The very rare first printed map of Hingham (1830), depicting in detail the natural and human geography of this ancient Massachusetts town.
The map depicts the street plan and delineates carefully the boundaries of Hingham; small squares indicate residences, businesses, mills, schools and other buildings; and tiny church symbols locate the town’s several places of worship. Symbols and shading differentiate hills, woodlands and meadows.
Map maker Jedediah Lincoln was born in Hingham in 1767, a descendant of Stephen Lincoln, one of Hingham’s earliest settlers. Jedediah seems to have spent his entire life in the town, where he performed much service to the community:
“Maj. Lincoln, during a long and useful life, filled many town offices with great fidelity. He represented the town for several years in the General Court; and ws for a few years Deputy Collector of the Port of Hingham. At the time of his decease he was the oldest man living in that town.” (The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 1847-2011, vol. 11 (1857), retrieved from Ancestry.com)
Lincoln’s 1808 Masonic membership card gives his occupation as “Surveyor,” while the record of his death in 1756 from “old age” lists him simply as “Farmer.”
Reuben Hersey, Jr. was born in Hingham in 1780 or ‘81 and died there in 1844. The town’s death registry lists him as “single” and his occupation as “Cooper.” His farm remains in the Hersey family to this day and is the only 18th-century farm still operating in Hingham. (Maryellen Dever, Hersey Farm in Hingham coming back to life, at wickedlocal.com)
Massachusetts town plans of the 1830s
This map was produced in response to a March 1, 1830 Resolve of the Massachusetts General Court (legislature) “that the inhabitants of the City of Boston, and the several towns and districts in the Commonwealth, be, and they hereby are, required to make, or cause to be made… accurate plans of their respective towns or districts…” These would then be compiled into a single coherent map of Massachusetts, which would guide tax assessments, infrastructure improvements &c. The individual plans were to be quite detailed (1 inch to 100 rods, or about 3 inches to the mile), with respect to both town boundaries and to the natural and human geography. The map offered here conforms closely to these requirements.
Hundreds of town plans were produced in manuscript and filed with the state between 1830 and 1835 (These may be examined by the public at the Massachusetts State Archives on Columbia Point in Boston.) They were used by Simeon Borden as the raw material in compiling his Topographical Map of the State of Massachusetts. The quality of the raw surveys was so mixed, however, that Borden was compelled to go back into the field to re-survey many areas, and his Topographical Map was not published until 1844.
Many of the town plans were also printed and published in broadsheet format, and in some cases bound in to early town histories. They appear to have been privately published by individuals with some connection to the towns, and were usually printed by one of the Boston lithographic printing establishments—most often Pendleton’s, as is the case with the present map. The print runs must have been small and primarily for local consumption, as these plans are now quite scarce outside institutional settings.
Rarity and references
The map is extremely rare, and I have located institutional holdings only at the American Antiquarian Society, Boston Athenaeum and Yale, none of which have been made available on line (though examples are likely held by the Hingham Historical Society and/or Public Library). I find no record of other examples having appeared on the antiquarian market.
OCLC 124048057 (Boston Athenaeum only). Not in Antique Map Price Record, Phillips’ List of Maps of America, or Rumsey. Resolves of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, passed at the several sessions of the General Court, commencing May, 1828, and ending June, 1831. Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1831, p. 270.
Varnish toned to a honey hue, some areas faintly discolored likely due to water. Some wear to edges including a few minor chips and one small tear extending into lower neatline. Withal, more than acceptable for this genre, examples of which are most commonly encountered with grievous condition issues.