THE PARKER AMERICAN ATLAS. Almost Identical to that of GEORGE WASHINGTON’s at Yale. Including the only privately held copy of the FIRST AMERICAN SEA ATLAS and the only map to have ever helped LOCATE A GENUINE PIRATE SHIPWRECK.
GEORGE WASHINGTON ATLAS AT YALE
Washington’s example now resides in the Map Collection in the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut (BEIN BrSides Double Folio 2017). It is a remarkable example, not least because of its provenance, but because of the extent of its contents. The atlas contents were most likely supplied by the firm of Robert Sayer and John Bennett. Their ‘American Atlas’ by Thomas Jefferys was first published in 1775 and is relatively stable in content through all its editions. The maps are sometimes updated, and one or two additional maps can be found bound within specific examples: we have had or seen, half a dozen over 40 years. However, we know of only three FUNDAMENTALLY COMPOSITE Revolutionary War atlases; the ‘George Washington Atlas’ at Yale, that which once belonged to Thomas Winthrop Streeter and this Parker atlas offered here.
The latest date in Washington’s example on any map noted is 2 September 1775 on Sayer and Bennett’s ‘The Seat of War in New England by an American Volunteer’ (item 19 here), which illustrated the bombardment of Bunker Hill. The order therefore reached London at the earliest around September 1775 and most likely sometime afterwards. Washington was made Commander in Chief on 15 June 1775 and his order would no doubt have been processed with great speed. It would seem more likely that it was ordered in early 1776 and delivered in May. Quickly bound, it was paid for by Washington on 4 June, one month before Independence was declared. Being composite in nature, it too included no title page.
THOMAS JEFFERYS (1719-1771)
Arguably the main producer of maps of the American colonies at the time had been Thomas Jefferys. By the 1740s the tension between France and Britain for control of the interior of North America was intensifying. Two land companies were set up to promote and sell land beyond the Alleghany Mountains. The Ohio Company of Virginia and the Loyal Company, also of Virginia. Among the members of the latter were Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson, authors of the map of Virginia found here (items 29 & 30). The Companies built forts and trading posts in the region. Commensurate with this, the French were constructing Fort LeBoeuf in 1753 and Fort Duquesne in 1754. In 1753, a young George Washington as special envoy was sent by Governor Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia, to protest its construction. He was defeated at Fort Necessity on 4 July 1755 and so began the conflict known in North America as the French and Indian war (1754-59), which ultimately became the Seven Years War in Europe (1756-63).
Several government bodies oversaw the colonies, but the Board of Trade was the main one collecting information to report to the Privy Council. ‘On 18 July 1750, the Board ordered that an urgent directive be sent to all North American governors requiring that they forward a general map of their colony to London’ (Taliaferro). Amongst the very few respondents were Governor Lewis Burwell of Virginia, who wrote in January 1751 that he had employed Fry and Jefferson to construct a map of the colony. The finished map was first printed in late August 1753. It marked the beginning of Jefferys extensive interest in and production of key maps relating to the American colonies.
A measure of Jeffery’s access to official documents was highlighted by Harley who quoted from the ‘Journal of the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations’ in 1760. It stated ‘The Secretary laid before the Board a chart of draught of the harbour of Halifax in Nova Scotia, engraved by Mr. Jefferys … from the drawing transmitted to their lordships by the Governor of Nova Scotia: and the Secretary … that the said drawing was upon examination found to be correct and exact, their lordships ordered the Secretary to give Mr. Jefferys five guineas for his trouble, and to signify to him, that he had the Board’s permission to publish the said chart’. It went on to interestingly state ‘that the Secretary do send one of the said charts to the Master of the New England and Nova Scotia Coffee house, to be put up there for the use and information of masters of vessels using the Nova Scotia trade’.
When George III ascended the throne in 1760, Jefferys was made Geographer in Ordinary and expanded his work to include a series of large-scale surveys of English counties and more maps relating to the French and Indian War in North America. The war ended in 1763 with the Treaty of Paris. Under its terms Britain acquired Florida from Spain, that part of Louisiana east of the Mississippi River and all of Canada from France. No accurate surveys of these areas existed in the British archives, so in 1764 the Board of Trade informed George III that ‘we find ourselves under the greatest difficulties arising from the want of exact surveys of these countries in America, many parts of which have never been surveyed at all and others so imperfectly that the charts and maps thereof are not to be depended upon’ (Ristow). It was recommended ‘in the strongest manner, that no time should be lost in obtaining accurate surveys of all Your Majesty’s North American Dominions but more especially of such parts as from their natural advantages require our immediate attention’ (Ristow), namely Canada and Florida.
The idea was to separate the work into the northern and southern districts. In March 1764 Captain Samuel Holland (nos. 13 & 22) was named surveyor general of the Northern District and later that year William Gerard De Brahm (nos. 33 & 34) for the Southern District. Holland was Dutch in origin and De Brahm, German. Both proved to be outstanding surveyors.
Jefferys expanding interests led to the ‘London Gazette’ announcing in their issue for 1-4 November 1766 that ‘a Commission of Bankrupt is awarded and issued forth against Thomas Jefferys, of Saint Martin’s Lane …’ and that he was required to ‘make a full Discovery and Disclosure of his Estate and Effects’. Harley suggested that following the Treaty of Paris in 1763 there was a fall in demand for American maps.
It seems that quite quickly his affairs were put back in order due to the generosity of some friends, one of whom was Robert Sayer (1725?-1794). An engraved copperplate script letter signed by Jefferys and dated 17 January 1767, survives in the Ayer Collection, at the Newberry Library, Chicago. It states, ‘that by a train of unforeseen Accidents … my affairs were brought into so much Disorder, that I was lately obliged to become a Bankrupt’.
