Revolutionary War Composite atlas
- Author: MITCHELL John; JEFFERYS, Thomas; MEAD Braddock, also known as ‘John Green’; and Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d’ANVILLE
- Publication date: 1768–1773
- Physical description: Folio. 3 engraved maps on 13 separate sheets, each with contemporary hand-colour in outline, part and in full. Contemporary half calf marbled paper boards, the spine in compartments, with red morocco lettering-piece in one: ‘Mitchell’s America’.
- Dimensions: 530 by 455mm. (20.75 by 18 inches).
- Inventory reference: 14430
This collection was acquired, and probably bound to order, in 1773, by General Parker, the second son of the second Earl of Macclesfield. He was a distinguished soldier in the British army during the French and Indian War, rising to Colonel at the outset of the Revolutionary War, and by 1777, a Lieutenant-General. To commemorate this ultimate promotion, he commissioned the book-plate for his library of military books that appears on the front paste-down here.
ANVILLE, Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d’ and JEFFERYS, Thomas. North America from the French of M. D’Anville, Improved with the Back Settlements of Virginia and Course of Ohio. Illustrated with Geographical and Historical Remarks. London, for Robt. Sayer and Thos. Jefferys. [1768–1772].
Double-page engraved map, with contemporary hand-colour in full.
The second state of the first edition, with the addition of two lines of text to the caption titled ‘English Title to their Settlements on the Continent’ which appears below the cartouche, reading “The Boundaries of the Provinces since the Conquest of Canada are laid down in this Map as settled by the King in Council”. Two further columns of text appear in the upper left corner, headed ‘French Incroachments’ [sic].
Only two institutional examples of this rare issue are known. It was first published by Jefferys in May of 1755, then as here, in conjunction with Jefferys’ successor Robert Sayer, in about 1768–1772. In addition to the two lines of text the ‘Province of Quebec’ is named and defined by a dotted line which, on the South, runs from ‘Nipi-scrinis L.’ to ‘Champlain Lake’, and then on to ‘Bay Chaleur’.
It is believed that the first owner of this map, General Parker, may have fought in the French and India War (see Gruber), when the map was first issued as a nice piece of British propaganda in 1755. The text in the upper left corner, identifies French ‘Incroachments’ on British territory, and is a chronology of the terrible things the French have done in the region from the end of the seventeenth century. By contrast, the text lower right is a chronology validating the British entitlement to the region, dating all the way back to Cabot’s voyage in 1497.
Jefferys based his map on the work of D’Anville, who following the death of Guillaume Delisle, continued the line of progressive French cartographers which had begun with Nicolas Sanson in the previous century. Jefferys himself, was one of the most important and prolific map publishers of the eighteenth century and was appointed Cartographer to the Prince of Wales in 1748, and later to George III. Apart from his publishing business he produced many important atlases and maps of America and the West Indies and surveyed and engraved many large-scale maps of English counties including Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Westmoreland and Yorkshire. The huge cost involved in these projects was a major contribution to his slide into insolvency and he became bankrupt in 1766. Surprisingly it made little difference to his business activities, “having found some friends who have been compassionate enough to re-instate me in my shop”. One of these friends was Robert Sayer who joined him in partnership and whose imprint appeared on the later editions of some of Jefferys’ large-scale surveys, as here.
Rare: only two institutional examples of this issue known, at the Newberry Library and at the University of Virginia.
McCorkle 775.2; Sellers and Van Ee 30; Stevens & Tree 51b
MITCHELL, John. A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America with the The Roads, Distances, limits and Extent of the Settlements… London, Publish’d by the Author Feb.ry 13th 1755. Printed by Jeffreys and Faden, St. Martins Lane, Charing Cross, London. Tho. Kitchin sculp., .
Large engraved wall-map on eight separate sheets, with contemporary hand-colour in full.
Pritchard and Taliaferro’s fifth state of seven, Stevens and Tree’s third edition of five, the same edition that was referred to by John Jay and his British counterparts in negotiating the Treaty of Paris, 1783, that ended the Revolutionary War, and gave birth to the United States of America.
