John Ogilby (1600-1676), The Road from London to Dover

"The Road from London to Dover" by John Ogibly, published by John Senex (F.R.S., London, 1759)

John Ogilby's book of the road-systems of England and Wales has been described as the first precursor to the modern road atlas. Its construction is indeed similar to a contemporary trip-tik. It was drawn from a measured survey on a scale of one inch to the mile. The particular genius of the strip map format that Ogilby adopted in his work is its ability to narrate stages along a particular route by pointing out the landmarks, crossroads, and countryside that the traveler would pass and noting the distance in miles along the route between each. The resulting volume emphasized the pathways of movement throughout the English countryside, rather than regional or local detail and orientation. Their structure reflects the new need for maps at a time when domestic travel for business had rapidly grown--as suggested by the labeling of "the Post Roads for conveying Letters missive to and from this Great Center [i.e., London]." Roads are marked by three scales: distance as measured by customary reckoning, by the "direct horizontal" mile measured off of a map, and by the measurements he had taken of roads with a "wheel dimensurator." Ogilby's was the first atlas to consistently record the "postal miles" whose length (1760 yards) had been prescribed by statute in 1593.

"Britannia" by John Ogilby

Courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library