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

Originally published (with more and variant illustrations) in Mapforum 3 (Autumn, 2004): pp. 20-29. 

Thomas Jefferys

Portrait study of Thomas Jefferys by Paul Sandby. © The Trustees of the British Museum. 1904,0819.242-402.

Thomas Jefferys is already rather better documented than most English mapmakers of the eighteenth century – or indeed of any other period. Brian Harley’s exemplary 1966 essay,[1] amplified and updated by the more recent work of Mary Pedley and Donald Hodson,[2] gives us the best account yet of the social and economic circumstance of a London mapseller of the period. And yet, although Jefferys has long been recognised as “the leading chart and map supplier of his day”,[3]  a figure of paramount importance in the mapping of North America and the Caribbean as well as the re-mapping of England, his essential biography is still subject to persistent muddle and confusion. The aim of the present essay, in effect no more than an extended footnote to Harley, is to place the wider biography on a more secure footing.[4]

The first unequivocal biographical fact of Jefferys’ life is his apprenticeship to the well-known Emanuel Bowen, for a consideration of £15 (about average for a London engraving apprenticeship at this time), on 3 December 1735.[5]  This places Jefferys firmly in the context of an established map-making tradition, for Bowen was himself an apprentice of the unfortunate Charles Price, who was in turn an apprentice of the major seventeenth-century mapmaker John Seller.  In Bowen’s workshop Jefferys joined the equally well-known Thomas Kitchin, apprenticed to Bowen almost exactly three years earlier in December 1732.[6]  Although Jefferys became an accomplished engraver of all kinds of material, he was, from the outset, primarily a specialist map-engraver, trained in the mainstream of commercial map compilation and production.[7]  It was also at this time that he first made the acquaintance of the colourful Irishman Bradock Mead, alias John Green, “a man of warm passions fond of the women & intrigue” as Jefferys later recalled, but a man who is ranked among the most serious and academically rigorous cartographers of the period and who later came to be involved in some of Jefferys’ most important maps.[8]  From the beginning, Jefferys had established long-lasting connections with three of his major contemporaries.


Receipt signed on Jefferys’ behalf by his former apprentice, John Spilsbury. © The Trustees of the British Museum. Heal, 59.94.

Having served his seven-year apprenticeship, Jefferys would seem to have begun his independent career – rather later than has often been supposed – in the latter part of 1744, when he became a freeman of the Merchant Taylors’ Company and took on his first apprentice (a boy named Henry Howard, who brought with him a fee of fifteen guineas).[9]  Other early apprentices to join Jefferys were the better-known John Lodge in 1750 and John Spilsbury in 1753. [10]

Warwickshire from "The Small English Atlas". © Lee Jackson Maps.

Warwickshire from “The Small English Atlas”. © Lee Jackson Maps.

Although Jefferys received his first royal appointment (as Geographer to Frederick, Prince of Wales) as early as 1746, his earliest work, produced from his original workshop in Red Lion Street in Clerkenwell, was conventional enough – maps for books and magazines and The small English atlas (co-published with Kitchin in 1748-1749). The first truly distinctive phase of his career was the publication of a number of plans of the manufacturing towns of the midlands – Noble & Butlin’s plan of Northampton (1747), Samuel Bradford’s plans of Coventry (1750) and Birmingham (1751), Isaac Taylor’s Wolverhampton (1751) and others – his first major contribution to the re-mapping of an England in transition. The suggestion has previously been made that this distinctive group may give some clue to his family background and this now seems to be the case.


A Plan of Birmingham Surveyed in MDCCL by Samuel Bradford. 1750. Courtesy of

I am confident, as confident as one can be on an accumulation of inconclusive evidence, that Jefferys was the Thomas Jeffryes (son of Henry) baptised at the church of St. Martin in Birmingham (a church pictured on the Birmingham map) on 10 July 1719, for he was certainly the brother of the brassfounder, Josiah Jefferys (for whom Isaac Taylor worked on first coming to London)[11] and of the goldsmith, Nathaniel Jefferys[12] – both of whom are credibly stated also to have come from Birmingham.[13]  A further brother, John Jefferys, was a miller in Kidderminster and a man of some local prominence.[14]  John Jefferys was the father of Jefferys’ nephew, also Thomas Jefferys (1742-1820), a goldsmith in Cockspur Street in London when appointed the executor of Jefferys’ will in 1771.

