The Southernmost Island of the Bahama Islands
Scarce chart of the western part of Great Inagua island in the Bahamas.
The name Heneagua was derived from a Spanish expression meaning 'water is to be found there'. Two names of apparent Lucayan origin, Inagua (meaning "Small Eastern Island") and Baneque (meaning "Big Water Island"), were used by the Spanish to refer to Great Inagua.
Between the years of 1500 and 1825, many documented treasure laden ships were destroyed on Inaguan reefs. The two most valuable wrecks lost off the Inaguas were treasure-laden Spanish galleons: the Santa Rosa in 1599; and the Infanta in 1788. Other ships of considerable value that were wrecked there include the French Le Count De Paix in 1713, the British HMS Lowestoffe in 1801, and the British HMS Statira in 1815.
As early as the 1600s, salt was being produced and shipped to Spanish colonies, and its extraction was a going business by 1803.
Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772) was among the most important mapmakers of the eighteenth century. In 1721, at only the age of 18, he was appointed Hydrographer to the French Navy. In August 1741, he became the first Ingénieur de la Marine of the Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine (the French Hydrographic Office) and was named Official Hydrographer of the French King.
During his term as Official Hydrographer, the Dépôt was the one of the most active centers for the production of sea charts and maps in Europe. Their output included a folio-format sea atlas of France, the Neptune Francois. He also produced a number of sea atlases of the world, including the Atlas Maritime and the Hydrographie Francaise. These gained fame and distinction all over Europe and were republished throughout the eighteenth and even in the nineteenth century.
Bellin also produced smaller format maps such as the 1764 Petit Atlas Maritime, containing 580 finely-detailed charts. He also contributed a number of maps for the 15-volume Histoire Generale des Voyages of Antoine François Prévost.
Bellin set a very high standard of workmanship and accuracy, cementing France's leading role in European cartography and geography during this period. Many of his maps were copied by other mapmakers across the continent.