A Map of the Most Inhabited Part of New England....
Thomas Jefferys & John Green
Published by Robert Sayer and John Bennet , London, 1774
Copper engraving with original, full wash hand color in two parts as issued
Sheet dimensions: 21 x 41 inches (each)
Framed dimensions: 27 1/2 x 46 1/2 inches (each)
A Map of the Most Inhabited part of New England... is the most influential map of this area created during the eighteenth century. Although its publication is credited to Thomas Jefferys (c.1719 - 1771), in the 1950's cartographic historian G. R. Crone established that it was drawn by Jefferys' assistant Braddock Mead (c.1688 - 1757), a colorful character also known by the name of John Green. An engraver and publisher rather than
specifically a cartographer, Jefferys rose to prominence through capitalizing on the efforts of earlier map makers. Within the ethically pliable parameters of the map trade at the time he orchestrated the compilation and re-engraving their works and published them as lucid cartographic expansions. This system worked sufficiently well that in 1746 Jefferys gained an appointment as "Geographer to Frederick, Prince of Wales" and after 1761 "Royal Cartographer to King George III." This position provided Jefferys and his associates access to the most current cartographic material available. His unparalleled maps of America, which he started producing in approximately 1750, include some of the finest and most important late colonial era maps of America ever produced. Despite his
prolific publishing history, royal appointments, and international fame, Jefferys lived most of his life in poverty and eventually went bankrupt. This circumstance forced him into partnership with Robert Sayer (1725 - 1794), a successful publisher of a wide range
of printed materials. Sayer provided the resources to reprint many of Jefferys' existing plates and likely benefited from the larger share of the profits. Following Jefferys' death Sayer acquired a new partner, John Bennet (d.1787) with whom he purchased additional
printing plates for which Jefferies was responsible. In addition to republishing Jefferys maps as separate issues Sayer and Bennet gathered them together and issued them atlas form. Titled The American Atlas and credited to Jefferys the first edition appeared in 1775. Boosted by the American Revolution the atlas was a commercial success and was followed by reprints in 1776 (1777), 1778, and 1782.
As is the case with A Map of the Most Inhabited part of New England, other fine examples of Jefferys' maps are now considered to have been drawn by a cartographer born in Ireland with the name Braddock Mead. After receiving a respectable education he came to London in 1717 where he supplemented his cartographic and engraving work with "hack jobs" and gambling. In 1728 he participated in a plot to defraud a 12 year old
Irish heiress of her fortune by kidnapping and marrying her. Unlike his coconspirator Mead was not hanged, he was however, incarcerated and following his release began using the pseudonym John Green prior to his suicide by third-story autodefenestration. Despite Mead/Green's questionable moral fiber his highly impressive talent in the field of cartography cannot be disputed. He was hired by Jefferys around 1750 and is considered the secret behind Jefferys' most successful maps. Cartographic historian William Cumming notes that Mead/ Green possessed the following characteristics:
"One was his ability to collect, to analyze the value of, and to use a wide variety of
sources; these he acknowledged scrupulously on the maps he designed and even
more fully in accompanying remarks. Another outstanding characteristic was his
intelligent compilation and careful evaluation of reports on latitudes and longitudes used in the construction of his maps, which he also entered in tables on the face of the maps...Mead's contributions to cartography stand out...At a time when the quality and the ethics of map production were at a low ebb in England, he vigorously urged and practiced the highest standards; in the making of maps and navigational charts he was in advance of his time. For this he deserves due credit."
In the case of this map the attribution to Mead/Green is made not only on the basis of similarities between this map and others ascribed to him, but more importantly by the fact that he distinguished places for which the locations had been determined astronomically. The end of the map’s full title, 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 Counties and Townships: the whole composed from actual surveys and its situation adjusted by Astronomical Observations makes this patent.
Prominently featured on the center right of the map Mead/Green identifies some of the sources on which his map is based, a feature infrequently seen in eighteenth century cartography. He acknowledges a 1737 survey of Connecticut by Gardner and Kellock, the divisions of Massachusetts and Rhode Island "from particular Surveys, Plans and Charts", New Hampshire from the surveys of George Mitchell and Richard Hazzen in 1750, the coast east of Cape Elizabeth and the Kennebec River made under the ordered by Governor Shirley in 1754, Long Island, New York Harbor and the course of the Hudson River to the area known as Fort Nicholson or Fort Lydius (Now Fort Edward) by Hazzen and others, and Woods Creek with St. Sacrament and part of Lake Champlain from a French survey.
He also notes "The lands granted by Massachusetts Bay Province but are since determined to be within the Province of New Hampshire are distinguished by Purple" (although this is frequently not the case). Despite these decelerations its compilation relayed heavily on unnamed precursors most importantly Dr. William Douglass's (c.1691-1752) 1753 Plan of the British Dominions of New England in North America. A Boston physician, Douglass put twenty years of effort into a remarkably detailed manuscript
map which showed townships, grants, and topography which was brought to London where it was engraved in the year following his death. Douglass' obscure map has long been recognized as the primary source for the above map, but the reasons for its omission from Mead/Green's source list remain a mystery. Though Mead/Green's map made significant advances over the Douglass map, the clear similarity between the two maps suggests that professional jealously may be the cause.
The map depicts the entire region from Long Island Sound up north to the line of 44'30 of latitude. While it shows that the coastal areas and the lower Connecticut Valley were well
settled, areas of the interior, especially in New Hampshire and the future Vermont were just developing, with the early boundaries of townships having recently been established by surveyors. The map includes a highly- detailed inset plan at upper left of Boston that shows the city at the start of the Revolution, and a second inset of Boston Harbor with soundings near the title. It is an excellent source of eighteenth-century place names.
Furthermore it was primary cartographic reference for military strategy in the region and was used by both Continental and British forces during the American Revolutionary War.
Following the war it was a principle reference for the settling of boundary and border disputes. Many of the state and county borders active today hail from the map. Printed on four sheets with a scale of one inch to twelve miles it is ample enough to include many small communities and is an excellent source for eighteenth-century place names.
In the upper left corner of the map is a highly detailed inset plan of Boston showing the city at the start of the Revolution also included is a second inset of Boston Harbor with soundings. It is possible that Jefferies had intended Green's map of New England as a companion to Joshua Fry (c. 1700 - 1754) and Peter Jefferson's (1708 - 1757) Map of the Most Inhabited Parts of Virginia...of 1754. The titles of both contain the words "most inhabited part," share the same format of four four sheets in addition to the same design scheme of cartouches in the lower right depicting scenes relative to their locations. In the case of the Map of the Most Inhabited part of New England...the detailed cartouche depicts an idealized landing of the Pilgrims included in which is a rock into which "PLYMOUTH / MDCXX" has been incised, indicating the location and year. Among the figures shown in period dress are a woman and child. An allegorical figure of of Liberty holding a staff topped with a cap witnesses the group being greeted by a bowing Native American. Chests and old world utensils are visible in the foreground while in the distance the Mayflower is anchored close to shore. Also included in this idyllic scene are fish, a beaver pelt, and trees, reflecting Britain's commercial interests in New England's natural resources.
Description compiled by Erik Brockett who is pleased to provide additional information relating to this or other examples of 18th century American maps available at Arader Galleries. He can be contacted at email@example.com