He goes on to say that ‘having found some Friends who have been compassionate enough to re-instate me in my Shop’. It appears that his unidentified creditors were paid off, indeed according to Worms & Baynton-Williams, there was a ten-day auction in February 1767. Much was likely acquired by his colleagues and friends. Many ensuing publications were in partnership and often we find the names Sayer and Jefferys, notably in that order, indicating a seniority of partnership.
The one great North American publication in this period was the extremely rare ‘General Topography of North America and the West Indies’, 1768. It was a joint publication between Sayer and Jefferys and includes 100 maps. Jefferys died 20 November 1771 and his will left just £20. The business was continued by his son Thomas Jefferys (fl.1772-76) who was just 15 years old, alongside an apprentice with his father since 1769. More stock was auctioned in early 1772.
THE AMERICAN ATLAS
The ‘American Atlas’ was never a predetermined construction but more a comprehensive collection of available material brought together by Robert Sayer, mostly from the stock of Thomas Jefferys. The outbreak of hostilities in America left Sayer and Bennett perfectly placed to take advantage of the renewed interest in the affairs of the colonies.
Prior to this work various cartographic publications had, to varying degrees, focused on America. The first of these was arguably Cornelis Wytfliet’s ‘Descriptionis Ptolemaicae Augmentum’, published in Louvain, 1597. It consisted of 19 maps of the whole continent. The first English work was by John Ogilby entitled America printed in 1671 which similarly contained 19 maps. Sea atlases were first represented by the extremely rare Arent Roggeveen, ‘Het Eerste Deel van het Brandende Veen, Verlichtende geheel West-Indien’, published in Amsterdam, 1675. This was closely followed by the exceedingly rare ‘English Pilot, the Fourth Book’ by John Thornton, 1689. The first American production was by Cyprian Southack, c.1729, entitled the ‘New England Coasting Pilot’ (nos. 15-18). Evidence shows that although it was engraved and printed in London, it was published in Boston. This is so rare in any state, that THE ONLY KNOWN COMPLETE EXAMPLE IN PRIVATE HANDS IS THAT FOUND IN THIS ATLAS.
Further works followed of varying focus including Le Rouge’s ‘Recueil des Plans de L’Amerique Septentrionale’ of 1755, Thomas Lopez’s ‘Atlas Geographico’, 1758, Mary Ann Rocque’s ‘Set of Plans and Forts in America’, 1763, and of course Thomas Jefferys, ‘A General Topography of North America’, 1768. No work though could be considered to have been a comprehensive, detailed survey of North America until Sayer and Bennett’s ‘American Atlas’, 1775. Despite covering the whole of the American continent its focus, naturally, was on North America. ‘Jefferys’ ‘American Atlas’ presented for England’s government officials, military leaders, and informed laymen, the geographical setting where the exciting events of the American Revolution were unfolding [it] was one of the most authoritative and comprehensive atlases of the period. Its timely publication, on the eve of the American Revolution, assured a good audience, and as a major cartographic reference work it was, very likely, consulted by American, English, and French civilian administrators and military officers during the Revolution’ (Ristow). Schwartz & Ehrenberg state ‘This is one of the most authoritative and most comprehensive atlases covering the revolutionary period. It was the primary cartographic publication consulted by both contestants in planning strategy, and after the war it was valuable in settling boundary disputes.’
It consisted of twenty-two of the most important colonial period surveys such as those of New England by Braddock Mead, New York by Samuel Holland, William Brasier’s survey of Lake Champlain and the upper Hudson River valley, the English edition of William Scull’s Pennsylvania, Virginia by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson (father of Thomas), the Carolinas by Henry Mouzon Jr. and Lieutenant Ross’s map of the Mississippi River. It also included an English edition of Braddock Mead’s six‑sheet chart of the Americas and his map of Nova Scotia.
This is arguably the first American ‘State’ atlas displaying as it does for the first time all the American colonies in detail. The first edition is dated 1775 and was advertised in Sayer & Bennett’s ‘Enlarged Catalogue …’ printed in that year (Atlases no. X). Here the contents are listed and detailed individually with a note at the end stating, ‘This Collection of Maps may be had separate, at the Prices fixed to each, or all together, half-bound, 2l. 12s. 6d.’ I have seen and collated numerous examples of the atlas over the years and infrequently it can be found with an additional map or two, no doubt at the request of the client. I have only been able to trace three examples which are so heavily composite in nature:
The George Washington Atlas at Yale University
The Parker Atlas offered here
The Thomas Winthrop Streeter example (present whereabouts or existence unknown)
PROVENANCE: THE PARKER-MACCLESFIELD FAMILY LIBRARY
This atlas was undoubtedly made for General George Lane Parker, the second son of the 2nd Earl of Macclesfield. The family seat is at Shirburn Castle in Oxfordshire and dates to the Middle Ages. It is a sizable property, indeed in 1665 it was one of only eleven houses in the country assessed with thirty or more hearths. He served for many years in the 1st Foot Guards (later renamed the Grenadier Guards), as Lieutenant and Captain 1749, Captain and Lieutenant-colonel in 1755. It is not known where he served in the French and Indian War (or Seven Years War). In 1759, the 1st Battalion (about 700 men) were stationed in Ireland to defend the island against a potential French invasion. In 1757, the 2nd Battalion of the regiment was sent to North America. It took part in the successful expedition against Louisburg in Canada.