Jefferys Trade Card

Trade card of Thomas Jeffreys, designed and engraved by Anthony Walker. © The Trustees of the British Museum. Banks 100.64.

In, or slightly before, 1750 Jefferys moved to the premises at Charing Cross that were to become the leading London map retailing establishment of the next half century – at the south-east corner of St. Martin’s Lane and the Strand – and to settle another persistent misunderstanding, this was genuinely the shop on the corner – not the larger shop four doors along that his successor William Faden moved to in about 1800.[15]  In 1751 Jefferys married Elizabeth Raikes (b.1729), the daughter of the printer Robert Raikes (1690-1757), founder of the Gloucester Journal and a former partner of William Dicey in Nortrhampton, and half-sister to the younger Robert Raikes (1735-1811), the originator of Sunday schools, whose elegant statue now stands in the Victoria Embankment Gardens – not far from the site of Jefferys’ shop.[16]  The marriage took place at Maisemore near Gloucester on 16 May 1751. The couple subsequently baptised seven children at the church of St. Martin in the Fields close by Jefferys’ premises – Mary 1753, Thomas junior 1755, Frances 1759, John 1761, George 1762, William 1764 and Ann 1766.

New England

A map of the most inhabited part of New England. 1755. © Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division. LC Maps of North America, 1750-1789, 797.

It was from the new address that Jefferys issued, in the second distinctive phase of his career, some of the most important eighteenth-century maps of the Americas, a series given pattern and impetus by the preliminary hostilities and eventual outbreak of the Seven Years’ War. Among many individual works of note were Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson’s 1751 survey of Virginia, engraved and published by Jefferys in 1753; John Green’s six-sheet Chart of North and South America 1753 – sold by Jefferys at twelve shillings in sheets, and with a separately published memorial on its sources and construction; Green’s four-sheet Map of the most inhabited part of New England (1755); William de Brahm’s four-sheet map of South Carolina (1757), James Cook’s twelve-sheet A new chart of the River St. Laurence (1760), and Joseph Blanchard and Samuel Langdon’s two-sheet An accurate map of his Majesty’s province of New Hampshire (1761), the first published map of the state. The culmination of this concentration of work was the atlas published in association with Robert Sayer as A general topography of North America (1768). Posthumous collections were published by Sayer in 1775 as The American atlas, The North-American pilot,  including important charts by Cook, and The West-India atlas, for which a collection of working drafts, fair copies and proofs with manuscript corrections, some showing traces of the chalk used in transferring the images, survives in the British Library.[17]

There was clearly a political context behind this concentration of production, and in parallel to the maps Jefferys was publishing a wider range still of commentaries and texts.[18]  His shilling pamphlet, The conduct of the French, with regard to Nova Scotia (1754) – couched in the form of a letter to a Member of Parliament, the text anonymous but surely by John Green or Jefferys himself[19] – contains a highly detailed analysis of all the existing maps, as well as the texts of relevant treaties, building up to a damning exposé of French claims. De l’Isle is accused of fraud, Bellin, Buache and Robert de Vaugondy (“geographical sleight of hand”) are similarly indicted, and there is a savage dissection of d’Anville’s 1746 map of America, and in particular the creeping alterations and inconsistencies in the boundary lines made in successive impressions. The pamphlet was subsequently translated into French and robustly answered by Gilbert de la Grange de Chessieux in La conduite des François justifiée (Utrecht 1756), but while the validity of claim and counter-claim is better left to others to judge, or to history to gloss, the essential point in the present context is that there was, within Jefferys’ workshop, a staggering working knowledge of the source materials and the minutiae of contemporary cartography.  However the end results of Jefferys’ application to mapmaking may be judged, there was no lack of effort in their compilation.


