Timothy Pont: the facts

Our knowledge of Timothy Pont has to be pieced together from just a few known facts. Those in bold below relate to Timothy Pont; those in plain text are to provide contextual information.

1566 James VI crowned king of Scotland.

1568 Mary Queen of Scots, James's mother, flees to England.

1574 Timothy Pont's father, the Rev. Robert Pont, bestows an annual grant of church funds on him.

1577 Sir Francis Drake sets out to sail round the world.

1580 Pont enrols as a student at St Andrews University. (Acta Rectorum Session 1580/81, St Andrews University MS Records UY/305/2/f.9; Moir, 1973)

1582 Edinburgh University founded.

1583 Pont graduates from St Andrews University. (Faculty of Arts Bursar's Book, 1583, St Andrews University MS Records UY/412/f.62r)
Father's annual grant of funds to Timothy renewed. (Cash, 1901)

1584-85 Serious outbreak of bubonic plague in Scotland which may have affected Pont's itinerary. (Shrewsbury, 1970)

1587 Mary Queen of Scots, in exile in England, is executed.

1592 Pont receives a commission to undertake a mineral reconnaissance of Orkney and Shetland. He may have carried out this survey the following year. (NLS Adv. MS 19.1.24, f.33; Kinniburgh, 1968; Moir, 1973, p.38).

1593 Pont's father assigns him 140 - the bulk of an annuity received from Edinburgh Town Council. (Edinburgh Town Council MS Records, vol.IX, p.412, 21 February and 29 June 1593).

1596 Pont completes his map of Clydesdale. This map (Pont 34) is the only surviving map to bear a date ('Sept et Octob: 1596 Descripta'). This and other evidence indicates that Pont may have ended his travels by April 1596. (Calendar of the State Papers relating to Ireland, 1596-97, p.40, 20 July 1596; Megaw, 1969)

1600 or 1601 Timothy appointed minister of the parish of Dunnet, Caithness. (Church of Scotland, Book of Assignation and Modification of Stipends, 1607-15, NAS MS E.47/8)

1603 Union of the Scottish and English Crowns: James VI of Scotland inherits the throne of England on the death of Elizabeth I and becomes James I of Great Britain.

1605 Pont is in Edinburgh and draws his annuity. He was probably attending the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. (Edinburgh Town Council MS Records, 29 May 1605, vol.XI, p.337; Moir and Skelton, 1968, p.151)

1605 Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot, London

1609 Pont applies for a grant of lands in the north of Ireland, but is unsuccessful. (Reg. Privy Council of Scotland, vols.VIII, p.330, and IX, p.lxxxi; Moir, 1973, p.39)

1610 Pont's signature on a charter from Sutherland shows that he is still 'Parson of Dunnet' on 7 December 1610. (C. Innes), 1855, vol.2, pt.2, p.789; Moir and Skelton, 1968, p.151)

1603-12 Pont's map of Lothian and Linlithgow engraved in Amsterdam by Jodocus Hondius the elder, probably between 1603 and 1612. (Moir and Skelton, 1968, p.151)

1611 Pont lends 1,000 merks in gold to the Earl of Caithness. (NAS, RD1/225 f.119)

1614 Another minister is recorded at Dunnet, showing that Pont is no longer minister there. (H. Scott (ed.) Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, vol.VII, p.119)


1615 Isobel Pont, recorded as Timothy's 'relict' or widow, collects a debt due to Timothy in Tongue. This was for the sum of 300 merks lent to his sister Margaret and her husband Alexander Borthuik in 1607. (NAS, RD1/225 f.119)


1620 The Pilgrim Fathers land in New England.

1625 Death of King James VI and I. Charles I accedes to the throne

1629 King Charles I records in a letter that his father, James VI and I, had intended financial support for Pont's project. He directs that James Balfour should now receive the money to further the plan of publishing the maps. (C. Roger, 1885, p.339; Moir and Skelton, 1968, p.151-2)

1630 Pont's map of Lothian and Linlithgow, dedicated to James I, first published in the Mercator-Hondius atlas.

1642 Civil war breaks out between Charles I and the English parliament.

1648 Robert Gordon of Straloch praises the work of Pont in a letter to Sir John Scot of Scotstarvit. Read letter (Blaeu, 1654; trans. Cash, 1901, & Cunningham, 1999; Moir and Skelton, 1968, p.149)

1649 Charles I executed in London. Charles II accedes to the throne

1654 In Amsterdam, Joan Blaeu publishes volume five of his Atlas Novus. Its maps of Scotland are based mainly on Pont's work. View Atlas Novus