One of the earliest obtainable English Maps to name (and recognize) the newly independent United States of America.
The map shows the United States extending to the Mississippi River, with the former colonial claims now Independent States. The states of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia stretch from the Atlantic to the Mississippi. The map is filled with information on early settlements, forts, Indian villages and fishing banks.
Thomas Kitchin, Hydrographer to the King, prepared the map for a special publication by Thomas Cadell. This is the first state of the map, identified by Ashley Baynton Williams in his Mapforum article on the earliest printed maps to name the United States. Later editions do not include the Cadell imprint and date below the neatline in the lower margin.
Thomas Kitchin (1719–1784) was a British cartographer and engraver. Born in Southwark, England, Kitchin was the eldest of several children. He was apprenticed to the map engraver Emanuel Bowen from 1732 to 1739, and he married Bowen’s daughter, Sarah, in December 1739. By 1741 Kitchin was working independently and in 1746 he began taking on apprentices at his firm. His son Thomas Bowen Kitchin was apprenticed to him starting in 1754. By 1755 Kitchin was established in Holborn Hill, where his firm produced all kinds of engraving material, including portraits and caricatures. He married his second wife, Jane, in 1762. Beginning in 1773 Kitchin was referred to as Hydrographer to the King, a position his son also later held. He retired to St. Albans and continued making maps up to the end of his life.
A prolific engraver known for his technical facility, clean lettering, and impressive etched decoration, Kitchin produced several important works throughout his career. He produced John Elphinstone’s map of Scotland in 1746, and the first pocket atlas of Scotland, Geographia Scotiae, in 1748/1749. He co-published The Small English Atlas in 1749 with another of Bowen’s apprentices, Thomas Jefferys. He produced The Large English Atlas serially with Emanuel Bowen from 1749 to 1760. This latter was the most important county atlas since the Elizabethan era, and the first real attempt to cover the whole country at a large scale. In 1755 Kitchin engraved the important John Mitchell map of North America, which was used at the peace treaties of Paris and Versailles. In 1770 he produced the twelve-sheet road map England and Wales, and in 1769–70 he produced Bernhard Ratzer’s plans of New York. In 1783 he published The Traveller’s Guide through England and Wales.