Seeing. Mezzotint by Alexander van Haecken after Jacopo Amigoni, published by Jefferys. © The Trustees of the British Museum. 1869,0612.570

Alongside maps and geographical texts Jefferys was by now also selling a wide range of prints – including the very best work of the time. He advertised “a fine collection of foreign prints by the most celebrated masters antient or modern, consisting of history, heads, landskips … Likewise the greatest variety of the best English prints, among which are a great number of views of the most remarkable places, cities, palaces, &c., either plain or coloured for the diagonal mirrour or concave glass”.[20]   He was, too, to become a pioneer in the manufacture and sale of educational games like The royal geographical pastime: exhibiting a complete tour round the world (1770) – a board game in which the players race to visit over 100 places around the world – the trip enlivened with some splendid punishments, missed turns, and witty and patriotic notes and asides. At the other end of the scale was simple jobbing work – engraving and printing summons and invitations.[21]  He engraved coats of arms for the annual A companion to the almanack, caricatures, views and song-books, as well as pleasantly illustrated works like A collection of the dresses of different nations, antient and modern, issued in parts from 1755 and eventually building to four published volumes (1757-1772).

Titlepage to 'A Collection of the Dresses of Different Nations, 1757. © The Trustees of the British Museum. 1895,1031.240.

Titlepage to ‘A Collection of the Dresses of Different Nations, 1757. © The Trustees of the British Museum. 1895,1031.240.

On 15 December 1760 Jefferys was sworn “into the Place and Quality of Geographer in Ordinary to His Majesty [George III]: To have, hold, Exercise and enjoy the said Place, together with all Rights, Profits, Privileges and Advantages thereunto belonging; in as full and ample a Manner as any Geographer in Ordinary formerly held or of Right ought to have held and Enjoyed”, thus succeeding his old master, Emanuel Bowen, as Geographer to the King.[22]  He became a liveryman of the Merchant Taylors in May 1761 and was now at the zenith of his career. As war in the Americas turned to temporary peace, Jefferys moved into the third and most ambitious phase of his career – the fresh mapping from original survey of large portions of England. Much has been made of the impact of the system of prizes instituted by the (Royal) Society of Arts in 1759 in creating a new focus of activity in this arena, but in truth the process was already well begun with the recent surveys of John Rocque, Isaac Taylor and others, and the Society’s prizes, although no doubt welcome enough, were somewhat capriciously awarded and not of sufficient monetary value to defray more than a fraction of the cost of a full-scale survey of the requisite standard.  Jefferys’ decision to undertake, or in fact to return to this type of activity – it can legitimately be seen as a continuation of his work with the early town plans – probably had as much to do with the death in 1762 of the leading practitioner, his neighbour John Rocque, as to any other consideration. Jefferys’ relations with the Society were at best uneasy, and he was never to receive any kind of award (although he was the engraver of Benjamin Donn’s 1765 twelve-sheet map of Devon that won the very first prize).

Jefferys unexpectedly went bankrupt in November 1766, almost before his plans were properly begun. The bankruptcy has been fully analysed by Harley, who was almost certainly correct in his conclusion that the bankruptcy was principally caused by the overwhelming expense of the surveys – in 1766 Jefferys had three separate surveys in progress.[23]  Much of his stock was sold by auction over a period of ten days in February 1767[24] and he was only able to continue in business by “some friends who have been compassionate enough to re-instate me in my shop”.[25]  Jefferys wrote at that time that he was “beginning the world afresh” – and indeed, in every sense, and with the most remarkable determination, he was. In the five short years he had left to live, Jefferys – aided by his talented colleagues Thomas Donald, Joseph Hodskinson, and John Ainslie (the last apprenticed to Jefferys for a fee of fifty guineas in 1762)[26] – surveyed, engraved and published an eight-sheet map of Bedfordshire (surveyed 1765 but published 1767); a six-sheet map of Huntingdonshire (surveyed 1766 and published 1768); a four-sheet map of Oxfordshire (surveyed 1766-1767 and published 1769); a four-sheet map of Buckinghamshire (surveyed 1766-1768 and published 1770); a four-sheet map of Westmoreland (surveyed 1768 and published 1770); and a twenty-sheet map of Yorkshire, with inset town-plans of Kingston upon Hull, Leeds, Ripon, Scarborough, Sheffield and York (surveyed 1767-1770 and published 1771-1772).  To these we might add the six-sheet map of Cumberland surveyed by Thomas Donald in 1770-1771 (“at the request of the late Mr. Jefferys”) and engraved and published by Hodskinson in 1774. There were too the survey of Nottinghamshire deemed not accurate enough to publish (and much to Jefferys’ credit, never published), and Jefferys’ work on revising Thomas Eyre’s map of Northamptonshire, eventually published by Faden in 1779. Jefferys also engraved and published Andrew Armstrong’s four-sheet map of Durham in 1768.

