Rare map of Jamaica, published by the famed French mapmaker Philippe Buache, heir to the De L'Isle cartographic publishing house.
The map depicts Jamaica at the beginning of the War of Jenkins' Ear, a conflict between Britain and Spain lasting from 1739 to 1748, mainly in the northern part of South America (Colombia) and Caribbean, with major operations largely ended by 1742. Its name, coined by British historian Thomas Carlyle in 1858, refers to Robert Jenkins, a captain of a British merchant ship, whose ear was cut off by Spanish sailors when they boarded his ship at a time of peace. There is no evidence that supports the stories that the severed ear was exhibited before the British Parliament.
The seeds of conflict began with the injury to Jenkins following the boarding of his vessel by Spanish coast guards in 1731, eight years before the war began. Popular response to the incident was tepid until several years later, when opposition politicians and the British South Sea Company played it up, hoping to spur outrage against Spain, believing that a victorious war would improve Britain's trading opportunities in the Caribbean. In addition, the British wanted to keep pressure on Spain to honor their lucrative asiento contract, which gave British slave traders permission to sell slaves in Spanish America. The Spanish refer to this asiento in their name for this war.
British attacks on Spanish possessions in Central America resulted in high casualties, primarily from disease. After 1742, the war was subsumed by the wider War of the Austrian Succession, which involved most of the powers of Europe. Peace arrived with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748.
Philippe Buache (1700-1773) was one of the most famous French geographers of the eighteenth century. Buache was married to the daughter of the eminent Guillaume Delisle and worked with his father-in-law, carrying on the business after Guillaume died. Buache gained the title geographe du roi in 1729 and was elected to the Academie des Sciences in the same year. Buache was a pioneering theoretical geographer, especially as regards contour lines and watersheds. He is best known for his works such as Considérations géographiques et physiques sur les découvertes nouvelles dans la grande mer (Paris, 1754).