dunbarton in this selection of County Lives.

Speed’s map of Denbighshire shows the trio of market towns, Denbigh, Ruthin, and Wrexham, well placed in the ‘beautiful and pleasant’ Vale of Clwyd. Visitors flocking there in the 19th century could take as their comprehensive guidebook William Davis’s Hand-book for the Vale of Clwyd; containing a topographical and historical description of the towns of Rhyl, Abergele, Saint Asaph, Denbigh, and Ruthin; with all the adjacent villages, castles, mansions, churches, monuments, antiquities, picturesque scenery, and every object of attraction, etc. Compiled from authentic sources and personal observation, as a general guide for the information of visitors and residents (1856). Further south, Llangollen was already a popular destination, with guidebooks including Wilfrid Tord Simpson’s 1837 Account of the town and vale of Llangollen, including, in a circuit of about seven miles, those objects most worthy of the notice of persons visiting that romantic and interesting neighbourhood.

Denbighshire’s 19th century visitors could include the Eisteddfod in their tour: the 1820 Eisteddfod was held at Wrexham (The Eisteddfod poems were published in Denbigh, as Powysion; sef Odlau ac Ynglynion .. Eisteddfod Gwrecsam, 1820. Dinbych. 1821); two were held at Denbigh in 1824 and 1828 (The Gwyneddion; or, an Account of the Royal Denbigh Eisteddford held in September, 1828; together with the prize essays and poems) and later Eisteddfoddau were held at Llangollen (1858), Denbigh (1860), and Ruthin (1868).

With no Eisteddfod in Llanrwst until 1951, John Williams, Lecturer of Llanwrst (1760-1826) would have had to travel, or time travel, to attend the gathering. Williams is known to Special Collections from his book label and inscription in Thomas Bisse’s Prydferthwch sancteiddrwydd yn y weddi gyffredin [Beauty of holiness in the common prayer], 1722. There were at least seventeen editions of Bisse’s very popular work from 1716 to 1846, but only one in Welsh, of which ours is the least-travelled of the four copies known worldwide: in London, Oxford, Harvard and Liverpool. Bisse is remembered as the founder of the Three Choirs Festival, of Hereford, Gloucester, and Worcester cathedrals.

map of Dumfriesshire showing historic county area

George Chapman (1723-1806), a “very eminent and successful” teacher in Dumfries for nearly 30 years, was renowned for his reforming educational methods, published as, A treatise on education, in two parts, with the author’s method of instruction while he taught the school of Dumfries, and a view of other books on education (1790). The first edition (1773) was followed by four more up to 1792, with detailed instructions for teaching, and growing lists of reviews of other educational works. His obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine declares, “He zealously devoted himself to the communication of useful knowledge to almost the last day of his life”.

map of Dunbartonshire showing historic county area

Spelling is an issue in Dunbartonshire, which has switched between Dunbarton and Dumbarton at different periods. It appears in both forms in the Statistical Accounts of Scotland. The county town, however, is always with an ‘m’, as in ‘the Cross at Dumbarton’ – the place of publication of Joseph Irving’s Lennox garland; gleaned from divers fields of Scottish poesy (1860). Donbritoun and Lenox both appear on Speed’s map of Scotland, by the southern shore of Loch Lomond.

Special Collections classmarks:

Denbighshire

  • William Davis, Hand-book for the Vale of Clwyd; containing a topographical and historical description of the towns of Rhyl, Abergele, Saint Asaph, Denbigh, and Ruthin; with all the adjacent villages, castles, mansions, churches, monuments, antiquities, picturesque scenery, and every object of attraction, etc. Compiled from authentic sources and personal observation, as a general guide for the information of visitors and residents (Ruthin, 1856: SPEC Y85.3.109)
  • Wilfrid Tord Simpson, Account of the town and vale of Llangollen, including, in a circuit of about seven miles, those objects most worthy of the notice of persons visiting that romantic and interesting neighbourhood (1837: Y83.3.299)
  • Eisteddfod Gwrecsam, Wrexham, 1820, Powysion; sef Odlau ac Ynglynion … Eisteddfod Gwrecsam, 1820 (Dinbych [Denbigh] 1821: SPEC Y82.3.1838)
  • Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru (1828 : Denbigh, Wales), The Gwyneddion; or, an Account of the Royal Denbigh Eisteddford held in September, 1828; together with the prize essays and poems (Chester, 1830: SPEC Y83.3.210)
  • Thomas Bisse’s Prydferthwch sancteiddrwydd yn y weddi gyffredin [Beauty of holiness in the common prayer] (1722: SPEC G53.10)