This sequence of maps represented an extraordinary achievement, but they do not stand alone as Jefferys’ contribution to the re-mapping of England, for it was Jefferys who was with entrusted with the engraving of some of the earliest canal and harbour improvement schemes beginning to be carried out by the leading engineers of the day – John Smeaton, A plan of the harbour of Lynn (1767); John Grundy, A survey of the River Swale (1767); James Brindley, A plan of the navigable canals now making (1769); John Grundy, A plan of the intended canal from Chesterfield (1770); James Brindley & Robert Whitworth, A plan of the intended canal in Berkshire (1770) – and others besides.

Jefferys died on 20th November 1771 and was buried three days later. His will left only the sum of twenty pounds, his debts and his remaining effects to his widow and four surviving children (Mary, Thomas, George and Ann), with the specific instruction that the remainder of his estate be turned into money and divided equally between the children.[27]  The will was witnessed solely by his brother Nathaniel, whose wife Elizabeth was called on to vouch for its validity – she had watched the will being made out “and did see the said deceased sit and inscribe his name thereto”. The executor was Jefferys’ nephew, also Thomas Jefferys, who was presumably influential in seeing that not all the stock was sold off and that the business in some sense continued[28] – nominally under Jefferys’ sixteen year old son (also Thomas),[29] subsequently in partnership with William Faden, who (alongside of course Ainslie in Edinburgh) was to become Jefferys’ true successor.[30]

The younger Jefferys appears to have left the map trade as soon as he reached his age of majority in 1776, but not before appearing in the press to defend his late father’s reputation. Constraints of space preclude any detailed account of this curious incident, but, in short, Jefferys was publicly accused of both pirating a map by Lewis Evans and of making false claims as to having improved it.[31]  [*See the next post for a full transcription of the correspondence, supplied by Ashley Baynton-Williams].  The younger Jefferys defended his father’s reputation with considerable dignity – “you have traduced the memory of a father whom I honoured … he mouldered into dust without so much as once being charged with pirating the works of other men”. Given the common conception that most eighteenth century mapmakers simply copied one another’s maps, it is very interesting to note how seriously these charges were taken and how vehemently denied. The best mapmakers took themselves seriously and were properly jealous of their reputations. It is unfortunate that this particular unfounded and malicious charge has coloured Jefferys’ reputation to the present day. We read on the internet such opinions as “He [Jefferys] was not a geographer per se. He was an engraver and publisher of maps which other people had compiled and drawn. In the ethically flexible map trade of the eighteenth century … Jefferys did not have a larger agenda, such as the advancement of geographical knowledge, other than the generation of profit”.[32]   To lay this charge at the door of a man who literally bankrupted himself in the service of cartography, who surveyed a large part of the country at his private expense, who employed in his surveys the best of contemporary practice,[33] who employed John Green (and alone among his contemporaries gave Green the freedom to produce maps to the kind of standard he had cried out for in vain for over thirty years), who trained John Ainslie (nowadays lauded by the National Library of Scotland as “Scotland’s greatest land surveyor”)[34], and who lay the foundations for the career of the finest English mapmaker of the period, William Faden,[35] is patently absurd. Jefferys pirated maps in the same sense that this essay is a piracy of Harley: we all must needs stand on the shoulders of our peers and predecessors.

