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County surveyor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Domesday Book, England, 1086: Earliest historical record of 'county surveying' as an administrative function
Domesday Book, England, 1086: Earliest historical record of 'county surveying' as an administrative function
Table of Surveying, from the 1728 Cyclopaedia, Volume 2.
Table of Surveying, from the 1728 Cyclopaedia, Volume 2.
John Smith 1624 map of Bermuda
John Smith 1624 map of Bermuda

A county surveyor is a public official in the United Kingdom and the United States.

United Kingdom

Webb & Webb[1] describe the increasing chaos that began to prevail within this same period in field of county surveying in England and Wales, with county surveyors appointed by the justices of the peace at quarter sessions.

Eventually, the military defence component of county surveying in the UK began to separate from the civil in 1791, with the Crown's 'Board of Ordnance' being commissioned to carry out a comprehensive survey of the South Coast of England[2] which, as a result of 'the last invasion of Britain 1797', at Fishguard in South West Wales[3] ultimately extended to all of the UK.

With that shift in emphasis, county surveying began to concentrate more on its civil engineering and civic architecture roles, producing the historically famous British county surveyors such as Thomas Telford, John Loudon McAdam and John Nash;[4][5][6] the expression, "county surveyor", became a UK statutory title (Bridges Act 1803); and, in England and Wales, its incumbents were appointed by elected county councils as of the coming into effect of the Local Government Act 1888 rather than being Crown-appointed by justices of the peace.

The UK equivalent of NACS, the County Surveyors' Society (CSS), founded in 1885,[7] was transformed into the pluralistic Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) in 2010.[7]

United States

County surveyors are present in many counties of the United States. Most of these officials are elected on the partisan ballot to four-year terms. They administer the county land survey records, re-establish and maintain the official government survey monuments, and review property boundaries surveys and subdivision plans. Other duties vary from state to state.

NACS is part of the National Association of Counties of the USA (NACo).[8]


The NACo website sets out its perception of the history of county government in the USA, tracing it to Anglo-Saxon England (initial division of land into holdings for government purposes called 'shires', hence 'shire-reeve', the origin of 'sheriff'), Anglo-Norman feudalism (renaming shires conquered by William I as 'counties' and establishing his allodial title to them via the Domesday Book survey), and the increasingly "plural executive structure" commissioned by his successors to the royal throne of England to defend the peace and enforce the complex of chivalric, common, and statutory laws of England (and of Wales from the reign of Edward I) up to the time of the first county government established in America (County of James City, Virginia).[9] This triad of origins is fundamental to understanding the organisation role that county surveying plays in the administration and development of the real estate of many states and nations around the world, even though sometimes it goes by other names. It was the framework that the King of England applied to his colonies in America and sufficiently successful as to have since been adopted by many other states.[10]


  1. ^ Webb, Sidney; Potter Webb, Beatrice (1906). "The Development of an Extra-Legal Constitution". English Local Government from the Revolution to the Municipal Corporations Act: The Parish and The County. Longmans Green & Co. pp. 512–521.
  2. ^ "About Ordnance Survey, Britain's national mapping agency". Ordnance Survey. 6 September 2012. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Last Invasion". Archived from the original on 17 December 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  4. ^ Summerson, John (1980). The Life and Work of John Nash Architect. Allen & Unwin.
  5. ^ Mansbridge, Michael (1991). John Nash - A Complete Catalogue. London and New York: Phaidon Press.
  6. ^ Suggett, Richard (1995). John Nash Architect-Pensaer. Aberystwyth: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) and National Library of Wales.
  7. ^ a b "History". Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  8. ^ "The Voice of America's Counties". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  9. ^ For related references to early county surveyor arrangements in Virginia see Kegley, Frederick Bittle (1938). Kegley's Virginia Frontier: The Beginning of the Southwest : the Roanoke of Colonial Days, 1740-1783. Genealogical Publishing Company; reprinted 2003, Library of Congress Catalogue Card No. 2002114477. ISBN 978-0-80631-717-5.
  10. ^ "History of County Government Part I". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2 February 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
This page was last edited on 6 July 2022, at 10:29
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