Dumfries

  • George Chapman (1723-1806), A treatise on education, in two parts, with the author’s method of instruction while he taught the school of Dumfries, and a view of other books on education … (London : published for the author, and sold by the booksellers in town and country, 1790: SPEC Y79.3.1131/1115)

Dunbartonshire

  • A Lennox garland; gleaned from divers fields of Scottish poesy (Printed for J.I. [Joseph Irving], at the Cross of Dumbarton, 1860: SPEC FRASER 1665)

Map of Denbighshire from Wikishire.co.uk CC-BY-SA

County Lives: C. Wales and Scotland – Caernarvonshire to Cromarty

map of Caernarvonshire showing historic county area
Caernarvonshire

From the north coast of Scotland to the west coast of Wales, these County Lives encompass Caernarvonshire, Cardiganshire, and Carmarthenshire; Caithness, Clackmannan,  and Cromarty.

Caernarvonshire on John Speed’s 1610 map is covered in the ‘molehills’ indicating height, as being “altogether mountainous”; “these mountains”, Speed says, “may not unfitly be termed the British Alps”. The later literature of the county makes a feature of them too: Caernarvonshire: a sketch of its history, antiquities, mountains and productions. Intended as a pocket companion to those who make the tour of that county (1792) and: A Guide to the beauties of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire: comprehending particular notices of Beaumaris, Carnarvon, Conway, Snowdon, the Menai Suspension Bridge, Bangor, and every interesting place or object deserving the attention of the tourist (c. 1830). The Early Tourists in Wales site gives hundreds of detailed accounts of Snowdon, including a section of advice from this Guide, and Rev. Nicholas Owen’s night-time ascent.

map of Cardiganshire showing historic county

Tudor Cardiganshire appears to be dominated by towering Plinillimon Hill, possibly the least popular mountain in Wales from the evidence of tourist guides such as The Cambrian Directory (1800). Speed also includes “the due forme of the Shiretown”- a neat plan of Cardigan – but nothing for Aberystwyth, despite the town’s importance. Special Collections holds many later works about – and many published in – Aberystwyth, including Thomas Owen Morgan’s New guide to Aberystwyth and its environs; comprising notices, historical and descriptive, of the principal objects of interest in the town and neighbourhood (Aberystwyth, 1858) and the broader Cardiganshire: a personal survey of some of its antiquities… (Aberystwyth, 1903) by Liverpool University alumnus George Eyre Evans (1857-1939), who held major roles in Aberystwyth University, the National Library of Wales, and the antiquarian, or local history, societies of both Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire.

map of Carmarthenshire showing historic county area

Speed describes Carmarthenshire as “not altogether so pestered with hills as her bordering neighbours are”, and “for victuals … very well stored”. Perhaps the less challenging terrain made time for gentler pursuits such as the poetry of Speed’s contemporary Rhys Prichard (1579-1644). Canwyll y Cymru. The Welshman’s candle, or the divine poems of Mr. Rees Prichard, sometime Vicar of Landovery in Carmarthenshire was translated into English verse by the Rev. William Evans, Vicar of Lanhaden (1771) who may not to be the William Evans whose dictionary was published in the same year: A new English-Welsh dictionary: containing all words necessary for reading an English author; wherein not only the corresponding British is given to the English, … but also every English word is accented to prevent a bad pronunciation (1771)

map of Caithness showing historic county area

The Scottish book collector John Fraser (1836-1902) came from Wick, and collection reflects his Caithness origins:

Edinburgh Caithness Association, Six songs, composed for the annual dinner of the Edinburgh Caithness Association, 22nd January 1841. By a member of the Committee (1841); Some present-day songs and singers of Caithness (Wick,1899); James Traill Calder (1784-1864), Sketch of the civil and traditional history of Caithness from the tenth century (Wick, 1887); Richard Pococke (1704-1765), The tour of Dr Richard Pococke, Lord Bishop of Ossory, through Sutherland and Caithness in 1760 (Edinburgh: Sutherland Association, 1888).

