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With a large inset map of Grand Cayman Island!

Extremely rare English Sea Chart by Richard Holmes Laurie, annotated in pencil during early usage.

A fine large format sea chart, with inset maps of:

  • Grand Cayman Island
  • Mouth of the Mississippi
  • Mobile Bay
  • Pensacola 
  • Bemini Isles
  • Port of Vera Cruz etc. (2)
  • Tampico
  • Alachan Bank

Two profile views show the approaches to Matanzas Bay, Cuba and Vera Cruz.

The map shows use at sea, with a voyage extending to the area near Vera Cruz and along the coast of the Yucatan.  There are also annotations near the Dry Tortugas and along the southeastern part of the Florida Keys, South Florida and the Bahamas and on the north coast of Cuba.  An early user seems to have added the lighthouses in these regions as well.  We note annotations near the following:

  • Dry Tortugas
  • Cayo de Boca
  • Cayo Hueso
  • The Vacas
  • North of Carysfort Reef
  • Cayo Biscayo
  • Fowey Rocks
  • North of Greenville Inlet
  • Cape Canaveral
  • Great Isaac and  Brothers (North of Bimini)
  • Barnetts Harbor
  • Elbow K 

John Purdy

John Purdy (1773–1843) was an important English hydrographer. His work and influence extended beyond hydrography with the coinage of the term pharology, the study of modern lighthouses and their designs. Purdy's work Memoir, descriptive and explanatory, to accompany the New Chart of the Atlantic Ocean was adapted and improved; continuing to be released in its fifteenth edition fifty years after his death.

The son of a bookseller at Norwich, Purdy took up the study of naval charts and similar subjects. Before 1812 he succeeded De la Rochette as hydrographer to Messrs. Laurie & Whittle, of 53 Fleet Street, London.

Admiral John MacKellar

The map is dedicated to Admiral John MacKellar.  MacKellar was the son of the late General Patrick Mackellar, a Colonel of the Royal Engineers, who served as Chief Engineer under General Wolfe at Quebec, assisted, in a similar capacity, at the reduction of Martinique, Guadeloupe, and the Havana, and finished his career as Chief Engineer, at Minorca, in 1779.     MacKellar enjoyed a long and prosperous career in the British Navy, almost entirely in the West Indies, beginning during the American Revolution and continuing to the 1830s.


The chart is very rare.  It appears to have been first advertised by Lauring and issued in 1823 (copy in the British Library) and the title suggests an 1828 edition, but we cannot locate any extant examples of the chart.   OCLC locates only the one example in the British Library.

Condition Description
Blue backed chart. Soiled and dampstained, with several abrasions and a small hole in the left margin. Two minor tears at the bototm. Extensive annotations.
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.