County Map of England and Wales by Mitchell, 1876
County Map of England and Wales by Samuel Augustus Mitchell, 1876.
England and Wales are two of the countries, along with Scotland and Northern Ireland, that make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They follow the legal system of English Law, which is separate from the legal systems of Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Romans were the first to administer England and Wales as a single unit. A distinct Welsh identity developed in the fifth century after Roman occupation ceased. In 1282, Edward I of England succeeded in conquering Wales and it was incorporated into the Kingdom of England, though they were not formally joined until the 1536 Act of Union. In 1746 The Wales and Berwick Act established that all laws that referred to England automatically included Wales. This was repealed in 1967, when it was established that the names of both countries would be used in laws that affect them countries. Wales has also obtained a certain degree of self-government thanks to the Government of Wales Acts of 1998 and 2006.
The counties shown in this map are now referred to as historic or ancient counties to distinguish them from the current counties in England and Wales. Most of the English historic counties were established by the Normans. They largely followed the boundaries of earlier Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and shires. The counties were for the the administration of laws, collecting of taxes, and gathering of military forces. Wales' historic counties were formally established in 1535, when the Welsh Marches were finally dissolved. Monmouthshire was declared a Welsh county but the Laws and Wales Act of 1542 added it to the English Assizes, leading to the mistaken belief that it had been annexed by England. It continued to be mislabeled and confused as an English county until the matter was cleared up in 1972. On this map it is drawn as belonging to England. The county lines remained largely unaltered until the reform of 1888.
Samuel Augustus Mitchell (1792-1868) turned his attention to mapmaking in the 1830s due to his dissatisfaction with available school maps. He developed a map publishing business that would make him and later his son the most prominent American map publishers of the nineteenth century. This map was published in Mitchell's New General Atlas, which replaced the earlier New Universal Atlas.
- Naomi Bean