Richard Pococke was an intrepid traveller and pioneer mountaineer; like his Scottish travels, reaching as far as Orkney, most of his accounts were not published in his lifetime, with the exception of A Description of the East and some other countries (1743-45). His observations were more astute than the title suggests.

map of Clackmannanshire showing historic county area

Clackmannanshire, ‘the wee county’ is the Scottish equivalent of Rutland. Clackmannan, the county town, ceded that role to Alloa in 1822 as the port silted up, leaving Clackmannan now more than a mile inland. The General Views series of agricultural reports for the county seems to have found it too little, and extended into the neighbouring counties: General view of the agriculture of the county of Clackmannan; and some of the adjacent parishes, situated in the counties of Perth and Stirling (1795).

map of Cromartyshire showing historic county area

Cromarty, similarly, was covered together with Ross in the General view of the agriculture of the counties of Ross and Cromarty By Sir G.S. Mackenzie, Bart (1813: SPEC Y81.3.526). Cromarty, the county town, remained coastal and the name is familiar worldwide as an area in the shipping forecast. Cromarty was also the birthplace of Hugh Miller (1802-1856), geologist; some of the fossil fishes he excavated from the local sandstone are named after him. His account of growing up in Cromarty, My schools and schoolmasters, 1852 onwards contains detailed descriptions of the area and contributed to his popularization of geology.

Special Collections copies of works cited:

Caernarvonshire

  • Caernarvonshire: a sketch of its history, antiquities, mountains and productions (1792: SPEC Y79.2.5)
  • A Guide to the beauties of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire: comprehending particular notices of Beaumaris, Carnarvon, Conway, Snowdon, the Menai Suspension Bridge, Bangor, and every interesting place or object deserving the attention of the tourist (Macclesfield, approximately 1830: SPEC Y83.3.665/4)
  • The Cambrian directory; or, Cursory sketches of the Welsh territories. With a chart, comprehending at one view, the advisable route, best inns, distances, and objects most worthy of attention (1800: SPEC L4.63)

 Cardiganshire

  • Thomas Owen Morgan (1799-1878), New guide to Aberystwyth and its environs; comprising notices, historical and descriptive, of the principal objects of interest in the town and neighbourhood (1858: SPEC Y85.3.111)
  • George Eyre Evans (1857-1939), Cardiganshire: a personal survey of some of its antiquities, chapels, churches, fonts, plate, and registers (Aberystwyth : Welsh Gazette, 1903: SPEC Y90.3.320)

Carmarthenshire

  • Rhys Prichard (1579-1644). Canwyll y Cymru. The Welshman’s candle, or the divine poems of Mr. Rees Prichard … now first translated into English verse (Carmarthen: Printed for the translator by J. Ross, 1771: SPEC Y77.3.530)
  • William Evans, A new English-Welsh dictionary (1771: SPEC Y77.3.205)

Caithness

  • Edinburgh Caithness Association, Six songs, composed for the annual dinner of the Edinburgh Caithness Association, 22nd January 1841 By a member of the Committee (Edinburgh, 1841: SPEC Fraser 726)
  • Some present-day songs and singers of Caithness (Wick: W. Rae, 1899: SPEC Fraser 1676).
  • James Traill Calder (1784-1864), Sketch of the civil and traditional history of Caithness from the tenth century (Wick: Rae, 1887: SPEC Fraser 757)
  • Richard Pococke (1704-1765), The tour of Dr Richard Pococke, Lord Bishop of Ossory, through Sutherland and Caithness in 1760; with introduction and notes by D.W. Kemp (Edinburgh: Sutherland Association, 1888: SPEC Fraser 1698)

