The Engraved Holland Maps and their Evolution

The maps I am about to show you here are the result of Samuel Holland’s great survey of Saint John’s Island which I discussed in my previous blog. But first I want to remind you that Holland’s achievement happened in spite of the fact that he was using old methods to determine longitude which were in the process of being replaced by the dependable new marine chronometer that could be used on land and sea for quick and very accurate results.

The ultimate issue in surveying and navigating in historical times up to the late Eighteenth Century was determining the longitude of whatever place in which you found yourself. For centuries mariners had relied upon the magnetic compass to point their ship in the desired direction. Once they were out at sea, unless they could determine their longitude with long difficult calculations dependant on a clear sky, they had no idea where they were. This short article describes and illustrates the issue clearly.

Holland relied on his compass and the navigational instruments available at that time to begin the process of determining his precise location in any given place. In mapping the Island of Saint John, he had to establish a meridian line whose distance from the zero meridian at Greenwich was known exactly. His methods involved endless astronomical observations with a variety of instruments, of the sun, the moon, the planets and the stars so that the diameter of the earth could be determined and distances upon the surface of the earth measured. Holland was a passionate astronomer and when he acquired the property shown below at St. Foy, Quebec, he named it Holland House and in time, built an observatory on the roof, which you can clearly see in this circa 1840 sketch by J. Grant, a topographical artist about whom I cannot find any information. That house, and his grave on his estate, have not survived but there is a lovely green space called Holland Park.,has%20since%20been%20re%2Ddeveloped.

This brief report by Holland sent to the Astronomer Royal at Greenwich gives you an idea of what instruments he used in his observations, even indicating the names of the makers.

Astronomical observations made by Samuel Holland 1769

For a more complete account of Holland as astronomer, this article by A. F. Hunter published in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 1924, is deeply interesting.

Hunter – Astronomical Work of Holland


In my lecturing days I often could not resist going off on digressions that I found deeply interesting, even if they were only tangentially related to the subject under discussion. Here is one of those digressions. Holland’s firstborn son from his Quebec French second (bigamous?) wife was born at Observation Cove in 1764, thus making him, according to tradition, the first British subject to be born on the Island of Saint John. In time John Frederick, as he was called, would become an army officer and an astronomer, just like his father. He acquired land in Charlottetown, and in one whole block, shown highlighted in the graphic below, bordered on the north and south by Euston and FitzRoy Streets, and on the east and west by Prince and Great George Streets, he created a town estate where he lived from 1803-12 when he served in the Legislative Assembly. He built a great house and called it Holland Grove.

Quite remarkably, a few years ago, Catherine Hennessey, the founder of the heritage movement on PEI, saw a painting for sale in an auction catalogue by an obscure artist called S. W. Martin. It depicted Holland Grove. Research by Hennessey and others determined that this most probably was what it claimed to be as the artist had lived nearby in Charlottetown. The almost full story is told in this Island Magazine article by Catherine. Very sadly in the editing process a vital part of the story was accidentally left out and when I asked for a copy of the draft, I was told that it seemed to be lost.

Hennessey – Holland Grove – Island Magazine

What is wonderful about this painting is that it tells us that John Frederick built an observatory on top of his house, just like his father had done in St. Foy a quarter of a century before!  You can see it clearly on the third storey. In 1865 the house was demolished, and the estate turned into building lots. The Inn on the Hill now occupies the site of the house.


An Instrument that Holland did not have…

Before I begin my examination of the engraved maps of Holland’s survey of Saint John’s Island I want to digress yet a bit more to remind you that while Holland, with the most primitive equipment and methods imaginable, was producing what I believe to be the first geographically accurate map ever, a new trend was developing to produce a portable timepiece not dependant on the pendulum system, but on a spring, and small enough to be held in the hand. Thus, it could be taken to sea and used to determine precise longitude without hours of celestial observations day and night. Holland did not have access to this clock and relied on traditional methods to determine his location. His beautiful astronomical pendulum clock, only for use on land, still exists in the National Museum in Ottawa.

John Harrison (1693-1776) was a self-taught clock maker who became interested in the possibility of developing a portable clock for sea travel which would permit the calculation of longitude while at sea.

In 1707 there was a terrible sea disaster off the Scilly Isles caused by a naval commander who had no idea that his fleet was about to be crushed on the rocks because he had no idea where he was. The weather did not permit the necessary astronomical observations to determine the longitude and therefore their actual location. This caused such a shock that the British parliament set up the Longitude Act and offered a reward of up to £20,000 to anyone who could come up with a practical solution.

Harrison believed that a portable marine chronometer was the answer and spent the rest of his life producing version after version, and, trying again and again to have it tested on Atlantic runs by the Admiralty, all to no avail. There were short distance tests and the clock used was so accurate that in 9 days it lost 24 seconds! It was not until late in the century that the problem of longitude was solved completely with the adoption of the marine chronometer, based on Harrison’s achievement. He never got the big prize, but from time to time was awarded grants of money that allowed him to continue his work.



