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A Rare English Sea Chart of Ceylon and Southern India

Fine East India Company Sea Chart, covering the southern part of India and the island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), published in London by Laurie & Whittle.

The chart was published separately and in the Oriental Pilot; Or, East India Directory . . . , published in London.

The chart includes numerous profile views for both the coast of India and the Island of Ceylon.  At the top left corner, a more detailed set of Observations and sailing directions is included for the coast from Tellicherry to Calicut Road, based upon surveys by Lieut. George Lewis in 1783.   

Below in the bottom left are a second set of Remarks by Lieutenant George Lewis on Cape Coromin and the Gulf of Manara, along with a very detailed treatment of the Maldives.

At the bottom right corner, a section is entitled A Sketch of the Road of Negombo by M. Forten, Master of H.M. Ship Heroine.


The chart is quite rare on the market.  We are not aware of another example coming to market in a number of years.

Condition Description
Several small holes, expertly repaired on the verso.
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.

Robert Laurie Biography

Robert Laurie (1755?-1836) was a British engraver and printseller who specialized in engraving portraits and in publishing maritime charts. His family originated in Dumfriesshire. As a young man he came to London and was apprenticed to Robert Sayer (ca. 1724-1794) in 1770. He received several awards in the 1770s for his mezzotint engraving and printing. He worked for Sayer as apprentice, assistant, and later partner.

In 1794, when Sayer died, Laurie took on his business alongside James Whittle, his fellow Sayer employee. Laurie managed the business and ceased almost all engraving. Instead, he oversaw the prodigious output of printed materials, especially sea charts and maritime atlases. He retired in 1812.

Laurie’s son, Richard Holmes Laurie, took over his part of the business and continued in business as Whittle & Laurie, rather than the previous Laurie & Whittle. Whittle died in 1818, leaving Richard as the sold proprietor of the business. Robert died in 1836 in Hertfordshire.