Clackmannan

  • General view of the agriculture of the county of Clackmannan; and some of the adjacent parishes, situated in the counties of Perth and Stirling. By John Francis Erskine (1795: SPEC Y79.3.717)
  • John Sinclair (1754-1835), The new statistical account of Scotland, by ministers of the respective parishes, under the superintendence of a committee of the Society for the Benefit of the Sons and Daughters of the Clergy (1845: SPEC Y84.3.597)

Cromarty

  • General view of the agriculture of the counties of Ross and Cromarty. By Sir G.S. Mackenzie, Bart (1813: SPEC Y81.3.526)
  • Hugh Miller, My schools and schoolmasters (undated) JUV.A925

Map of Caernarfonshire from Wikishire.co.uk CC-BY-SA

County Lives: B (2) Scotland – Banff, Berwick, Bute

map of Berwickshire showing historic county area

John Speed’s single map of Scotland, belatedly included in his project after the Union of Crowns in 1603, leaves little room for detailed depictions or descriptions, and it is divided not into counties but according to the territories of the ancient clans and families. So The Marches occupy Berwickshire’s border with England, Banff is part Buquhan, part Athole, and tiny Bute, with room only for its castle at Rothesay, is shown alongside Kyle.

map of Banffshire showing historic county area

Many later endeavours make up for Speed’s lack of detail: Banff fell into the remit of the Aberdeen-based Spalding Club (1839 – 1869) “established for the publication of the historical, genealogical, topographical and literary remains of the North-eastern counties of Scotland” and was included in Joseph Robertson’s 4-volume Illustrations of the topography and antiquities of the shires of Aberdeen and Banff (1847-1869)

An earlier account of the county is given in the General view of the agriculture of the county of Banff, with observations on the means of its improvement By James Donaldson, factor for the Honourable William Ramsay Maule of Panmure. Drawn up for the consideration of the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement. (1794). This was part of a national project running from 1793 to 1822 producing surveys of the agriculture of each county intended to encourage improvements in farming. Berwick was covered by Alexander Lowe, General view of the agriculture of the county of Berwick, with observations on the means of its improvement (1794). Digital copies are available via the Hathi Trust. The Britain-wide project was led by the president of the Board of Agriculture, Sir John Sinclair (1754-1835). It was modelled on his earlier Enlightenment project to gather information parish-by-parish – all 936 of them – to create The Statistical account of Scotland (21 volumes, 1791-1799), designed by to gather “statistics” which would show “the quantum of happiness in a population”. The University of Edinburgh’s Statistical Accounts of Scotland online resource can provide hours of happy browsing.

Berwickshire’s less bucolic history is described by Berwickshire resident, George Ridpath (1716-1772), in his history of the borders up to the Tudor period, a work edited and published in 1776 by his brother Philip as, The border-history of England and Scotland, from the earliest times to the union of he two crowns. Border wars erupted again during the English Civil War, despite a short-lived truce with Scotland (1639) known as the pacification of Berwick: His Majesties declaration, concerning his proceedings with his subjects of Scotland, since the pacification in the camp neere Berwick (1640).

map of Buteshire showing historic county area

There are storms of a different kind in the work of James Kay, a 19th-century resident of Bute, and the author of The meteorology of Rothesay, Island of Bute, for the year 1889: being an abstract of observations made at Barone Cottage, Rothesay (Rothesay: Harvey & Co., printers, 1890).

Special Collections classmarks:

Banff

  • Joseph Robertson (1810-1866) Illustrations of the topography and antiquities of the shires of Aberdeen and Banff (4 volumes, 1847-1869: SPEC Ryl.U.6.20-23)
  • James Donaldson, General view of the agriculture of the county of Banff, with observations on the means of its improvement By James Donaldson, factor for the Honourable William Ramsay Maule of Panmure. Drawn up for the consideration of the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement (1794: SPEC Y79.3.290.5)

