The first printed map of Rowley, Mass.

Surveyed & Drawn by Philander Anderson / Pendleton's Lithography, MAP OF ROWLEY Surveyed and Drawn by PHILANDER ANDERSON SEPTR. 1830., Boston, 1830 .
Lithograph on two sheets joined, 19"h x 40"w, uncolored.

An immensely detailed and extremely rare map of Rowley, Mass. in the early 1800s.

The map provides a street plan, names landowners, and identifies landmarks such as businesses, churches, schools, and other public buildings. Symbols are used to differentiate the varied topography of hills, woodlands, meadows, beaches, tidal flats &c. The marshlands along the Plum Island River also merit attention, as their topography seems to have changed quite substantially in the past 180 years. Several notes provide population statistics, geographical data, and historical information about Rowley’s several parishes. A number of penciled-in lines may indicate the re-drawing of parish boundaries in Georgetown, which in 1838 was incorporated as a separate town.

Anderson appears to have been an active surveyor and civil engineer for at least the better part of 20 years. According to OCLC he also executed maps of Newbury and Newburyport (1831), Ipswich (1832), and Lowell Village (1835). He also acted as engineer during the 1840 construction of a dam in Holyoke, Mass. to supply power for local mills. Unfortunately the dam promptly broke when filled with water. In 1847 or thereabout he surveyed the route for a power canal from Enfield to Hartford, Conn.

His map of Rowley 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 plans were then to be compiled into a single coherent map of Massachusetts, which would guide tax assessments, infrastructure improvements &c.

The plans were required to be quite large scale (1 inch to 100 rods, or about 3 inches to the mile), indicate the length and bearing of town boundaries, and provide much information about cultural and economic resources such as meetinghouses, schools, mills, mines &c.

Hundreds of town plans were produced in manuscript and filed with the state between 1830 and 1835. They were then employed 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 plans were also published in broadside format, often being reprinted for inclusion in early town histories. In most cases, as with Anderson’s map of Rowley, these are the first printed plans of their respective towns.

The exact circumstances of publication are unclear, but it has been suggested that the state provided the towns a modest subsidy of $150 to defray the costs of dissemination. They were usually printed by one of the Boston lithographic printing establishments, most commonly Pendleton’s, with a substantial number printed by T. Moore’s Lithography and the firm of Senefelder. The print runs must have been small and primarily for local consumption, as these plans are generally quite scarce or downright rare.

Report of the Librarian of the [Massachusetts] State Library (1889), p. 182. “Massachusetts Town Maps (Under the Act of 1829)” (an unpublished mid-20th century list obtained from the American Antiquarian Society) lists an example at the AAS but fails to note the State Library example. OCLC lists only facsimiles.

Not in Antique Map Price Record, Phillips, or Rumsey. Not at Boston Public Library, Harvard Map Collection or Yale Map Collection.


Traces of scattered foxing heavier toward right edge, slightly toned along left edge, and trimmed to neat line all around. Some penciled-in boundaries on left sheet.