The regiments next major campaign was on Lake George against Carillon (today known as Ticonderoga). It is interesting to note that a plan of the battle is found in this atlas (item 26). In 1760 four companies were sent to Charleston, South Carolina, to help Governor Lyttleton defend against the Cherokee. They marched to Fort Ninety-Six under Colonel Montgomery. Pushing on, they were attacked in a similar manner to General Braddock in 1755. The defeat led to British withdrawal and a further campaign against the Cherokee in April 1761. The remaining companies took part in the successful attack on Montreal in 1760.
He became Major-General in 1773 and in the same year appointed as Colonel of the 20th foot (Lancashire) and became Lieutenant-General in 1777. During the American Revolution the regiment was sent to Quebec in April 1776 and assisted in its relief in May 1776. Serving under General John Burgoyne for the remainder of the Canadian campaign, they later surrendered along with General Burgoyne at Saratoga. It is interesting to note bearing in mind its contents (items 4 to 6), that it was at this time that this atlas would have been acquired.
‘He did not command British forces in the War for American Independence. On the eve of the American War, his regiment was repeatedly judged ‘Fit for immediate Service’, and he was clearly esteemed for his knowledge of raising and training men. Yet, when in the winter of 1774-75 King George III considered officers to command his forces in America, he did not include Parker among the leading candidates; and Parker was subsequently too senior to accompany his regiment to the colonies (he would have been serving under a commander in chief who was his junior in the army). Parker remained at home helping the government prepare the army for an ever-larger war. He was one of a few general officers who regularly inspected regiments, and in 1779 he proved an innovative commander of the forces assembled for training at Warley (he ‘sought to introduce more realism by marching his troops through rough country’)’ (Gruber). He became Colonel of the 12th dragoons in 1782, was for many years Member of Parliament for Tregony and he died in 1791. His substantial library of military works was absorbed into the library at Shirburn Castle.
THE LIBRARY’S DISPERSAL
Exactly when this atlas was sold is unclear. According to Book Owners Online it was the 6th Earl of Macclesfield who applied the blind stamps circa 1860. It appears items were being dispersed from the library from the 1890s. In 1899 the Welsh books and manuscripts of William Jones were acquired by the National Library of Wales. An item on the French and Indian War, inscribed in gilt on the binding to the Earl of Macclesfield, was sold as part of the library of the late George A. Treadwell, of Brooklyn, New York, in 1913. His extensive collection included works on the American Revolution. The Anderson Galleries also interestingly sold an item with an Earl of Macclesfield bookplate in 1930. Further items have been traced in sales at Sotheby’s, New York, in 1965. It is interesting that these items have all appeared in America. It might seem likely that during the great period of the building of American libraries at the turn of the century, several items of relevance crossed the Atlantic. This atlas may well have been one of them.
It was the present 9th Earl of Macclesfield who sold the remainder of the library. The first of twelve sales occurred at Sotheby’s, London, on 16 March 2004, the final one on 2 October 2008. The sales grossed over £25 million. The military portion of the library was sold as Part Ten on 30 October 2007.
COMPARING THE PARKER AND WASHINGTON EXAMPLES
Extensive research identified only three largely composite ‘American Atlases’. That owned by George Washington now at Yale, the Thomas Winthrop Streeter example sold at Parke-Bernet Galleries Inc., 25 October 1966 as lot 71, and this Parker atlas. None of them included any title, printed or manuscript. All contained manuscript contents lists. All focused on North America having the three standard central and south American maps removed. The Streeter example’s whereabouts is unknown and has not been recorded since the sale. An analysis of its contents shows that it was put together after 5 August 1776 at the earliest. The date found on the William Brassier map of Lake Champlain.
The atlas that this follows most closely in content is the Washington copy. Indeed, they were ordered at about the same time, the spring of 1776. Washington’s expense account records paying John Sparhawk of the ‘London Book Store’ on Second Street, Philadelphia, on the 4 June 1776. Allowing for the binding, the shipment across the Atlantic and the transmission of the original order, we are looking at the latest the order being placed in the middle of March and likely somewhat earlier.
Washington’s order likely reached Robert Sayer at about the same time as George Lane Parker’s. The manuscript index provided in his example is clearly contemporary as item 22a is inserted (Dury plan of the siege of Boston), it is not present in the Washington atlas. This is the latest dated map in the atlas on 12 March 1776. This encourages the thought that dating its construction is likely in a relatively narrow time frame after this date. The handwriting of the contents leaf may well be that of Robert Sayer’s or John Bennett. Sayer might be more likely as it is well known that he worked more with the maps within the partnership.
The Washington atlas lacks the Dury of Boston (item 22a), the Blodget plan of the battle of Lake George (item 27) and the Jefferys of Florida (item 36), it does contain 5 further items not found here. These are the Jefferys maps of Labrador and Halifax and charts of Cape Lookout and Cape Fear. The fifth is a derivative of the Lewis Evans map of the ‘Middle British Colonies’ which is standard in the first edition. Otherwise, the contents are identical. The Washington example is in later nineteenth century binding, whereas the Parker atlas is in contemporary binding. Only ten maps are ‘standard’ in the ‘American Atlas’, a total of 21 items were composite inclusions! Composite versions of Jeffery’s atlas usually bear just one or two extra maps, clearly an exceptional example.
The following are numbered according to the manuscript index.
1 & 2. JOHN ROCQUE. [c.1762]. ‘A General Map of North America’. Four sheets, 34.25 x 35.5 inches (870 x 900 mm.). Early wash colour. The most accurate map of North America to date.
3. SR. ROBERT DE VAUGONDY. 1755. ‘Partie de L’Amerique Septent. qui comprend la Nouvelle France ou le Canada …’ 18.75 x 23.5 inches (475 x 600 mm.). Early wash colour.