Holland’s Cartographic Children

The following part of this blog post has been assembled to show you, as I understand it, a few aspects of the appearance and evolution of the engraved versions of Holland’s great map, and the versions containing the list of those individuals who won townships or lots in the lottery of 1767. At this time, I wish to express my deep gratitude to Earle Lockerby and Douglas Sobey who, in the time leading up to their publication on Holland, after scouring archives in Britain and Canada to establish a chronology of the Holland corpus, shared so much information with me. As a result, many of the things I will discuss in this part of the post is material which they have studied in detail, and in most cases published. I present to you, as I came to perceive it, those things which enriched my knowledge of the Island and which continue to fascinate and delight me. The core information that I will present in this post has already appeared in Appendix Five of the book, Samuel Holland: His Work and Legacy on Prince Edward Island, by Earle Lockerby and Douglas Sobey. The Appendix (pp. 185-189) lists a selection of maps that depict the Island exclusively, away from the mainland. One of the maps they list is missing from this post, the 1794 Laurie & Whittle engraving in LAC, because I could not find an image of it anywhere.

This manuscript map in the British Archives based on the Holland Survey was drawn by John Lewis. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about him, nor have I been able to find anything in my own reference material and on the internet. It is a big map, 4’ 10” by 2’ 4” and very handsome and beautifully coloured. The tables containing Holland’s data about the 67 lots are placed in the bowl of the crescent and do not interfere with the map itself. There is no cartouche unless you consider the three tables with the scale bar as a cartouche. Contrary to the practice of the day, the Island is not oriented to true north but has been laid on its side to show as much as possible of the land mass on the large sheet of paper.

1765 [Samuel Holland] and John Lewis, A Plan of the Island of St. John in the Province of Nova Scotia, MR 1/1785, 4’ 10” by 2’ 4”, The National Archives, Kew.

This decision to make the most of the sheet of paper by laying the Island on its back would be leapt upon by the various mapmakers who would soon begin to produce editions of Holland’s map for the general public. These engraved maps, all produced on the folio page size of the day – about 38 x 72 cm – is something I want to discuss in this post. As well as being eagerly sought after in the English print shops, the Holland map would be a great favourite in a number of atlases produced in the last quarter of the Eighteenth Century, all folio size, and this is why if you are lucky enough to own one of these maps it will likely have a crease down the middle, showing its book page origin. From now on maps of the Island would represent it luxuriously supine.

To my knowledge – and frustration – no chronology of these Holland-derived maps that I find convincing has yet been produced, although dealers such as Kershaw have worked hard at it. Kershaw (2002) is all we have to go by, and it is extremely frustrating to gain a sense of chronological progression from his catalogue of these maps, due to the double column page format and the smudgy illustrations. Sobey (personal communication 2014) produced a chronology from his research and it differs in significant details from Kershaw. My chronology of the engraved maps based on Jefferys differs from Lockerby and Sobey, but that is no great matter.


Who produced the first engraved map of the Holland survey?

Thomas Jefferys is named as the principal engraver in the collection on the title page of the early atlases of North America from 1775-76 and is often granted the honour of being the first to engrave Holland’s map. However, in 1768 the slippery John Montresor, as I illustrated in my previous blog, replaced his own inaccurate outline of the Island on his copper plate with Holland’s fully articulated plan, then passed it off as his own.

Portrait Study of Thomas Jefferys by Paul Sandby. British Museum.

Thomas Jefferys (c. 1719 – 1771), had, among several others in his trade, the title of Geographer to King George III, and was an extremely fine cartographer who engraved and printed maps for the government as well as commercial ventures such as atlases. Below is a fine biographical study of Jefferys.

Thomas Jefferys (1719-1771) : Beginning the World Afresh

Jefferys was deeply aware of the events of the Seven Year’s War and was very vocal in his attitude towards the struggle of the English and the French to establish a boundary for Acadia and Nova Scotia that would suit both parties. The problem was solved in 1755 after the battle at Fort Beausejour. Acadia, always nebulously defined, ceased to exist except as a memory on maps and the wishful thinking of French cartographers who continued to print maps with theoretical boundaries. Jefferys’ interest in this subject was very real and based on personal experience. He visited New France, Acadia and British North America and published his observations in 1760 in a not very well organised book called The Natural and Civil History of the French Dominions in North and South America. 

At some time in the five years between the lottery for the townships on the Island of Saint John and his death (1767-71) Jefferys produced this map, but it is dated 1775. Jefferys and Sayer were great friends, and when Jefferys went bankrupt in 1766 he entered into partnership with Sayer who continued to run the business – and use Jefferys plates – after his death in 1771. The plates continued to be associated with major publishing projects, especially atlases, for years to come. That accounts for the date found at the end of the description on the lower left corner, Published as the Act direct April 6. 1775. (An “s” has been left out at the end of “direct.”) The Act which directs/permits the publishing of this map is the Copyright Act of 1710, known as the Statute of Anne. You can read about it here:  and read a transcription of the text here: . April 6, 1775 is the publication date.

