MAP OF THE SEVEN MARSHLAND TOWNSHIPS, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM.
[unsigned and undated, after 1581]
Single sheet, verso blank, 690 x 830mm. Manuscript map on vellum of the Marshland district of the 'seven townships' between Wisbech and Kings Lynn, titled Descriptio illuis partis comitate Norfolcii que iacet ex parte occidentale magni Ripe de Ouse..marshlande septem vilata videlicet Emneth. Walsooken. Walton. Walpoole. Clenchewarton. Terrington. St. Clementii...Insuper in hac Charta descripte sunt omnia et singulare vie communes, le drove, le greenes fossata maris fossata castigii..., lettered in sepia ink, rivers and major drainage ditches in blue, drove roads and pasture commons in green, houses and churches carefully delineated, the roofs in red, the towns of Kings Lynn and Wisbech carefully drawn in birds-eye perspective, the map marking six windmills, the estuary of the Ouse decorated with five ships and a whale, each marshland pasture lettered, the title and explanation in Latin set in plain boxed cartouches at the upper margin, and in lower left corner, text heightened in red. The map orientated with east at the upper margin, scale at lower right corner depicted with a pair of dividers, cardinal wind-point names inset into the decorative broad strapwork border (the surface of the map slightly soiled and worn with loss of some red pigment, sepia ink somewhat faded and discoloured, the major routes and boundaries pricked out by pin-holes).
AN IMPORTANT AND UNIQUE LATE 16TH CENTURY MAP OF THE MARSHLAND FENS, the earliest surviving manuscript map of this region, and the precursor to the fenland maps of William Hayward in the early 17th Century. This map was drawn up, probably by a Royal surveyor, to distinguish the rights of summer marshland grazing on the Smeeth, for the Seven Township manors of the former Bishop of Ely, now belonging to the Queen, and the Duke of Norfolk. The texts detail the area of the map, the townships, describe the principal features, the drove roads, pastures and ditches, setting out the purpose of the survey. Richard Cox, Bishop of Ely 1559-80, was an active reformer, who clashed with the Queen, Lord North and Sir Christopher Hatton. He resigned his see in February 1580 and died in July 1581. Queen Elizabeth took over the revenue of the estates, which were administered from Canterbury. The survey of these manors undoubtably dates from the period soon after Bishop Cox's death, setting out the grazing rights and fees due to the Queen's newly acquired estates vis a vis those of the Duke of Norfolk. Martin Heton was finally appointed Bishop of Ely in 1600. The depiction of the whale in the River Ouse reflects the sighting of a whale near Kings Lynn in 1555, Mackerell's History of Lynn p.227. Of particular cartographical interest for this map is it's connections with the work of William Hayward, Commissioner of Sewers [drainage], described by Eden as 'one of the most accomplished surveyors of his time'. This map is the source map for Hayward's '1591' map of the same locality, now lost. A comparison of the text of this map with a transcription of the '1591' text written out by Edward Lynam in the 1930's shows that Hayward copied the text from this map, and this assumption is further supported by comparing this map with the two later copies of the '1591' map; the first, a copy drawn up for Sir Robert Cotton not later than 1628, now in the British Library, and a second, a late 17th Century copy now in the University Library, Cambridge. Both copies are identical in detail to this survey except that they show an extension south to include the complete parishes of Outwell and Upwell; Hayward lived at Outwell which he surveyed in 1605 [that survey is now in the Wisbech Museum, and is in a neat careful hand]. Hayward is best known for his complete surveys of the Fens in 1604, and in 1636, the year before his death. Both these surveys only survive in later copies. THIS RARE SURVIVAL OF AN ELIZABETHAN ADMINISTRATIVE SURVEY by an unknown but accomplished surveyor, casts doubt on some of the accolades accorded to William Hayward who was believed to have been the first surveyor of this area.