Battle-Ready Map of the Middle Colonies with an Early Inscription Referencing The Life and Work of Scottish Author Anne Grant
Fine example of the scarce "Holster Atlas" edition of Lewis Evans' highly important map of the Middle British Colonies, at the start of the American Revolution.
This edition of the map was prepared specifically for Jeffreys' American Military Pocket Atlas, an atlas published for use by British officers during the American Revolution in a size which would fit into the saddlebags of a mounted soldier. Because of its use primarily as a battlefield source, it is among the most interesting and historically important of the later editions of Evans' map.
The present example has an unusual inscription on the verso which seems to refer to Anne Grant, also known as Mrs Anne Grant of Laggan (1755 –1838), a Scottish poet and author best known for her collection of mostly biographical poems, Memoirs of an American Lady (1808). She is also known for her earlier work, Letters from the Mountains . . .(1806). Grant's father, Duncan Macvicar, served as a British officer in America from 1757 to 1768, a large portion of which was spent with the 55th Regiment in New York. The inscription reads:
best Map for Albany The Flats New York Ticonderoga Lake Champlain all mentioned in letters on America by Mrs. Grant daughter of an officer of the 55 also for Fort Erie & for Washington taken & burnt by Gen: Robt Ross 1814 -- September 12, 1814 the above Gen: Robert Ross was killed in Battle near Baltimore
The reference to "The Flats" is a reference to the home of Madame Margarita Schuyler (1701–1782), in which the Grant family lived for several years.
Along with John Mitchell's map of North America, the Evans map is considered the most important American map of the eighteenth century. Both maps were intended to spur western expansion into the Trans-Allegheny, Ohio Valley and other westward regions and were in response to French encroachments. Evans' map became the standard for nearly fifty years, being re-issued in this and other pirated editions by Jefferys, Bowles, Kitchen and others.
The map is a milestone both for its political significance and extension of cartographic knowledge in the region. Governor Pownall re-issued an updated edition of the map taken from the original Evans plate, with the addition of New England and a group of tables naming townships in the Colonies. Pownall had been a great supporter of Evans and pledged the proceeds from the map to Evans' daughter. The cartographic importance of the map and its place in the history of cartography are substantial. An essay on this map is available by emailing us a request.
The detail on this map is extensive, and the notes are fascinating. The dense settlements of the coast give way to the mountains of Appalachia to the west. Notes relate to treaties made with Native American tribes, the passability of mountain ranges, or anything else that might be of use to an explorer or a mounted officer.
The maps also includes an inset map of the northern midwest to Lake Superior, labeled as the "upper parts of Canada."
Lewis Evans was a land surveyor and map maker who produced one of the most influential American maps of the eighteenth-century, “A general map of the Middle British Colonies” (1755). Evans was born near Pwllheli, Caernarvonshire, Wales and emigrated to the North American colonies in 1731. He found work in Philadelphia as a clerk to no less than Benjamin Franklin, who also published several of his works including the cartographic memoir that accompanied the 1755 map and a 1749 map of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware. Evans was outspoken and politically active, a combination that landed him in prison in New York for libel against the Governor of Pennsylvania, Robert Hunter Morris. He died there on June 12, 1756, leaving behind a daughter, Amelia.
Amelia’s godmother was Franklin’s wife, Deborah, who raised the girl after Evans’ death. Part of Amelia’s inheritance was the plate of the 1755 map. The rest of his maps and instruments were sold at auction in early 1760. Benjamin Franklin later arranged for the plate to be sent to John Almon for reprinting in an attempt to support Amelia. This resulted in the 1776 Pownall edition of the map; however, sales were not as expected, leaving Amelia short of funds.
Sayer & Bennett refers to the partnership of Robert Sayer (ca. 1724-1794) and John Bennett (fl. 1760-d.1787), which lasted between 1774 and 1783. Bennett had been Sayer’s apprentice. The pair specialized in American atlases, based on the work of Thomas Jefferys, who plates had been acquired by Sayer when Jefferys went bankrupt in 1766. They also began publishing navigational charts in the 1780s and quickly became the largest supplier of British charts in the trade. However, in 1783 Bennett lost control of his mental faculties and the partnership dissolved as a result. Sayer’s business was later passed to his employees, Robert Laurie and James Whittle.