A prolific English cartographer, globemaker, instrument maker, printer and publisher active in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Lea worked with some of the most influential British cartographers of the day, including Herman Moll, Robert Morden, John Ogilby and John Seller. Lea had been apprenticed with Robert Morden at the Weavers’ Guild, from April 1675 and freed by 1683. Some of Lea’s early works were in partnership with Morden and his partner William Berry. Lea continued to work with Morden for much of his career, although it is a bit of a mystery as to why, since Morden was often in financial difficulties, while Lea appeared to be the consummate businessman.
Between 1683 and 1686 Lea had his own premises at the ‘Atlas and Hercules in the Poultry over against the Old Jury’. In 1687, he moved to new premises at the ‘Atlas and Hercules in Cheapside, next to the corner of Friday Street’, as well as operating a stall in Westminster Hall from 1689, sometimes described in his imprint as “at Westminster Hall near the Court of Common Pleas.”
When he died in 1700, the inventory of his estate, taken after his death, included sixteen hundredweight of copper. His total estate was valued at £337, and passed to Anne who held two-thirds in trust for his under-age children. She carried the business on, taking Richard Glynne, the husband of her step-daughter, into partnership in about 1712. She died in 1730 after which the stock was sold at auction.