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The First Commercial Sea Chart To Incorporate Clement Lempriere's Survey of Bermuda

Fine example of the Jeffery's / Laurie & Whittle edition of Clement Lempriere's rare chart of Bermuda, the single most influential map of the Island published in the 18th Century.

Lempriere's very rare chart of Bermuda, published in 1738, was the first major cartographic advance in the charting of Bermuda since Richard Norwood's survey in the 1660s. Lempriere's map would become the prototype for all subsequent maps of Bermuda for more than 50 years. It shows the island divided into the domains of the various 'tribes', the names given to the various private proprietors of the island, who originally received royal patents from King James I in the early 17th century. The island's captial, St. Georges, is located in the far right of the map (Hamilton would not be made the capital until 1815) and various forts, parish churches and roads are labelled throughout the chart. The placement of crosses in the coastal waters identifiy the dangerous reefs which surround Bermuda. All considered, it is a very advanced survey for its time, having been conducted by a combination of trigonometric and chain surveys.

The original Lempriere chart was separately-issued, perhaps accounting for its low survival rate. The work was dedicated to Alured Popple, who served as Governor of Bermuda from 1738 to 1744.

The Lempriere chart formed the basis for all published maps of the island for the duration of the 18th century, with versions being issued even as late as 1829. These most notably include the present chart, which was first published in Thomas Jefferys' West-India Atlas (1775).

Clement Lempriere (1683-1746) is best known as a sea captain, surveyor and artist from the Island of Jersey. He most notably, was the designer of Henry Popple's (the brother of Alured Popple) famous Map of the British Empire in North America (1733), the first large-scale map of America. While Lempriere was a very consequential figure, his biography remains somewhat vague. What is known from sketches which survive is that he was well travelled, although it is not known at what stage of his life or in what order he visited Scotland, Portugal, the Balearic Islands and Bermuda.

In 1725, he drew up an important militray map of roads in the Scottish Highlands, following the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. In 1727, he was appointed Draughtsman to the Civil Branch of the Ordnance Office (the British Army's mapping division) with a salary of £100 a year and an office in the Tower of London, a position he held until his death. He seems to have mixed his professional life with his art, publishing a map of Bermuda, engravings of his paintings of warships and an important map of the Channel Islands, A General and Particular Prospectus of the Islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Serc, Arm and Jethou (1755).

Although the dates of his residence in Bermuda are not known, Lempriere likely visited the islands in the early 1720s before traveling to Scotland to create his road map. He was likely commissioned to make the survey by the island's governor or some of the local proporietors. The survey thus remained only in manuscript form for about 15 years. Lempriere's survey represented the first general mapping of the island since Richard Norwood completed his final survey in 1662. Richard Norwood conducted the first survey of the islands in 1616, being the first survey of any English colony. Amazingly, at the age of 72, Norwood re-surveyed Bemuda in 1662. Norwood's surveys formed the basis of all 17th century maps of the islands, including those by John Speed (1627) and Willem Blaeu (1630). Arent Roggeveen published the first proper sea chart focusing on Bemruda in 1675 and the present chart is the natural successor to this work.

The original Lempriere chart is extremely rare, making this the best obtainable version of the chart.

Richard Holmes Laurie Biography

Richard Holmes Laurie (1777-1858) was the son of mezzotint engraver Robert Laurie, who had taken over Robert Sayer's publishing house with James Whittle in 1794. Richard Holmes Laurie joined in a partnership with Whittle when his father retired in 1812. The name of the firm then switched from Laurie & Whittle to Whittle & Laurie. Whittle died in 1818, leaving Richard Holmes to continue publishing alone as R. H. Laurie.

When the Hydrographic Office opened in 1795, it was tasked with creating and producing all the nautical charts for the Royal Navy so as to wean the Navy off dependence on foreign charts. By the 1820s, private publishers were augmenting HO charts and competing with them, including Richard Holmes Laurie. Richard gave up publishing anything except nautical materials by 1830. He also sold charts to Trinity House, the lighthouse and maritime safety fraternity. He died in 1858. 

The firm continued to print under the name R.H. Laurie even after 1858. Later, the firm was managed by Laurie’s draughtsman, Alexander George Findlay, and, later, Daniel and William Kettle.

James Whittle Biography

James Whittle (1757-1818) was a British engraver and map printer. Whittle was employed by Robert Sayer (ca. 1725-1794). Together with Robert Laurie (1755?-1836), he took on Sayer’s business when the older man died in 1794. The two traded together as Laurie & Whittle until 1812, when Laurie retired. They had specialized in sea charts and maritime atlases. Whittle then partnered with Laurie’s son, Richard Holmes Laurie, until he died in 1818.