This map must have been the first representation for the public of the list of proprietors who had won townships in the 1767 lottery, along with the precise location of their lots.

It is not a tidy map design because the list of names had to be squeezed in next to an inset map of the region so that its lower right corner is cut off at an angle to accommodate the Savage Harbour/Saint Peter’s Bay area. The formal cartouche is abandoned for a title, not even in a box, on the lower left corner of the plate. Tables occupy more space along the top left.


[1767-71] Thomas Jefferys A Map of the Island of St. John In the Gulf of St. Laurence Divided Into Counties & Parishes And the Lots, as granted by Government. to which are added The Soundings round the Coast & Harbours, Improved from the late Survey of Captain Holland. Published as the Act direct April 6. 1775.

1775 Jefferys published by Sayer and Bennett – Holland Survey (Rumsey Coll.)

Here is the title extracted from the lower left corner:

From a design point of view I believe that this simple format, much like a Roman inscription, is the result of the Neoclassical movement which was sweeping Europe at the time. England was at the centre of this new style which brought a simplicity to all aspects of design after the elaborate decoration of the Rococo period.

Here is the list of Proprietors, all those who singly or in groups won a township.

If you wonder who these people were, the list is very varied. Rayburn discusses it in his toponomy essay at the beginning of his book. Here is a pdf file of the relevant pages for future reference on the names given by Holland and their subsequent history. If you want to know who they are you have to read Rayburn or Lockerby and Sobey.

Rayburn – early PEI place names to Holland

Many were well-known individuals, and a quick Google search may provide basic information for some of them. Some were quite famous and prominent, like the winner of Lot 4, Admiral the Honourable Augustus Keppel.,_1st_Viscount_Keppel

This highly placed individual had a most interesting life and when the greatest portrait painter of his day, Sir Joshua Reynolds, painted the Admiral’s portrait, he placed the very handsome man in the pose of what was at the time considered the most perfect exemplar of male beauty to survive from Antiquity, the Apollo Belvedere from the Vatican Collections.

1752 Sir Joshua Reynolds, Captain the Honourable Augustus Keppel 1725-86, 239 x 147 cm, The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Imagine, if things had gone as planned, he would eventually have been the lord of Alberton, Piusville, South Kildare, Elmsdale and Campbellton. He did not hold onto the Lot long enough to experience this deeply moving evolution of nomenclature.


The Great Atlases

There survive in full glory a number of copies of the great North American atlases that included Jefferys map in their bound collection. Here is the title page of one of the earliest and most famous of these, the 1776 Sayer and Bennett copy.

It is a very beautiful thing, massive, about 57 x 42 cm bound. Here it is open at the page with Jefferys copy of the Holland map.

I think that it could be a delight for you to experience a volume like this, at least digitally if not in an archive. To that end I am providing you with these links that will take you to sites where you can actually open the cover and turn all the pages until you come to the end. It is exciting, particularly so, when you turn the page and see the Island of Saint John!



Other Engraved Versions of the Holland Map

When the Government allowed the map of Saint John’s Island to be reproduced and sold by mapmakers it became a popular item because of the great publicity associated with the lottery and perhaps because of the emotion associated with this mysterious island that had been subjugated completely to the requirements of Civilisation brought to the New World. This was a constant theme of the European Enlightenment that appeared in philosophy, religion, art, literature, music, and of course political planning. The Noble Savage had to discard his trappings of savagery and take on European civilised ways if there was to be any hope for him.

There were Noble Savages on the Island in the form of Mi’kmaq who had been there for thousands of years. Holland’s survey, and the maps that were produced for the public do not take them into account. Take for example details on the new plate produced by Thomas Jefferys and dated to 1765. Is that really the date of production or does it refer to the date of Holland’s great manuscript map and the smaller manuscript copies that followed it?

It differs significantly in its design in that the list of proprietors is now absent, the unboxed cartouche removed and replaced by a glorious Rococo design that celebrates fishing and farming.


1765 Thomas Jefferys, A Plan of the Island of St. John with the divisions of the Counties Parishes & the Lots as granted by Government likewise the Soundings round the Coast and Harbours Surveyed by Capt. Holland 1765. Bibliotheque Nationale.

The map itself is almost identical to the one with the proprietors except for a few differences in labelling and the addition of new data here and there.

1765 Holland – Andrews version BNF

We are also given a hint of the complexities of marketing this item in the inscription at below the lower margin, seen in this detail.

It was sold not only by P. Andrews, Jefferys and Faden but also A. Dury. All were well-known mapmakers and map sellers in the 1770s.