Berwick

  • Alexander Lowe, General view of the agriculture of the county of Berwick, with observations on the means of its improvement (1794: SPEC Y79.3.290.5)
  • George Ridpath (1716?-1772) The border-history of England and Scotland, from the earliest times to the union of the two crowns (Printed by Henry Richardson, Berwick. 1810: SPEC Y81.5.13)
  • Charles I (1600-1649), His Majesties declaration, concerning his proceedings with his subjects of Scotland, since the pacification in the camp neere Berwick (London: Printed by R. Young, His Majesties printer for Scotland, and R. Badger, printer to the prince His Highnesse, M.DC.XL.[1640]: SPEC Knowsley pamphlet 443.1)

Bute

  • James Kay, The meteorology of Rothesay, Island of Bute, for the year 1889: being an abstract of observations made at Barone Cottage, Rothesay (Rothesay: Harvey & Co., printers, 1890: SPEC P.2.18(12)/A)

Statistical account of Scotland (21 volumes, 1791-1799: SPEC Y79.3.1049 – 1069)

General views (quarto series, 1794-1798: SPEC Y79.3.290-291; octavo series, 1805-1814: SPEC Y81.3.511-529).

County Lives: B (England & Wales) – Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Breconshire

map of Bedfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire showing historic county area

Bedfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire all feature the first volume of the brothers Daniel and Samuel Lysons’ Magna Britannia – described, at 900-odd pages, as “a concise topographical account of the several counties of Great Britain” (1806). Their work was based on personal visits to collect material (their friend Horace Walpole paid tribute to “the two Lysons, and their strong legs and activity and perseverance”) supplemented by material gathered by circulating printed questionnaires. The post office helped out by allowing replies by clergymen to be sent free of charge. The project got as far as Devonshire (volume 6) before Samuel’s death in 1819.

John Speed’s map of Bedfordshire is elegantly simple, with an inset plan of Tudor Bedford. 18th century Bedfordshire is briefly described by Resta Patching, in Four topographical letters, written in July 1755, upon a journey thro’ Bedfordshire … &c. From a gentleman of London, to his brother and sister in town: giving a Description of the Country thro’ which he pass’d; with observations on every Thing that occurred to him, either Curious or Remarkable (1757). The promise (or threat) of the title is borne out by the minutiae of Patching’s somewhat grumpy descriptions. It is not surprising that this seems to have been his only publication.

Speed’s Berkshire is dominated by Windsor Castle, which occupies the top third of the map, displacing a plan of Tudor Reading to the map of Buckinghamshire. The later antiquarian Elias Ashmole gives a solid account of the county in The antiquities of Berkshire. With a large appendix of many valuable original papers, pedigrees of the most considerable families in the said county, and a particular account of the castle, college, and town of Windsor (1719), but there are also more light-hearted accounts. The literary annuals collection includes Heath’s picturesque annual for 1840: Windsor Castle, and its environs, by Leitch Ritchie; with fifteen engravings by the first artists, after original drawings

Children’s books on Berkshire include The scouring of the white horse; or, The long vacation ramble of a London clerk by the author of ‘Tom Brown’s schooldays’ with illustrations by Richard Doyle (1859). The white horse of the title is at Uffington, where the author, Thomas Hughes, was born, and both novels include folklore and local history of rural Berkshire. A Victorian verse chapbook includes ‘The Berkshire lady’s garland’ (1840?), which can be read in the National Library of Scotland’s chapbook database.

Speed describes Buckinghamshire as having “an infinite number’ of sheep”, though none are depicted on his plan of Buckingham. For residents keen on toponomastics, the collection of Robert George Morton includes The place-names of Buckinghamshire (1925) –  the first volume in The English Place-Name Society’s (non-alphabetical) survey by county. The series reached volume 91, Leicestershire, in 2016.

