John William Norie, 1772-1843

John William Norie

Born in Burr Street, London, on 3 July 1772, John William Norie was a prominent chartmaker and writer on navigation. He started with William Heather at an early age and by the time he was twenty five he was producing his own charts. William Heather had started circa 1765, taking over chart publishers Mount and Page, then ran the Naval Academy and the Naval Warehouse from 1795 (cf Dickens' "Dombey and Son"). The Naval Warehouse provided nautical instruments, charts and instructional texts on navigation and was taken over by Norie after Heather's retirement (J.W. Norie and Co founded 1813). After his death at No. 3 Coates Crescent, Edinburgh, on 24 Dec. 1843, he was buried in St. John's episcopal church; the company became Norie and Wilson, athough there is evidence that the name of "Norie and Wilson" had been used for the previous eighteen months; then Imray, Laurie, Norie & Wilson in 1903.

Partial bibliography:

1803: A complete set of nautical tables, London 5 p. l., xlviii, 252 p. incl. tables. 22 cm. Revised / reprinted as A complete set of nautical tables, 13th (stereotype) ed. London C. Wilson. 1852. 5 p. l., cxii, 360 p. incl. front. 26 cm.

1804: he corrected William Falconer's two part The mariner's New and Complete Naval Dictionary - as a 3rd edition

1805: The Epitome of Practical Navigation - this was a standard work for many years, revised as A new and complete epitome of practical navigation : containing all necessary instruction for keeping a ship's reckoning at sea ... Illustrated by several engravings... including a journal of a voyage from London to Madeira. To which is added, a new and correct set of tables, London, eighth edition, 1825, xii, 348; lx, 266 p. illustrations, 21 cm; and again in 1852, 15th (stereotype) ed. London, printed for the author and sold by C. Wilson, 1852. xii, 328, xliv, 360 p. incl. tables, diagrs. ix pl. (incl. front., map, charts) 23 cm. There was a further 18th edition in 1864, and a 21st in 1877.

1816: The complete East India pilot, London, 1816. 2 p. l., 28 maps. fol.

1822 onwards: charts of the Caribbean

1822: The shipwright's vade-mecum: a clear and familiar introduction to the principles and practice of ship-building: including the more complex rules of arithmetic made use of in that art; 2d ed. London, J. W. Norie and co., 1822. vi (i. e. viii) 343 p. front., diagrs. 23 cm.

1824: North Sea & Baltic Pilot

1825: Complete North America and United States Pilot

1826: Piloting Directions for the River and Gulf of St. Lawrence

1827: West India directory, containing instructions for navigating the Caribbee, London, Printed for J. W. Norie, and co., 1827-29. 4 pt. in 1 v. 22 cm. Revised 1857 as The West India directory ... A new ed. rev. and corr. London, C. Wilson, 1857. 4 v. in 1.

1828: Complete West India Pilot

1838: Plates Descriptive of the Maritime Flags of All Nations.

1840: A set of linear tables, for correcting the apparent distance of the moon from the sun, a fixed star, of planet, for the effect of refraction; 6th ed. London, Printed for the author, 1840. 13, [3] p. 24 pl. 24 cm. [often reprinted]

With Charles Wilson (Norie and Wilson and Co):

1842: The naval gazetteer, biographer, and chronologist; new and improved ed. London, C. Wilson, 1842. xi, [1], 586 p. front. (ports.) fold. plans. 18 cm.

1852: Sailing directions for the navigation of the North Sea; London, C. Wilson, 1852. xvi, iv, 242 p. 22 cm. revised 1854 as Sailing directions for the navigation of the North Sea; containing instructions for sailing into all the bays, harbours, and roadsteads, on the eastern coasts of England and Scotland, from the Downs to the Shetland Islands, &c., also on the opposite shores of France, the Netherlands, Germany, and part of Norway, from Calais to the Scaw, Christiania, Bergen, and Drontheim. A new ed, arr. and rev. from the late English, French, Dutch, and Danish surveys ... by J.S. Hobbs. London, Printed for, and published by C. Wilson, Chartseller to the Admiralty, the Hon. East India Co., and Corp. of Trinity House, 1854. 158 p.

1854: The British Channel pilot; containing sailing directions from the Downs to St. David's Head, including the Bristol Channel, and the coasts of Ireland, from Carnsore Point to the River Shannon; compiled from the surveys made by M'Kenzie [and others] by order of the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty; also the coasts and harbours of France, from Calais to Brest made by Beautemps Beaupre, Mechain, and others, by order of the French Government, including the remarks and observations of several pilots, masters in the Royal Navy, and coasters. A new ed. by J.S. Hobbs. London, printed for, and published by C. Wilson, 1854. 231 p.

1856: Sailing directions for the Mediterranean sea. A new ed. cor. to the present time, by J.S. Hobbs. London, printed for, and Published by C. Wilson, 1856. 3 pts. in 1.

1863: Sailing directions for the coasts of Spain and Portugal, from Cape Ortegal to Gibraltar. A new ed. rev. and cor. to the present time, by J.S. Hobbs. London, C. Wilson, 1863. 64 p.

1877-88: The Seaman's New Guide and Coaster's Companion; Containing Sailing Directions for the River Thames, North Sea, Cattegat, Baltic Sea, Gulfs of Finland and Bothnia, and the White Sea. 2 volumes.



"If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable" – Lucius Annaeus Seneca.


Naval Marine ArchiveThe Canadian Collection
205 Main Street, Picton, Ontario, K0K2T0, Canada
Telephone: 1 613 476 1177
E-mail: for comments, queries and suggestions.

Copyright © 2024
Naval Marine Archive
The Canadian Collection

Revised: 3 October 2006