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Maps before the Ordnance Survey

Early maps

Before the Ordnance Survey came into being in the mid-nineteenth century, map-making was undertaken for commercial purposes either by private map makers who hoped to attract sufficient sales to the general public from the publication of town or county map, and sometimes national maps or by private surveyors commissioned by landowners to draw up local estate maps or maps for enclosure and other awards.

Since map-making depended upon local initiative, commercial opportunity and private commissions, the existence of maps is haphazard both in terms of places surveyed and style of mapping.

In the Doncaster area, it is very rare to find maps earlier than the mid-eighteenth century. The maps are all related to severely practical needs, and are the result of demand from the gentry for estate-management purposes or the desire of enclosure and drainage commissioners to give a visual aid to the interpretation of their awards. In consequence, the archives of landed estates contain most of the available early maps. 

Amongst the larger landowners in the district was Doncaster Corporation itself, and the borough archives contain a series of plans of corporation estates from the 1780s to the 1840s. For the availability of enclosure maps, see the page on Enclosure Awards

For further information, see B P Hindle, Maps for Local History (Batsford, 1988).

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