The famous concrete cows would be quite at home in the rural Buckinghamshire landscapes in two books which long pre-date Milton Keynes: A Description of the gardens of Lord Viscount Cobham, at Stow in Buckinghamshire “sold by B. Seeley, in Buckingham, and George Norris, in Newport-Pagnell”,  the first walking guide-book to an English garden (1744), and James Storer’s The rural walks of Cowper; displayed in a series of views near Olney, Bucks: representing the scenery exemplified in his poems; with descriptive sketches, and a memoir of the poet’s life (1822).

map of Brecknockshire showing historic county area

Last but not least, Brecknockshire, or John Speed’s “Breknoke, both shyre and towne described” is “full of hills and uneven for travel”, especially in the neighbourhood of towering Momuchdenye Hill (Pen y fan). A reliable later guide is A history of the County of Brecknock by Theophilus Jones, printed and published in Brecknock (1805-1809). Jones’s work is described as ‘the best of our Welsh county histories’ by the Dictionary of Welsh Biography which also reproduces a cheerful and kindly portrait of Jones from the National Library of Wales. And a once locally-owned book is David Thomas’s 18th century copy of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s British history, translated into English from the Latin, with his inscription, “Brecon, 1857”.

Special Collections copies of works cited:

Bedfordshire

  • Resta Patching, Four topographical letters (1757): SPEC L14.33

Berkshire

  • Elias Ashmole, The antiquities of Berkshire. With a large appendix of many valuable original papers, pedigrees of the most considerable families in the said county, and a particular account of the castle, college, and town of Windsor (1719): SPEC R.20.14/A)
  • Windsor Castle, and its environs by Leitch Ritchie; with fifteen engravings by the first artists, after original drawings (1840): SPEC Annuals 1b.H445
  • Thomas Hughes, The scouring of the white horse (1859): OLDHAM 463
  • ‘The Berkshire lady’s garland’ (1840?) SPEC Y85.3.208.18

Buckinghamshire

  • The place-names of Buckinghamshire (1925): SPEC Morton 162
  • A Description of the gardens of Lord Viscount Cobham, at Stow in Buckinghamshire. (1744): SPEC Knowsley pamphlet 215
  • James Storer, The rural walks of Cowper (1822): SPEC Y82.3.735

Bedfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire

  • Daniel and Samuel Lysons, Magna Britannia (1806): SPEC Y80.5.28)

Brecknockshire (or Breconshire)

  • Theophilus Jones, A history of the County of Brecknock (1805-1809): SPEC Y80.5.39
  • Geoffrey of Monmouth, British history (1718): SPEC J35.33

Maps from wikishire.co.uk CC-BY-SA

County Lives: A – Anglesey, Aberdeen, Argyll and Ayr

We start off our County Lives series across the Irish sea, on Anglesey. John Speed described its air as, “reasonable, grateful and healthful” and depicted Tudor Beaumaris, with its own school and windmill. Special Collections holds 18th and 19th century works on the history and antiquities of Anglesey, including Angharad Llwyd’s History of the Island of Mona or Anglesey (1833), Henry Rowlands’ Discourse on the antiquities natural and historical of the isle of Anglesey (1766), and a Welsh botanology of its native plants, with a useful “Alphabetical catalogue of the Welsh names of vegetables rendered into Latin and English; with some account of the qualities, economic or medicinal, of the most remarkable” (1813). And not to be missed is the Excursion on the outside of a stage coach, from Llangollen to Menai Bridge. With cursory observations, by a traveller (1830). Perhaps some of these titles were being read by the Beaumaris Book Club, whose rules (dated 2 Jan 1854) are pasted into our copy of Thomas Carlyle’s Latter-day pamphlets (1850).

map of Aberdeenshire showing historic county area

Aberdeen is well-represented by 19th century printed works thanks to the Thomas Glazebrook Rylands collection of publications by Aberdeen’s Spalding Club (1839 – 1869) “established for the publication of the historical, genealogical, topographical and literary remains of the North-eastern counties of Scotland.” More personal glimpses of Aberdonians can be found in a Keepsake gift-book with a former owner’s inscription, “Helen Jane Gerald, Old Aberdeen, Dec. 11th 1836” (1837) and the Victorian chapbook relating “The life and astonishing adventures of Peter Williamson, who was carried off when a child from Aberdeen and was sold for a slave.” The digitised copy from the Thomas Fisher Library shows the author looking remarkably cheerful after his adventures.

