Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Arrowsmith, John (1790-1873)

ARROWSMITH, JOHN (1790–1873), geographer, nephew of the elder Aaron Arrowsmith, came to London in February 1810, and for many years, with his cousins Aaron and Samuel, aided his uncle in the construction of his large collection of maps and charts. After his uncle's death in 1823 he commenced business on his own account in Essex Street, Strand, but finally succeeded to the honours of the house in Soho Square on the death of his cousin Samuel. His first publication was the well-known 'London Atlas' in 1834, fol., which has passed through three editions, thus reverting to the practice of Ortelius and Mercator of the sixteenth century. In constructing the sixty-eight maps for the latest edition of his 'Atlas' in 1858, he informs us in the preface that 'he examined more than 10,000 sheets of private maps, charts and plans, thereby rectifying all the labours of his predecessors.' His large maps and charts are:—India, in twenty sheets; England and Wales, in eighteen; Spain, twelve; World, ten; Pacific, nine; Atlantic, British Channel, Canada, and Ceylon, each in eight sheets; America, Australia, France, Germany, Wilkinson's Thebes, each in six sheets; Africa, America, Asia, Bolivia, East Indies, West Indies, and Italy, each in four sheets. To these may be added numerous smaller maps, illustrating expeditions in various parts of the globe, many of which are to be found in books of travel and the Royal Geographical Society's Journals. He retired from the more active pursuit of publication of his maps in 1861, but devoted some of his time to the improvement of his old maps, or to the illustration of other geographical work. Among the maps left unpublished at his death were some very fine ones of each of the Australian colonies, of Ceylon, and of other countries. Arrowsmith's last labour was a small map of Central Asia, on the scale of about ninety geographical miles to the inch, upon which he was working at the India Office up to the last week of his life. Arrowsmith died at his house in Hereford Square, South Kensington, 1 May 1873, aged 83. He was one of the fellows who aided in founding the Royal Geographical Society in 1830, and for many years was one of the council, and in 1863 he received the patron's gold medal for the important services he had rendered to geographical science.

By an order of the Court of Chancery the vast collections of the Arrowsmiths, consisting of maps, plates and manuscripts, were dispersed by public auction on 28 July 1874, and have since fallen into the hands of one of our most eminent map publishers.

|[Authorities as under Aaron Arrowsmith.]

C. H. C.