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National Library of Wales journal


Cyf. 23, rh. 1 Haf 1983

George Owen of Henllys : addenda /

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i. MAP OF PEMBROKESHIRE. Within six months of the publication of
George Owen of Henllys by the National Library of Wales in 1973 a second
manuscript copy of George Owen's splendid map of Pembrokeshire came to
light. It was purchased by the Library at Sotheby's sale on 20 November 1973
and is now in the Department of Prints, Drawings and Maps with the earlier
manuscript version dated 1602 which is reproduced in colour in George Owen of
Henllys (Pate 7) and discussed on pages 155-8 of that volume. The two versions
are very similar in scale, content and decoration but they are not identical in all
their features. In the new discovery the map itself is drawn within a 131" square
on a large piece of vellum measuring 28" x 251", the surrounding space being
taken up with decoration, tables and a brief description of the county and overall
it is somewhat larger than the other copy. In contrast to the fine condition of the
earlier version which has kept its freshness remarkably unsullied for three hundred
and eighty years, it is unfortunately very worn with age and neglect, affected by
damp, cockled, soiled and torn, the brightness of its original colours badly faded
here and there. Nevertheless it is clearly apparent that in its original state it was a
colourful and neatly executed map in the best cartographic tradition of the period.
DESCRIPTIO NOVA with no date but in the bottom right hand comer in the
biographical note alongside the coat of arms of William Herbert (1580-1630),
the contemporary earl of Pembroke, the latter is described as 'nowe livinge 1603'.
As Owen would be using the old style of dating this must have been after the
24 March (then the last day of the year), the day Elizabeth I died, and the copy
must have been made very soon after the Queen's death, otherwise presumably
Owen would not have retained her royal coat of arms which surmounts the
title-cartouche but would have substituted that of her successor James I. However
it could not have been made before July 1603 when Sir James Perrot (so called on
the map) was knighted.
It is stated in the National Library of Wales Annual Report 1973-4.p. 29 that
the map is in the hand of George Owen but there can be little doubt that it is the
handiwork of John Browne, Owen's able amanuensis, illustrator and draughtsman
who was responsible for the production of the 1602 version. Owen of course was
the author and originator of the work. A memorandum of the copying of the map
written by Browne himself survives (NLW MS 13813):
The Mappe of Penbrokshire.
in breadth [blank]
and in deapth it is two foote & foure inches iust and so much the skin of velym
or parchement must be to make the mappe faire & large ynough.
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