The extent to which Jefferys carefully garnered, collated, and kept the best available original source materials is reflected in the manuscript inventory of the maps and draughts which survives in the library of the Royal Geographical Society.[36]  This catalogues a wealth of such things, including not least original surveys and estate plans, manuscript charts by James Cook, and a copy of John Rocque’s map of London on which “all the new buildings are delineated from the surveys and papers of the late T. J. 1770”. The man deserves a better verdict than history has so far accorded him. Perhaps the best contemporary summation (long since quoted by Harley, but evidently worth repeating) is that given by the anonymous author (in fact Theodorus Swaine Drage)[37] of Jefferys’ publication The great probability of a North West Passage (1768) – “I cannot pass by Mr. Jefferys’s care and exactness in executing the maps, whose care and fidelity to the publick not to impose anything that is spurious, but what he hath an apparent and real authority for, is perhaps not sufficiently known”.

[1] J. B. Harley, ‘The bankruptcy of Thomas Jefferys: an episode in the economic history of eighteenth century map-making’, Imago Mundi 20 (Amsterdam, 1966), 27-48. See also the same author’s ‘The Society of Arts and the survey of English counties, 1759-1809’ Journal of the Royal Society of Arts 112 (London, 1963-1964), 43-46, 119-24, 269-75, 538-43, and ‘The re-mapping of England, 1750-1800’ Imago Mundi 19 (Amsterdam, 1965), 56-67.

[2] Mary Pedley, ‘Gentlemen abroad: Jefferys and Sayer in Paris’, The Map Collector 37 (Tring, 1986), 20-23. Mary Pedley – ed., The map trade in the late eighteenth century: letters to the London map sellers Jefferys and Faden (Oxford, 2000), esp. 6-10. Donald Hodson, County atlases of the British Isles published after 1703, vol. i (Tewin, 1984), esp. 146-150, and   vol. iii, (London, 1997), esp. 41-45.

[3] E.G.R.Taylor, The mathematical practitioners of Hanoverian England 1714-1840  (London,  1966), 181 – cited with apparent approval by Harley.

[4] I met Brian Harley only once, shortly before his death, but our conversation (and prior correspondence) encourages me to believe that this attempt to set the record straight had his enthusiastic approval.

[5] Merchant Taylors’ Company, Apprentice Register 19.197 (microfilm in Guildhall Library). The original indenture signed by Bowen survives in the City of London Record Office – CF 1/676/68. Jefferys is described as a son of the late Henry Jefferys, cutler, of the London parish of St. James Clerkenwell.

[6] For Kitchin see Laurence Worms, ‘Thomas Kitchin’s “Journey of Life”: Hydrographer to George III, mapmaker and engraver’, The Map Collector 62-63 (Tring, 1993), 62.2-8, 63.14-20.

[7] On one his earliest published maps, A map of the Holy Land and Syria, engraved for Richard Pococke’s A Description of the East (1743-1745), he styles himself “Geographus” and makes it clear that he has both drawn and engraved the map.

[8] See for a well-documented recent account of Green’s life and work. His A journey from Aleppo to Damascus (1736) contains a map engraved in Bowen’s workshop, and Jefferys later confirmed that he had known him since 1735.

[9] Confusion as to the dates of Jefferys’ life and active career has primarily arisen from the existence of two maps of London bearing his name and dated 1732 and 1735 respectively. The internal evidence of the maps makes them certainly of a later date and it seems clear that both were originally issued at these dates by George Willdey, but that it was only after Thomas Willdey’s death in 1748 that the plates passed to Jefferys – a point previously made by Ashley Baynton-Williams in the internet version of Mapforum –

[10] Merchant Taylors’ Apprentice Book 19.311 and 19.335 – Lodge the son of the John Lodge who had been apprenticed to Bowen in 1723, and in turn the father of yet-another another map-engraving John Lodge. .Spilsbury is often claimed to be the inventor of the jigsaw puzzle, which originally took the form of dissected map-puzzles, although earlier examples of simpler puzzles are now known.

