Early English sea chart of the Southern part of Borneo, published by Samuel Thornton, with appeared in his The English Pilot. The Third Book « Defcribing the Sea-Coafts, Capes, Headlands, Streights, Soundings, Sands, Shoals, Rocks, and Dangers…., first published in 1703.
The present example is a fine early impression and includes the full map title in the cartouche, including the attribution to Samuel Thornton at the Signe of England Scotland and Ireland in the Minories.
This chart depicts Kalimantan, now the Indonesian part of Borneo and the adjacent part of the Java Sea. The chart shows excellent detail along the coastline, but virtually no interior detail, as this region was still controlled by indigenous tribes which were hostile to the agents of the Dutch East Indian Company, who controlled the coasts.
The map if further embellished rhumb lines that radiate from a compass rose and from centerpoints placed on an invisible circle.
In 1671, the London cartographer John Seller (fl.1664-97) commenced work on T he English Pilot, a work that intended to challenge Dutch monopoly in the sea atlas market. Intended to be published in four books covering different regions of the globe, Seller published an uncompleted book on ' Oriental navigation' in 1675.
Unable to complete and finance the project, Seller sold his rights to John Thornton, the Official Hydrographer to the English East India Company. Thornton published first editions of a portion of the work in 1689. Thornton did not publish his first edition of the Third Book, detailing navigation in the East Indies, until 1703.
While Thornton largely based his charts on those of earlier Dutch cartographers, most notably those found in Pieter Goos ' Zee-Spiegel and Lucas Janz Waghenaer's Mariner's Mirror, The English Pilot proved to be a commercial success. Upon his death in 1708, his brother Samuel took over the business and added to and modified existing charts.
All four books were produced in editions until the 1760s, the Third Book was published in twelve editions up to 1761. The project succeeded in giving the English dominance in the sea chart market as the eighteenth-century progressed.
John Thornton was a respected and prominent chartmaker in London in the latter part of the seventeenth century. He was one of the final members of the Thames School of chartmakers and served as the hydrographer to the Hudson's Bay Company and the East India Company. He produced a large variety of printed charts, maps, and atlases in his career, but he was also a renowned manuscript chart maker. Born in London in 1641, he was apprenticed in the Drapers Company to a chartmaker, John Burston. After being made free of the company (1665), he was part of the combine that took over John Seller’ English Pilot in 1677. Thornton was trusted by the naval and navigational establishment of the day; one of his clients was Samuel Pepys, naval administrator and diarist. Thornton died in 1708, leaving his stock to his son, Samuel, who carried on the business.
Samuel, born in ca. 1665, also had apprenticed in the Drapers Company and was made free a year after his father’s death. He continued the business until 1715, when he died. His stock then passed to Richard Mount and Thomas Page.