Rare First State of Jean Palairet's Map of the British Colonies In North America, Engraved by Thomas Kitchin in London .
First state of Palairet's map of the British and French Colonies in North America, from his A CONCISE DESCRIPTION OF THE ENGLISH and FRENCH POSSESSIONS IN North-America, For the better explaining of the MAP published with that Title. BY J. PALAIRET, Agent of their High Mightinesses the States General of the United Provinces, &c., first published in London in 1755.
Palairet's map is one of the earliest separately published maps of the Colonies to incorporate the information from John Mitchell's seminal 8 sheet map. Jean Palairet was an English mapmaker, who had been born in France. At the time of publication of this work, he was serving as the Agent to the Dutch States-General in London. Intended as anti-French propaganda, the map's purpose was succinctly described by Thomas Streeter as:
. . . brought out to support the English claims in America that led to the French and Indian War, as is suggested by the bellicose printed label on the case [of Streeter's copy] which reads as follows: "A Pocket Map of the English and French Dominions in North America, wherein The Lands Claim'd and Encroach'd by the French, and Their Forts erected thereon, are particularly laid down. . . (Streeter Catalog: #821)
Palairet's rare map and his accompanying pamphlet were published simultaneously in English and French, and provide a fascinating picture of the North American Colonies on the eve of the French & Indian War. The relevant facts in dispute between the various claimants in North America on the eve of the French and Indian war are laid out by Palairet. In the preface of his pamphlet, Palairet notes:
The method in which I have coloured [the map], will easily discover the English and French Possessions, as well the countries that are now the subject of contest between those two nations, as the forts which the French have built, or taken in the midst of the English Colonies, and in the countries claimed by the English.
The pamphlet describes the events leading up to the conflict in much detail. Together the map and pamphlet are very rare, so much so that Streeter believed his copy to be unique.
The map depicts the English Colonies in Yellow, the French Colonies in Green and what would become the areas under conflict during the French & Indian War in Pink (the Spanish areas of Nouv: Mexico and Floride are shown in a blue-green shade).
The first state of the map is an exceptional rarity. In his on-line catalogue of John Rocque's Catalogue of his engraved works, Mapforum author and publisher Ashley Baynton Williams identifies the first state of Palairet's 1755 map as pre-dating both inclusion of the annotation below the Explication "n.b. La province de Main & la territoire de Sagadahook, sont / de la jurisdiction de Massachusets-Bay" AND the inclusion of 3 longitudinal boundary lines both of which are present on the second state (circa 1756).
This is the first time we have ever handled the first state of this map.
Thomas Kitchin (1719–1784) was a British cartographer and engraver. Born in Southwark, England, Kitchin was the eldest of several children. He was apprenticed to the map engraver Emanuel Bowen from 1732 to 1739, and he married Bowen’s daughter, Sarah, in December 1739. By 1741 Kitchin was working independently and in 1746 he began taking on apprentices at his firm. His son Thomas Bowen Kitchin was apprenticed to him starting in 1754. By 1755 Kitchin was established in Holborn Hill, where his firm produced all kinds of engraving material, including portraits and caricatures. He married his second wife, Jane, in 1762. Beginning in 1773 Kitchin was referred to as Hydrographer to the King, a position his son also later held. He retired to St. Albans and continued making maps up to the end of his life.
A prolific engraver known for his technical facility, clean lettering, and impressive etched decoration, Kitchin produced several important works throughout his career. He produced John Elphinstone’s map of Scotland in 1746, and the first pocket atlas of Scotland, Geographia Scotiae, in 1748/1749. He co-published The Small English Atlas in 1749 with another of Bowen’s apprentices, Thomas Jefferys. He produced The Large English Atlas serially with Emanuel Bowen from 1749 to 1760. This latter was the most important county atlas since the Elizabethan era, and the first real attempt to cover the whole country at a large scale. In 1755 Kitchin engraved the important John Mitchell map of North America, which was used at the peace treaties of Paris and Versailles. In 1770 he produced the twelve-sheet road map England and Wales, and in 1769–70 he produced Bernhard Ratzer’s plans of New York. In 1783 he published The Traveller’s Guide through England and Wales.
Jean Palairet (1697-1774) was a mapmaker and teacher. He was born in Montauban, France, but emigrated to England as a young man. He worked as an agent for the French States General and as the French tutor to the children of George II. Later, he served as the Agent to the Dutch States-General in London. He wrote works on orthography and French grammar, as well as published a geography primer, a teaching atlas, and his more famous map of the colonies with an accompanying pamphlet.