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A fine map of the British Colonies in North America at the beginning of the 1700s, with insets of Bermuda, Barbados, the Carolinas, Jamaica and Nova Scotia.

Edward Wells (1667-1727) was a mathematician and geography professor at Oxford. He prepared this map as part of an atlas, A New Sett of Maps Both of Antient and Present Geography (Oxford, 1700), dedicated to the Duke of Glocester, the heir-apparent to the British throne, who was then attending school in Oxford.

Wells's maps were highly regarded in their time. On the present map, while the New England maintains a relatively simple appearance, it is one of the earliest obtainable folio size English language maps of New England and the northeast and is increasingly difficult to obtain.

The map includes dozens of placenames from Main to the Chesapeake and reflects contemporary scholarship and England's heightened interest in the colonies, following conquest of the region from the Dutch during the 17th Century.

Condition Description
Minor soiling.
McCorckle, 'New England', 700.9.
Edward Wells Biography

Edward Wells was a Church of England clergyman and advocate for education. He published prolifically, including several atlases of the ancient and contemporary world. Wells was the son of a vicar and entered Christ Church, Oxford in late 1686. He graduated BA in 1690, MA in 1693, and worked as a tutor at his college from 1691 to 1702. Then, he entered into a living at Cotesbach, Leicestershire, from where he continued to publish his many works. He attained the degrees of BD and DD in 1704, after he was already at Cotesbach.

From roughly 1698 onward, Wells wrote many sermons, books, and atlases. He focused on catechismal and pastoral works, as well as educational books. For example, some of his first works were mathematics texts for young gentlemen, which included how to use globes and determine latitude and longitude. He also translated classical and Christian texts, sometimes adding geographical annotations.

His descriptive geographies were not overly original works, but they were popular in their time. First, he produced a Treatise of Antient and Present Geography in 1701; it went on to four more editions. Next was a Historical Geography of the New Testament (1708), accompanied by a Historical Geography of the Old Testament (1711-12).