The British Colonies at the Outset of the American Revolution
The third state of Jefferys map of the British Colonies, based upon D'Anville's map.
This third state was issued after the conclusion of the French and Indian War. The map shows the Colonies on the eve of the American Revolutionary War. A note in the title cartouche states that the Boundaries of the Provinces since the conquest of Canada are laid down as settled by the King in Council. This note appears in the second state as well. The map shows the various colonial claims running to the Mississippi, but the colorist has conservatively limited the borders to the Appalachian Mountains. The boundary between New England and Virginia as established by Charter in 1609 is shown, although the date is omitted.
The map is rich with details west of the Appalachians, including Indian Tribes, early French and English forts and other contemporary information on the eve of the revolution. Main is named, but [New] Hampshire takes up all of Vermont. Massachusetts Bay and Delaware Bay are named, as are East and West Florida. The region west of the Mississippi is dominated by Spanish Louisiana Territory, with the lands between the Mississippi and the Appalachians controlled by Indian Tribes.
The original issue of this map was annotated to include a list of French encroachments into the territory claimed by England and a description of the English claims.
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.
John Bennett (fl. 1760-d. 1787) was a London printer best known for his role in the successful partnership of Sayer & Bennett. In 1760, Bennett became a servant of Robert Sayer (ca. 1724-1794), the prominent print and map seller, and was apprenticed to him in 1765. In 1774, Bennett became a free journeyman and entered into a partnership with Sayer. They issued joint advertisements and publications. In 1777, Bennett owned 1/3 share in the business. The partnership was likely to continue fruitfully, but in 1781 Bennett began to show signs of mental illness. In 1783, he was admitted to an asylum for nine months and, in 1784, Sayer filed papers to dissolve their business partnership. Bennett died in 1787.