A very rare and quite lovely aquatint view of Portsmouth Hew Hampshire, which supplanted an inferior line engraving of the same subject in The Atlantic Neptune. Background In 1764 the Lord Commissioners of Trade & Plantations appointed engineer Samuel Holland as Surveyor General of the Northern District of North America. In this capacity he was […]
Samuel Holland (1728-1801) was born in the Netherlands and served in the Dutch army’s engineers. Subsequently he followed a well-trodden path, enlisting in the British Army. With his military background, he presumably went to the officer training college at Woolwich, before being commissioned into the 60th (Royal American) Regiment, whereupon he was sent to North America for active service in the French and Indian War. While ostensibly an infantry regiment, and symptomatic of the British Army’s casual approach to the military business of engineering and surveying, the Royal Americans provided a home for some of the greatest mapmakers in North America in the colonial period, notably J.F.W. des Barres, John Gerard William de Brahm and Thomas Hutchins, with Samuel Holland every bit their equal.
Holland was present at the capture of Louisbourg in 1758 and was heavily involved in the successful operations against Quebec in 1759, where he gave the legendary explorer James Cook training in surveying methods. As a reward for his distinguished service, in 1764 he was appointed Surveyor General of Quebec and of the Northern District of North America. Following the loss of the American colonies, he served as Surveyor-General of Upper and Lower Canada, until his retirement in 1792.
In his dual roles as Surveyor-General of Quebec and of the Northern District of North America, Holland was heavily involved in mapping Great Britain’s American colonies. His towering importance is demonstrated by the frequency with which the manuscript surveys of Holland and his assistants were used to underpin very many of the printed maps of the period, notably the charts published by J.F.W. des Barres in The Atlantic Neptune, an example which may be viewed here and here.