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Significant Scots
Timothy Pont


PONT, TIMOTHY, the celebrated geographer who prepared the "Theatrum Scotiae," in "Bleau’s Atlas," was the eldest son of the preceding, apparently by his first wife, Catharine Masterton, daughter of Masterton of Grange. Scarcely anything of his personal history appears to be known. He seems to have become a minister of the Scottish church, and is mentioned in the Book of Assignations, 1601-8, as "minister of Dwent." [McCrie’s Melville, 2nd edition, ii. 428.] Sir Robert Sibbald (De Histor. Scot. MS. Ad. Lib. p.2.) mentions a pedestrian expedition undertaken by him, in 1608, to explore the more barbarous parts of the country. "He was," says bishop Nicholson, "by nature and education a complete mathematician, and the first projector of a Scotch Atlas. To that great purpose, he personally surveyed all the several counties and isles of the kingdom; took draughts of ‘em upon the spot, and added such cursory observations on the monuments of antiquity, and other curiosities as were proper for the furnishing out of future descriptions. He was unhappily surpris’d by death, to the inestimable loss of his countrey, when he had well nigh finish’d his papers, most of which were fortunately retrieved by Sir John Scott, and disposed of in such a manner as has been already reported. There are some other remains of this learned and good man, on the ‘History of Agricola’s Vallum, or Graham’s Dike,’ as are well worth the preserving." [Scottish Historical Library, 24.] The originals of the maps so drawn up are preserved in good order in the Advocates’ library. They are minutely and elegantly penned, and have the air of such laborious correctness, as the science of the period enabled the geographer to attain. Pont appears to have penetrated to those wild and remote portions of the island, the surfaces of which have scarecely yet been accurately delineated. Sir Robert Sibbald mentions (De Histor. Scot. ut supra), that after Pont’s death, his maps were so carelessly kept by his heirs, that they were in great danger of destruction from moths and vermin. King James ordered that they should be purchased and given to the world; but amidst the cares of government they were again consigned for a season to oblivion. At length Sir John Scott of Scotstarvet, to whose enlightened patronage we owe much of what is preserved of the literature of his times, prevailed with Sir Robert Gordon of Straloch to revise and correct them for the press. The task was continued by Sir Robert’s son, Mr James Gordon, parson of Rothemay, and with his amendments they appeared in Bleau’s celebrated Atlas.

See some of his maps at http://www.nls.uk/pont/


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