The FIRST STATE of one of the most important Revolutionary War illustrations of Boston and its approaches. Accompanied by the VERY RARE twelve page PAMPHLET by George Callender entitled ‘Nautical remarks and observations for the chart of the harbour of Boston. Composed from different surveys; but principally from that taken in 1769’. Callendar was the Master of His Majesty’s Ship the Romney. Commissioned in 1762 she served extensively in North America arriving in Boston 17 May 1768 to support the British during the enforcement of the Townsend Acts. Short of men it was the pressing of local men into service which increased tension in the town to a level which broke out in the Boston Massacre of 1770.
This chart is part of a very large body of work known as the ‘Atlantic Neptune’ undertaken by Des Barres It is one of the greatest hydrographic achievements of the eighteenth century. The French and Indian War highlighted the lack of accurate mapping of the vast territories now under British control in North America. Samuel Holland was entrusted with the task of accurately mapping the northern portion of these territories. He proposed using the latest accurate methods which included astronomical readings and triangulation. In 1769 he personally was still working in Canadian waters but had instructed Callendar to undertake the survey of Boston. In England Des Barres was in charge of undertaking the detailed engraving. He set about providing the British government with more accurate mapping of the entire coastline of America and Canada. They proved to be of just as much use to the American Rebel forces. Their quality and accuracy are well known and deserved.
This particular chart is notable for recording Boston as it was at the outbreak of hostilities. It illustrates the British defences before the siege. The second state in particular out of the four later ones would record the progress of the siege works constructed by the Americans around the city. As the title informs us it was surveyed in the year 1769, a troubled time in Boston. Extensive soundings are provided in the harbour with numerous points marked to ease navigation through difficult waters. What separates this chart out from most others is the level of topographical detail on land. The road structure is accurately recorded as are the local towns. It even goes as far as recording field boundaries, a remarkable body of information for historians. The high quality engraving enables surface features to be displayed, especially the elevation of the terrain. An alphabetical key upper right identifies fourteen locations in the immediate area of Boston, including batteries, docks, forts, wharves, and the all important Charles-town Ferry.
The accompanying pamphlet of sailing directions is rare, it was replaced soon after by a single sheet version entitled ‘A Chart of the Harbour of Boston, composed from different surveys …’ which is sometimes found pasted to later states of the map. Being separately issued it is rarely found with the chart as here. Provenance: Duke of Northumberland. Boston Engineering Department, List of Maps of Boston, pp. 70-71; Cumming, British Maps of Colonial America, pp.51-56; ESTC N12343 (pamphlet); Guthorn, ‘British Maps of the American Revolution’ 59/3, Holland’s original manuscript; Hornsby (2019); Krieger and Cobb, Mapping Boston, p. 106, plate 19; Nebenzahl (1975) Bibliography of printed battle plans, 3; Sabin 10061 (pamphlet); Sellers & Van Ee, 945; Stevens, Bibliography of the Atlantic Neptune (unpublished) pp. 211-216; Streeter, II:706.