By taking an area of Bowen’s county map of the mid 18th century we can assess its value to students of area within the County. The above image (not the best) shows the area of the lower River Hull valley, Hull and ‘Hullshire’ and the south-eastern section of the Yorkshire Wolds. Incidentally county maps were produced to commission so Bowen was not required to portray any details south of the Humber Estuary, the fact that he did show Barton (albeit not very accurately) reinforces its connection to Hull and the trade of the Estuary. What Bowen does show is the distribution of mudflats across the Estuary at that time, these being potential hazards to navigation and it is interesting to compare this evidence with later and contemporary navigational charts of the Estuary (see Landmarks and Beacons in the Publications and Articles section of this website).
In the section of Bowen’s map shown above Bowen shows the border of ‘Hullshire’. This curiosity never was a ‘shire county’ proper but nevertheless remained until relatively recent times. Gillett and MacMahon (s.p.b., p. 57) record its creation/extension in 1447. Certainly part of the reason for this jurisdiction was to give Hull’s ruling elite control over the area from which they obtained their fresh water supply, that being the spring-line settlements along the base of the dip slope of the Yorkshire Wolds. Thus the parishes of Hessle, North Ferriby, Swanlnd, Westella, Kirkella Tranby Willerby, Wolfreton, Anlaby and Haltemprice (see map ‘Haltom Price’) were in Hullshire – this interestingly reflected in the modern situation where the City Council would like to extend Hull’s western boundary to incorporate these now suburbs but prejudice, and a preference for an East Yorkshire address, overcomes the logic of the idea for most suburban residents.
Bowen shows no evidence of any expansion of Hull’s built-up area beyond the medieval town walls but it is at this level that the scale of a county map can be unsatisfactory.
(to be continued)