A Mapmaker’s Dispute – The Piracy Correspondence

Below is a full transcript of the Jefferys’ “piracy” dispute mentioned in the previous post. I am most grateful to Ashley Baynton-Williams for his meticulous research and for permission to reproduce his transcript here.  

Anonymous Journal Of The Proceedings Of The Congress Held At Philadelphia, May 10, 1775   

Speedily will be Published, (Sold by J. ALMON, opposite BURLINGTON-HOUSE, PICCADILLY.)

A MAP of the Middle British Colonies in NORTH-AMERICA. First published by Mr, LEWIS EVANS, of PHILADELPHIA, in 1755; and since corrected and improved, as also extended, with the Addition of New-England, &c. and bordering Parts of Canada; from actual Surveys now lying at the Board of Trade. By T. POWNALL, MP. Late Governor, &c. &c. of his MAJESTY’s Provinces of MASSACHUSETS-BAY and SOUTH CAROLINA, and Lieutenant-Governor of NEW JERSEY. WITH A TOPOGRAPHICAL DESCRIPTION of such Parts of NORTH-AMERICA as are contained in the MAP.

Extract from the Preface. “THE Western Division of this Map was published at the commencement of the late war in America. It was found by the officers and servants of the crown to have that degree of precision, that it was used by them both in England and in America, and served every practical purpose during the war. Those who have served and travelled in America, have had few occasions of correcting it; on the contrary, its exactness as far as a general Map means to go, as far as a Map on this small scale could go, has generally been confirmed by experience on the spot. In any transactions since the war, where local precision has been necessary, this Map has been referred to, not simply in private, but public transactions, such as the great Indian purchase and cession. The boundaries by which the propositions for the purchase of lands on the Ohio were made to the Boards of Trade and Treasury, were marked on and settled by this Map. When the servants of the Crown proposed in the House of Commons, the clause for the limits of the government of Quebec, and when the lines of those limits was there opposed, both sides, with this Map in their hands, argued from it.

I do not know that any other General Map of America has been published since this. There have been some Maps of particular Provinces published since. That of South-Carolina, by Mr. JAMES COOK, has every geographical merit, and an uncommon degree of topographical precision. That of North-Carolina, by Mr. COLLET, seems also to have great merit; no parts of this fall within this Map of the Middle Colonies.

I have carefully compared this by Mr. HENRY’S Map of Virginia, engraved and published by JEFFERY’S. In these parts which come within the bounds of this our Map, I do not only not find any improvements or additions of particulars there; but, although on so large a scale, it is still less particular than this. Trace any Journal of Travels, that very accurate one of Mr. BURNABY’s, for instance, on the two Maps, and I will put the issue of their merit on the correspondence of the Map with the fact. In this the Geographer will find the courses and distance, of the roads; every tavern and ferry; and every gap where the ridges are passed; he will look for these in vain on the large Map, and will not even find Winchester.

Of New-England there has been no new Map published, and as yet none so accurate as this, so far as it went in the first edition. What was there wanting is now added, and for the first time published from actual surveys lying in the Board of Trade, which the Earl of Dartmouth permitted me to have copied for this purpose. The new parts which I have added, are plotted down in the form in which I think every Map which can offer to give the face of the country, should be laid down, giving an exact Map of the natural face of the country, and not in default of that filling up what should be a Map with writing. Instead of writing, I have put figures, and the writing is in the margin and other blank places, where the face of the country is not pretended to be given. The surveys which tend to give the Map its accuracy in these parts, were chiefly made by Captain HOLLAND, or by his Deputies, under his direction.

From the account above, I should hope that the  Public will think, that this publication at the commencement of the present very interesting period of events, to which the fate of this country verges fast, is not ill-timed, but that it may be (as the last was found to be) of use and information.

Many tracks which the reader will see marked on the Map, and which were, when it was first published, mere Indian paths through the wilderness, are now in the course of a very few years become great wagon-roads.

Et quæ modo fuerat semita, facta via.

Some Indian settlements, being merely a collection of wigwams, must now be marked as county towns. Many other particulars marked in the Map, and noticed in the analysis, which were twenty years ago of practical information and useful to the service, ceasing, perhaps, now to be of use in that way; may yet be amusing, as matters of curious antiquity, become so at this early period. It will be curious in a very few years, as the face of the country changes, and is totally altered to view in this Map, and to read in this analysis what it was in it its natural state, and how the settlements began to expand, and had extended themselves in twenty years.