4. THOMAS JEFFERYS. n.d. ‘A Correct Plan of the Environs of Quebec, and of the Battle fought on the 13th. September, 1759’. Two sheets, 16 x 34.5 inches (410 x 880 mm.). Early wash colour. According to Cumming this is the finest map of the battle.
5. THOMAS JEFFERYS. n.d. . ‘An Authentic Plan of the River St. Laurence from Sillery, to the Fall of Montmorenci, with the Operations of the Siege of Quebec’. 13 x 18.5 inches (330 x 475 mm.). Early wash colour. One of the great battle plans of Canada relating to the French and Indian War.
6. EDWARD OAKLEY & JOHN ROCQUE. October 1759. ‘A Plan of Quebec’. 12.25 x 20 inches (310 x 505 mm.). Early wash colour. This is the only plan which depicts Quebec as it was just before the British attack under General Wolfe.
7. THOMAS JEFFERYS. 25 May 1775. ‘An Exact Chart of the River St. Laurence from Fort Frontenac to the Island of Anticosti’. Two sheets, 23.5 x 37 inches (600 x 940 mm.). Early wash colour.
8. ROBERT SAYER & JOHN BENNETT. 25 March 1775. ‘A Chart of the Gulf of St. Laurence’. 24 x 19.5 inches (610 x 495 mm.). Early wash colour.
9. THOMAS JEFFERYS. 10 May 1775. ‘A General Chart of the Island of Newfoundland’. 21.5 x 22 inches (545 x 560 mm.). Cut close, early wash colour.
10. ROBERT SAYER & JOHN BENNETT. 25 March 1775. ‘A Chart of the Banks of Newfoundland’. 19.5 x 26.5 inches (495 x 675 mm.). Early wash colour.
11 & 12. CAPTAIN JOHN MONTRESOR. 1768. ‘Map of Nova Scotia, or Acadia’. Four sheets, 39 x 35 inches (990 x 890 mm.). Early wash colour. A superb separately published large-scale replacement for the standard Jefferys map.
13. CAPTAIN SAMUEL HOLLAND. 1775. ‘A Plan of the Island of St. John’. 14.5 x 28 inches (370 x 715 mm.). Early wash colour. The first printed map of the island of St. John or present-day Prince Edward Island.
14. THOMAS JEFFERYS. August 16th, 1755. ‘A Large and Particular Plan of Shegnekto Bay’. 14.25 x 23 inches (360 x 585 mm.). Early wash colour. This is a plan of arguably the first military engagement of 1755.
15-18. CAPTAIN CYPRIAN SOUTHACK. c.1729-[c.75]. ‘An actual Survey of the Sea Coast from New York to the I. Cape Briton’. In 8 sheets joined as 4, 42 x 98.5 inches (1070 x 2500 mm.). Early wash colour. ‘THE FIRST MARINE ATLAS PUBLISHED IN AMERICA’. THE ONLY EXAMPLE IN PRIVATE HANDS. (Further details below).
19. ROBERT SAYER & JOHN BENNETT. 2 Sept. 1775. ‘The Seat of War in New England by an American Volunteer’. 18 x 21 inches (460 x 535 mm.). Early wash colour. This is one of the very earliest maps of the first battle of the American Revolution, the Battle of Bunker Hill. It was published just five weeks after that by Isaac De Costa.
20 & 21. THOMAS JEFFERYS. 29 November 1774. ‘A Map of the most Inhabited part of New England’. Four sheets joined as two, 41 x 38.5 inches (1040 x 9780 mm.). Early wash colour.
22. J. F. W. DES BARRES. 5 August 1775. (Chart of Boston Bay). Two sheets joined, 29.75 x 41 inches (755 x 1045 mm.). Early wash colour.
22a. ANDREW DURY. 12 March 1776. ‘A Plan of Boston, and its Environs. shewing the true Situation of His Majesty’s Army’. 18 x 25.5 inches (460 x 645 mm.). Early wash colour. One of the finest maps of the Boston Siege of 1775-76.
23 & 24. JOHN MONTRESOR. 10 June 1775. ‘A Map of the Province of New York, with Part of Pensilvania, and New England’. Four sheets as two, 56.5 x 36.25 inches (1435 x 9210 mm.). Early wash colour. ‘One of the most detailed maps of [the] New York region issued during the revolutionary era’ (Schwartz & Ehrenberg).
25. The manuscript index calls for a ‘Plan of New York’. The George Washington atlas at Yale contains the Montresor plan.
26. THOMAS JEFFERYS. n.d. ‘A Plan of the Town and Fort of Carillon at Ticonderoga’. 14.5 x 18.75 inches (370 x 480 mm.). Early wash colour. Before being renamed Fort Ticonderoga the French had called it Fort Carillon. Situated at the strategic point at the southern end of Lake Champlain.
27. THOMAS JEFFERYS. 2 Feb. 1756. ‘A Prospective View of the Battle fought near Lake George, on the 8th. of Sepr. 1755, between 2000 English, with 250 Mohawks’. 11 x 20.25 inches (280 x 515 mm.). Uncoloured. This extremely rare English edition was published barely six weeks after the virtually impossible to obtain American printing by Samuel Blodget. It was the first American engraving to depict an American battle plan, indeed it is the first to depict any American historical scene. The significance of the engraving was immediately recognized and by the 2 February 1756, in little over a month, the London publisher Thomas Jefferys had engraved and published an English edition. He claimed that his plan was ‘the only piece that exhibits the American method of Bush Fighting’.
28. ROBERT SAYER & JOHN BENNETT. 10 June 1775. ‘A Map of Pennsylvania’. Three sheets joined, 27.25 x 53 inches (695 x 1350 mm.). Early wash colour. The most accurate map of Pennsylvania to be issued on the eve of the revolution.
