Cartobibliographies of English and Welsh county maps have a long history - this cartobibliography of Maps of the Isle of Man follows the traditional form though the Island has never been part of the United Kingdom.

A quick glimpse at a map of the British Isles will show the Island's central position between Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. Some representation of the Island, often rudimentary and inaccurate, can be found on any map of the British Isles.

The history of the Isle of Man is well covered elsewhere (e.g. A.W.Moore A History of the Isle of Man 1900 [reprinted 1977,1992]); for much of the period of printed maps the political control of the Island has effectively been in English hands. In 1406 Henry IV granted the Island to Sir John Stanley and his heirs; the Stanleys ruled the Island as Kings (later 'Lords') of Man for the next three and a half centuries. James, the 10th Earl of Derby, was the last of the line; on his death in 1736 the Island devolved on James Murray, 2nd Duke of Athol. During his reign smuggling became the major trade of the Island, causing much annoyance to the British government who made several ineffective overtures for the purchase of his rights. When James died in 1764 he was succeeded by his nephew who came under great pressure to accept the offer of £70,000 and an annuity of £2,000 pa from the British government. This Act of Revestment was passed in Jan 1765 and by it the Lordship of Man became vested in the British crown. The ending of the smuggling trade (as seen from London though it was perfectly licit by Island laws) produced a major decline in the Island economy (especially that of Douglas) - the Island became known as a retirement home for half-pay officers. The fourth Duke who succeeded to the title in 1774 disputed the amount paid and agitated for an increase. A commission of Enquiry into all aspects of the Island was established in 1792 (finally reporting in 1805) however the Duke was mollified by being appointed Governor in 1793 (building Castle Mona as his residence). Though initially popular his rule became extremely autocratic and nespotic - his appointment of his nephew Bishop Murray who was grasping in his application of tithes provoked riots in 1825. In 1828 the British Government settled for £417,000 and started a period of neglect of the Island as the UK treasury took control over all Island revenues. It was the appointment of Mr Henry Brougham Loch as Lieutenant Governor in 1863 who began the period of rapid development of the Island especially as a mass tourist resort.

Overview of Cartographic History

The Island representations of Lily, Nowell and Saxton can be readily distinguished - they do not appear to be based on any actual survey as many of the key topological features of the Island were ignored. Such representations show the Island as a small part of the British Isles or of the North West of England.

The first map of the Island alone, and the first based on actual survey, was that of Thomas Durham of 1595 first published by Speed in 1605/1611 and reprinted many times over the next century. This map with is distinctive elongated shape formed the basis of most maps until the maritime survey of Greenville Collins in 1689 (published in 1693). A later survey of Mackenzie, 1775, gave a more accurate rendering of the Island shape. Further marine surveys (Heather .. Admiralty) gave more detailed charts. Both Collins' and Mackenzie's maps had little internal detail - a fault that was not rectified until Fannin's map of 1789. This map became the basis of many of the early tourist maps of the Island.

Drinkwater's map of 1826 (based on a survey by Smythe) filled in much inland detail - a reduction by Philips[1840 onwards] became the major tourist map until the mid 1870's. Both Weller and Standford produced similar scale maps prior to the Ordnance survey's definitive mapping. The Ordnance survey was late in coming to the Island - typically there were disputes between London and the Island over the sharing of costs. The survey started in 1863, the 6" maps were published from 1868 and the 1" reduction followed in 1873/4.

Durham/Speed Map of 1595

Henry, 4th Earl of Derby died in Sept. 1594, leaving two sons, the eldest Ferdinand who died (from suspected poisoning) in 1595, and William (who had been captain general in the Island in 1593). William and Ferdinand's daughters' guardians litigated over the inheritance of the Island title which raised questions as to the validity of the original grant by Henry IV to Sir John Stanley. Elizabeth appointed as referees and arbiters William Cecil [Lord Burghley] (her chief secretary) and others. No judgment was given as Cecil died in 1598 and in 1603 Elizabeth died. The case passed to the Westminster Courts of law, finally being resolved in 1610 in favour of Ferdinand's daughters requiring William to acquire the rights from them. In order to prevent the Spanish or Scots taking advantage of the disputed claims Elizabeth assumed reign of the Island appointing Sir Thomas Gerrard of Staffordshire captain-general. Sir Thomas spent less than 9 months on the Island but one of his key acts was to pay Thomas Durham, about whom nothing is known, to survey the Island. Almost certainly Durham must have been English based on his treatment of Manx place names.

