Biographical entry Stanford, Edward sr (1827 - 1904)

London, England
3 November 1904

Edward Stanford sr. was a contemporary of John Arrowsmith and a member of the Royal Geographical Society like Arrowsmith. In his youth he was apprenticed to a printer and stationer in Malmesbury, Wiltshire during 1841. He later returned to London where he worked for Thomas Pettitt, a diary and account-book publisher; Wilson, Richard & Co., wholesale stationers and account-book manufacturers; and briefly in 1848 was employed by Trelawney W. Saunders, also a member of the RGS, who had a map and stationery business. In October 1852 he returned to Saunders and became a partner in Saunders & Stanford, Publishers, Booksellers, Mapsellers and Stationers. The company was mutually dissolved almost a year after this in July 1853.

In October 1853 Saunders proposed Stanford for Fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society. He founded Stanford's Geographical Establishment in 1857. His entrepreneurial approach to business saw him acquire others businesses which he absorbed into his own, notably the bookselling business of C.H. Law in 1860, map maker John Arrowsmith in 1874 and Staunton & Son, stationers, in 1877. He also owned the maps of The Society for the Diffusion of useful Knowledge. Although he himself had no knowledge of map production he sought out and employed those that did, namely Saunders and A.K. Johnson of Edinburgh, to prepare and engrave his maps.

Edward senior, having purchased John Arrowsmith's stock, plates and copyright in 1874 saw a future in updating the London Atlas by the addition of newly researched maps produced in house, and by revising and up dating those maps from the Arrowsmith volume that he wanted to retain. The first 'For Private Circulation' copies appeared in 1884, ten years after his purchase of the Arrowsmith Atlas and the first edition proper in 1887. He retired from running the business due to illness and his son Edward Jr took over in 1882. The firm was absorbed into George Philip & Son in 1947 where it remained until 2001 when Stanford's became independent once more. It has two outlets in London and Bristol today.

The majority of the above text is taken from F. Herbert's entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Published resources


  • Tooley, Ronald Vere, Tooley's dictionary of mapmakers, Revised edition edn, Map Collector Publications, Tring, England, 2004. Details
  • Whitfield, Peter, The mapmakers : a history of Stanfords, Compendium, London, 2003, 128 pp. Details

Book Sections

  • Herbert, Francis, 'Edward Stanford', in C.S. Nicholls ; consultant editors, G.H.L. Le May‚Ķ et al. (ed.), The Dictionary of national biography. Missing persons, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1993, pp. 620-630. Details

Journal Articles

  • Herbert, Francis, 'The Royal Geographical Society's Membership, The Map trade, and geographical Publishing in Britain 1830 to ca 1930: an introductory essay with listing of some 250 Fellows in related professions', Imago Mundi, vol. 35, 1983. Details
  • Herbert, Francis, 'The 'London Atlas of Universal Geography' from John Arrowsmith to Edward Stanford: Origin, Development and Dissolution of a British World Atlas from the 1830s to the 1930s', Imago Mundi, vol. 41, 1989, pp. 98-123. Details

Dorothy F. Prescott