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Description

Fascinating early map of Virginia, which appeared in the 1743 edition of Jan Frederick Gronovius' Flora Virginica Exhibens Plantas Quas V.C. Johnnes Clayton in Virginia.

The map covers the lower part of the Chesapeake, up to the mouth of the Patuxent river and from the Atlantic to the Alleghany Mountains. The actual maker of the map is not known. The map documents Clayton's travels, "which show that he was seldom north of the Rappahannock or south of the James, and that his knowledge of the mountains did not extend beyond the Blue Ridge. He was thorough, however, in his exploration of the middle Tidewater districts, and recent botanical work shows that as a field botanist he was more astute than has been realized." (DAB).

The first edition of the first Virginia flora. The first part of this work appeared in 1739 and there exists a handful of copies of only the first part with that date. The second part was published in 1743 at which time a cancel title page was issued for the first part, the sheets of which were reissued, not reprinted.

Gronovius' work, based on Clayton's specimens, comprised the first systematic flora of Virginia and was responsible for establishing many new genera. "John Clayton came to Virginia in 1705, where his father was attorney general. Clayton had an estate on the Piankatank River in Mathews County, spent much time in collecting Virginia plants, and discussed them with J.F. and L.T. Gronovius, Linnaeus, Kalm, Collinson, and Bartram.

John Clayton was a botanist and the clerk of Gloucester County (ca. 1720-1773). Born and educated in England, he first appears in colonial records in 1720 as the Gloucester County clerk, a position he held for more than fifty years. He owned a tobacco plantation and more than thirty slaves, and by 1735 was regularly providing naturalists such as Mark Catesby and John Frederick Gronovius with botanical specimens to be identified. Clayton himself identified and was the first to name the genus Agastache, a group of perennial, flowering herbs. In 1737, the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus named the wildflowers of the genus Claytonia in Clayton's honor. During this same time period, Clayton compiled for Gronovius a Catalogue of Herbs, Fruits, and Trees Native to Virginia, which Gronovius translated into Latin and published as Flora Virginica, without Clayton's permission, in 1739. This and subsequent editions were the first, and until the mid-twentieth century, the only compilations of Virginia's native plants. Clayton was elected to the American Philosophical Society (1743), the Swedish Royal Academy of Science (1747), and the Virginian Society for the Promotion of Usefull Knowledge (1773), of which he was the first president.

Condition Description
Image of map from book.