Collin's Maritime Survey of 1689

Following much criticism of Seller's marine atlas it was realised by many that a new survey of the English coast was needed. Trinity House, the Admiralty (who provided a suitable vessel and crew) and the Crown (who paid nearly £2000) were involved. Captain Greenvile Collins an experienced naval officer who had sailed with Sir John Narborough to the South Seas in 1669/71 was chosen. The Admiralty Order dated 23 June 1681 "The King...had chosen Captain Collins, Commander of the Merlin Yacht, to make a survey of the sea coast of the Kingdom by measuring all the sea coast with a chain and taking all the bearings of the headlands with their exact latitude". Progress was slow as Collins was only paid after the survey was complete. Collins arranged for the printing choosing a relatively unknown Richard Mount as agent. This was the first complete Pilot book in English, of the coasts of Great Britain and although it received much criticism for its alleged inaccuracy, it continued on sale for over a century by the family firm founded by Mount. see C. Verner (MCS 58) and Robinson (1962)pp40/43 for details

Fannin's Map of 1789

Peter Fannin, a retired Naval officer, Master of the 'Adventure' one of the ships that accompanied Capt. Cook on his first expedition, retired to Douglas where in 1775, he set up a school and taught navigation. He published his ' Correct Plan of the Isle of Man' , engraved by H. Ashby, in Jan 1789 from whence it formed the basis of most maps of the Island for the forty years. The island shape with its over square Jurby Point is considerably less accurate than the maritime survey of Mackenzie of 1775. However his representation of the hill masses of the Island was a major improvement on earlier maps. He also gave an indication for the first time of the roads on the Island as well as the first town plan of Douglas.

It would appear to be based on personal observation and survey; he includes brief descriptions of the various bays and harbours as anchorage points. Although the island shape possibly owes something to Mackenzie, the soundings and anchorage points differ from both Mackenzie and Collins.

The first to copy his map was J. Cary who used a reduction for the Island on his 'New Map' of 1792 [1792Cary], this reduction with some updating of place-names was still being published in 1883 by G.W.Bacon.

Another reduction on approximately half scale, engraved by W.Harrison, was used to illustrate David Robertson's "Tour through the Isle of Man" published July 1794 and copied in several other guide books of the early 19th Century.


Drinkwater/Smythe Map of 1826

The Smythes came from 'the Carlisle Academy' in 1821 to join the rapidly growing number of private schools in Douglas ; both husband and wife opened separate schools (for young men and young ladies). It would appear that Mr Smythe's speciality was calligraphy which he also taught to the young ladies. Hinton Bird, using the Smythes as an example of the peripatetic nature of many of these schools, charts its movement over the next few years. At one time a branch school under a daughter was established in Onchan. In 1825 Smythe advertises (Manx Advertiser 7 July 1825) that he will resume full-time teaching having almost completed his map of the Isle of Man.

It would appear however from a comment by Hulbert that Smythe (or Smith) together with a son were surveying the North of the Island in 1820 so it is possible that that he came a little earlier. The dedication is:

To the Right Hon. George Canning, M.P., His Majesty’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, this Map of the Isle of Man is, by Permission, respectfully dedicated by his faithful and obedient servant, John Drinkwater. From a Trigonometrical Survey by Mr. Benjamin Smythe. Published as the Act directs by John Drinkwater, Esq., Sept. 1st, 1826.

The resulting map at a scale of 1:60,000 is a very impressive document and was not bettered until the Ordnance Survey of the late 1860's..

The Drinkwater's were a Liverpool-Manx family.


Ordnance Survey of 1868

The history of the IoM O/S is unique as far as the old series of O/S maps is concerned. Though the Island was incorporated into the national triangulation system pre 1835 (Snaefell & N.Barrule) when retriangulation resumed in 1838 new station set up on S.Barrule. However there was some dispute between the Island and London as to sharing of costs and the detailed survey work only started in 1864 - South finished in 1865 and the North in 1866. The sharing arrangements meant that a reduced cost method of hill sketching at 1"/mile rather than 6" was adopted and that apart from a few sections the Island was not contoured at either a large or small scale (spot heights appear on map). Apart from Ramsey and Douglas at 1/500 the rest of island was surveyed at 1/2500.
These O/S maps quickly became the base from which all future maps of the Island derived, though the Philips and Standford maps originating in the 1850's and 60's lasted well into the next century.

Index to Cartobibliography

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley, 2006