An Incomparable Record of Ten 18th-Century American Sea Voyages Between New England and the Caribbean.
The English Pilot was the navigator's Bible for traders plying the East Coast of North America in the 18th century. While some of its charts seem crude by today's standards, this atlas is highly significant for bringing together, for the first time in an English sea atlas, charts of the entire East Coast of North America - making it an essential tool for traders doing business with the English North American colonies, or as in the present copy, with the fledgling United States.
What makes the copy offered here remarkable are the numerous manuscript entries which record several voyages between the Northeastern United States and the West Indies. The manuscript content, by Americans out of Maine and Massachusetts, is fascinating evidence of the late-eighteenth-century American trade with the Caribbean. The manuscript entries stand as primary documents of this Caribbean trade just after the American Revolution opened up ports to American ships. In fact, one of the vessels used here by American traders, the schooner Diligent, was captured from the British in 1775 off the coast of Maine in the first naval battle of the American Revolution - the Battle of Machias.
Recorded here are approximately ten separate voyages between Maine and various Caribbean Islands, including Haiti and Watling's Island (San Salvador, Bahamas), with mentions of St. Martin, St. Kitts, and St. Thomas. Of note is a 1787 shipment of lumber and horses on the brig York out of Maine. Certainly, Maine was in a good position to supply much-needed cut lumber to the West Indian plantations. Years of deforestation stemming from sugarcane production would have made wood scarce on the islands.
An entry for December 31, 1790 includes a highly dramatic description of a near-shipwreck. Several notes pray to God for a safe passage, and others describe the general health of the men on board. While the descriptions of the voyages are brief and fragmentary, they are enhanced by occasional tables of the ships' positions, and mention should be made of the eccentric phonetically-based orthography of the manuscript entries, which add flavor and perhaps reflect the autodidactic quality of American sea captains' educational attainments of the time.
The voyage-related entries are here summarized, roughly in chronological order
November the 15  Mount [Seral?] baring NBW distance 6 Leagues, Bound to Cap Fraince in the Brig York with Lomber and Horsess
stearing North for the Vinyard if I Bee to the Westward ... this is the worst Tim that Ever I Seaid in my Life for I Expect to starve to Death I[f] thear haint som Relief sewn
A Journal of a Voig by god's permission in the good Brig York, Samuel Lindsay master from Mounddesard [Mount Desert] to the Westingies [West Indies] Wensday, July the ? 1788 got under way ... [with a full sheet table noting the ship's position, course, distance, lattitude, longitude, etc.]
This Day Foggey wether Light Winds With Fogg a great Swell from South. Sunday September the 6 1788 from Saint Martins Bound to Old York .. it is a bout a 11 a Clock and Now punch nor grog but good water, from Saint Citts (Saint Kitts) or Saint Christopher's out 13 day Sunday pork in the pot but Now fish
A Journall of a Passaig from Cap Nicholas Mol [Cape Nicholas, today's Cap Mole St. Nicolas, Haiti]... to Watlines Island [Watling's Island, today's San Salvador Island in the Bahamas]... This is on Friday the 28 of August  in Sight of Land ... Bound to Cape France [by Joseph Lindsay]
Diclination for September the 3 1789 [brief table of 19 days' declination entries]
A Journal of a Voig by god's permission from Old York Towards Poartauprince [Port au Prince] in the good sloop Polley, Samuel Lindsay. 
A Journal of a passaig from Poartauprince to Old York, in the good Sloop Polley, Sam'l Lindsay, master. Monday September 1 1789. I taik my bent from Watkin's Island [Watling's Island] Barring, NBS Distance 5 Leagues Whatkin's Island in Lattd. 23:43 ... god land us swift to Old York.
Note: The sloop Polley, out of Dartmouth, Mass., was built in either Mystic, Connecticut in 1784 or Bradford, Mass., in 1789.
A Comming from Poartauprince in September 15, 1789 Bound to Boston in the Sloop Polley, in the Lattd. of 40 40
Sept 8th, 1790. Wrote onboard the Scooner Diligent coming from Snt. Martains [St. Martin's] Bound to old York this Night at Six A Clock ... Left Cape Codd Bairing WNW ... Now the wind is SW A Pleasant gale & Running NW All Hands in good health.
Note: The Schooner Diligent (sometimes called Diligence) was originally a British vessel, captured by Americans in 1775, along with her armed cutter the Tatmagonch, in the wake of the Battle of Machias (Maine), the first naval battle of the American Revolution.
Satterday August 7th in the year of our Lord 1790. Rote onboard the Scooner Diligent in the Lattd. of 27'40 Bound to Euastia by gods Promition
Nov. 21st, 1790. Rote onboard the Scooner Janey Sunday at 8 PM Running down for Snt. Martains 29 Days out all Hands in good health And Bless be god for it. I Expect to Make the Land With in twenty fore hours if I have A good breeze. David Baker, His Hand.
December 31, 1790, by David Baker, "this is the worst time that Ever I saw in all my Life this night at 12 o'clock struck by a Sea Nockd on our ? stove the Boat on Deck Shifted the hole and I Myself nockd overboard six or eight feet from the Vesel. But with the Blessing of god got on board Again and righted the Vesel as quick as Porscibed our Starboard Quarter Nocked of ten or twelve feet ... On board the Schooner Janey, David Baker., Master. in the Lattd. of 39:40, Long. of 68:55 , this was a violent gail of wind lasting 30 hours
On March 3rd maid the hispanolan baring SW ... Believe its the old [Caype front?] Saw Brig in Shore ... Out 32 Days Short of provision but plenty of Water pleasant Breezes Bent the Cables I have got one man and two boys with me. We have lost all the [?]
