Somerset antique map by Georgian cartographer John Cary. Published 1812 in Cary’s “Traveller’s Companion.” Somerset (or archaically, Somersetshire) is a county in South West England which borders Gloucestershire and Bristol to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east and Devon to the south-west. It is bounded to the north and west by the Severn Estuary and the Bristol Channel, its coastline facing southeastern Wales. Its traditional border with Gloucestershire is the River Avon Somerset’s county town is Taunton. Somerset is a rural county of rolling hills such as the Blackdown Hills, Mendip Hills, Quantock Hills and Exmoor, and large flat expanses of land including the Somerset Levels. There is evidence of human occupation from Paleolithic times, and of subsequent settlement in the Celtic, Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods. The county played a significant part in the consolidation of power and rise of King Alfred the Great, and later in the English Civil War and the Monmouth Rebellion. The city of Bath is famous for its substantial Georgian architecture.
John Cary (c. 1754 – 1835) was an English cartographer. Cary served his apprenticeship as an engraver in London, before setting up his own business in the Strand in 1783. He soon gained a reputation for his maps and globes, his atlas, The New and Correct English Atlas published in 1787, becoming a standard reference work in England. In 1794 Cary was commissioned by the Postmaster General to survey England’s roads. This resulted in Cary’s New Itinerary (1798), a map of all the major roads in England and Wales. He also produced Ordnance Survey maps prior to 1805. In his later life he collaborated on geological maps with the geologist William Smith. His business was eventually taken over by G. F. Cruchley (1822–1875).