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A Surreptitious Survey of Macau By A Famed British Officer

Rare separately published sea chart of Macau, published by the British Admiralty, based upon the work of Peter Heywood, of Mutiny on the Bounty fame.

The chart shows the town of Macau, harbors and roadstead, along with Typa or Kaikong Island. In the first years of the nineteenth century this was the major anchorage point, but by the time this chart was published was no longer being used.

The information for the chart is based upon a survey in 1804 under the instruction of Captain Peter Heywood of HMS Dedaigneuse. The chart was originally published by the Hydrographic Office of the Admiralty on August 1840, with this example updated to 1858.

Very little has been written about Heywood's charting of Macau. As Macau was then under Portuguese control, it is quite likely that the chart was done in secret. In December 1804 Heywood carried out a detailed survey in the Dedaigneuse of the Typa, the anchorage off of Macau. Coincidentally, Heywood's survey superseded the survey carried out by William Bligh in 1779-80, when the latter was master of the Resolution during Cook's third voyage. However, it was not attributed to Bligh in the published account of Cook's third voyage.  

Peter Heywood

Peter Heywood (1772 – 1831) was a British naval officer who is perhaps best remembered as being on board HMS Bounty during the mutiny of April 28, 1789. He was later captured in Tahiti, tried and condemned to death as a mutineer, but subsequently pardoned. He resumed his naval career and eventually retired with the rank of post-captain, after 29 years of service.

In 1803, after a succession of commands, Heywood was promoted to post-captain.  In command of HMS Leopard, Heywood conducted a series of surveys of the eastern coasts of Ceylon and India, areas that had not been studied previously. In later years he was to produce similar charts for the north coast of Morocco, the River Plate area of South America, parts of the coasts of Sumatra and north-west Australia, and other channels and coastlines.

His skill as a hydrographer may well have developed from Bligh's tutelage in the earlier stages of the Bounty voyage. Bligh, an accomplished draughtsman, had written of Fletcher Christian and Peter Heywood, "These two had been objects of my particular regard and attention, and I had taken great pains to instruct them."

James Horsburgh, Hydrographer to the East India Company, wrote that Heywood's work had, "essentially contributed to making my Sailing Directory for the Indian navigation much more perfect than it would otherwise have been."  The extent of Heywood's professional reputation was demonstrated when the position of Admiralty Hydrographer was offered to him in 1818, after he had retired from the sea. He declined, and the appointment went to Francis Beaufort on Heywood's recommendation.


The chart is very rare, with no prior appearances at auction or in dealer catalogs.

We locate only one example of the 1840 edition (British Library) and one example of the 1858 edition (British Library). The Hong Kong Maritime Museum also holds a copy of the 1804 edition of the map.

Condition Description
Dissected and laid on linen, with paste down label.
British Admiralty Biography

The British Admiralty has produced nautical charts since 1795 under the auspices of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (HO). Its main task was to provide the Royal Navy with navigational products and service, but since 1821 it has also sold charts to the public.

In 1795, King George III appointed Alexander Dalrymple, a pedantic geographer, to consolidate, catalogue, and improve the Royal Navy’s charts. He produced the first chart as the Hydrographer to the Admiralty in 1802. Dalrymple, known for his sticky personality, served until his death in 1808, when he was succeeded by Captain Thomas Hurd. The HO has been run by naval officers ever since.

Hurd professionalized the office and increased its efficiency. He was succeeded by the Arctic explorer Captain William Parry in 1823. By 1825, the HO was offering over seven hundred charts and views for sale. Under Parry, the HO also began to participate in exploratory expeditions. The first was a joint French-Spanish-British trip to the South Atlantic, a voyage organized in part by the Royal Society of London.

In 1829, Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort was appointed Hydrographer Royal. Under his management, the HO introduced the wind force scale named for him, as well as began issuing official tide tables (1833). It was under Beaufort that HMS Beagle completed several surveying missions, including its most famous voyage commanded by Captain FitzRoy with Charles Darwin onboard. When Beaufort retired in 1855, the HO had nearly two thousand charts in its catalog.

Later in the nineteenth century, the HO supported the Challenger expedition, which is credited with helping to found the discipline of oceanography. The HO participated in the International Meridian Conference which decided on the Greenwich Meridian as the Prime Meridian. Regulation and standardization of oceanic and navigational measures continued into the twentieth century, with the HO participating at the first International Hydrographic Organization meeting in 1921.

During World War II, the HO chart making facility moved to Taunton, the first purpose-built building it ever inhabited. In 1953, the first purpose-built survey ship went to sea, the HMS Vidal. Today, there is an entire class of survey vessels that make up the Royal Navy’s Hydrographic Squadron. The HO began to computerize their charts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1968, the compilation staff also came to Taunton, and the HO continues to work from there today.