29 & 30. JOSHUA FRY 57
& PETER JEFFERSON. 1775. ‘A Map of the most Inhabited part of Virginia’. Four sheets joined as two, 31 x 48.5 inches (790 x 1230 mm.). Early wash colour. ‘One of the most celebrated maps in American history. Much of the map’s luster comes from its association with Thomas Jefferson, the son of one of the map’s makers … the first map of Virginia by Virginians’ (Taliaferro).
31 & 32. HENRY MOUZON. 30 May 1775. ‘An Accurate Map of North and South Carolina with their Indian Frontiers’. Four sheets joined as two, 39.5 x 56 inches (1005 x 1425 mm.). Early wash colour. This map is an example of the first state before the addition of a reference to Fort Sullivan following the battle of 28 June 1776. The map would become the primary cartographic source for all sides in the American Revolution. It is currently under intense review of its authorship.
33 & 34. WILLIAM GERARD DE BRAHM. 20 Oct. 1757. ‘A Map of South Carolina and a Part of Georgia’. Four sheets joined as two, 53 x 48 inches (1350 x 1220 mm.). Early wash colour. The first large scale map of the Southeast. It is to be remembered that this is one of the very few large-scale maps of the American Colonies undertaken before the British government’s encouragement of detailed mapping following the conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763.
35. The index refers to a ‘View of Savanah’. This clearly would have been the Peter Gordon view from 1734.
36. THOMAS JEFFERYS. . ‘Florida from the Latest Authorities’. 15 x 14 inches (385 x 355 mm.). Early wash colour. This very rare map of Florida takes in the whole of the southeast.
37. WILLIAM FULLER. 26 March 1770. ‘Plan of Amelia Island in East Florida …/ A Chart of the Entrance into St Mary’s River …/ A Chart of the Mouth of Nassau River …’ 20 x 24 inches (510 x 610 mm.). Early wash colour. This map details an interesting relatively unknown period of Georgia’s history.
38. THOMAS JEFFERYS. 20 Feb. 1775. ‘The Coast of West Florida and Louisiana’. Two sheets joined, 19.25 x 48.5 inches (490 x 1235 mm.). Early wash colour. This map focuses on the territory of Florida acquired from the Spanish at the Treaty of Paris, 1763.
39. LIEUTENANT JOHN ROSS. 1 June 1772. ‘Course of the River Mississipi from the Balise to Fort Chartres’. Two sheets joined 44 x 13.5 inches (1120 x 345 mm.). Early wash colour. Having acquired clear title to territory extending westwards to the Mississippi River following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, Britain was keen to gain physical control of it. This is an example of the much rarer first state dated 1772.
40. THOMAS JEFFERYS. Nov. 1759. ‘Plan of New Orleans the Capital of Louisiana’. 13.25 x 19 inches (340 x 485 mm.). Early wash colour. The first printed plan of the town was published in Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix’s ‘Histoire et Description Generale de la Nouvelle France’, in 1744. This plan by Thomas Jefferys is drawn from that with some subtle alterations.
‘THE FIRST MARINE ATLAS PUBLISHED IN AMERICA’ THE ONLY EXAMPLE IN PRIVATE HANDS
15-18. CAPTAIN CYPRIAN SOUTHACK. c.1729-[c.75]. ‘An actual Survey of the Sea Coast from New York to the I. Cape Briton. with Tables of the direct and thwart Courses & distances from Place to Place. by Cap.t Cyprian Southack. Illustrated, with Particular Plans, of the Harbours of New York, Boston, Canso Bay & Annapolis Royal, on a larger Scale. Sold by I. Mount, T. Page and W. Mount, Tower Hill. London’. In 8 sheets joined as 4, 42 x 98.5 inches (1070 x 2500 mm.). Early wash colour.
The New England Coasting Pilot is one of the great cartographical rarities of Colonial America and this is the only example in private hands. Only eight substantially complete copies survive. This is in its fourth state found with the key to the Henry Popple wall map. This was a separate publication and is only found bound into two books; this one and that once owned by George Washington, now at Yale University.
It is the work of Captain Cyprian Southack (1662-1745), one of the most prolific writers of his day about whom we know so much. Southack was born in England and followed his father’s footsteps as a naval man. As a young boy he went to sea and at the age of ten, he gained first-hand sea-battle experience. In 1685 he went to Boston in America and married Elizabeth, daughter of Captain John Foy, a noted shipmaster in Boston.
By 1690 Southack was part owner and captain of the man-of-war Mary. He had indeed been granted letters of marque against the French by the Admiralty on 16 July 1689. He was hired to join the Sir William Phips expedition against Port Royal, in French Acadia. The seven vessels and 450 strong force easily outnumbered the defences. Henceforth he acted as privateer and naval officer for the Massachusetts Bay Company defending their interests against piracy. He made at least two other raids on Acadia: in 1704 and 1707 with Benjamin Church. Although he did not accompany Admiral Hovenden Walker in his aborted mission against Quebec in 1711, Southack took a large part in the planning stages.
In December 1693, the General Court of Massachusetts ordered that a small vessel be built which could ‘cruise on this coast for the better securing of trade and navigation.’ The ‘Province Galley’ was commanded by Southack from 1696 until replaced by the more famous vessel of the same name in 1705. In effect she was the navy of the Province of Massachusetts.
In 1697 Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton of Massachusetts wrote to the Council of Trade and Plantations in London that ‘Captain Southack is constantly employed to cruise about the Capes and convoy vessels from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut etc. between Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard and Rhode Island … the commander has acquitted himself with great care and diligence, none of the vessels under his charge having miscarried.’ All the time he was surveying and taking notes of what he saw.
