The fourth edition of Leigh’s science of surveying

By LEIGH, Valentine, 1592 
£5,500
£3,300

The moste profitable and commendable science, of surveying of lands tenementes, and hereditamentes.

Natural History, Science & Medicine
  • Author: LEIGH, Valentine
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: John Windet, for Robart Dexter, in Paules Churchyard, at the Brasen Serpent
  • Publication date: 1592.
  • Physical description: Small quarto (195 by 145mm), [120]pp, two folding tables each on two sheets joined, woodcut device on title, woodcut diagrams and initials, tears repaired, manuscript notation to front endpaper, library stamps to upper and lower pastedown, later half calf over red paper boards, rubbed. Collation: A‑G4 I‑Q4.
  • Dimensions: 185 by 140mm. (7.25 by 5.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 14783

Notes

Up until the publication of the present work, sixteenth century books on surveying had been divided into two main groups: those concerned with providing advice to land stewards and owners of manors such as Fitzerbert’s Surveyinge’ (1523), and those concerned with the measurement of land such as Benese’s work of 1537.

Leigh was the first to attempt to combine both these strands, stating that it was not just the duty of the surveyor to measure the land, but that he should be able to furnish the owner with information, on what constitutes a manor, its rents and holdings, and have a fair knowledge of the law regarding estates and manors. Furthermore the agent should also be able to give a complete account of the value of the lands, their rents and fees.

Leigh goes on to provide detailed instruction on the use of the rod (Rodde) or line for surveying, the lyne is the speedier and the most commodious and also of most antiquitie”, and recommends that one should carry a Diall [i.e. compass] in your hands (according to Maister Fitzherbertes counsaile”. The text continues with a discussion on how to measure an irregular field, and ends with the suggestion that a map should be provided with the completed survey.

The work was obviously held in high regard at the time, as it was published twice in 1577, and again in 1578, 1588, 1592, and 1596. John Norden also references Leigh in his important work on surveying The Surveiors Dialogue of 1610.

Valentine Leigh (d 1563) was a prosperous London mercer, and resided on Lodde Lane in the St Lawrence Jewry parish. When Leigh died he owned two houses (next to each other), a lute, several bibles, and other books.

Rare. ESTC records five copies in the UK and three in the USA. 

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