map of Argyllshire showing historic county area

The shire of Argyll also included most of the Inner Hebrides (except Skye and Eigg, which were part of Inverness-shire) represented in Special Collections by Thomas Pennant’s 1774 Voyage to the Hebrides, the second volume of his A tour in Scotland, and a voyage to the Hebrides; 1772 (printed much more locally, in Chester). John Fraser, one of our Scottish collectors, owned the more sober 1883 Argyll manifesto by the Edinburgh journalist Alexander Robertson, who gave evidence (singling out the Duke of Argyll) to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Condition of Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands and Islands, which led to the Crofters’ Act (1886). The 9th Duke of Argyll (and Governor-General of Canada) also turns up in the Children’s book collection: Canadian life and scenery with hints to intending emigrants and settlers (1886) is part of the larger Canadian pictures by John Douglas Sutherland Campbell, Duke of Argyll (1845-1914).

map of Ayrshire showing historic county area

Finally, Ayr is also featured in John Fraser’s Scottish book collection, celebrating the Ayrshire-born poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796). The 1891 pamphlet by Wallace Bruce, The Auld Brig’s welcome on the unveiling of the Burns statue, Ayr, July 8, 1891. Recited by the author at the unveiling ceremony alludes to Burns’ poem ‘The Brigs of Ayr’.

Special Collections copies of works cited:

Anglesey

  • Angharad Llwyd History of the Island of Mona or Anglesey (1833): SPEC Y83.5.27
  • Henry Rowlands (1655-1723) Mona antiqua restaurata. An archaeological discourse on the antiquities, natural and historical, of the isle of Anglesey, the Ancient Seat of the British Druids (1766): SPEC Ryl.0.1.08
  • Hugh Davies (1729?-1821) Welsh botanology (1813): SPEC Y81.3.384
  • Excursion on the outside of a stage coach, from Llangollen to Menai Bridge. With cursory observations, by a traveller (1830): SPEC Y83.3.665(5)
  • Thomas Carlyle (ed.) Latter-day pamphlets (1850): SPEC L10.12

Aberdeen

  • The Keepsake (1837): SPEC Annual 1a.K213
  • The life and astonishing adventures of Peter Williamson, who was carried off when a child from Aberdeen and was sold for a slave (1840?): SPEC Y85.3.208(21)

Argyll

  • Thomas Pennant Voyage to the Hebrides (1774): SPEC J13.26-27
  • Argyll manifesto by the Edinburgh journalist Alexander Robertson (1883): SPEC Fraser 1065(17)
  • Canadian life and scenery with hints to intending emigrants and settlers (1886): JUV.A158:1(1)

Ayr

  • Wallace Bruce, The Auld Brig’s welcome on the unveiling of the Burns statue, Ayr, July 8, 1891. Recited by the author at the unveiling ceremony (1891): SPEC Fraser 894(5)

Maps from wikishire.co.uk CC-BY-SA

County Lives: A-Z of the historic counties of Britain

Christopher Saxton’s map of Cheshire  SPEC H49.45*

Two of Special Collections & Archives currently locked-down treasures are our c.1590 hand-coloured printed maps of the counties of England and Wales by Christopher Saxton (approximately 1540-1610), and the 1611/1612 Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain by John Speed (1552?-1629). These two atlases are amongst the earliest to depict all the historic counties of England and Wales. Ireland is represented in Speed’s atlas by maps of the four historic provinces of Connaught, Leinster, Munster and Ulster, and Scotland by a single map, since Speed started his work before the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when Scotland was still a separate kingdom. Both of these cartographical treasures were generous gifts to University College, Liverpool from Henry Yates Thompson (1838-1928), a Liverpool benefactor (he also funded the Palm House in Sefton Park) who was renowned for his collection of medieval manuscripts.

Using Saxton and Speed as inspiration, and thinking of University students and staff now dispersed around the country, we are posting a new County Lives series on the SCA blog and @LivUniSCA twitter account, based on our behind-the-scenes work to upgrade collection catalogues, making it easier to search for people, places and subjects. County Lives will highlight items from our collections relating to each of the historic counties or provinces where the University community and our social media followers may now be living and working, or perhaps looking forward to revisiting in the future.

And as we are unable to take new photographs of our locked-down collections, we invite readers to tweet their own photographs showing these places four hundred years on from Saxton and Speed.