February 28th 1792, Spoke with James Skinner the Brig Mary. Bound to Boston Leak'd Very Bad.
July 3, 1795, this day at 4 a Clock brought two and sounded in 30 fathom water, coming from Saint Thomas's, the soundings is small Black & Grey Sand
Saw a Ship Steaming West Saw a grait many bird I did Expect that I was to Luerd of Martinco But I am somthing relieved to think that I ant [a Lon?] by Night with the Blessing of god to maik the Land.
The American sea captains who used this atlas include
Joseph Lindsay (1769-1799)
Samuel Lindsay, a relative of Joseph, possibly his brother, both of York, Maine.
David Baker, who owned the atlas after the Lindsays.
William Sawyard or Sayward (1765-1849), a Gloucester pilot and sea captain.
List of Maps
A New and Correct Chart of the Western and Southern Oceans.
A New and Correct Chart of the North Part of America from New Found Land to Hudsons Bay.
A New Generall Chart for the West Indies of E. Wright's Projection vut. Mercator's Chart.
A New and Accurate Chart of the Vast Atlantic or Western Ocean.
A Chart of the Sea Coast of New Foundland, New Scotland, New England, New York, New Jersey with Virginia and Maryland.
The Harbour of Casco Bay, and Island Adjacent.
A New and Correct Chart of the Coast of New Foundland from Cape Raze to Cape Bonavista, with Chebucto Harbour in Nova Scotia.
A Chart of the South-East Coast of Newfoundland.
A Map of the Coast of New England from Staten Island to the Island of Breton, as it was actualy Survey'd by Capt. Cyprian Southack [with inset maps of Boston and the Atlantic Ocean]
A Draught of New York from the Hook to New York Town by Mark Tiddeman.
Virginia, Maryland, Pennsilvania, East & West New Jersey.
A Draught of Virginia from the Capes to York in York River and to Kuiquotan or Hamton in James River by Mark Tiddeman.
A New Mapp of the Island of St. Christophers being an Actuall Survey taken by Mr. Andrew Norwood.
A Draught of South Carolina and Georgia from Sewee to St. Estaca by Andrew Hughes.
A Correct Chart of the Caribbee Islands.
A Correct Chart of Hispaniola with the Windward Passage. Hummbly Dedicated to Mr. John Machin Professor of Astronomy at Gresham Colledge by C. Price, Hydrographer to the King.
A Draught of the West End of the Island of Porto Rico, and the Island of Zachee. [with four additional inset charts]
A New & Correct Chart of Cuba, Streights of Bahama, Windward Passage, the Current through the Gulf of Florida, with the Soundings, &c.
A New and Correct Draught of the Bay of Matanzas on the North Side of ye Island Cuba, done from a Survey by Robt. Pearson.
A New & Correct Chart of the Island of Jamaica, with its Bays, Harbours, Rocks, Soundings &c.
A Chart of the Coast of Guayana, from the Entrance of the River Orinoco ... to the Entrance of the River Amazones. By R. Waddington. [with two additional inset charts]
A New and Correct Chart of the Trading Part of the West Indies.
Fascinating early provenance as revealed by ownership inscriptions on the endpapers and throughout the volume:
Ownership inscriptions of Captain Joseph Lindsay (1769-1799), of York, Maine, who, according to his tombstone, was lost at sea at the age of 30. ("Joseph Lindsay, his book, bound to Cape France" and "Joseph Lindsay, his book" in several places). Lindsay's relative Samuel, possibly his brother, also a sea captain, has inscribed the volume in various places, including prominently on the title page.
"David Baker his book, bought at Publick Vandieu in Ole York," from Daniel Sewall 7 August 1790, "price one Pound lawlull Money."
Receipt for a purchase [of this copy] at Salem, 3 September 1797, pasted inside front cover, "Mr. David Baker. Bot of Israel Dodge."
Note: Israel Dodge (1739-1822) was a wealthy merchant and distiller from Salem, Mass.
Contemporary signature of Captain William Sawyard, 1791.
Note: William Sawyard (1765-1849), was a Gloucester pilot and sea captain. His name is sometimes spelled William Sayward, or Saward, and occasionally Seaward.
The series of English Pilot books was started in 1671 by John Seller, whose charts were derived from the Dutch pilot books of Pieter Goos. Throughout its publication history, the charts went through numerous changes, starting with the addition to the 18 charts in the first edition to an eventual 26 in the final (the present edition has 22). Nearly every chart in the Fourth Book was reworked and charts were added and replaced by more accurate charts with subsequent editions. Verner notes that 64 different chart titles have been recorded from the editions he examined.
"For British trading in North America and for the colonists there, the publication of The English Pilot: The Fourth Book must have been a godsend. For the first time an English sea atlas presented charts of the whole eastern seacoast of North America. To modern eyes the charts are crude and sparse of detail; but to the navigator of American waters in that period, it was his Bible. Whatever its shortcomings, there was really no substitute, no real competitor, for over sixty years" - William P. Cumming, British Maps of Colonial America, p. 39.
An essential early sea chart atlas of the eastern seaboard of North America. The present copy of prime historical interest for the numerous handwritten entries by American sea captains who used it during several Caribbean trading voyages.