From An Atlas Designed To Educate A Future King of England
Great original antique decorative map of the Netherlands and Belgium. At the time, the Netherlands formed its own independent nation, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, while Belgium was part of the Hapsburg Empire and termed the Austrian Netherlands.
The map shows cities, geographical features, and more. An inset map in the lower right names the pre-Roman tribes that settled in the area. The map shows a much less accurate representation of the coastline, which curiously resembles what the area would have looked like at a time of lower sea levels.
The map includes a decorative title cartouche and the royal coat of arms. A tall ship sails in the North Sea. A compass rose and scale bar also appear, following mid-18th century English decorative tendencies.
This map was part of an atlas dedicated to the young William, Duke of Gloucester, who was then attending school in Oxford. Edward Wells was then a fellow at Christchurch College, and he intended this work to be used as a pedagogical tool for his students, among whom was William. Following Edward's death at age 11 in 1700, the atlas was published until 1738, retaining its original dedication.
Edward Wells was a Church of England clergyman and advocate for education. He published prolifically, including several atlases of the ancient and contemporary world. Wells was the son of a vicar and entered Christ Church, Oxford in late 1686. He graduated BA in 1690, MA in 1693, and worked as a tutor at his college from 1691 to 1702. Then, he entered into a living at Cotesbach, Leicestershire, from where he continued to publish his many works. He attained the degrees of BD and DD in 1704, after he was already at Cotesbach.
From roughly 1698 onward, Wells wrote many sermons, books, and atlases. He focused on catechismal and pastoral works, as well as educational books. For example, some of his first works were mathematics texts for young gentlemen, which included how to use globes and determine latitude and longitude. He also translated classical and Christian texts, sometimes adding geographical annotations.
His descriptive geographies were not overly original works, but they were popular in their time. First, he produced a Treatise of Antient and Present Geography in 1701; it went on to four more editions. Next was a Historical Geography of the New Testament (1708), accompanied by a Historical Geography of the Old Testament (1711-12).