It is worth looking at the cartouche in detail. Its theme is PLENTY from land and sea – the ultimate dream of every colony in British North America. At this period in map design one would not expect to see the shell motifs and swirls of the Rococo style, which had been replaced in Europe by the 1760s by the severe lines of Neoclassicism. We saw that happening in the Proprietors map where the inscription of the cartouche is not even boxed. The cartouche design used in this map is probably the result of Jefferys having been trained in his trade during the first half of the Eighteenth Century when all design aspired to Rococo elegance. We are fortunate that this old-fashioned feature survived to give us this almost Romantic impression of the aspirations of the new colony.

On the left a framer ploughs the fields, all cleared of stumps left after clearing. In the foreground however are stumps, perhaps to remind us of the labour involved, and one that has new growth on it supports the shield of the cartouche. Also, in the foreground are traces of a fence, to enclose the stock waiting for pasturage. There is a spike harrow that a horse will pull to break up the sod and make the ground more amenable to agriculture. A large wicker basket awaits to be filled with produce from the land or from the sea. In art this is a symbol of hope, and the image is further reinforced by the design of the shield that seems to want to pour the words into the basket. On the right a net is draped, and from it have fallen fish, ready to be carried away in the basket. At sea are boats, some for fishing and some representing the might of Britain. In all it is a remarkably simple yet emotionally appealing piece of art that encapsulates the great Dream of Colony.

I was unable to find out how many plates were engraved in this process for spreading the map around. Different states of a single plate have been identified by archivists, often with the use of the most minute detail as evidence. Copper plates were remarkably obliging when it came to corrections, changes, and alterations. Whole sections could be ground out or smoothed over with percussion and polishing to produce a fresh surface for the addition of new data and even geographical features, such as county town outlines.

In 1777 William Faden published another edition of the North American Atlas, no doubt inspired by the turmoil caused by the American Revolution. Jefferys’ map of the Island of Saint John, printed by Andrew Dury, is included, but with revisions and the listing of new settlements.


1777 Atlas revision of 1775 Thomas Jefferys, A Plan of the Island of St. John with the divisions of the Counties Parishes & the Lots as granted by Government likewise the Soundings round the Coast and Harbours Surveyed by Capt. Holland 1775, with updates and additions. Boston Public Library.

1775+ Dury update of Holland Map – Boston Public Library



Here is a detail of the map in the area of Hillsborough Bay showing all the new place names that replaced most of the French ones, although some do survive, as do a small number of Mi’kmaq names such as Malpeque.

Another interesting place name feature to notice, such as you can see in Lot 31, are the names of big country estates modelled on those found in England. Thus, you see Parnell’s Grove, Maryborough Town and Ponalls Village, to name a few. They were meant to be small rural villages dominated by a large manor house. The map has many of these nostalgic English names but they are only fantasies, probably introduced at the request of the proprietors when colonising still appeared to be an easy thing.


Real versus Imaginary Settlement

For me a most important change between the two printings of this map is the wonderful event that takes place in Grenville or New London Bay, as we know it today. This was first described by Gilbert Hughes and Douglas Sobey.

Nearly all the settlements that appear on the Dury version of the engraved copper plate map are optimistic fictions, but – and here is the mystery – around Grenville Bay we find three settlements and a mill that really did exist, and which were established, at least theoretically, in 1773. The question is: where did the map seller Dury get this amazingly up-to-date information about these new settlements and how was it arranged that the names be engraved on the copper plate for the next print run? The map itself would only become available in 1775. It is the first real evidence that reality has begun to replace pipe dreams in the settlement of the colony, and Clark’s brave Quaker experiment, immortalised on a map, is at the beginning of it all.

You can read this fascinating story in John Cousins’ book, New London: The Lost Dream – The Quaker Settlement on P.E.I.’s North Shore 1773-1795. Although, in the end, the settlement failed, there were years of home building, much exporting work and some success.

In Google Maps you can see the specific location of the town that runs parallel to the road going to the point. It is a rich, mostly untouched archaeological site that would reveal details of one of the first attempts at colonisation in the rural Island of Saint John.


Saint Peter’s Bay was also an early focus of real settlement that attracted settlers because of the harbour, the quality of the land and the number of other colonists who provided a sense of security. This detail of the map shows the degree settlement in existence as early as 1777.

One of the early and well-documented settlements was that of Robert Shuttleworth at Morell. It was a colonial dream put into action. There one could find such a village dominated by the manor house. David Webber wrote a most interesting article of what transpired there in the 1790s. He included his own beautiful drawings reconstructing the estate and this helps you see this dream of a wealthy man who took the risk and dared to settle on the Island of Saint John. Alas Shuttleworth left by 1795.