He also kept up his trading along the coasts of New England and Nova Scotia. He married an Elizabeth Oakley in Boston and had 11 children. Despite this he had a major role in the running of Annapolis Royal (the renamed Port Royal), being appointed to the council of Nova Scotia in 1720. His copy of John Thornton ‘English Pilot Fourth Book’ of 1689, a first edition, survives today at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
He was a cartographer of note, his first known work being a manuscript of Boston Harbour in 1694. In about 1710 he produced a magnificent manuscript map of the Gulf and River of St. Lawrence. It is known that fifty copies were printed but none survive. His earliest surviving published work was issued in Boston in 1717. Engraved by Francis Dewing, it covers the whole of the English Empire in North America. It is the first engraved chart or map to be published in the English American colonies, and the oldest copper engraving produced in America of which copies are still extant. Only three examples survive.
It was published to draw attention to the threat posed by French encroachments in the west. A series of French forts are illustrated from French Canada all the way south to the ‘Mouth of the Great River Messasipi.’ On it he comments ‘As far as the Prick’t Line runs I have been Cruising in the Service of the Crown of Great Brittain from ye Year 1690 to ye Year 1712.’ This extends all the way from Newfoundland to New York. He goes on to allude to this map by saying ‘Which General Chart distinct from this will be Compleated with the Maps of the Harbour in Six Months time Fit to be Printed for the use of my Brother Mariners it being my twenty two years hard Labour and Pain.’
His last known voyage was made in 1742 at the age of 80 to Maine ‘to Assist in Conference and Management of affairs with the Indians. …’ By then his son-in-law Captain Edward Tyng was making his own mark and would command a vessel of his own at the famous siege of Louisbourg in 1745.
An earlier reference to this chart than that found on the map of 1717, is found in a presentation made by Southack to the Massachusetts House of Representatives on 9 November 1716. It states that ‘he has drawn a chart of this coast from New York, to Quebec, and proposing, that it may be cut on a plate, at the public charge, for the service of the navigation, and when so many copys are taken off, as ye Government pleases, the plate may be given to him.’
The reply on the 17 November stated ‘William Payne, Esqr. Is desir’d to take care to have the plate engraven, and to have a copy thereof taken for each member of ye court, and then to deliver the plate to Capt. Southack for his own use; provided that one hundred & fifty of the said charts be reserved for the use of the sd. Court.’
However, the 1717 more general chart is dedicated to the ‘General Court assembled at the Sessions held at Boston the 7th of November; 1716.’ Does this mean an interim map was issued which was easier to produce locally? We know that a Francis Doing became embroiled in a case of counterfeiting the Province’s bills of credit in 1718. We do know that the project ended up being engraved in London.
An advert was placed in the ‘Boston News-Letter’ for 19 May 1718 which read ‘To my Fellow Marriners, Gentlemen, I have now finished my general chart of the Sea-Coast, from Cape Cancer to Sandy-Point, of New-York, in North America, with the Harbours, Towns, Bays, Roads, Rocks, Sands, Fishing-Banks, Shoals and Shelves, Depths of Water, Latitudes, Bearings and Distances from Place to Place, the make of the Land, and the Variations. My Intent in putting out this Advertisement is for the Good of the Navagation [sic], and that my Chart may be as Correct as possible before it is engraven: Therefore, lest my Chart should be imperfect, if any Gentlemen will let me wait upon them at my House, and will assist me in any Thing they shall find uncorrect, or will inform me of any Discoveries they may have made, which my Chart makes no mention of, they will very much oblige their humble Servant, Cyprian Southack.’ It was still unfinished in 1723 when his London agent, Thomas Sandford, wrote on 28 February that ‘the plate cannot go forwards till more subscriptions come in.’
Finally on 30 June 1729 an advert in the ‘Boston Gazette’ announced ‘Came by Capt. Hammerden now from London, Fifty of my General Charts, in Sheets, from Sandy Point of New-York, unto Cape Canso in Nova-Scotia, and part of Island Breton, with the Courses and Distances from Place to Place, set by the Meridian Compass, with the Allowance of the Western Variation, and Towns on the Sea board, Harbours, Bays, Islands, Roads, Rocks, Sands, the Setting and Flowing of the Tides, and Currents, with several other Directions of great Advantages to this part of Navigation in North America, a Large Scale almost half an Inch to one League: And to be sold at my House near the Sign of the Orange Tree. Cyprian Southack.’
Whereas the charts were printed in London, it is not known where the two introductory pages including the title, were printed. It is however clear, that the whole work was published in Boston. The work is also undated but the evidence suggests c.1729. Emanual Bowen’s chart entitled ‘A New Chart of the Vast Atlantic Ocean’ published in 1740, refers to it being issued in 1731. This date was repeated by John Green in his ‘Explanation for the New Map of Nova Scotia and Cape Britain’, London 1755. Only one example is known to survive at the National Archives, England (CO 700/ New England 5).
The map is dedicated to Francis Nicholson (1655-1727), the Governor of South Carolina. At first glance, and unusual choice but the list of subscriber’s states prominently at the top ‘Francis Nicholson, Esq; was pleased to subscribe near One half part of the whole Expence’. Nicholson had a long service record in the colonies, in his early military career he attracted the attention of the William Blathwayt, Colonial Secretary and Alexander Spotswood. Captain Nicholson accompanied Sir Edmund Andros to Boston in 1686 as commander of a company of infantry. He became Lieutenant Governor of New England 1688-89 and then of Virginia 1690-92. During this time, he was instrumental in the founding of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg and that of the town itself in 1699. Indeed, two of its streets, north and south of the central Duke of Gloucester Street, are named after him, Francis and Nicholson. He then became Governor of Maryland 1694-98, Virginia 1698-1705 and Nova Scotia 1712-15. His final placement was as Governor of South Carolina from 1721-25. He was one of the earliest to warn the Board of Trade of the activities and desires of the French towards the territory west of the Appalachian Mountains. Something he clearly had in common with Southack.
