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Description

Highly detailed map of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island and contiguous regions, published in London by Thomas Jefferys in his landmark work, The American Atlas.

Jefferys American Atlas, first published in 1775, would become the definitive reference atlas for the English, Europeans and Americans during the American Revolutionary War.

The map is richly annotated and relies upon a variety of contemporary sources, the map was first issued prior to the French & Indian War (Seven Years War) in 1755. Jefferys map "proved to be an important document in evaluating respective French and English claims to this part of North America" (Ristow). England gained sole possession of the region by the Treaty of Paris which ended the war 1763.

The primary compiler of this map was Braddock Mead, aka John Green. Cummings describes the relationship as follows:

[Thomas Jefferys] was the leading British chart and mapmaker of his day, and his work contributed toward making London the 'universal centre of cartographic progress.' An engraver as well as a publisher, he turned out an impressive number of maps and charts…. With William Faden, his successor, he produced the most considerable body of North American maps published commercially in the century.

The genius behind Jefferys in his shop was a brilliant man who at this time went by the alias of John Green…. Green had a number of marked characteristics as a cartographer. One was his ability to collect, to analyze the value of, and to use a wide variety of sources; these he acknowledged scrupulously on the maps he designed…. Another outstanding characteristic was his intelligent compilation and careful evaluation of reports on latitudes and longitudes used in the construction of his maps… (p. 45)

For an interesting account of Mead's scandalous life, see Cummings, pp. 45-47.

Jefferys published three states of this map in 1755 (see Kershaw); in 1775, on the eve of the American Revolution and with renewed interest in maps of America due to the conflict, the map was once again of great interest, hence its inclusion in the American Atlas.

Thomas Jefferys Biography

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.