This Map, soon after it came to England was, in a most audacious manner, pirated by the late THOMAS JEFFERY’S, under a false pretence of improvements. He was so totally ignorant of the principles on which the original was formed, that although he traced the line of the roads and rivers in the usual way, yet it can scarce be called a copy. The mountains in America, which give the real features to the face of it, run in ridges of a specific direction do in places here and there run up into peaks do in others end abruptly in knobbs and bluff points do interlock and have gaps all which parrticulars are in the original Map, with a careful and scrupulous attention plotted and marked down; as also where these ridges spread into hilly land. The geographer, or officer, will look in vain for this precision in the pirated copy. The blundering copyist thought, that the filling these places, where mountains were said to be, with the Engraver’s common marks scratched at random, was sufficient. In some parts, where the writing directed his tool, he has followed the ridges, but sans scavoir; and even there he knew not how to mark their specific range. So far as respects the face of the country, this thing of Jeffery might as well be a Map of the face of the moon. Further, in the original there was observed a punctilious caution not to deceive; the parts which are drawn from report and computation, and collected from Journals, are in the original, and in this our Map engraved in a slighter manner, and very differently, from those parts which are laid down from actual surveys: neither the eye, not the ideas, nor the scrupulous spirit of the copyist, went to the marking this; and all stands equal in authority in his pirated map.

The plate of this blundering copy has, in the course of trade, by purchase fallen into the hands of Mr. SAYER, of Fleet-street, a man of reputation, in a very extensive line of business. He very honourably told me, That if the plate stood as a single article in his shop, he would destroy it directly; but that it made part of an Atlas already published by him, and was part of another very soon to be published by him, which had cost many thousand pounds; that he did not know how to take it out of these collections. I can only say, it will disgrace any collection in which it stands, and that I am sorry it is to disgrace any, coming from a shop in which there are so many valuable collections of Maps and Charts.

Albemarle-street, Nov. 22, 1775.”

Neither this improved Map, nor Analysis, are published with any view of profit to the Editor; if any should accrue, it will be given to Mr. EVANS’S daughter and her children.

*****

[page] ‘(4)’

An Advertisement of an AMERICAN ATLAS having been inserted in the public Papers, purporting that the said Atlas is composed from Surveys made by Order of Government, by Captain HOLLAND, &c. the following is extracted from Captain HOLLAND’s Answer to that Advertisement.

“I THINK it necessary the Public should be informed that I never gave, or consented to the giving, of any Copies of the Surveys, made by me or under my Direction, as Surveyor-General of Lands for the Northern District of North-America, for the Purpose of Publication; nor have any Copies have taken for such Purpose, from the said Survey, after being lodged at the Board of Trade, to my Knowledge, except what have been taken in the latter end of last Year, for the Use of Governor POWNALL, by Authority of the Earl of Dartmouth; nor have I at any Time published, or given my Consent to the publishing of any Plan, Map, or Survey, now extant, that bears my Name.

SAMUEL HOLLAND.”

[rule] 

*****

London Evening Post (issue 8403), 1776 January 27th – 30th.

Speedily will be published, (Sold by J. ALMON, opposite Burlington-House, Piccadilly,) A MAP of the Middle British Colonies in NORTH-AMERICA. First published by Mr. LEWIS EVANS, of Philadelphia, in 1755; and since corrected and improved, as also extended, with the addition of New England, &c. and bordering parts of Canada; from actual surveys now lying at the Board of Trade. By T. POWNALL, M.P. late Governor, &c. &c. of his Majesty’s Provinces of Massachusets Bay and South Carolina, and Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey. With a topographical description of such parts of North America as are contained in the said MAP.

EXTRACT from the PREFACE. “THE Western division of this Map was published at the commencement of the late war in America. It was found by the officers and servants of the Crown to have that degree of precision, that it was used by them … In any transactions since the war, where local precision has been necessary, this Map has been referred to … When the servants of the Crown proposed in the House of Commons, the clause for the limits of the government of Quebec, and when the line of those limits was there opposed, both sides, with this Map in their hands, argued from it.

I do not know that any other General Map of America has been published since this. … Of New-England there has been no new Map published, and as yet none so accurate as this, so far as it went in the first edition. What was there wanting is now added, and for the first time published from actual surveys lying in the Board of Trade, which the Earl of Dartmouth permitted me to have copied for this purpose. … I hope the Public will think, this publication at the commencement of the present very interesting period of events, to which the fate of this country verges fast, is not ill-timed, but that it may be (as the last was found to be) of use and information … This Map, soon after it came to England was, in a most audacious manner, pirated by the late Thomas Jefferys, under a false pretence of improvements. He was totally ignorant of the principles on which the original was formed … The mountains in America, which give the real features to the face of it, run in ridges of a specific direction – do in places here and there run up into peaks – do in others end abruptly in knobs and bluff points – do interlock and have gaps – all which parrticulars are in the original Map, with a careful and scrupulous attention plotted and marked down; as also where these ridges spread into hilly land. The geographer, or officer, will look in vain for this precision in the pirated copy. The blundering copyist thought, that the filling these places, where mountains were said to be, with the Engraver’s common marks scratched at random, was sufficient. In some parts, where the writing directed his tool, he has followed the ridges, but sans scavoir; and even there he knew not how to mark their specific range. So far as respects the face of the country, this thing of Jeffery might as well be a Map of the face of the moon. … The plate of this blundering copy has, in the course of trade, by purchase, fallen into the hands of Mr. Sayer, of Fleet-street. … He very honourably told me, that if the plate stood as a single article in his shop, he would destroy it directly; but it made part of an Atlas already published by him, and was also part of another very soon to be published by him, which had cost many thousand pounds; that he did not know how to take it out of these collections. I can only say, it will disgrace any collection in which it stands.