Webber – Robert Shuttleworth – Island Magazine


A new settlement in Saint Peter’s Bay now visible on the revised copperplate is called Greenwich, located on the north shore of the Bay where, before the Deportation, members of the Oudy family, along with other Acadians, prospered. In my collection I have an early copy of a map that shows the full extent of the Greenwich settlement with all the landowners identified. The copy is dated 1765, which is impossible, but it surely represents the new settlement of Greenwich Estate in the late 1700s.

My knowledge of early settlements on Saint John’s Island is too slight to allow me to venture an interpretation of this document, but perhaps some of my readers might appreciate a pdf which will permit a close reading of all the details.

Greenwich Estate plan

To add hitherto unknown visual excitement of the Spirit of Place to our examination of these Holland-derived maps, there is this pen and ink and watercolour picture, titled Greenwich Park, Prince Edward Island and dated c 1795 and shows us what the landscape of Greenwich might have looked like at the time. It is tiny – less than 4 x 8 inches in size, yet full of enticing detail. It was done by George Heriot (1759-1839) a Scottish-Canadian civil servant who was also a very competent artist in the Late Eighteenth Century Picturesque topographic tradition. His travels as a civil servant could have brought him to Saint John’s Island to check out the developments in Saint Peter’s Bay. Heriot is considered one of the founders of Canadian art in the British Colonial Period.

If this is indeed a view of Greenwich then it must have been painted from some point on the north shore of the Bay, looking south towards modern day Morrell Harbour. Heriot did many such paintings of Canadian scenes during his travels and they document British Canada at the end of the Eighteenth Century and the beginning of the Nineteenth. Their tiny size is due to their being painted in tiny pocket sketch books. I am grateful to Dr. Ed MacDonald at UPEI for bringing this lovely thing to my attention.


This updated engraved map after the Holland original made corrections in 1775 that were carried on to the 1777 printing, and added new information about settlements and corrected some errors. The most obvious correction involves the size and extent of Prince Town. In the earlier Jefferys map the town is located on the large tip of a peninsula below Darnley Basin. In this later Dury printing of the map the boundaries have been extended inland to double the size of the town and its royalty.


In all these maps there is a small mystery that concerns the configuration of Charlottetown.

Charlottetown is shown with some strange articulation of space regarding roads/streets and a building. We at once recognise what will be Great George Street running north, with buildings near the water, one perhaps a battery. Cutting through the still un-surveyed street grid that was laid out in 1768 is a road that would eventually become a short cut to the Saint Peter’s Road, except here it runs up through Lot 34 to the Gulf. This road begins in front of a drawing that suggests a church with a spire. This was a shorthand icon used by surveyors well into the 19th Century to indicate the presence of a church, no matter what denomination. There never was a church in that area. The first church, a tiny mean thing, was first built for the use of the Anglicans and Presbyterians on the west side of Queen’s Square in 1800, such as the Rev. Robert Tuck shows in his reconstructed drawing of the Square in the 1770-1820 period. Nothing like this sort of thing is indicated either in the original Holland manuscript map, the Lewis copy, nor the Charles Morris plan of the city from 1768. So, what does it all mean?


To intensify your pleasure of looking at engraved maps of the Island of Saint John, I show you a packaging phenomenon that you might not think existed at that period. That is, cutting a finished map into rectangles and gluing them to a piece of cotton with sufficient space between the panels that it could be folded back upon itself and then arranged like accordion pleats. Thus, you could put it in your pocket as you went exploring or put it on a bookshelf with the other books.


1775 [Thomas Jefferys], A Plan of the Island of St. John with the divisions of the Counties Parishes & the Lots as granted by Government likewise the Soundings round the Coast and Harbours Surveyed by Capt. Holland 1775, with updates and additions by A. Dury. Mount Vernon Collection.



The French Show an Interest in Holland’s Map of Ile Saint Jean

In spite of having lost Acadia and the colonies of Ile Royale and Ile Saint Jean by the end of the 1750s, nevertheless the French continued to show a deep interest in the region. Never were maps of Acadie more plentiful, coming out of the studio of Bellin and being picked up by various continental mapmakers workshops.

With the publishing of the Holland map in the mid 1700s, with or without the lottery winners, French cartographers turned their attention to these engravings with great interest. Of course, there was the excitement of obtaining and studying such cartographic accuracy and perfection, but there must have been a considerable audience for the Holland map to go to the trouble of publishing not one, but two different plates in a two-year period. The most ambitious copy was the one prepared for Antoine de Sartine, comte d’Alby.

He was born in Barcelona from a financier father and an English mother, the Countess of Alby. He was an ambitious man and after his mother died, he went to France to complete his education and begin the vertiginous climb up the ladder of success and influence. In 1755 he bought the position of Chief Judge, was ennobled, and married an aristocrat. Now ennobled and in favour at Versailles, in 1759 he was made head of the Paris police and bought the office of Lieutenant General of Police. He was extremely powerful, and had access to a great deal of information in the police files. He served in this post for 15 years in a job that involved far more than police work.

