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Striking Map of British India

This highly detailed two-page map depicts the southern portion of India as it was known at the turn of the nineteenth century. It includes thorough information about the extent of British rule in India at the time.

The map, which extends over two pages, depicts the subcontinent as far north as Bombay (Mumbai), as far east as the City of Ellore (Eluru) and the Bay of Bengal, as far south as the city of Cape Comorin (Kanyakumari) and the northern half of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and as far west as the Laccadives (Lakshadwap).

The map highlights the British influence over the region by utilizing the Anglicized names of settlements and landmarks, as well as by emphasizing the British conquest of the continent through the color coding of the territories and marches of various British officials across the subcontinent.  

In the bottom left corner, an ornate cartouche features several notes about the map and a series of scale bars portraying multiple units of measurement. A note from Faden is also featured on the first page, just above the page break, which explains his source, Captain Wheeler, for information about the placement of the route of a prisoner march from Condapoor to Madras.

Originally published in 1792, the map is color-coded by hand to portray the territorial holdings of various groups, as explained in a legend at the bottom. Red regions represented areas held by the British, largely under the control of the British East India Company. Purple regions are those under the influence of the Raja of Mysore, a kingdom ruled in the late-eighteenth century by Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan, who were known for inciting various rebellions against the British.

The holdings of the Marhatta are colored in green and the Nizam in orange. The annotation at the bottom of the map lists the Marhatta and the Nizam as being allies of Britain, acquired by partition treaties in 1792 and 1799. The territories in yellow are under the rule of the Nawabs of the Carnatic (also known as the Nawabs of Arcot), who managed to resist British colonization until the early-nineteenth century. Territories in blue were under control of the Kingdom of Travancore, which came under the rule of the British East India Company after a 1795 treaty.

Several notable marches across India are illustrated in the map. That of the Marquess of Cornwallis, whose route is demarcated in red, was one of the most prominent British figures in India during this era. From 1786 to 1793, he was governor general and commander in chief of India. He was known for defeating Tipu Sultan of Mysore in battle in 1792, forcing the Sultan to accept peace terms. Cornwallis also served as a general in the British Army during the American Revolutionary War and as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in the last years of the eighteenth century.

The British in India from 1600-1800

While contact between Europe and the Indian subcontinent goes back for centuries, the presence of European colonizers in the region began with Vasco de Gama of Portugal arriving in Calicut (Kozhikode) in 1498. However, the most well-known and extensive colonization of India came under the presence of the British.

In 1600, the East India Company of England received trading rights in the Indian Ocean. By the mid-seventeenth century, the East India Company was pushed out of the trade in the East Indies due to competition from Dutch, French and Portuguese traders, leading them to focus on the spice trade on the Indian subcontinent. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the British began to gain a stronger presence on the Indian subcontinent due in large part to attacks on the Mughal Empire, the formation of relationships with local rulers and traders, and successful military action. The Company represented Britain on the subcontinent until 1858, when the Crown formally took over the colony.

This map has three states, the first of which was published in 1792 and the third of which was published in 1800.

Condition Description
Two sheets, unoined.
"Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis (1738-1805)", 2019. University of Nottingham Special Collections, accessed October 9,,1stmarquesscornwallis(1738-1805).aspx; Sanjay Subrahmanyam, "India - The Regional States 1700-1850" Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019,; Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2013, "Travancore" Encyclopedia Britannica, MO
William Faden Biography

William Faden (1749-1836) was the most prominent London mapmaker and publisher of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. His father, William Mackfaden, was a printer who dropped the first part of his last name due to the Jacobite rising of 1745. 

Apprenticed to an engraver in the Clothworkers' Company, he was made free of the Company in August of 1771. He entered into a partnership with the family of Thomas Jeffreys, a prolific and well-respected mapmaker who had recently died in 1771. This partnership lasted until 1776. 

Also in 1776, Faden joined the Society of Civil Engineers, which later changed its name to the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers. The Smeatonians operated as an elite, yet practical, dining club and his membership led Faden to several engineering publications, including canal plans and plans of other new engineering projects.

Faden's star rose during the American Revolution, when he produced popular maps and atlases focused on the American colonies and the battles that raged within them. In 1783, just as the war ended, Faden inherited his father's estate, allowing him to fully control his business and expand it; in the same year he gained the title "Geographer in Ordinary to his Majesty."

Faden also commanded a large stock of British county maps, which made him attractive as a partner to the Ordnance Survey; he published the first Ordnance map in 1801, a map of Kent. The Admiralty also admired his work and acquired some of his plates which were re-issued as official naval charts.

Faden was renowned for his ingenuity as well as his business acumen. In 1796 he was awarded a gold medal by the Society of Arts. With his brother-in-law, the astronomer and painter John Russell, he created the first extant lunar globe.

After retiring in 1823 the lucrative business passed to James Wyld, a former apprentice. He died in Shepperton in 1826, leaving a large estate.