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County surveyor

County surveyor

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1. A county surveyor is a public official in many counties of the USA
County (United States)
In the United States, a county is a geographic subdivision of a state , usually assigned some governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 of the 50 states; Louisiana is divided into parishes and Alaska into boroughs. Parishes and boroughs are called "county-equivalents" by the U.S...

. At the bottom of this page are working "External Links" as at 4 November 2011 to websites of a selection of such County Surveyor's departments. Most of these officials are elected on the partisan ballot to four-year terms. They administer the county land survey
See Also: Public Land Survey SystemSurveying or land surveying is the technique, profession, and science of accurately determining the terrestrial or three-dimensional position of points and the distances and angles between them...

 records, establish and maintain the survey monuments
Survey marker
Survey markers, also called survey marks, and sometimes geodetic marks, are objects placed to mark key survey points on the Earth's surface. They are used in geodetic and land surveying. Informally, such marks are referred to as benchmarks, although strictly speaking the term "benchmark" is...

, and review property boundaries surveys and subdivision plans. Other duties vary from state to state. Those marked with an asterisk (*) are nominated by the National Association of County Surveyors (NACS).

2. NACS is part of the National Association of Counties of the USA (NACo). The NACo website sets out the history of county government in the USA, tracing it back to Anglo-Saxon England, Anglo-Norman feudalism, and the increasingly "plural executive structure" commissioned by the Crown to defend the peace and enforce the chivalric, common, and statutory laws of England up to the time of the first county government formed in America (1634; County of James City, Virginia
James City County, Virginia
James City County is a county located on the Virginia Peninsula in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of the Commonwealth of Virginia, a state of the United States. Its population was 67,009 , and it is often associated with Williamsburg, an independent city, and Jamestown which is within the...

). It was this framework that the King of England applied to his colonies in North America. The settlers' views of it are set out in the Declaration of Independence.

3. In 1749, "an ambitious George Washington", aged 17, was appointed as the Surveyor-General for Virginia by the College of William and Mary
College of William and Mary
The College of William & Mary in Virginia is a public research university located in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States...

, and became the first registered County Surveyor in America (Culpeper County, Virginia). So, the composition of the duties and the required capacities expected by the King of both a 'state surveyor-general' and a 'county surveyor', and the means of qualifying, chartering and commissioning persons for them, were already tried and tested aspects of county governance by the English Crown. However there is little available documentary evidence of any such established organisation in England attached to the Crown apart from the existence of the Domesday Book
Domesday Book
Domesday Book , now held at The National Archives, Kew, Richmond upon Thames in South West London, is the record of the great survey of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086...

 as evidence of its capability.

4. A clue to this organisation may lie in the well-known fact that George Washington was not only one of the most famous colonial County Surveyors of America; but one of the most famous Freemasons. According to Jessica L. Harland Jacobs, "[Freemasonry] had a strong presence in the official institutions of empire ... simultaneously helping construct its architecture and constitute its ruling establishment ... the imperial state itself was obligated to Masonry "for its influence upon the conduct of public servants ...""

5. England was born of imperialism and colonisation (Roman) and subjected to waves of further imperialism and colonisation (Saxon) and (Norman), before the homogeneity necessary for what the NACo website calls the 'plural executive structure' of English county governance to flourish, and there is substantial evidence of freemasonry in England long before the formation of the Grand Lodge in 1717
History of Freemasonry
The history of Freemasonry studies the development, evolution and events of the fraternal organization known as Freemasonry. This history is generally separated into two time periods: before and after the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717...

; to the extent that Harland Jacobs picks up on a residual sense of some masons feeling so 'anciently justified' that, after the First World War, they saw English-speaking Anglo-Saxon Freemasonry as the "guardian of the post-war world".

6. The earliest known masonic document (c.1390, and believed to cite (an) even earlier document(s)) refers to freemasonry in Anglo-Saxon England in the reign of Æthelstan (924/5 - 939) and praises the promulgation of geometry
Geometry arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers ....

 (according to the Masonic Dictionary "Geometry ... is the science upon which our fraternity is founded.")

7. It refers to a confidential, 'counterfeited', guild of masons, called a 'craft', involving the entire hierarchy of Anglo-Saxon central and local government - the king, 'lords
- Places :*Lord's Cricket Ground, English Cricket Ground and home of Marylebone County Cricket Club.- Politics :*House of Lords, upper house of the British parliament*Lords Spiritual, clergymen of the House of Lords...

', 'dukes

', 'earls', 'barons', 'knights', 'squires', 'burgesses' and 'aldermen' - maintained at county level by 'the sheriff
A sheriff is in principle a legal official with responsibility for a county. In practice, the specific combination of legal, political, and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies greatly from country to country....

 of that country' (sic) and at city level by 'the mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

 of that city'.

8. That manuscript, together with some 37 other documents, overall collectively known as the Old Charges reveal as explained in the Foreword of the January 1915 edition of the National Masonic Research Society journal, 'The Builder', "that the Craft-lodges of the olden time were in fact schools, in which young men studied not only the technical laws of building, but the Seven Sciences (namely, Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy) and the history and symbolism of the Order...and such as betrayed no aptitude for the intellectual aims of the Craft were allowed to go back to the Guilds".

9. Such organisation was probably deemed necessary for governance, defence, well-being, and improvement of the realm under the laws of chivalry and commons that applied then (particularly the trimoda necessitas in the history of English land law
History of English land law
The history of English land law derives from a mixture of Roman, Norman and modern legislative sources.Such terms as "fee" or "homage" carry us back into feudal times. Rights of common and distress are based upon still older institutions, forming the very basis of primitive law...

