Descriptions of Hull 16th to 18th centuries 10 (13/10/’20).

The third of Dr. Woodward’s (s.p.b.s) six 17th century topographers, John Ogilby (1600 – 1676), is shown in the portrait above.

Ogilby had a varied career, his topographical work Britannia being published late in his life. Of Scottish birth he trained originally as a dancer and later became a theatrical entrepreneur in Ireland. On his return to England during the Civil Wars he taught himself latin and after the Restoration had published some Classical writings into English.

Britannia was very different to earlier topographical publications being in effect a series of linear road maps each with accompanying text. This work established the definition of a mile as being 1760 yards and each of Ogilby’s maps was drawn to the scale of one inch to one mile (thus predicting the scale of the first Ordnance Survey maps of over a 100 years later.

On each map distances are given as miles and furlongs from London, for example the map which shows Hull is on a road map detailing the route from Hull to Flamborough Head with Beverley being ‘178’3′, that is 178 miles and three furlongs from London (possibly London Bridge). Although the figures would be contested today, to produce such disciplined maps must have been a mammoth surveying task and Ogilby presumably had many assistants.

One quote may suffice ‘From Hull, a direct Road conveys you by Newland, where there are several Wood-Bridges over Dikes, and at 175’3 you leave Thorn Church (? maybe Wawne, maybe not) near 3 Furlongs on the Right, and at 178’3 you enter Beverley’.

Gilby’s text on Hull states nothing new and reads very much like a compilation of points from previous writers.

I have a copy of Ogilby’s map from Lincoln to Barton – so long distance travellers following the east coast route north or south could, from 1674 onwards, possibly have maps to guide their way up to and beyond the Humber Estuary.

Ogilby was favoured by Charles II.