Born in 1827, and educated at the City of London School, Edward Stanford got into maps after being employed by Mr Trelawney Saunders at his map and stationers. He became a partner to Saunders in 1852 at the age of 25. In 1853, company was dissolved, and Stanford took over the remains of the business with the intent of turning it into a map specialist. With British colonial expansion pushing the demand for maps worldwide, and being the sole specialist of maps in London, the move was both obvious and lucrative.
The name Stanfords became prominent in 1862 when his project to make the most accurate map of London possible was published. Stanford's Library Map of London is still on sale today, over 150 years later.
Company ownership remained in the family until 1947, when it was absorbed into George Philip & Son. However, in 2001 Stanfords separated from George Philip & Son and the name Stanfords is proudly displayed on both stores and on many lines of maps and books produced by the company.