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1685 (1715 ca) Robert Morden / Philip Lea / George Willdey / John Thornton

Important Map of the British Colonies with the First Printed Plan of New York Harbor

Old color example of this early and highly important map of the English Colonies in North America, which includes the earliest printed plan of New York Harbor.

Thornton, Morden & Lea's map is the first obtainable state of the finest general map of England's American colonies to date. The map is one of the earliest to include Augustine Herrman's cartography for Virginia and Maryland. To the North it includes one of the earliest depictions of the Pennsylvania colony (est. 1681), the first printed chart of New York Harbor, and significant additions to the cartography of New England.

The map shows the English colonies from Cape Ann in Massachusetts to Cape Henry at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. The map extends as far north as the tributaries of the Hudson, and in the southwest it shows the Delaware and Susquehannah Rivers and as far west as the tributaries of the Potomac and Rapahannock. Augustyn and Cohen note the importance of the inset:

To the ambitious person, the map would have presented an enticing vista: it displays a loose federation of colonies, between and beyond which there appears to be ample unclaimed land. It creates an image of an area comfortingly linked by civilization but still containing much open territory.

The geography of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey derives from the Thornton-Greene Mapp of Virginia Mary=land, New Jarsey, New=York, & New England (ca 1678), whose depiction of the region is in turn based largely on Augustine Herrman's Virginia and Maryland (1673). The Thornton-Morden-Lea departs from these prototypes, however, in showing the new colony of Pennsylvania and incorporating changes to the course of the Delaware and place names along its banks.

New York and southern New England are drawn from the Thornton-Greene map, which in turn draws on John Seller's Mapp of New England (1676). Here as well Thornton, Morden and Lea have departed substantially from the prototypes: Long Island's barrier beaches are shown for the first time on a printed map and numerous place names are introduced along the Connecticut coast and on Cape Cod; the boundaries between Massachusetts, Plymouth and Connecticut colonies are drawn; and several roads are shown.

The inset of New York Harbor is also of great import, being the first separate printed chart of the area. Based on a 1683 survey conducted by Philip Wells for William Penn and the other proprietors of West New Jersey, it is far more accurate than earlier work. The inset shows particularly well the shoals that confine shipping to a single deep-water entrance around Sandy Hook.

Remarkably, the map was almost certainly originally issued as part of a 4-sheet wall map, of which only one example survives. As determined by McCorkle and Taliaferro:

The map is actually a separately-issued section of a multi-sheet wall map entitled A New Map of the English Empire in the Continent of America (1685). This ambitious project was a collaborative venture between three of London's leading map publishers, but it resulted in a map that was far too expensive to succeed. The Thornton-Morden-Lea wall map survives today only in one ... copy in the Bibliotheque National in Paris.
But the map's publishers had anticipated that the wall map would be financially risky, so they included all of the English colonies except for Carolina on one sheet, and this sheet was designed to that it could be sold separately. It was given its own secondary title, A New Map of New England New York New Jarsey Pennsylvania Maryland and Virginia, which could be trimmed off when the sheet was used for the wall map. (Richard B. Arkway and Cohen & Taliaferro, Catalogue 62, item #8).

The present example is the first state of the map, bearing the imprints of Thornton, Morden and Lea. Three later states appeared ca. 1695, 1698 and 1715, with alterations both major and minor. While Pritchard and Taliaferro have noted that an earlier state may have existed based on numerous signs of erasure, visible for example in the faint traces of rhumb lines visible on the inset of New York Harbor, no examples are known to have survived.

Condition Description
Old color. Very minor soiling.
Augustyn & Cohen, Manhattan in Maps, pp. 48-49; Burden, Mapping of North America, #616; Cumming, British Maps of Colonial America, p. 31, fig. 18 (detail); McCorkle, New England in Early Printed Maps, entries 680.4 and 685.3; Pritchard & Taliaferro, Degrees of Latitude, pps. 363-364; Stevens
Robert Morden Biography

Robert Morden (d. 1703) was a British map and globe maker. Little is known about his early life, although he was most likely apprenticed to Joseph Moxon. By 1671, Morden was working from the sign of the Atlas on Cornhill, the same address out of which Moxon had previously worked. Most famous for his English county maps, his geography texts, and his wall maps, Modern entered into many partnerships during his career, usually to finance larger publishing projects.

Philip Lea Biography

Philip Lea (fl. 1683-1700) was a central figure in the London map community at the end of the eighteenth century. He apprenticed under Robert Morden, with whom he later collaborated. Lea was made free of the Weavers Company in 1689. He was a publisher and a globe and instrument seller with ties to members of government. For example, Samuel Pepys lists him as his map advisor and colorist. He was not known primarily for his own original works, but for his reworking and reissuing of the work of others, particularly the county maps and world map of Christopher Saxton. He also acquired plates from John Seller, John Ogilby, and William Morgan, among others. Later in his career, he collaborated frequently with Herman Moll. After his death in 1700, Philip’s wife, Anne, carried on the business for several decades.