Mitchell’s map is widely regarded as the most important map in American history. Prepared on the eve of the French and Indian War, it was the second large format map of North America printed by the British (the first being Henry Popple’s map of 1733), and included the most up to date information of the region: “the result of a uniquely successful solicitation of information from the colonies” (Edney). Over the following two hundred years, it would play a significant role in the resolution of every significant dispute involving the northern border of the then British Colonies and in the definition of the borders of the new United States of America.
John Mitchell (1711–1768) was born in Virginia and educated in medicine in Edinburgh, Scotland. He returned to Virginia and practised as a physician, before emigrating back to England in 1746, where he was introduced to the president of the Board of Trade and Plantations, the Earl of Halifax. Matthew Edney suggests that it was most likely Halifax who approached Mitchell to serve as an expert on colonial affairs, and later commissioned him to draw a map of America to define English territorial rights. Mitchell’s first attempt resulted in a manuscript map finished in 1750. This prototype proved insufficient, and Halifax issued a special directive ordering every colonial governor on the North American mainland to send detailed accounts and maps of their colonies and boundaries. He also gave Mitchell access to the Board’s archives, including maps by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson, Christopher Gist, George Washington, and John Barnwell.
The map was engraved by Thomas Kitchin and published by Andrew Millar. The colouring outlines British colonial claims. There is extensive text throughout describing and explaining various features including natural resources and potential for settlement of frontier regions, as well as notes claiming British boundaries over French ones. The text outlines different legal justifications for British settlements: some areas are declared de facto British because of existing British settlements; others are taken as included in royal charters issued to settlers by British monarchs; and some are marked as acquired from Native Americans. The title cartouche has been carefully designed to suggest the fertile potential of the American colonies, decorated with wheat, a beaver and barrels of molasses. The two Native American figures are shown looking up towards the crest of the royal family and the union flag, indicating the dependence of the colonies upon Britain.
The map was used by Halifax to push his aggressive colonial policies in North America. He was reluctant to concede any territory to the French, and used Mitchell’s work to stymie a neutral zone in Ohio proposed by the diplomat Sir Thomas Robinson. Mitchell’s work, although impeccably sourced, was an unapologetic statement of British claims in the continent, to the extent that the chancellor, the Earl of Hardwicke, was worried that its publication would lead to public outcry if the government compromised with the French.
Mitchell’s work was immediately popular, and spawned a host of imitations. The map’s credentials, linked to both Halifax and the Board of Trade, gave it an authority beyond contemporary productions: even Henry Popple’s landmark map of America was only produced by the permission of the Board of Trade, rather than with its co-operation. It represented both a landmark in the history of the cartography of America — as the most efficiently sourced and drawn map of the period — but also in the use of cartography in government policy.
During the middle years of the eighteenth century, numerous maps were created as tensions over dominance in North America were leading up to the French and Indian War. “During those years, British and French cartographers were each claiming large, overlapping territories for their respective colonies in America. Cartographic warfare reached its peak in 1755, when several of the most enduring maps of North America were published. It was during ‘the year of the great maps’ that Dr. John Mitchell published his ‘Map of the British and French Dominions in North America …’ the next year, Britain was fighting a war with France that many historians consider to be the most decisive in history. At the conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763, France surrendered more territory to the British than has changed hands in any other conflict before or since… For five years, Dr. Mitchell collected every available scrap of geographical information to create the most comprehensive and up-to-date colonial map of North America. He sought out so many geographers and historians that he told Cadwallader Colden “there are none I believe but what I have consulted”. Some of his other resources were the many printed maps available in the 1740s and 1750s; through the good offices of his friend George Montague Dunk, Earl of Halifax, he was given access to the repository of official manuscript maps and geographical materials on file in the archives of the Board of Trade in London. The resulting map, dedicated to Dunk, is so detailed and accurate that it has been used to resolve border disputes in the twentieth century. Nevertheless, its original concern was the division of North America between the British and the French.