Albemarle-street, Nov. 11, 1775.

An advertisement of an AMERICAN ATLAS having been inserted in the public papers, purporting that the said Atlas is composed from surveys made by order of government, by Captain Holland, &c. the following is extracted from Captain Holland’s answer to that advertisement.

“I think it necessary the Public should be informed, that I never gave any copies of the surveys made by me, or under my direction, as Surveyor General of Lands for the Northern district of North America, for the purpose of publication; nor have any copies been taken for such purpose, from the said survey, after being lodged at the Board of Trade, to my knowledge, except what have been taken in the latter end of last year, for the use of Governor Pownall, by authority of the Earl of Dartmouth. SAMUEL HOLLAND.”

[repeated January 30th – February 1st 1776 (issue 8404) and later]. 

*****

London Evening Post (issue 8410) 1776 February 13th – 15th.

For the London Evening Post.

To Governor POWNALL,

SIR,

UNaccustomed to literary controversy, I feel the disadvantage I have to surmount in contesting even a matter of RIGHT with so casuistical an antagonist as Governor Pownall. Had your attack been levelled at myself, it should have passed unnoticed; you have traduced the memory of a father whom I honoured; and he must be a reptile indeed who would not turn against the heel which treads indignant on a parent’s ashes.

You are about to republish a map of the middle British Colonies in North America. That map is to be accompanied with a pamphlet panegyrizing your own improvements. To this I have no sort of objection. It is altogether in the fashion of the times for a man to be the herald of his own praise. But, Sir, in the pamphlet alluded to (an extract from which hath appeared in this paper) not content with puffing yourself, you have taken the liberty to traduce the character of another man. Unmindful of veracity you throw down the following censure: “That the late Thomas Jefferys, in a most audacious manner, PIRATED a Map of the British Colonies in North America, originally published by Lewis Evans, at Philadelphia, in 1755, under a FALSE pretence of improvements.” Proceeding on this charge as a fact, which stands not in need of proof, you go on to shew, that “that this same Thomas Jefferys was no more than a blundering copyist;” or, in other words, that he was not quite so skilful an engraver as Governor Pownall. Without entering into a detail of my father’s memory as ARTIST, give me leave to say a word in vindication of him as a MAN.

He did NOT pirate the map in question; he PURCHASED the plate from Mr. Bowen, who had previously engraven it on his own account. The scarcity of the original impression, and the estimation in which the work was held, were sufficient inducements with my father to re-publish the maps in England. He added, it is true, the line of forts at the back settlements; but he varied not a tittle from the geographic representation as it stood in the original. He made no pretence of improvement, and therefore the charge of having falsified his pretensions, falls to the ground. It was supported only by the assertion of Governor Pownall. I do not, Sir, mean to insinuate, that your assertions, like your patriotism, ought to be suspected; but this I will affirm, that the man who can charge another with STEALING a work which he honestly PURCHASED, is so little careful to distinguish between truth and falsehood, that great caution should be used in believing what he says.

Having thus disposed of your charge, I shall take the freedom to animadvert for a moment on the singularity of your conduct.

It was about the middle of June when I had the honour of imparting to you a scheme of engraving a map of the Province of New York, from a drawing which I then exhibited. You applauded the plan, and offered me the loan of certain surveys of New-England, provided that and the colony of New York were included in one map. This was not only agreed to on my part, but an enlargement of the plan was projected. It was proposed to take in Quebec, Boston, New-York and Philadelphia. In this scheme you appeared most heartily to concur. Copper plates were ordered, and the necessary preparatives were made. I was shewn your brother’s order for copying any materials which lay in the Plantation office, and unaccustomed to the chicane of placemen, foolishly conceived an opinion, that your intentions corresponded with your words. An advantage was taken of this credulity; for I was trifled with from June to September; when, urging the absolute necessity of my having the draughts, I was told that you had destined your materials for another purpose. Scarcely had I recovered from the astonishment such an evasive conduct naturally occasioned, before a message was conveyed from the Plantation Office, desiring me to send the drawings of New-York to your brother. A request so singular met with the rebuttal it deserved. Those drawings had not been PIRATED, but PURCHASED at a very considerable expence. They were private property; yet was I threatened with a visit from one of his Majesty’s messengers, unless they were deliver’d up. The threat, it is true, like the distant thunder, died away in sound. But what are we to think of THE PATRIOT who could countenance such a measure? If the SEIZURE OF PAPERS constituted one of the functions of government, whilst you presided over the Massachusetts, I am not suprized that the American should shew an aversion to your return. The private property of no individual can be safe under the jurisdiction of that man who would patronize a messenger in the ransacking an escrutore.

