The rare second state of Thomas Jefferys‘ Map of the Most Inhabited Part of New England, the pre-eminent 18th-century map of the region. In case map format and docketed in French on verso, suggestive of use by a French officer serving in North America in the early 1760s.
First issued in 1755, Map of the Most Inhabited Part of New England provided the largest-scale and most detailed and accurate portrait of the region to date. Its importance was such that it was revised and reissued well into the 1790s, and over this period it served as a primary source for leading European and American mapmakers. The early state offered here is very different, far rarer, and in this writer`s view vastly more desirable than the better-known variants issued during the 1770s.
The map depicts New England to 44°30′ North as well as Long Island and the Hudson River Valley. Township, county and provincial boundaries are shown, as are roads, forts, and meetinghouses. Rivers and streams are depicted with relative care, while the many mountain ranges are indicated haphazardly in the archaic “molehill” fashion.
The contrast between southern and northern New England is striking: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts east of the Connecticut River, and southern New Hampshire are entirely laid out in a grid of counties and townships; whereas northern New Hampshire and almost all of modern-day Vermont are denominated “Wildernes [sic] lands of the crown not yet appropriated.” Further, the geography of the north country is but poorly understood, as evidenced by the sketchy detail and distended outlines of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. Vermont is shown under the aegis of New Hampshire, though the ambiguity of its status at the time is indicated by the absence of a printed border with New York.
Adding to the map’s documentary value and decorative appeal is an early chart of Boston Harbor at bottom center, derived from a chart that first appeared in the 1706 edition of The English Pilot. Fourth Book. At upper left is an inset plan of Fort Frederik [sic], described as a “French Incroachment built 1731 at Crown Point or rather Scalp Point.” This is an important sign of the map’s political significance: Like many English maps issued at the very outset of the French and Indian War, it sought to bolster English claims to sovereignty in North America while delegitimizing those of the French. The decorative cartouche likewise supports this end: its idealized portrayal of the Pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth serves as evidence for Great Britain’s ancient claim to New England.
Offered here is the second state of the map, with the original “Konnektikut” spelling corrected; Bristol, King and Newport Counties added in Rhode Island; the additions of Forts Edward, Amherst and William Henry to the south of Lake George; and other changes. Streeter dates this state to 1759 based on the presence of Fort Amherst, which was constructed in that year. A massively-reworked edition of the map appeared in 1768 in Jeffery’s General Topography of North America. This featured a near-complete reworking of New Hampshire, Vermont, and the upper Hudson River-Lake George-Champlain corridor, as well as the substitution of a plan of Boston for the Fort Frederick inset.
Sources for the map
The primary source for the map is Plan of the British dominions of New England in North America, drawn by Boston physician William Douglass and published by his executors in 1755. Though a landmark in New England cartography, Douglass’ map was a commercial failure and today is known in only a handful of impressions. Mead extended the coverage to include northern New England and eastern and southern New York, thereby depicting the entire northern theatre of war. He also made substantial geographical improvements and introduced the inset of Fort Frederick and the engraving of the landing at Plymouth, whose presence serves both informational and rhetorical purposes. In so doing, Mead produced a map that was both superior to Douglass’ and better-attuned to an English audience eager for news at the outset of the French and Indian War.
A table of notes at the right cites sources for the map, though-bizarrely, for a careful cartographer such as Mead-the Douglass map is not listed. Mentioned instead are surveys of Connecticut by Gardner and Kellock; of New Hampshire by Hazen and Mitchell (various dates); of the Maine coast executed at the order of Governor Shirley (1754); and of Lake Champlain by unspecified French surveyors. As Edney has recently shown, however, this list is at best confused, at worst a willful misrepresentation of Mead’s sources. For example, the purported 1737 “Gardner and Kellock” survey of Connecticut was in fact merely a sketchy survey of the Connecticut River Valley by William Chandler and Nathaniel Kellogg. (Edney, “New England Mapped,” p. 159)
Thomas Jefferys and Braddock Mead
Thomas Jefferys was the preeminent English publisher of maps related to the American colonies in the middle of the 18th century. Braddock Mead (aka John Green) was a troubled but brilliant cartographer who produced some of Jefferys’ finest maps. Cummings describes their collaboration:
“[Thomas Jefferys] was the leading British chart and mapmaker of his day, and his work contributed toward making London the ‘universal centre of cartographic progress.’ An engraver as well as a publisher, he turned out an impressive number of maps and charts . With William Faden, his successor, he produced the most considerable body of North American maps published commercially in the century.
“The genius behind Jefferys in his shop was a brilliant man who at this time went by the alias of John Green . Green had a number of marked characteristics as a cartographer. One was his ability to collect, to analyze the value of, and to use a wide variety of sources; these he acknowledged scrupulously on the maps he designed . Another outstanding characteristic was his intelligent compilation and careful evaluation of reports on latitudes and longitudes used in the construction of his maps ” (British Maps of Colonial America, p. 45)
For an entertaining account of Mead’s scandalous life, see Cummings, pp. 45-47.
Benes, New England Prospect, #12; Edney, “Thomas Jefferys and the Mapping of North America” (on the web site of the Osher Map Library); McCorkle, New England in Early Printed Maps, #755.19; Pritchard and Taliaferro, Degrees of Latitude, #35; Sellers & Van Ee, Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies, #797; Stevens and Tree, “Comparative Cartography,” #33b; Streeter, Americana, #II:690.
Some background from Matthew Edney, “New England Mapped: The Creation of a Colonial Territory.” In La cartografia europea tra primo Rinascimento e fine dell’Illuminismo: Atti del Convegno internazionale «The Making of European Cartography», Firenze BNCF-IUE, 13-15 dicembre 2001, ed. Diogo Ramada Curto, Angelo Cattaneo, and André Ferrand de Almeida, 155-76. Florence: Leo S. Olshki Editore.
Mild overall toning and occasional offsetting, outline color oxidized. Corners of some segments slightly bumped, and a few splits to linen, easily mended. In all, very good or better for a large, separately-issued map.