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Fine Map of Early European Settlement on Tasmania

Scarce map of Tasmania, published by Henry Teesdale of London.

The map shows the entirety of the island, along with the Hunter and Furneaux Islands. The coast is well-delineated. The terrain is covered in mountains and hills, and a central strip has been settled. Much of the southeast of the island is still open and only partially explored.

Europeans initially sighted Tasmania during the first voyage of Abel Tasman in 1642. He named it after the Governor of Batavia, Anthony van Diemen; Batavia was then under the control of the Dutch East India Company. For the next 150 years, Europeans thought Van Diemen’s Land, as it is called here, connected to the Australian mainland. In 1798, Matthew Flinders and George Bass circumnavigated the island in 1798; the Bass Strait is named for the latter.

The central area of the island is separated into provinces: Cornwall and Buckingham. A key in the lower right corner outlines the 37 districts where settlement was occurring. Hobart Town is in district 33, in the southeast of the island.

Hobart was the first permanent European settlement on Tasmania. It began as a British military camp in 1803; the British feared that the French were eyeing the island for imperial expansion. Darwin would visit Hobart in 1836, just two years after this map was published.

The districts aren’t the only place where people live on Tasmania; a notation near Sarah’s Island states that it is, "a place of Exile for Convicts, sent from Hobart Town." Sarah Island, in Macquarie Harbor, was a penal settlement. It operated from 1822 to 1833.

Henry Teesdale Biography

Teesdale was a London-based map publisher. He was an early Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, elected in 1830. Teesdale partnered with John Hordan and William Colling Hodson, but this arrangement dissolved in 1832. Afterward, he continued to work on his own and periodically with colleagues like John Crane Dower, Christopher Greenwood, Josiah Henshall and others. He published a variety of atlases and separately-issued maps. His business was quite successful, as he registered as a partner in the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1845.