Fine dark impression of the second edition of William Baffin's map of India, which is widely regarded as the first English map of India and the single most influential map of India published in the 17th Century.
Baffin's map represented a significant leap forward in the mapping and geographical understanding of India, significantly improving on earlier printed maps of India by Mercator and Linschoten. The differences are especially noteworthy in the interior of Baffin's map. The Indus River is shown in a relatively accurate fashion for the first time. Western and most of central India are mapped in a relatively accurate format for the first time. One of the most prominent features which first appears on the Baffin-Roe map is the Longe Walke, the route lined with trees between the palaces at Agra and Lahore.
This remarkable map was a result of the collaboration of Sir Thomas Roe, the East India Company's ambassador to the Mughal Empire and William Baffin (1584-1622), the famous explorer, who is best known for his two attempts to find the Northwest Passage while in the employ of The Company of Merchants of London. The work likely began during their time together on Roe's return to England following his time as ambassador. Following Baffin's final attempt to locate the Northwest Passage, he was employed as a surveyor by the East India Company from 1617 until his death in January 1622. In his inital assignment, he sailed to Surat in British India and received accolades for his charts of the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.
While serving as Master's Mate aboard the Ann Royal in 1619, Baffin and Roe were able to collaborate in the preparation of a manuscript map of India, the original of which is now in the British Library. The map was later printed in London by Thomas Sterne in 1620 (engraved by Elsracke). The original manuscript would have been completed prior to February 1620, when Baffin again left England aboard the London.
Baffin's map includes a representation of the Jahangir's dynastic seal at the top right hand corner. showing the geneology of the Mughal dynasty. The seal, consisting of the ruling emperor's name in the center surrounded by his Timurid ancestors, was an important symbol of Mughal imperial authority and was noted by several contemporary European travellers. It was used on official orders (farmans). Baffin's map provides a highly accurate English translation.
The preparation of a map of India had first been a directive given to East India Company sea captain Nicholas Downton in 1614. Downton had been instructed to discover information sufficient to prepare a map of India, but had not obtained the necessary information to complete this task. Sir Thomas Roe, arriving the following year, compiled geographical data on 37 cities between 1615 and 1617. In a letter to Roe, Lord Carew wrote
Let me entreat you, to be carefull to make the mappe of the Mogolls territorie, as you have intended; itt wil be a worke worthye of your selfe and adorne your travell and iudgement, and leave to the world a lasting memorie when you are dust.
By October 1617, Roe had created a geographical compendium of India. The resulting manuscript map, created by Baffin, would become the basis for most printed maps of India for the next 100 years. There is some question as to what role Roe played in the drafting of the map, as a number of the places located on the map do not correspond well to the information laid down in Roe's geographical compendium and at least one commentator has speculated that "Baffin had a hard--sometimes impossible--task in reconciling the statements occuring in the list and in locating his provinces from the meager information available . . . "
The present example of the map is the second edition of the map, utilizing an entirely new plate engraved by Elstracke. Samuel Purchas included the map in his 1625 Hakluytus Pothumus or, Purchas his Pilgrimes, a collection of travel writings, based on the work of the famous geographer, Richard Hakluyt (1552-1616). The first edition of the map includes a second title cartouche and credit, which reads as follows:
Indolstani Imperij Totius Asiae ditissimi descriptio: Ex indagatione Illust: Dom: Tho: Roe Equitis Aurati in Regia Mogollanica Legatum agentis Illustrata: Anno Sal: 1619. Vera. quae visa; quae non veriora. Are to be sold in Paul's Church yarde: by Thomas Sterne, Globemaker. William Baffin deliniavit, et excudebat. Renold Elstrack, Sculp.
The different spellings of Elstracke's name is indeed curious. It has been suggested that the second edition, which was prepared without the supervision of Baffin is not as accurate.
The original Baffin map survives in a single example at the British Library. A second state of the Baffin, dated 1632, is known to exist, "Printed for Henery Tombes and Beniamin Fisher and are to be sold at the Tablut without Aldersgate." This 1625 edition, published by Purchas, is the only obtainable version of this map, which would influence the cartography of the region for the next 100 years.
Samuel Purchas (bap. 1577-1626) is one of the most famous geographers and editors in English history. His important Hakluytus Posthumus served as a source for subsequent geographers for over a century. Purchas was baptized in Thaxted, Essex in 1577, the sixth of ten children. He attended university at St. John’s College, Cambridge and graduated with a BA in 1597 and an MA in 1600. Highly educated, Purchas dedicated his skills to serving as a clergyman in the Church of England. He was ordained as a deacon in 1598 and as a priest in 1601. After serving in several parishes, he became chaplain to Archbishop George Abbot in ca. 1613, the first of several London appointments. At King James’s College, Chelsea, he wrote his only published sermon.
It was at King James’s College that he also composed much of his master work, Hakluytus Posthumus, or, Purchas his Pilgrimes (1624–5). Purchas called upon his relationship with his famous predecessor in travel editing, Richard Hakluyt. In 1620, Purchas acquired the remaining manuscripts collected by Hakluyt and these form the basis for his own work. When it was published, it took three years to print and was the largest book ever published in England. Purchas not only edited and compiled the travel accounts covering Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, but he added anti-Catholic commentary of his own. He died in 1626, shortly after the volumes appeared.
Purchas is important not only as a source for geographers, but for the maps included in his travel collection. The first edition contained nearly ninety maps, some of which were completed by Jodocus Hondius. Not all the maps were original, but there are nevertheless several highly influential maps. For example, the famous John Smith Map of Virginia featured in Purchas’ work. Purchas also included the Henry Briggs Map of North America, the first map in English to show California as an island, as well as the first map to name Hudson’s Bay and the Hudson River. Additionally, there is the William Alexander Map of the Northeast, which pioneered many new place names; Roe’s map of North India, the earliest English map of Mogul lands; and Saris’ map of China, which shows Korea as a peninsula.