By GASCOYNE, Joel , 1703

An Actual Survey of the Parish of St. Dunstan Stepney alias Stebunheath Being one of the Ten Parishes in the County of Middlesex adjacent to the City of London, Describing exactly the Bounds of the Nine Hamlets in ye sd Parish. John Wright Vicar, Charles Walker, William Wheatly, Thomas Walker, Iohn Mumford, Church warden for Ratcliff, Limehous, Popler, Mile end old Town; William Canter, Abram Monfort, William Lee, Humph. Cofter, Church warden for Waping, Spittle Feilds, Bethnal Green, Mile end new Towne.

British Isles London
  • Author: GASCOYNE, Joel
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Taken Ano Dom.1703 by Ioel Gascoyne. Engraved by Iohn Harris
  • Publication date: 1703.
  • Physical description: Engraved map and separate title, the complete map consists of eight sheets of varying dimensions, the present map lacks sheet [B] (supplied in facsimile), all sheets with good full margins.
  • Dimensions: 1250 by 1150mm (49.25 by 45.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 1461


Extremely rare. A magnificent map extending west to east from Spittlefields to the River Lea and north to south from Bethnal Green to the Isle of Dogs, encompassing the parishes of Ratcliff, Limehouse, Poplar, Mile End Old Town, Wapping, Spittle Fields, Bethnal Green, Mile End New Town, Bromley and Bow.

The map was printed from eight irregular-sized and -shaped copper plates. Curiously, it is not possible to arrange all eight sheets as a rectangle with a continuous engraved border; the title sheet is bordered so as to be located in the upper right corner, and yet the plate for Bow must be placed there for the sake of geographical accuracy. It appears that the author was undecided as to how the finished map should appear and left the final composition up to the owner! In the present example, and in the copy in the King’s Collection at the British Library, the title is offered as a separate item. However, the copy in the library of Brasenose College, Oxford, is arranged with the table cut into strips at the sides, with the title (without its rule-border) in the bottom left. The eighth plate – a mere 4″ by 6″ – lists the public buildings of Bow and in no example we have examined seems to have been placed tidily.

The parallelogram plate provided for the bottom right of the map presented further problems for the engraver in so far as it finished short of where he needed to engrave the rule-border. Harris solves this problem by engraving a neat triangle of border within the margin of the plate to be cut out and pasted on later.

Joel Gascoyne (1650-1705) established himself as a chart-maker, surveyor and cartographer at ‘The Sign of the Platt neare Wapping Old Stayres three doares below the Chappell’. As a full member of the Drapers’ Company and with apprentices indentured to him, he produced manuscript and engraved charts. The present map was one of his earlier efforts at plotting dry land; a fact that may account for the somewhat unorthodox handling of the task at hand.

Sheet [A] consists of the title within engraved cartouche carried by putti above an allegorical vignette of the Thames, title surmounted by a portrait of St Dunstan (to whom Stepney Church is dedicated) pinching the devil’s nose with a pair of hot tongs (St Dunstan was a goldsmith by profession and so would always have had such implements to hand), engraved table of ‘…the names of the Courts, Yards, Alleys, Rents and other Remarkable Places in the severall Streets of the respective Hamlets Contained in this Parish’ to lower left. This table in fact commences on sheet [B] which is absent from the present collection. Below the cartouche is an explanation of symbols, and two scale-bars. An elaborate compass rose appears in the Greenwich Peninsula on sheet [F].

Scale: approximately 12 inches to 1 statute mile.


  1. BLMC Maps K.Top.28.18.a
  2. For facsimile of the complete map see LTS Publication 150, and accompanying booklet, Joel Gascoyne's Engraved Maps of Stepney, 1702-1704, by William Ravenhill and David J. Johnson (1995).