Lough Neagh map

Vol. 7 No. 3 - 2009

Who Dunnit?

A Lough Neagh map mystery of 1785

by Jack Redmond

The very old brown guide book to Co, Armagh maps and surveys issued by P.R.O.N.I. had a tantalising entry on page 20. It read "D. 604. 1785 Map of Lough Neagh showing North Armagh by (?) assisted by James Williamson."

In about 1972, looking for a suitable presentation to the late Father Bernard Tracey, keen boatman on that Lough, and loved and respected Commodore of our Maghery Boat Club (now defunct), I duly sent for a full size photograph copy of this intriguing work. The cartouche on D 604 declares that it is "dedicated to the Rt. Hon. John O'Neill... most dutifully inscribed by The Auther, assisted by James Williamson, land surveyer etc., of Ballymena". To me this suggested there once had been a large portfolio of the estate maps, with an elaborately decorated title page bearing "The Auther"s name. Each map presumably gave separate credit to the assistant in each case.

Lough Neagh Map
Lough Neagh Map

The whole map was too big for a reasonable sitting- room picture, so the southern half was cut off and mounted, framed and duly presented. It might yet be in the Parochial House at Maghery.

The centre of the sheet bore a large ornate compass rose, with radiating lines right out to the edges of the great inland sea. On these at regular and quite close intervals were soundings in feet. There were wind and tide effect notes too, "Aha", said I, "A nautical gentleman did this". Since I was, and still am, an untrained but interested novice in the cartographic field, this was a speculative conclusion.

The 1990-1991 "Review", Vol. 6 No, 2 contains the first half of an article by me defending John Rocque's map of Armagh county, dated 1760. On page 2 of the (at my request) unpublished second part of the article I dealt with Sir Charles Coote's map of Lough Neagh in his "Statistical Survey of Armagh", 1804. Here is an extract from that page: -

"Coote's second map is of Lough Neagh and an area around it. He does not say it is his own work, but equally does not credit any author. (Pirating other men's maps was fairly frequent). However, the blank patches in the left side area, combined with the centre panel giving data on the tidal effect of the wind on the southern shore in 1785, together with other features, clearly betray 'his' lough map as a smartened up and enhanced version of the mysterious 1785 P.R.O.N.I. map D 604. The blank areas in the left side clearly replace the area data panels shown on D 604, thus obliterating the roads and houses there.

Here arises a point of interest calling for research by some enquiring mind... both Dr Beaufort in 1792 and Sir Charles in 1804 refer to "Mr Lendrick's map of Lough Neagh and environs of 1785". I am tempted to believe that D 604 is in fact Mr Lendrick's work. Yet Sir Charles says in his text that Lendrick sums the lough area as 58,200 acres, while 'his own' map gives 60,361 acres as does D604, If both maps are by Lendrick, someone has re-estimated the area. Either way, Charles Coote cribbed again, and his credentials as a cartographic critic have crumbled." There ends the extract. (Coote and Dr. Beaufort had been giving Rocque's map an undeserved rough time, and my article was in defence of Rocque's work).

John Lendrick

Now note how sheer chance, or good luck, can aid and glorify the history researcher! Such luck can surreptitiously be cloaked as diligent research.... A little later on, the Linenhall Library kindly supplied me with some copied sheets of Redman/mond obituary notices index cards, from the (Belfast) "News Letter" of the late 18th century. These entries were of great value to my genealogical study, but by chance there was among them a card for a John Lendrick!

This said that in the year 1780 there died at Ballymena one "John Lendrick, late a Captain in the Royal Navy". So I wrote to P.R.O.N.I. and suggested that Captain John Lendrick may have done the survey before he died, with Williamson his assistant, or another, publishing it later, in 1785.

Some time later still, being involved slightly with the Linenhall Library and Professor J.H. Andrews about their issue of a limited edition reproduction of Rocque's map five years ago, I for the first time came across the professor's introduction to the Linenhall's earlier issue of the James Lendrick 1780/1782 Co. Antrim map. This map was new to me. In his notes Prof. Andrews says that James Lendrick was a member of the Grand Jury, County Treasurer, and agent for the O'Neill Estates at Shane's Castle, and that he died at Ballymena in 1806. Also he is known to have been father-in-law to said James Williamson. I assume James Lendrick was a son or nephew of Captain John L. Presumably his dad/uncle taught him marine surveying, or he simply published his Dad's work. Hence D 604. (Contradictions between his and Coote's area figures remain unsolved. Any ideas, anyone?). This extra information was then also sent to P.R.O.N.I., and may now be incorporated in the map's description.

I understand that a great fire at Lord O'Neill's castle or estate office consumed the portfolio, but one copy somehow survived to become D 604. So it was James Lendrick or perhaps his Dad/uncle John who dunnit, after all.

Several of the 1991 C.H.S. committee members were sent the second part of my Rocque article, as were some Dublin and Belfast and Armagh archival institutions. In some cases the second part has been bound into the original magazine. At that time various unavoidable difficulties had arisen in editing and pre-printing work, when the article was cut in two. Also little general interest fed back to me, so I thought it best not to offer the last part for the 1993 Review.

[Jack Redmond's previous article on Roque's map appears in full on this web site. Ed]