“On the western extremities of the map, Mitchell cites charters dated May 23, 1609, and November 3, 1620, that stated that the western boundaries of Virginia and New England stretched ‘from Sea to Sea, out of which our other colonies were granted’. In these few words, Mitchell cavalierly claimed for the British all of the vast, unexplored lands in North America reaching to the Pacific Ocean” (Cohen ‘Mapping the West’ pages 59–60).
Pritchard & Taliaferro, 21 (state 5); Stevens & Tree 54d
MEAD, Braddock, also known as ‘John Green’. A Map of the Most Inhabited Part of New England, containing the Provinces of Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire, with the Colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island Divided into Countries and Townships: The whole composed from Actual Surveys and its Situation adjusted by Astronomical Observations. London: Thomas Jefferys, November 29, 1755 [but c1768].
Large engraved map, on four separate sheets, with contemporary hand-colour in outline.
Second edition, second issue of Mead’s map of New England, with the inset of ‘Fort Frederick’ replaced by a ‘A Plan of the Town of Boston’, all the country to the north of ‘Stephens Fort’ previously marked ‘Wilderness’ now laid out in townships, and with a note relating to the boundary between New York and New Hampshire, engraved immediately beneath the inset of Boston upper left. The map is decorated with an elaborate asymmetrical rococo title cartouche incorporating a vignette of the Pilgrims and Native Americans at Plymouth Rock.
Mead’s is the pre-eminent pre-Revolutionary War map of New England, and of great geographic and political significance. First issued in 1755, his map was the largest, most detailed and accurate portrait of New England to date and made a powerful statement of British territorial claims at the outset of the French and Indian War. Its importance was such that it was revised and reissued well into the 1790s and for decades served as a primary source for European and American mapmakers, and an essential tool for soldiers and statesmen concerned with the region.
This elegant map depicts New England to 44 0 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 and Massachusetts east of the Connecticut River are entirely laid out in a grid of counties and townships; whereas much of 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. The map also gives a detailed depiction of the Hudson River Valley, placing particular emphasis on the network of British forts and critical portages such as the “Great Carrying Place” from Lake George to the Hudson. A small note at Lake George shows “Genl. Johnson’s Camp Sep. 7, 1755,” a reference to the Battle of Lake George, which took place less than three months prior to the map’s publication.
Adding to the map’s documentary value and decorative appeal is an early chart of Boston Harbor at bottom center, derived from one that first appeared in the 1706 edition of ‘The English Pilot: Fourth Book’.
Mead’s map remained the primary authority for the region until the nineteenth-century, and ranks in importance with Mouzon’s North and South Carolina, Fry and Jefferson’s Virginia and Maryland, and Scull’s Pennsylvania.
Braddock Mead (1688–1757), also known as John Green, was Thomas Jefferys’ brilliant but eccentric cartographer and draughtsman. Mead carefully collected, analyzed and synthesized information from disparate sources, which he acknowledged on his maps. This map of New England demonstrates an intelligent compilation and careful evaluation of reports on latitudes and longitudes. At a time when the quality and ethics of map production were at a low ebb in England, Mead vigorously urged and practiced high standards; in the making of maps and nautical charts he was in advance of his time. Records of the period (see Cumming) indicate that Mead was “on the lam” through most of his career in London for attempting to coerce into marriage a 12-year old Irish heiress. Such a maneuver was at the time punishable by death in Ireland, Mead’s homeland. Mead worked in London under the assumed names of Rogers and John Green until his suicide in 1757.
Cumming 45–47; Stevens and Tree 33d; Streeter, Americana, II:690.
2. The library of the Earls of Macclesfield, at Shirburn Castle, with their North Library bookplate on the front free endpaper, and neat blind stamp in the margin of the map by D’Anville. On General Parker’s death, his library of military books was added to the main Macclesfield collection at Shirburn Castle in about 1791 (Edward Edwards, Cf. Libraries and founders of libraries, Chap. X, p. 325 ff).