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The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden​
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A SEPARATELY PUBLISHED PLAN OF THE SIEGE OF BOSTON WITH ORIGINAL SLIPCASE. One of the finest maps of the Boston Siege of 1775-76. Orientated with north to the upper right, it displays in detail the town of Boston and its relationship with Bunkers Hill and Dorchester Heights. The positions of both forces are clearly marked with their defensive works coloured according to the Explanation, in green for British and yellow for the ‘Rebels’. The result of the Battle of Bunker Hill fought on the 17 June 1775 is detailed. It marks the point at which the ‘Troops Landed 17 June under General Howe,’ a ‘Redoubt taken from ye Rebels by Genl. Howe,’ and at Charlestown Neck the ‘Lines & Redoubts thrown up by our Troops after ye Victory on ye 17th June 1775.’ General Howe’s Camp is recorded as present at on the hill. The 6th Regiment are shown encamped on Boston Common. Nearby is ‘Mount Whoredom next to the military presence on Beacon Hill. This is believed to relate to military slang for a similarly named area just south of Woolwich, England, as seen on John Rocque’s large-scale plan of 1746. Woolwich is a major military town also. Largely military positions in town are keyed.

George Washington’s ‘Headquarters of the Rebels’ is identified at Cambridge and American positions opposite Bunkers Hill, at the mouth of the Charles River, Roxbury and elsewhere encircle the town. The key describes some of the Rebel positions, a hill on the road from Roxbury into Boston is a place where ‘the Enemy annoy ye Centuries & Officers with small Arms, but seldom do any Execution.’ Another outside Roxbury is even applauded as ‘A Strong Post of the Enemy, Fortified in appearance with great Judgement …’

As the title states this plan reflects the position of the Siege in October 1775. A note upper left reads ‘To the Public The Principal part of this Plan was Survey’d by Richard Williams, Lieutenant at Boston and sent over by the Son of a Nobleman to his Father in Town, by Whose Permission it is Published. NB. The Original has been compared with and Additions made from Several other curious Drawings’. That manuscript survives today at the British Library (Add.MS. 15535.5) along with a series of watercolour drawings. Williams was in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and crucially kept a journal from 1774-75 which survives today at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. It has been made available online in digital form. He arrived in Boston in June 1775 and returned to London in early 1776. Noddles Island overlooking Boston bears two buildings and the legend ‘Williams’s House burnt by ye Rebels.’

The nobleman’s son referred to as carrying the manuscript was most likely Hugh Percy (1742-1817), commander of the British relief force at Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775, and son of the Duke of Northumberland. In January Washington met with John Adams and a host of generals to discuss the vote at Congress. He had been instructed ‘to destroy the army & navy at Boston in any way he & a council of war shall think best, even if the town must be burnt.’ This map was published just five days before the British evacuated Boston. Provenance: Sir Brooke Boothby (1949-), Baronet Boothby, Fonmon Castle, Glamorgan. Nebenzahl (1974) pp. 48-49; Nebenzahl (1975) 16; Sellers & Van Ee (1981) 932; Williams, Richard Journal (accessed 13 May 2021).

DURY, Andrew

A Plan of Boston, and its Environs. shewing the true Situation of His Majesty's Army. And also those of the Rebels. Drawn by an Engineer at Boston. Octr. 1775

Andrew Dury, Duke's Court, St. Martins Lane, London, 12 March 1776
PUBLISHED JUST FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE BRITISH EVACUATION OF BOSTON. 470 x 660 mm., dissected and laid on contemporary linen, full early wash colour, with original marbled paper slipcase with label ‘Environs of Boston’ in manuscript, in good condition.
Stock number: 10925


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