A map showing one the last great circumnavigations drawn by the captain of the HMS Centurion
A detailed chart tracking the route of Capt. George Anson's ship HMS Centurion in 1740-1742, undertaken as part of a circumnavigational voyage commissioned by the government in order to weaken the Spanish by capturing treasure ships. The chart shows the tracks of Anson's ships around South America & Cape Horn to the Juan Fernandes Islands, with notes on currents and positions. A decorative compass rose is positioned in the sea area. This edition is from the French version of Anson's Voyage Around the World published in 1749. An uncommon map.
This voyage was an interesting part of the Centurion's thirty-year history, part of the ship's first ill-fated circumnavigation. With a fleet of six ships, Anson sailed from England to Manila to harass Spanish treasure fleets in the Philippines. The initial crew was composed of marines as well as 250 "invalids," soldiers not fit enough for full duty. Some of these had to be brought aboard in stretchers. The ship reached Santa Caterina on 21 December 1740 before going through the roundabout voyages shown in the map, which included mutinies, battles, and poor navigation. They would not cross the Pacific until May 1742.
The portion of the voyage shown in this map was perhaps the most eventful of the entire journey. After stopping in Santa Catarina, Portuguese authorities had alerted the Spanish to the presence of the ship. Chased down to the Le Maire Strait, the ship then attempted to sail up the western coast of South America, charting their course using dead reckoning. However, they were 300 miles off of their estimate, as shown on the map. They only realized their mistake when they saw the Cap Noir two miles west of their position several months later. After a complex voyage, they eventually reached Juan Fernandez in June 1741. However, the other ships of the fleet were not with the Centurion, including the Wager. Anson does not show what happened to these other ships, or the eleven months of lost time, fighting, and mutinies that occurred before they finally crossed the Pacific.
The rest of the journey would be just as adventurous. After refueling in Guam, men swept overboard, the capture of the Acapulco, diplomatic entanglements in China, only the Centurion would reach Britain in 1744. The results of the voyage would make Anson a household name, wealthy for life, and result in changes to the laws and structure of the British Navy. The Centurion would see action in the War of the Austrian Succession before being decommissioned. All that is left of the ship is a paw of the lion figurehead residing in Shugborough Hall.
The map includes extensive detail and annotations from Anson. He shows both the path undertaken, and the path that they had calculated using dead reckoning in the months between crossing the Strait of Le Maire and reaching the Cap Noir. Annotations are included, including noting where they had spotted the Cap Noir and where the Tryal lost her mast. Detailed observations are made of currents and seafloor sediments.
This is a fascinating map showing one of the most famous and ill-fated voyages at the start of the British rule of the seas.