With the deplorable state of the roads in Wales there was a need in the first part of the 18th century for charts of the Welsh coast to aid the passage of goods and people. To the rescue came an amateur British hydrographer named LEWIS MORRIS.
In 1729 Lewis Morris was appointed as 'Searcher and Customs Officer' to Beaumaris and Holyhead. After receiving permission from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to survey the coast from Llandudno he started with a waywiser in July 1737. This preliminary work lasted 76 days for which he was paid nineteen pounds. It was a further two years before a suitable vessel was provided by the Admiralty so that Morris could take soundings.
It was another 9 years before the work was ready for publication and because of Admiralty delay Lewis Morris decided to publish the small volume of 25 charts himself in 1748.
Over 1,230 people subscribed and the charts were sold out by 1761.
In addition Lewis Morris published a large single chart A Chart of the Coast of Wales in St. George's Channel.
The whole work was updated and republished by Lewis Morris' son, William Morris in 1801.
Examples of both these series should be acquired by serious collectors of maps and charts of Wales.
References: Map Collectors' Series No. 54. Marine Plans and Charts of Wales. Olwen Caradoc Evans. Published in 1969.
In the words of Lewis Morris
As this Performance may be esteemed the only one of the Kind thereto made public in England, it may not be improper to give some Account of the Rose, Progress, and Nature of the Undertaking
The melancholy Accounts of Shipwrecks, and Losses, so frequent on the Coast of Wales (chiefly occasioned undoubtedly, by the very slender Knowledge had, and most imperfect Description hitherto given, of those Parts) made it necessary for the Board of the Admiralty to take the same into consideration, and determine, that an actual Survey of that Coast should be made: And in the Year 1737 they were pleased to order me upon that Service; which was begun at Orme's-head in Norths, near Chester-Bar.
The Work of on Year being produced, Orders were given me to proceed; but not being sufficiently accommodated with proper and necessary Materials to go on, the Survey was delay'd till the year 1742: When their Lordships allowed me a Vessel well euipp'd; by which Means, with great Care and Exactness, I carried on the Survey to the Entrance of Bristol Channel: But in the Year 1744. the War with France coming on, the Business was postpon'd, and I have since finish'd my Plans, and delivered my Survey into the Admiralty.
The Draughts of Harbours, &c. now engraved, and exibited in this Treatise, were drawn up in a small Volume, for my own private Use; which Method I found necessary, to refresh my Memory in Case of Storms, or other sudden Disasters when on my Survey: But happening to shew them to the Lords of the Admiralty; together with some Hints that were drawn up by me cocerning the Improvements that might be made in those Harbours; it being not thought proper to publish the Survey of the Coast at Large, until it is carried on to the Land's End, to compleat that of Bristol Channel.
From my Knowledge in the Language and Antiquities of the Britains, one Thing, I may venture to assert, is peculiar to these Draughts, and perhaps to be found in very few, if in any other; which is, that the Names of Places are set down according to their true Orthography; whereas in other Charts and Maps of this Coast, the Names are generally such, as the Natives and Inhabitants of those Places never hears of; and for the most Part are only the spurious Productions of ignorant Transcribers and careless Engravers.
London, Feb. 2, 1748.