) and emerged more into the open in the late 16th century / early 17th due initially to the need of the Crown for additional 'royal' qualified surveyors arising from the Bridges Act 1530
Bridges Act 1530
The Bridges Act 1530 , sometimes called the Statute of Bridges, was an Act of Parliament of the Parliament of England passed in 1531...

, Supremacy Act 1534, Dissolution of the Monasteries 1536-1541
Dissolution of the Monasteries
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...

, Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542, Tudor conquest of Ireland 1541-1607 and the start of development of the British Empire abroad with Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 (1583 charter of Elizabeth I to Sir Walter Raleigh and 1606 charter of James I to the Virginia Company of London), then increasingly as they 're-discovered' the Anglo-Saxon tastes for technical capacity building and chivalric trinoda necessitas.

10. The lack of written evidence about the influence of freemasonry in this era is explained by John Fichen thus "the 'gentlemen' of each era have traditionally shown their superiority by denigrating the artisan and relegating him to an inferior status in society ... What they did not understand they either ignored or belittled. This patronising attitude ... has prevailed everywhere, in almost all eras and civilized cultures ... between those who worked with their hands ... and those who talked and/or wrote." and he cites Leonardo da Vinci's outrage at this treatment as an example. In his Preface, Fichen explains how he has coped with this research difficulty - "Lacking ordinary types of documentation, authentication has had to rely to a large extent on inference and deduction, on reasoning and informed common sense."

11. The 'matter-of-factness'/'matter-of-necessariness' of the presence/utility of freemasonry comes out quite remarkably in Harland Jacobs' 'Builders of Empire'; as too does the apparently automatic membership of the Crown's local 'Surveyor-General' to the most respectable lodges of the colonies. The defensive role of the trimoda necessitas is articulated in the John Smith 1624 map of Bermuda showing fortified and unfortified buildings, artillery emplacements, roads, bridges, waterways and watch tower. The State House (bottom left detail of map) has been "rented by the government to the local Freemasons for...one peppercorn annually" since 1815

12. It would be wrong to suggest that there was much science behind the architecture and engineering of this era: 'design successes' often arose more by luck than judgement, as exemplified by the history of the Old Bridge, Pontypridd
Old Bridge, Pontypridd
The Old Bridge , which is now also known as the William Edwards Bridge or Pontypridd Bridge, was originally known as the New Bridge or Newbridge, it is an arched single-span footbridge that spans the River Taff at Pontypridd in Wales. The bridge was built by William Edwards and was completed in 1756...

 in Wales, which took over 100 years for the original commission to be fulfilled, including four unsuccessful attempts by the 'bridge-building mason', William Edwards (his final one, a 'marvellous stone bow bridge', is incapable of carrying vehicular traffic, so didn't do the job that was asked). Perhaps it was this aspect of 'modern' freemasonry that justified the so-called 'antients' calling it 'speculative' as distinct from 'operative'. The early colonisation of the Americas
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 had a similarly 'speculative' feel, which, perhaps, explains why it resulted in the 'thirteen colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

' going to war to win their independence from the Crown.

13. Chapter V 'The Development of an Extra-Legal Constitution', of 'English Local Government from the Revolution to the Municipal Corporations Act: The Parish and The County' by Sidney Webb and Beatrice Potter Web, describes the increasing chaos that began to prevail within this same period on the 'county surveying' front in England and Wales. 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 which, as a result of 'the last invasion of Britain 1797', at Fishguard in South West Wales 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 role, producing the historically famous British county surveyors such as Thomas Telford
Thomas Telford
Thomas Telford FRS, FRSE was a Scottish civil engineer, architect and stonemason, and a noted road, bridge and canal builder.-Early career:...

, John Loudon McAdam
John Loudon McAdam
John Loudon McAdam was a Scottish engineer and road-builder. He invented a new process, "macadamisation", for building roads with a smooth hard surface that would be more durable and less muddy than soil-based tracks....

 and John Nash
John Nash (architect)
John Nash was a British architect responsible for much of the layout of Regency London.-Biography:Born in Lambeth, London, the son of a Welsh millwright, Nash trained with the architect Sir Robert Taylor. He established his own practice in 1777, but his career was initially unsuccessful and...

; "County Surveyor" became a statutory title (Bridges Act 1803
Bridges Act 1530
The Bridges Act 1530 , sometimes called the Statute of Bridges, was an Act of Parliament of the Parliament of England passed in 1531...

); and its incumbents began serving elected councils under the Local Government Act 1888
Local Government Act 1888
The Local Government Act 1888 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which established county councils and county borough councils in England and Wales...

 rather than the Justices of the Peace.

14. The advent of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, required considerable liaison between UK county surveyors and the Ministry of Defence, with the result that the 20th century became noteworthy for a rash of Official Secrets Acts and virtually every local authority in the country founding its own Freemasonry Lodge; creating so much public and parliamentary concern that the 21st century began with the Local Government Act 2000
Local Government Act 2000
The Local Government Act 2000 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales. Its principal purposes are:...

 requiring elected council officials to declare their personal interests and affiliations, which though not overtly directed at freemasonry, was reminiscent of the Unlawful Societies Act 1799. Eventually, the UK equivalent of NACS, the County Surveyors Society founded in 1885, was subsumed into the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) in 2010.

External links