PETTY, Sir William: History of the Survey of Ireland, commonly called “The Down Survey”, A.D. 1656-6.


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Edited, from a manuscript in the libraries of Trinity College, Dublin, with another in the possession of the most noble the Marquis of Lansdowne, and one in the library The King’s Inns, Dublin, by Thomas Aiskew Larcom. Dublin: For the Irish Archaeological Society, 1851. Quarto. pp. [iv], xxiv, 426. Head- and tail-pieces; decorative initials. Mauve cloth, title in gilt on evenly faded spine. Usual mild foxing to endpapers and titlepage. Bookplate of Geoffrey Hand on front pastedown, bookseller’s label on lower pastedown. Minor wear to spine. A near fine copy.
The most important cartographical event in Ireland in the seventeenth century was the survey carried out by Sir William Petty of the estates of the Irish landowners. The ‘Down Survey’ as it was called, resulted in the publication of ‘Hiberniae Delineatio’ which was a milestone in Irish cartography. It took thirteen months to complete and was carried out by 1,000 men of Petty’s choosing. For his services he was paid £9,000, an enormous amount in those days, some of this money he invested profitably in the purchase of soldiers’ debentures. According to John Aubrey, one could view the whole of Petty’s vast estate, from the top of Mangerton mountain, amounting to some 50,000 acres in the county of Kerry. It had long been known that Sir William Petty had left an account of the ‘Down Survey’. He made several references to this survey in his writings, and also mentions it in his ‘Last Will and Testament’. In 1834, Mr. James Weale, of the department of Woods and Forests, an ardent collector of books and manuscripts relating to Ireland, purchased at the sale of the library of Lord De Clifford, a manuscript copy of the ‘Down Survey’. On his death in 1838, this survey along with other manuscripts were purchased by the Government. It was from this copy that Sir Thomas A. Larcom published the present volume for the Irish Archaeological Society. The term ‘Down Survey’ simply means, the results were set down or laid down on maps.

[L3 6C]


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