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Description

A nice example of this scarce map of from the Jeffery's West India Atlas. The map includes an ornate compass rose, approximately twenty place names, roads, topographical details, and more. The map is attractively and simply laid out.

Bequia, the name which stuck to the island, is one of the southernmost islands of the Lesser Antilles. Several of the toponyms have changed since the publication of the map, but the sound on the west coast is still referred to as Admiralty Bay. The small collection of buildings on its shores has grown into Port Elizabeth, the largest town on the island with a population of 4,000.

Bequia played an interesting role in the life of Alexander Hamilton. His father, James Hamilton, moved there in 1774 from St. Croix. Alexander repeatedly asked James to visit him in the United States, even sending him money to do so, but the latter never came.

The first edition of this map was created by Jeffreys, but it was not published until after his 1771 death. Sayer and Bennett first published the map in 1775, and updated it in several subsequent editions. Laurie and Whittle acquired the plates upon Robert Sayer's death in 1794.

Robert Sayer Biography

Robert Sayer (ca. 1724-1794) was a prominent London map publisher. Robert’s father was a lawyer, but his older brother married Mary Overton, the widow of prominent mapmaker Philip Overton and the proprietor of his shop after his death. Mary continued the business for roughly a year after her marriage and then, in early 1748, it passed to Robert. Robert became a freeman of the Stationers’ Company later that year; his first advertisement as an independent publisher was released in December.

Sayer benefited from Overton’s considerable stock, which included the plates of John Senex. In the 1750s, Sayer specialized in design books and topographical prints, as well as comic mezzotints. In 1753, he, along with John Roque, published a new edition of Thomas Read’s Small British Atlas, the first of several county atlases that Sayer would publish.  

Sayer’s business continued to grow. In 1760 he moved further down Fleet Street to larger premises at 53 Fleet Street. In 1766, he acquired Thomas Jefferys’ stock when the latter went bankrupt. In 1774, he entered into a partnership with John Bennett, his former apprentice. The pair specialized in American atlases, based on the work of Jefferys. They also began publishing navigational charts in the 1780s and quickly became the largest supplier of British charts in the trade.

Bennett’s mental health declined, and the partnership ended in 1784. As Sayer aged, he relied on his employees Robert Laurie and James Whittle, who eventually succeeded him. He spent more and more time at his house in Richmond. In 1794, he died in Bath.