Rare example of Sheet IV of the second edition of John Green's (aka Braddock Mead's) map, one of the rarest and most sought after Colonial American maps.
The present map of the eastern North America, the West Indies and the north Atlantic Ocean, although complete in an of itself, is one of six parts of the exceeding rare A chart of North and South America including the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, with the nearest coasts of Europe, Africa and Asia. Made in the run-up to the Seven Years' War (the French & Indian War), its purpose was to inform the viewer about the locations and extent of the various colonial territories controlled by Britain and her perennial nemeses France and Spain.
The map employs color-coding to show the territories of Britain (orange), France (green), Spain (yellow). Notably, the primacy of British claims is shown to an extreme extent, for example, New England is depicted to extend northwards to include New Brunswick, and the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, territory that, in reality, was firmly under French control. Moreover, Britain's colonial claims to strips of land cutting across the continent to the Pacific are shown to sever French Louisiana from Canada. The map was part of a campaign orchestrated by certain government ministers and Anti-Gallican (anti-French) printers to use maps and prints as propaganda to encourage Britain to declare war on France in order to defend Britain's territorial claims.
The cartography predates the rendering of eastern North America presented by John Mitchell's Map of the British and French Dominions in North America (1755). Florida is shown to be a peninsula (not a series of islands), the Great Lakes are reasonably well-formed and eastern Canada is derived from the maps of Jacques-Nicolas Bellin. Most curious is the "New Discovered Sea" in northern Quebec, a cartographic misconception that was soon dispelled.
Green was evidently very proud of his map for he provides three tables comparing his (supposedly correct) placement of key locations (viz. latitude and longitude) with that provided on other maps, including Henry Popple's A Map of the British Empire in North America (1733) and recent French maps by Bellin and J.B.B. D'Anville.
The map is made all the more intriguing by the identity of the maker, whose alias is given as John Green, Esquire, but who was in fact one Braddock Mead (c.1688-1757). Born in Dublin, Mead moved to London in the early 18th Century, producing several words of note, beginning with a book on the Construction of Globes in 1717. Sometime thereafter, he became embroiled in a scheme to defraud a 12 year old Irish heiress out of her fortune, which included a failed plan to kidnap and either marry her or extort a large ransom for her safe return, which resulted in his spending the majority of his life underground on the fringes of London's map and print publishing business (and adopting the his alias). In addition to the present map, Green created A Map of the Most Inhabited Part of New England (1757), also published by Jefferys, one of the most important colonial-era maps of the region.
The first two states of three states of the map are very rare on the market. The states can be identified as follows:
- State 1: 1753: No text in the upper left corner, above the neatline. Shorter title and no imprint of Jefferys below the title
- State 2: 1763: "Plate III. The Dominions ceded by France & Spain to Great Britain . . . " added a top left. Longer title, with Jefferys imprint below title. Two overlays added to left margin, extending across a large section of the map. Separately issued.
- State 3: 1768 circa. No overlays.
- State 4: Dated 1775. New title.
Thomas Jefferys (ca. 1719-1771) was a prolific map publisher, engraver, and cartographer based in London. His father was a cutler, but Jefferys was apprenticed to Emanuel Bowen, a prominent mapmaker and engraver. He was made free of the Merchant Taylors’ Company in 1744, although two earlier maps bearing his name have been identified.
Jefferys had several collaborators and partners throughout his career. His first atlas, The Small English Atlas, was published with Thomas Kitchin in 1748-9. Later, he worked with Robert Sayer on A General Topography of North America (1768); Sayer also published posthumous collections with Jefferys' contributions including The American Atlas, The North-American Pilot, and The West-India Atlas.
Jefferys was the Geographer to Frederick Prince of Wales and, from 1760, to King George III. Thanks especially to opportunities offered by the Seven Years' War, he is best known today for his maps of North America, and for his central place in the map trade—he not only sold maps commercially, but also imported the latest materials and had ties to several government bodies for whom he produced materials.
Upon his death in 1771, his workshop passed to his partner, William Faden, and his son, Thomas Jr. However, Jefferys had gone bankrupt in 1766 and some of his plates were bought by Robert Sayer (see above). Sayer, who had partnered in the past with Philip Overton (d. 1751), specialized in (re)publishing maps. In 1770, he partnered with John Bennett and many Jefferys maps were republished by the duo.