He was thoughtful of others and founded a design school for the underprivileged so they might gain employment in industry. That was the time of the Rococo age in France, during the Monarchy of Louis XV and his mistress, Madame de Pompadour, and France was deeply involved at many levels in pursuing the ideals of the Enlightenment. There was a great need for decorative fabrics and papers and also furniture, and this school provided the instruction necessary for their production.

Public order was never better and in this he was assisted by his secret police, the best in Europe, it was admitted. He became director of the national library and as such oversaw publishing. It was a critical moment for the philosophes of the Enlightenment as Sartine helped discreetly in keeping them away from the clutches of an enraged Church.

In 1774 Sartine was appointed Secretary of State for the Navy, and it is probably due to his secret police interests and connections that he turned his attention to the atlases that were being so innocently produced in Britain, little knowing that in a very short time those atlases would become weapons of war when the American Revolution broke out in 1776.

Having lived through the many traumas of the Seven Year’s War, a global struggle, he built up the French navy and when the time came gave support to the Americans, thus continuing the hostilities that had supposedly ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

When the French Revolution began in 1789, he fled to Barcelona where he lived out the rest of his days. His remaining family in France was mostly murdered by the Revolutionaries.

It is not surprising therefore that the wily chief of the secret police should want to have a map of the former French colony of Ile Saint Jean. It was in a strategic location in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and was also admirably suited to agricultural production and rich fisheries. There were fantasies of regaining New France with England weakened by the American war.


1778 [prepared for Antoine de Sartine], Plan de l’Ȋle de St. Jean au Nord de l’Acadie et dans le Sud du Golfe de St. Laurent. Suivant l’Arpentage du Captaine Anglois Holland. Redigé au Depôt Général des Cartes, Plans et Journaux de la Marine, Par Ordre de M. de Sartine, Conseiller d’Etat, Ministre et Secretaire d’Etat au Departement de la Marine. 1778. Library of Congress.

The map is not a copy of the English models we have seen, but something entirely new but using Holland’s outline and place names, but in French format. He also orients his meridian line to the north and so has room to incorporate parts of the mainland.

What is most astonishing is the topographical articulation given to Holland’s outline. There are ranges of hills to be found all over the Island. Most map enthusiasts that I have talked to do not take these details seriously. Sartine is seen as imitating the little hill icons found in the earlier Bellin maps, but to an astonishing degree. However, everybody knows that the French, in all the years they claimed ownership of the Island, and in the period it was a colony, had no doubt become very familiar with the interior. They would have been assisted in this by the Aboriginals who had lived there for thousands of years.

And then there is Sartine the chief of the secret police. Would he not have informed himself about all the details concerning the interior of the Island?

1778 Sartine – Ile St. Jean – Library of Congress

The skepticism that I experienced from time to time directed at my interest in the depictions of these hills worried me. I felt sure that such a person as Sartine would not indulge in fantasy when he was preparing a possible instrument of war. I decided to see if his little hills could be tested against reality. To achieve this, I found a topographical map of the Island that had controls that could increase or decrease the contrast of elevations. When I increased that contrast, I felt sure that what I saw on the elevations map was quite close to what Sartine’s cartographers had drawn.

There is a string of high elevations (under 300 feet) in Prince County; a ridge that passed through the Summerside isthmus, an agglomeration of central highlands (the highest point on the Island); there was a ridge from Charlottetown that led east; there were the southern highlands (where I live) going all the way to Montague, and there were the eastern high areas.

All these are present on Sartine’s map in the general areas he indicates. It seems as if his cartographers had access to enough information to create an impression of elevations that coincides with the way things are on the ground.

It is for this reason that I think the Sartine map is valuable: it is the first time ever that an attempt was made to articulate Island topography to the extent where the various elevations are accounted for in a credible way.

I should point out that the place names in the interior of the Island are all taken from the Dury fantasies and are not of from the French period. Sartine’s cartographer uses fewer of them. The mysterious church is still present in the Charlottetown Royalty but the roads are obliterated by hatching. It would be worthwhile to compare Sartine closely to Dury just to see where their place name data differs.


It is worth noting that just two years later, Sartine would repeat this articulation of the interior of Saint John’s Island in a large nautical chart of New England to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, even though the Island occupies so little space in the scheme of the design.


1780 – Ordered by M. de Sartine, Detail of Saint John’s Island, Carte Reduite des Côtes Orientales de L’Amérique Septentrionale …,  BNF.

It is worth noting also that the entire land mass in this big nautical chart of 1780 has been articulated in similar fashion. I will be beginning my next post with that chart and will discuss this matter of interpreting the interior spaces in relationship to the Atlantic Neptune project that follows, noting how it now seems the style in advanced cartographic circles is to bring an intimate texture to the (largely unknown) interior of the country so that you will be invited to walk in those spaces. It is all part of the new heightened vision of the colonisation process that emerged in Britain in the 1760s.