And now, Mr. Pownall, I shall take my leave. Conscious of being but an intruding visitor, I have treated you with all imaginable tenderness. I have not advanced a syllable on the motives which induced you to republish this map. I have not so much as noticed the mountains in America, which, as you say, “give the real FEAtures [sic] to the FACE of it – Do here and there RUN UP into peaks – Do end abruptly in KNOBS and BLUFF-POINTS – Do interlock and have GAPS.” I am sure, Sir, that you have improved these features TO ADVANTAGE. Prodigious sums of money have been annually granted for the survey of the American colonies; if we have not, after all, a very accurate map of that country, you, Sir, may be questioned as to the application of a part of the money. My father made “false pretences of improvements;” you deal in realities, and have thus far the preference. Yet one thing I must add in vindication of a deceased parent; he mouldered into dust without so much as once being charged with pirating the works of other men, until you, Governor Pownall, have disturbed his ashes by a violation of the truth.

I am, Sir, your humble servant, THOMAS JEFFERYS.

Corner of St. Martin’s-Lane, 10 Feb, 1776.

[inverted asterism] The insertion of this letter was postponed, in compliance with the writer’s request, as it was imagined that the MAP advertised by Governor Pownall would have qeen [sic] published long before this period.

*****

London Evening Post (issue 8412) February 17th – 20th 1776.

Speedily will be published, (Sold by J. ALMON, opposite Burlington-House, Piccadilly,) A MAP of the Middle British Colonies in NORTH-AMERICA. First published by Mr. LEWIS EVANS, of Philadelphia, in 1755; and since corrected and improved, as also extended, with the addition of New England, &c. and bordering parts of Canada; from actual surveys now lying at the Board of Trade. By T. POWNALL, M.P. late Governor, &c. &c. of his Majesty’s Provinces of Massachusets Bay and South Carolina, and Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey. With a topographical description of such parts of North America as are contained in the said MAP.

TO THE PUBLIC.

The present T. Jefferys says, the pirated copy of Lewis Evans’s map of the middle British colonies in North America, was not done by his father, but by Mr. Bowen. The map itself (i.e. the pirated map) says, “corrected and improved, &c. by Thomas Jefferys, geographer to the King;” and in another part, “published by T. Jefferys.” When this pirated and erroneous map was published, the original map, sent from Philadelphia, was in sale at Mr. Dodsley’s, in Pall Mall. But the pirated map being cheaper prevented the original map from selling, and Mr. Evans from receiving the benefit due to his labour. That there are many, very many errors in this pirated copy, has been asserted; and the assertion is true. It would be prudent not to urge the necessity of pointing them out.

T. Jefferys’s fallacy of Governor Pownall’s materials being offered to him, is best detected by a short relation of the fact. Early in the summer of 1775, Governor Pownall communicated to the present publisher, his intentions of publishing Lewis Evans’s Map, with the additions, improvements, &c. as it is now preparing, there being no accurate map, &c. But soon afterwards, T. Jefferys informed the Governor of a design he had, for a map of New-York and New-England, upon a large scale. Governor Pownall, approving of this design, abandoned his own; and told T. Jefferys he would not only give him his materials for this purpose, but likewise what he could have from the Board of Trade. He mentioned this matter to the publisher first alluded to, who acquiesced. But in a short time T. Jefferys altered his design, saying he had not leisure to execute his first scheme, and the call for maps was so great, he had, for the present, determined to publish Two Small Maps instead of his intended large one; and applied to Governor Pownall for his materials. The first design being thus changed into a jobb, the Governor refused to countenance it, and sent the following answer to T. Jeffery’s application:

“Governor Pownall’s compliments to Mr. Jefferys. When Mr. Jefferys first shewed his projected plan of a general map to Governor Pownall, he wished, as he approved of it, to encourage it, and would have assisted him with his materials; but as Governor Pownall found those materials were to be applied to a different plan, which he did not approve, he has destined his materials to another use; and will not give then to Mr. Jefferys.

Richmond, September, Saturday.”

Governor Pownall resumed his original idea; and stated these facts to the bookseller he had first spoken to; having no other view from the beginning, than that the public should have a true map.

As to the message said to be sent to T. Jefferys from the Plantation Office, Governor Pownall knows nothing of it. If T. Jefferys has any drawings which he can say came from that office, it lies with him to account how he came by them.

The PUBLISHER.

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