The accompanying list of subscribers is a remarkable who’s who of individuals, so early in the colonial history of North America. Of the 74 named, 56 are in the Americas, 17 are interested parties from London. Notable amongst them are Governor Richard Phillips of Nova Scotia (c.1661-1750), Samuel Shute (1662-1742), Governor of Massachusetts and William Douglas (c.1691-1752), author of the exceedingly rare map ‘Plan of the British Dominions of New England’, c.1753. There is also his son-in-law Captain Edward Tyng along with several merchants and naval figures.
The map is strewn with over a hundred descriptive invaluable notes relating local conditions, and historical anecdotes. Also included are sites of navigational hazards, fishing grounds, areas to dry fish and find timber for ships and tides. The ‘Island of New York is very fine & a Large City good Road & Harbour Place of great Trade many Farms adjacent.’ ‘Boston a very fine Harbour and a great many Branches for the Navigation to Sail into, but no long Rivers a Place of the greatest Trade in North America for building of Ships & c’.
Southack claims to have been the first to have sailed through the Strait of Canso in Nova Scotia in 1690. However, it seems unlikely with all the sailing activity in the region that it had not been achieved before. He also claims to be the first person to have sailed in Peconic Bay in 1692. Legend has it that the pirate William Kidd buried his treasure on Gardiners Island at its entrance in 1699.
The second sheet bears a reference to the Gulfstream in a legend offshore; ‘when you are within fifteen Leagues of main Shoar between Cape Sables & Cape Ann, you will have a strong Current setts to the South South West’. This is one of the earliest references on a map, pre-dating that on the Walter Hoxton of 1735.
Several tables of distances exist and one on the title page for directions from the Boston lighthouse to points in the Bay. The Lighthouse was constructed in 1716 and was the first to be constructed in what is now the United States. True to character he attempted to leave his name for posterity naming places on the map including ‘North Channel or Southacks Channel’ on Cape Cod and ‘Southacks Island or Monhegon’ off the coast of Maine. A prominent ‘Southacks Bay’ is found in Nova Scotia.
Off the coast of Cape Cod is a legend and mark of the wreck of the ‘Whydah’ galley. On her maiden voyage whilst returning to London with gold, ivory, sugar and indigo from the Caribbean, she was captured by the pirate Captain Samuel ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy. He had recently separated from sailing with Benjamin Hornigold, who had refused to attack British ships. Sailing north Bellamy captured at least six more vessels before being driven by a storm and wrecked off Cape Cod on 26 April 1717.
Hearing of the wreck Governor Shute instructed Southack to recover any treasure. When he reached her, he found that her mast was still partially visible but that she had been scattered for nearly 4 miles along the coast. He reports on the map that he buried 102 men and marks the spot where she was lost. According to survivors the ‘Whydah’ carried nearly 5 tons of silver, gold and jewellery. Little was recovered. Despite several attempts over the ensuing years, she was thought lost to the seas.
Then, in 1984 the maritime archaeologist Barry Clifford (1945-), using this map of Southack’s, managed to locate the treasure. He recovered over 200,000 artifacts, tens of thousands of coins and more than 60 cannons. The courts ruled that everything rightfully belonged to him, he still retains it. She remains the only truly authenticated pirate shipwreck ever identified.
A further advert was placed in the ‘Boston Gazette’ for 10 May 1731, repeated the following week. It stated, ‘TO be sold by Nathanael Belknap, Bookseller, at the Corner of Scarlet’s Wharfe, at the North End of Boston, Capt. Cyprian Southack’s New England Coasting Pilot, with several directions of great advantages to this part of Navigation in North America, in Books or in Sheets.’
A revised edition was issued c.1734 by Southack in which a reengraved sheet 8 depicts Cape Breton. He states it was included ‘to shew how strong the French have Fortified the Harbour of Louisbourg’. A large plan of the harbour accompanies it along with a view of the new lighthouse completed in 1733, the first in present day Canada. An accompanying legend is dated Boston 30 October 1733. Its issue date is derived from two contemporary adverts:
The ‘New York Gazette’ on 24 June 1734 and repeated on 5 August published: ‘There is now Published, and to be Sold, The New-England Coasting Pilot, from Sandy-Point of New-York unto Cape Canso in Nova-Scotia, and part of the Island Breton; with Courses and Distances from Place to Place, and Towns on the sea-board; The Harbours, Bays, Islands, Roads Rocks and Sands; The Setting and Flowing of Tydes and Currents, with Directions of great Advantage, to this part of Navigation in North-America. As also, the Soundings, Sands, Rocks and Harbours, with Distance of Places from New-York (between Long-Island the Main) to Rhode-Island by Capt. Cyprian Southack. Which work being Presented to the King, and his Majesty taking into his gracious Consideration the Usefulness of the said Performance, was pleased to order the sum of Fifty Pounds to be paid to Capt. Southack for buying him a Gold Chain and Medal, as a mark of his Majesty’s Royal Favour for his Labour and Palns [sic] in so useful a Work. To be Sold by William Bradford in the City of New-York.’
