John George Bartholomew

John G. Bartholomew (1860-1920)

Cartographer and Geographer
Born (1860-03-22)22 March 1860
Died 14 April 1920(1920-04-14) (aged 60)
Awards Victoria Medal (1905)
The memorial to J G Bartholomew, Dean Cemetery

John George Bartholomew FRSE FRGS LLD (22 March 1860 – 14 April 1920) was a British cartographer and geographer. As a holder of a royal warrant, he used the title "Cartographer to the King"; for this reason he was sometimes known by the epithet "the Prince of Cartography".[1]

Bartholomew's longest lasting legacy is arguably naming the continent of Antarctica,[2] which until his use of the term in 1890 had been largely ignored due to its lack of resources and harsh climate.


Bartholomew came from a celebrated line of map-makers: he was the son of John Bartholomew Junior, and the grandson of the founder of John Bartholomew and Son Ltd. His mother, Annie McGregor died when he was only twelve.

He was educated at the High School in Edinburgh.

Under his administration the family business became one of the top operations in its field. Bartholomew himself was not merely a specialist in production, but also a talented geographer and cartographer. It was he who introduced the use of colored contour layer maps; he also anticipated the needs of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century travelers by publishing street maps of major cities, cycling maps, railway timetable maps, and road maps for automobiles.

He collaborated with major scientific figures and travelers of the period on projects involving their studies. Bartholomew's Atlas of Meteorology and Atlas of Zoogeography[3] were issues from a planned five-volume series that was never completed. Before he died he was able to plan out the first edition of the Times Survey Atlas of the World; this and its succeeding editions represent the most successful atlas project of the twentieth century.

in 1889 he married Janet MacDonald.[4]

He handed the reins of the business on to his son John (Ian) Bartholomew (1890-1962).

A memorial to Bartholomew, sculpted by Pilkington Jackson, exists on the northern wall of the 20th century extension to Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh.

His wife, Jennie, sons, Hugh and Ian Bartholomew and grandson, John Christopher Bartholomew are buried at the monement.

His daughter Margaret married Philip Francis Hamilton-Grierson, grandson of Sir Philip James Hamilton-Grierson.


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