Another French Map after Holland

There would be another French imitation of the Holland engraved map, this time a copy with little effort to Frenchify the Holland names. It was produced in 1779, one year after Sartine’s stab at topography, and the cartographer was Georges-Louis Le Rouge (c 1712 – c 1790).

LeRouge was an architect, designer, engraver, cartographer, designer of fortifications and a horseback topographer, travelling through Europe to feel the lay of the land for military purposes in the most intimate way possible. He met an English Huguenot mapmaker called John Rocque and they collaborated in the exchange and printing of maps of interest. It is probably through Rocque that LeRouge got hold of the Holland map and became involved in a French edition on a new plate.

Le Rouge was very productive, engraving a map of Holland on 21 sheets of paper, and by 1759 had produced an atlas of Germany with 100 engraved sheets. After 1773, when he had financial difficulties, he began producing plans of the formal gardens that were sweeping through Europe at that time. More relaxed landscape inspired gardens were being produced in England that soon dominated the world garden imagination. Le Rouge also was famous for his plans of Chinoiserie gardens replete with pagodas, which were another craze the English introduced to Europe at that time with the French showing great enthusiasm.

Le Rouge’s version of the Holland map follows almost exactly the format of the English prints. He does not use a cartouche, but like Sartine, only a block of text. (As a design aside at this time, it should be noted that the Rococo period, with its shells and curlicues had come to an end, and with the accession of Louis XVI it was replaced by severe Neoclassicism.) Maps had yet to find a new cartouche design.


1779 – Georges-Louis Le Rouge, (after Holland,) L’Isle St. Jean du Golfe St. Laurent par Comtés et Paroisses; Les Lots des Terres Limités. Les Sondes tirées des dernières Levées par le Capitaine Holland, Londres, 1775, Traduit de l’Anglais. A Paris Chéz le Rouge Ingr. Géographe du Roi, Rue des Grands Augustins, 1779, Avex Privilége du Roi, Library of Congress.

I insert a pdf file of the map so that you can see what Le Rouge chose to include and what to leave out.

1779 Le Rouge L’Ile St. Jean – Library of Congress


The 18th Century Map Publishers

There was a significant number of mapmakers and map sellers in the latter half of the Eighteenth Century. England had just come out of the Seven year’s War, the American Colonies were brewing a revolution, France was on the edge of revolt and would take the part of the Americans. It is easy to understand how maps, which represented the fields on which wars were won or lost, would be in the greatest demand. The requirements of the military as opposed to those of the general population were far more rigorous. The maps had to be very accurate or soldiers would die by the hundreds because the lay of the land had been misrepresented.

I will not go into detail about these mapmakers and sellers, although I have spoken in some detail about a few of them. If you are interested you can check out these Wikipedia links, along with many more by going in a general Google search.


John Andrews (fl. ca. 1766-1800)

Andrew Dury (fl. 1766-1777?)

William Fadden (1749 – 1836)

Thomas Jefferys (c. 1719 – 1771)

John Rocque (before 1709 – 1762

Robert Sayer (1725–1794)


To end on a pastoral note: Robert Sayer and his friends!

I want to close with a happy digression to celebrate one of our main characters, Robert Sayer, the friend, partner and inheritor of Thomas Jefferys copper plates, and the society in which they lived in Eighteenth Century England.

Robert Sayer was perhaps London’s leading publisher and seller of maps and charts. He made a very good life for himself and in time was able to buy an extremely fine house at Richmond on Thames that the Prince of Wales would eventually rent.

He had a particular skill beyond the demands of mapmaking that allowed him to produce prints of the highest quality of works of art. In pre-photography days if you wanted a picture of a work of art you went to the print seller to see if he had an engraving of that piece for sale. There were hundreds of engravers in Europe who specialised in making copperplate engravings of works of art – Ancient or Modern. There was an insatiable market for these prints, as there still is today. It is one of the great addictions to which people of sensibility are prone.

One of the greatest painters of the day was Johan Zoffany. He was a great favourite of King George III whose portrait he painted, and whose wife, Queen Charlotte (think of Charlottetown) was also celebrated with her many children. His paintings were so popular that he urgently sought an engraver and printmaker of the highest quality to make prints of his works. He settled on Robert Sayer, and they soon became fast friends.

Zoffany painted a portrait of Sayer’s young son fishing by a stream – the macho image of the day for the young wealthy middle class. He also did something else quite wonderful, and that was to paint in very informal poses Sayer, his wife and son in the garden of their riverside estate. It looks as if they have paused in a chat and will resume as soon as you go. This is called a Conversation Piece and was a genre developed in England that spread all over Europe. Studying these paintings gives you intimate access into the lives of these individuals that makes history come alive in a most stimulating fashion. These kinds of paintings are one of my Art History passions and Zoffany was one of the greatest painters of these indoor and outdoor scenes.


