Interesting map depicting the site of the short-lived Scottish colony of New Edinburgh.
In 1698, William Paterson, Scottish Governor and founder of the Bank of England, proposed a plan to create a colony in modern day Panama. The Company of Scotland was formed as a means of exploiting the economic benefits of the colony. Funds were raised and in November 1698, and three ships with 1,200 colonists arrived at Darien and started construction of the colony.
The region was re-named New Caledonia. William Hacke, an English Thames School chartmaker, produced several promotional manuscript maps of the colony, several copies which survive today. Herman Moll in turn engraved and printed an edition of the map, which is copied here in a reduced format..
Unfortunately, disease and attacks from Spanish galleons doomed the colony to failure, and within 9 months the remaining colonists returned home. Intended to boost Scotland's failing economy, the colonial fiasco bankrupted the country and Scotland, to sign the Act of Union in 1707, creating the United Kingdom.
Herman Moll (c. 1654-1732) was one of the most important London mapmakers in the first half of the eighteenth century. Moll was probably born in Bremen, Germany, around 1654. He moved to London to escape the Scanian Wars. His earliest work was as an engraver for Moses Pitt on the production of the English Atlas, a failed work which landed Pitt in debtor's prison. Moll also engraved for Sir Jonas Moore, Grenville Collins, John Adair, and the Seller & Price firm. He published his first original maps in the early 1680s and had set up his own shop by the 1690s.
Moll's work quickly helped him become a member of a group which congregated at Jonathan's Coffee House at Number 20 Exchange Alley, Cornhill, where speculators met to trade stock. Moll's circle included the scientist Robert Hooke, the archaeologist William Stuckley, the authors Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe, and the intellectually-gifted pirates William Dampier, Woodes Rogers and William Hacke. From these contacts, Moll gained a great deal of privileged information that was included in his maps.
Over the course of his career, he published dozens of geographies, atlases, and histories, not to mention numerous sheet maps. His most famous works are Atlas Geographus, a monthly magazine that ran from 1708 to 1717, and The World Described (1715-54). He also frequently made maps for books, including those of Dampier’s publications and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Moll died in 1732. It is likely that his plates passed to another contemporary, Thomas Bowles, after this death.