Maps of Early Explorers and Colonies
This was the first separate map of Virginia. Drawn by John White, it appeared in Thomas Harriot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia in Vol. 1 of Theodore de Bry’s Great Voyages in 1590.
As an explorer, surveyor, cartographer, painter, and colonial administrator, John White played a central role in Sir Walter Raleigh’s attempt to plant a colony along this coast. Apparently from a humble background, White belonged to the London painter-stainers guild and achieved historical significance because of his employment by Raleigh. During White’s first voyage to Virginia in 1585-86, he along with Thomas Harriot, a noted scientist, surveyed the region. White’s detailed paintings of Natives engaged in daily activities rank among the most important images of North American Indians. The sketch White produced in 1585, a copy of which is preserved in the British Museum, became the basis for this published map.
In 1587 White returned to Virginia as governor with a small group of colonists. Under orders from Raleigh, White planned to pick up the remaining Englishmen on Roanoke Island and move the entire settlement to a more favorable location on the Chesapeake Bay, but the ship captain refused to comply with White’s orders. At the urging of his settlers, White returned to England to secure needed supplies. The arrival of the Spanish Armada in 1588 delayed his return until 1590, when he found the vacant “Lost Colony.” Among those missing were his daughter and granddaughter, Virginia Dare, the first English colonist born in North America. In the same year, White’s map appeared in Theodore De Bry publication of Harriot’s glowing accounts of Virginia that sought to attract new settlers to Virginia, even though White’s experience there might argue against such a migration.
Jacques Le Moyne’s map and forty-two of his illustrations of Timucua Indian life in Florida appeared in De Bry’s work. The experiences of le Moyne paralleled and then intersected with that of John White. In 1564 Le Moyne sailed as an artist with the French Huguenot’s illfated attempt to plant a colony in Florida. The Spanish attacked Fort Carolina on the River May (the St. John’s), and only fifteen people, including Le Moyne, escaped the massacre. He then settled in London and was hired by Sir Walter Raleigh to document his Florida experience. Le Moyne and White became colleagues, and a surviving, unpublished map by White that covers from Cuba to the Chesapeake was certainly based on this work by Le Moyne. Both White and Le Moyne came into contact with the Dutch publisher, Theodore De Bry, who lived in London from 1585 until 1588. Le Moyne refused to accept De Bry’s offer to purchase his work, but when LeMoyne died in 1587 his wife sold his work to De Bry. Some scholars question the autheticity of LeMoyne’s Florida drawings since they should have been destroyed during the Spanish attack.
While this map included accurate information about the coast, the speculative nature of the interior, particularly the placement and size of the lakes, perpetuated misinformation for decades. Some later cartographers combined Le Moyne and White’s maps and produced a map which greatly reduced the Carolina area.
Captain John Smith displayed in words and pictures his heroic exploits in Virginia. This account of his capture of Indians and their capture of him along with his rescue by Pocahontas made him the first legendary figure in American history.
The map in the bottom center panel was published separately in 1624 and then as shown here as a page in Smith’s Generall Historie. Cumming and De Vorsey commented on this map by noting how little cartographical impact Smith’s work had on later map makers. Burden disagrees and states how useful Smith’s work remains for contemporary archaeologists because Smith accurately located 166 Indian
Leading cartographic scholar Philip Burden labeled Smith’s work, “One of the most important printed maps of America ever produced.” In 1608, the second year of the colony, Smith led an expedition to reconnoiter the interior and to find food. For several months he explored the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers. His map shows how far he ventured up these rivers. The key reads, “To the crosses hath bin discouerd what beyond is by relation.” When Smith returned to Jamestown, he reluctantly became its leader and tried to impose discipline on the colonists for a year. Back in England after 1609, Smith arranged for the publication of his monumental map and book, the source of this map.
The bold and arrogant John Smith, who emblazoned his portrait on his map, had no intention of retiring from his life of adventure after leaving Jamestown. He envisioned creating his own colony to the north of Virginia, a more realistic, better organized settlement with him in charge.
In 1614 he explored and surveyed the coast of Maine and Massachusetts Bay and in 1616 published this map, the first to use the name New England. He replaced many of the indigenous names with English ones, but his only surviving place names are Cape Ann, Charles River, and Plymouth. Storms, shipwrecks, pirates, and capture by the French ended his later attempts to settle there, and his map remains as the most positive result of this venture. Thwarted as a colonizer, in part because of his boldness, he settled for writing books about his adventures and the New World.
The director of the Dutch West Indies Company, Johannes de Laet, and the company’s chief cartographer, Hessel Gerritsz, collaborated in producing and publishing early maps of the New World. This depiction of the southeastern region of North America was one of the first to label Florida the Tegesta Province for the Tequesta Indians who lived on the southeast tip of the peninsula. That title continued to be used by map makers for almost two centuries. Rather than showing the Mississippi as a single river, Gerritsz and Laet have six separate rivers flowing into the Bahía del Spíritu Santo and another illogical delta configuration of three rivers at what is now Apalachicola. They also followed the tradition of other early map makers by including large interior lakes in the Appalachian mountains and along the Atlantic seaboard. Hessel Gerritsz had worked for Willem Blaeu before he joined the Dutch West India Company, and Gerritsz actually travelled to Brazil and the Caribbean in 1628-29 to experience the New World, an unusual act for map makers during that period. His maps became models for those cartographers who followed him during the 17th century.
Always known as Lord Baltimore’s map, this is the first depiction of Maryland as a separate colony. Two “adventurers” among the first colonizers, Jerome Hawley and John Lewger, probably drew the map. They obviously used John Smith’s map; the delineations are similar, and both share the same north-facing right orientation. While Smith provides a more accurate image of the Chesapeake Bay, Hawley and Lewger did some surveying and added more details. This was the first published map to label the James and Rappahannock Rivers correctly. With the Calvert family’s coat of arms prominently displayed, this map was produced as a compliment to a pamphlet (also written by Hawley and Lewger) designed to attract settlers to this Catholic refuge. Only twenty copies of the pamphlet with the original map are preserved in libraries in the U.S. and the U.K. John Ogilby issued a second edition of this map in his America (1671). Earlier scholars asserted that Ogilby used the 1635 plate for his image, but later ones challenge that assertion because of Ogilby’s additions. He labelled the ten Maryland counties that existed in 1671. His new version had an extra row of trees along the northern border, and he moved that boundary northward to the 40th parallel, a detail missing from the original, but one certainly supported by the Baltimore family. This map is Ogilby’s edition. (Information from Huntingfield Map Collection, The Maryland State Archives.)
The primary source for this work was a map produced by Adrian Block in 1614. Working for fellow fur traders within the Dutch West India Company, Block explored and mapped the coast between Cape Cod and Manhattan. His was the first map to show Manhattan as an island and to label “Manhates” and Niev Nederlandt.” By naming Adrian Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island, he insured continuing fame. Block used de Laet’s 1630 work and Samuel de Champlain’s 1612 map. Block placed north to the right as was the case with John White and John Smith’s maps.
Willem Janzsoon Blaeu, a Dutch cartographer, took Block’s work, expanded it, and produced one of the most beautiful maps of the period. Animals such as beavers, polecats, and otters appear here for the first time on a European publication. A Mohawk village based on John White’s drawings published by de Bry views for attention with sailing ships and Indian canoes.
Blaeu, who was educated by the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, began a cartographic tradition that established his family for generations as the leading map, globe, and atlas publisher during the golden are of Dutch map making.