1770s Johann Zoffany, The Sayer Family in the Garden of Bridge House, Richmond on Thames, private collection.

For me, the New World has always been inextricably linked to what was going on in the Old World at the same time. The quality of our Island story is diminished if we study it in isolation, away from its ultimate source in Europe and its culture.


Special Thanks

I wish to offer my most special thanks to Earle Lockerby and Douglas Sobey for taking the time, in the midst of a hectic research project on Samuel Holland, to stop and share with me the treasures they had found, and even more, being ever patient, not only in answering my endless questions but also in supplying me with copies of their original research material. Thank you.


Alder, Ken, The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error That Transformed the World, The Free Press, New York, 2002.

Aughton, Peter, The Transit of Venus: The Brief, Brilliant Life of Jeremiah Horrocks, Father of British Astronomy, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London, 2004.

Betts, Jonathan, Harrison, Royal Observatory Greenwich and National Maritime Museum, London, 2007.

Campey, Lucille H., Planters and Paupers: English Settlers in Atlantic Canada, A Natural Heritage Book, A Member of the Dundern Group, Toronto, 2010.

Chipman, Willis, The Life and Times of Major Samuel Holland: Surveyor General 1764-1801, Reprinted from the Ontario Historical Society’s “Papers and Records,” Volume XXI, 1924.

Cousins, John, New London: The Lost Dream – The Quaker Settlement on P.E.I.’s North Shore 1773-1795, Island Studies Press at the University of Prince Edward Island, 2016.

Douglas, R., Place Names of Prince Edward Island with Meanings, F. C. Acland, Printer to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, Ottawa, 1925.

Edelson, S. Max, Colonizing St. John Island: A History in Maps, internet site:

Edelson, S. Max, The New Map of Empire: How Britain Imagined America before Independence, Harvard University Press, 2017.

Harvey, D. C., The French Regime in Prince Edward Island, (Reprinted from the 1926 edition), Ams Press, New York, 1970.

Hornsby, Stephen J., Surveyors of Empire: Samuel Holland, J. W. F. Des Barres and the Making of the Atlantic Neptune, Carleton Library Series 221, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 2011.

Jefferys, Thomas, The Natural and Civil History of the French Dominions in North and South America, Printed for Thomas Jefferys at Charing-Cross, 1760. Facsimile published by Gyan Books Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 2020.

Johnston, A. J. B., Endgame 1758: The Promise, the Glory, and the Despair of Louisbourg’s Last Decade, Cape Breton University Press, Sydney N.S., 2007.

Leckie, Robert, “A Few Acres of Snow”: The Saga of the French and Indian Wars, Castle Books, 2006.

Lennox, Jeffers, Homelands and Empires: Indigenous Spaces, Imperial Fictions, and Competition for Territory in Northeastern North America, 1690-1763, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2017.

Kershaw, Kenneth A., Early Printed Maps of Canada, Vol. 1 – 1540-1703, Kershaw Publishing, Star Communications, Hamilton, Ontario, 1993.

Kershaw, Kenneth A., Early Printed Maps of Canada, Vol, II1 – 1703-1799, First Edition, Second Impression, Alexander Books, Ancaster, Ontario, 2002.

Lockerby, Earle, “Thomas Wright and the Holland Survey,” The Island Magazine, No 66 Fall/Winter 2009, pp. 30-38, The PEI Museum & Heritage Foundation, Charlottetown.

Lockerby, Earle and Sobey, Douglas, Samuel Holland: His Work and Legacy on Prince Edward Island, Island Studies Press, University of Prince Edward Island, Holland College, Charlottetown, 2015.

Macnair, Andrew, Anne Rowe and Tom Williamson, Dury and Andrews’ Map of Hertfordshire: Society and Landscape in the Eighteenth Century, Windgather Press, Oxbow Books, Oxford, 2016.

Murdin, Paul, Full Meridian of Glory: Perilous Adventures in the Competition to Measure the Earth, Copernicus Books, 2009.

Pedley, Mary Sponberg, The Commerce of Cartography: Making and Marketing Maps in Eighteenth-Century France and England, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2005.

Porter, Reginald, Government House and the Fanningbank Estate: A Guidebook, The Friends of the Gatehouse Cooperative, Charlottetown, 2015.

Rayburn, Alan, Geographical Names of Prince Edward Island, Surveys and Mapping Branch, Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, Ottawa, 1973.

Sobey, Douglas, Early Descriptions of the Forests of Prince Edward Island – A Source Book – Part I, The French Period 1534-1758, Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Charlottetown, 2002.

Sobel, Dava, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, Bloomsbury Books, New York, 2007.

Thomson, Don W., Men and Meridians: The History of Surveying and Mapping in Canada, Volume 1 Prior to 1867, The Queen’s Printer, Ottawa, 1966.