THE FIRST MAP OF AN ENGLISH AMERICAN COLONY THE FIRST TO NAME THE CHESAPEAKE BAY
Americae pars, Nunc Virginia dicta, primum ab Anglis inuenta...
11-7/8” x 16-3/8” . Black and white copperplate engraving. Repaired tear on left and repairs to centerfold. Backed.
“One of the most significant cartographical milestones in colonial North American history. It was the most accurate map drawn in the sixteenth century of any part of that continent. It became the prototype of the area until long after James Moxon’s map in 1671” (Burden). This is the second state of three. In the first state the Indian village of Chesapeake was spelled “Ehesepiooc.” On this second state an attempt was made to correct the spelling by superimposing a “C” over the “E,” but both are visible. The first state is a legendary rarity.
Engraved by Theodore De Bry from a manuscript by John White, this remarkable work appeared in Part I of De Bry’s Grands Voyages, 1590. It was the most detailed printed map of any part of North America to appear to date. It shows the coast from Cape Lookout to the Chesapeake Bay “in more detail and with greater accuracy than had been done for any other part of the New World for many years to come” (Cumming). The map was designed to show the disastrous Roanoke Colony, on Roanoke Island in Pamlico Sound, the first English attempt at colonization in the New World. The name Chesapeake Bay appears here for the first time on a printed map.
White was governor of the Roanoke Colony, and the grandfather of Virginia Dare, the first English child born in America. His numerous famous watercolors of the landscape and native life are now in the British Museum. They are significant as they are the most informative illustrations of Native American Society of the sixteenth century.
His map and many of the watercolors were engraved by Theodor De Bry, and published in Book I of his massive work on the Americas, the Grands Voyages. De Bry originally intended to use Jacques Le Moyne’s drawings of the French expedition to the Southeast for the first book in the series, but was convinced by Sir Walter Raleigh to devote the first book to Virginia in an effort to encourage colonization. De Bry’s Grands Voyages, eventually totaling fourteen books, would become the foundation work on the Americas, largely responsible for the European conception of the New World.
The White map had an enormous influence on the mapping of both Virginia and Carolina. Cumming calls the map “one of the most important type-maps in Carolina cartography” and goes on to say that “most maps of the New World and of this region showed the influence of De Bry’s engraving.”
Burden, The Mapping of North America, 76; Pritchard & Taliaferro, Degrees of Latitude, 2; Cumming, The Southeast in Early Maps, 12; Morrison, On the Map, p. 4.
Inventory No. 8664