The ‘New England Weekly Journal’ on 28 October and 11 November 1734, bore: ‘Imported now in Capt. Homans from London, Engraven and Printed the Island Breton, with the Harbour of Louisburgh, and the Fortifications in the said Harbour, Large Scale in one Sheet of Paper, and Books of the Coasts from New-York to Cape Canso. Sold by Capt. Cyprian Southack at his House in Boston.’
Both the known examples at the British Library (Maps C.26.f.23) and Library of Congress (G1106.P5 S6 1734) bear the same manuscript alteration to the title. Instead of the printed referring to ‘Part of Island Breton’ it now reads ‘all the Island of Breton. The harbour of Louisbourgh’. Similarly, the list of subscribers in the Library of Congress example includes 8 new individuals. Two are of note; Sir John Randolph (1693-1737), the only native of Colonial Virginia to be knighted and General Oglethorpe. The latter had just formally established the colony of Georgia in 1733.
The third and fourth states of the map were both issued loose, the title page and list of subscribers being dropped. The third state was published by William Herbert (1718-95) and Robert Sayer (1725-94) in 1757. The dedication on sheet one is now replaced with the following title: ‘An actual Survey of The Sea Coast from New York to the I. Cape Briton. with Tables of the direct and thwart Courses & distances from Place to Place. by Cap.t Cyprian Southack … Printed and Sold by W.m Herbert under the Piazzas on London Bridge & Rob.t Sayer facing Fetter Lane Fleet Street.’
Four insets have also been added to the map of New York Harbour, Boston Harbour, Casco Bay and Annapolis Royal. Four examples are known to survive: British Library (Maps 145.e.17), Harvard (G.3321.P5.1758), New York Public Library (Map Div. 01-10280) and Boston Public Library (G3321.P5 1758.S67). All omit sheet 8, except for the New York Public Library example in which it is replaced by a chart of the Atlantic Ocean. This appears to have been the intention. This chart is cropped, the left side and title above which is normally dated 1757, are cut.
Requiring far greater work but less noticeable is the complete erasure and replacement of the network of compass roses and rhumb lines. The longitude in the border is now measured from Boston instead of London. The earliest advert identified was issued in the ‘Public Advertiser’ for 23 May 1757. It read ‘This Day is published, Printed on eight Sheets of Elephant Paper, Price one Guinea on Canvas, with Rolls, done upon Paste Boards for the Use of Mariners, 15s. An Actual Survey of the Sea Coast from New York to the Isle of Cape-Breton, on a Scale of 7 1 half Inches to a Degree, containing all the Islands, Banks, Dangers, &c. with a particular Description of the Navigation into the several Harbours, and Tables of the direct and Thwart Courses, from Place to Place, by Captain Cyprian Southack. Illustrated with particular Plans of the Harbours of New-York, Boston, Canso Bay, and Annapolis Royal; as also a new and correct Chart of the Altantic [sic] Ocean. Printed for R. Sayer, opposite Fetter-lane, Fleet-street; W. Herbert at the Golden Globe on London Bridge; E. Bakewell in Cornhill; and J. Rocque facing St. James’s Palace, Pall-mall. Where may be had, just published, and printed on two Sheets of Elephant Paper, Price 5s. a new Chart of the Atlantic Ocean, with the Seat of War in America.
Four similar adverts have been identified in the ‘New-York Mercury’ from 27 March 1758. They state: ‘Garrat Noel, Bookseller, next Door to the Merchant’s-Coffee-House, has just imported An actual Survey of the Sea-Coast, from New-York, to Cape Breton; with Tables of the direct and thwart Courses, and Distances from Place to Place. By Captain Cyprian Southack. With particular Plans of the Harbours of New-York, Boston, Casco-Bay, and Annapolis-Royal; on a large Scale, 8 Feet long, and 3 Feet and a Half broad: Containing likewise, a New-Chart of the Atlantic Ocean.’
For this, the fourth state, the imprint is altered to that of Mount and Page as above. The firm of Mount and Page went through several different partnerships through the generations as family members altered. This imprint reflects William Mount II (fl.1775-1800) joining the firm in 1775. In 1779 another Thomas Page joins the imprint. The main addition to the map is an inset of Halifax, Nova Scotia, founded in 1749. The lower right sheet is here replaced by the key map from Henry Popple’s ‘Map of the British Empire’, first issued in 1733. It is in state 6, of 9, dated to c.1775 according to Mark Babinski’s 1998 study of it. The three other known examples are Library of Congress (G3321.P5 1775.S6 lacks sheet 8, damaged and G3321.P5 1775.S62) and the Washington atlas at Yale. Only the first Library of Congress example lacks the Popple map. The western half of the map only is also present in an example backed on linen at the Leventhal Center, Boston Public Library.
Bibliography: American Dictionary of National Biography; Babinski (1998); ‘Boston Prints and Printmakers’ p. 8 n. 3 & p. 57; John Carter Brown Library (1974) no. 72; Brown & Cohen (2015); Crone, G. R. (1950); Cumming (1974) p. 42; Gruber (2014); Guthorn (1972); Harley (1966); Hitchings (1973); Hitchings (1980); Johnson (2020); Kershaw (1993-98); Krieger & Cobb (1999); Le Gear (1967); McCorkle (2001); Nebenzahl (1974); Nebenzahl (1975); ODNB; Pedley (1986); Ristow (1985); Sabin (1868-1936) 88221; Schecter (2010) Appendix Maps 17-20; Schwartz & Ehrenberg (1980); Schwartz(1994); Sellers & Van Ee (1981); Skelton & Tooley (1967); Stevens & Tree (1967); Taliaferro (2013); Tapley (1922); Torbert (2017); Wheat & Brun (1978); Winsor (1882) vol. II p. liii; Wooldridge (2012); Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).