A rare chart of the New England coast published by George Grierson in his pirated edition of the English Pilot. The Fourth Book. The chart depicts the northeast coastline and nearby waters from New York City to Mount Desert Island. Designed for use at sea, it provides considerable information on soundings, banks and shoals, and […]
John Seller (d.1697) can be considered the founder of the English chart-publishing trade, his legacy extending into the nineteenth century. His most ambitious project was The English Pilot, composed in a series of volumes, the Northern Navigation (1671), the coasts north and east of the Thames Estuary, the Southern Navigation (1672), the coasts south and west of the Thames Estuary round to Gibraltar, and the Mediterranean Pilot (1677). His business successors added volumes devoted to West Africa (1701) and the Oriental Navigation (1703).
The most successful of all the additional volumes was The English Pilot. The Fourth Book (1689), devoted to North America and the Caribbean, which was first published by John Thornton and William Fisher. The charts were drawn by Thornton, based on up-to-date English sources, mostly unidentified, though the chart of Boston Harbour can be attributed to Cyprian Southack.
John Thornton was succeeded by his son Samuel, Fisher by his son-in-law, Robert Mount, trading as Mount and Page. Following Samuel Thornton’s early death, Mount and Page acquired his materials and the firm, in the hands of successive members of the Mount family and Page family, continued to reprint the atlas with the last (the 35th) edition appearing in 1794. While John Thornton and Robert Mount, and to a lesser extent William Mount (I), were diligent in their renewal of the atlas, later generations allowed the volume to ossify, with no significant development of the volume, either in text or chart, from the mid-1730s onward. Well before the final edition, the Fourth Book was more dangerous than useful to the user.
Following the 1689 first edition, significant additions to the Fourth Book included a replacement chart of Boston Harbour (1706),Samuel Thornton’s chart of New England (1713) and Mark Tiddeman’s pair of charts of New York Harbour and the Chesapeake Capes (1729) and a new chart of New England after Cyprian Southack (1731).
George Grierson prepared an Irish piracy, with the charts copied from the English edition, printed in Dublin in 1749 and 1767.