The Earliest Detailed Charting Of Hilton Head
Extremely rare first state of this marvelous Colonial chart of the area around Hilton Head, South Carolina, based upon a survey by Captain John Gascoigne.
Gascoigne's finely engraved chart was produced at the beginning of the American Revolution, at a time when the outcome among the combatants was still very much in doubt. The chart covers the coastal region of South Carolina, from Port Royal Sound in the north, down past the mouth of the Savannah River and Tybee Island, Georgia, in the south, centered on Hilton Head Island (called "Trench's Island") and "D'Awfoskee Sound," which is today known as Calibogue Sound.
The area around Hilton head was first settled in 1562 by Jean Ribaut, who founded a Huguenot settlement called Charlesfort, which was soon destroyed by the Spanish. The Spanish founded the fort and Jesuit mission of Santa Elena in 1566.
Hilton Head was named in 1663 by Captain William Hilton, on a reconnaissance mission from Barbados, shortly after the creation of the Carolina Colonial Grant in 1661. English settlers arrived in the region in the 1670s, but it was not until 1717 that the first Englishman, Col. John Barnwell, settled on Hilton Head, having been given a grant of 100 acres in the northwest corner of the island.
This sea chart was one of the most detailed and accurate of any of the American coastlines. The map is based upon the surveys of Captain John Gascoigne in 1728, assisted by his brother James. In 1729, the chart was corrected and improved by Francis Swaine, before languishing until it was published by William Faden and by Sayer & Bennett in 1776.
The area was the site of extensive naval battles in 1778 and 1779, with the British led by General Augustin Prevost, who seized Savannah in December 1778. The Americans were led by General William Moultrie, who successfully defended the American positions at Hilton Head in September 1778.
The chart was originally issued in 1773, by Jefferys & Faden, with later states in 1776, by Sayer & Bennett and 1794, by Laurie & Whittle. All states of the map are rare, but the first state, is one of the very few maps attributed to Thomas Jefferys Jr., the son of the patriarch of the firm.
Thomas Jefferys (ca. 1719-1771) was a prolific map publisher based in London. His father was a cutler, but Jefferys was apprenticed to Emanuel Bowen, a prominent mapmaker and engraver. He was made free of the Merchant Taylors’ Company in 1744. Jefferys was the Geographer to Frederick Price of Wales and, from 1760, to King George III. He is most known today for his maps of North America, and for his central place in the map trade—he not only sold maps commercially, but also imported the latest materials and had ties to several government bodies for whom he produced materials.
Upon his death in 1771, his workshop passed to his partner, William Faden, and his son, Thomas Jr. However, Jefferys had gone bankrupt in 1765 and some of his plates were bought by Robert Sayer (1725-1794). Sayer, who had partnered in the past with Philip Overton (d. 1751), specialized in (re)publishing maps. In 1770 he partnered with John Bennett and many Jefferys maps were republished by the duo.
William Faden (1749-1836) was a prominent London mapmaker and publisher. He worked in close partnership with the prolific Thomas Jeffreys from 1773 to 1776. In 1783, Faden assumed ownership of the Jeffreys firm and was named Geographer to the King in the same year. Faden specialized in depictions of North America and 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. The Admiralty also admired his work and acquired some of his plates which were re-issued as official naval charts. After retiring in 1823 the lucrative business passed to James Wyld, a former apprentice.