[11] “In London he [Isaac Taylor] first entered the cutlery works of Josiah Jefferys, then employing sixty or seventy men in his business, and who afterwards retired to Shenfield … A Nathaniel Jefferys, his brother, was at the same time Goldsmith and Cutler to the King; and Thomas, another brother, who became Geographer to the King …” – Ann Gilbert, Autobiography and other memorials of Mrs. Gilbert, formerly Ann Taylor, ed. Josiah Gilbert. 2 vols. (London, 1874), I.ix. Taylor married Jefferys’ niece, Sarah Hackshaw Jefferys, daughter of Josiah, in 1754.

[12]  The Nathaniel Jefferys of whom Boswell relates “a very good adventure” –  Jefferys trusting Boswell to take away a five-guinea sword without prior payment. James Boswell, Boswell’s London journal, 1762-1763, ed. F.A.Pottle (London, 1950).  Nathaniel was not only Jefferys’ brother but his near neighbour, with premises at the corner of Villiers Street and the Strand.  He retired to Worcester and his son, also Nathaniel, later became M.P. for Coventry (both towns of which Jefferys published plans).

[13] Both are in fact reported to have been baptised at the same church – Josiah Jeffris, son of Henry, on 29 May 1709 (IGI) and Nathaniel Jefferys in about 1723 (both on IGI and at I am unable to confirm either of these from a study of a microfilm of the parish register, but the family are clearly marked in the register as dissenters in 1719, and one might well suppose that other baptisms were performed at a quasi-private dissenting chapel or chapels.

[14] Private communication from Mr. N. A. Gilbert of Kidderminster, to whom I am most grateful. Jefferys published John Doharty’s An exact plan of  Kidderminster in 1753, with a tub-thumping description of the town perhaps supplied by his brother.

[15] This is borne out by an examination of the local rate books, but the original shop is clearly shown right on the corner in Thomas Malton’s view of Charing Cross published in 1795, with Faden’s name and the royal arms over the door.

[16] Gilbert op. cit. – “Thomas … Geographer to the King, married a sister of the Mr Raikes of Gloucester, well known as the founder of Sunday Schools”. Harley was in uncharacteristic error in giving Jefferys’ wife’s name as Elizabeth Francis – this was certainly a different Thomas Jefferys.

[17] BL Maps 188.o.2.

[18] See, for example, the London edition of The journal of George Washington (1755), with a map of the Ohio; The natural and civil history of the French dominions in North and South America (1760); Gerhard Friedrich Müller, Voyages from Asia to America for completing the discoveries of the north-west coast of America (1761); A description of the Spanish islands on the coast of the West Indies, compiled from authentic memoirs (1762); William Roberts, An account of the first discovery, and natural history of Florida (1763), etc.

[19] Most have assumed Green – but Jefferys was perfectly capable of this kind of analysis himself – see, for example, his criticism of Elphinstone’s map of Scotland as recorded by Richard Gough – “excessive ignorance of his own country … many burghs and presbyteries are forgot, and above sixty rivers left nameless” ([Richard Gough]: “British Topography” (London, 1780).

[20] The wording of an engraved receipt – see the following note. In terms of the quality of Jefferys’ stock, the archives of Drummond’s Bank show Jefferys paying the celebrated engraver Sir Robert Strange an amount of £10.4s.10d on 2 April 1770 – presumably for the exquisite prints for which Strange was esteemed all over Europe (Drummond’s Bank 1770, Folio 729).

[21] A typical receipt for such work (in this case for the Worshipful Company of Turners – 10 June 1757) is preserved in the Guildhall Library collection of trade-cards.

[22] PRO LC3/67 p.28. Bowen’s earlier warrant was dated 14 March 1745/46 – LC3/65. p.198 – I am very grateful to Mary Pedley for re-finding the first of these, my note of which I had temporarily mislaid, and for finding the second, which I never found at all.

[23] Jefferys himself said only that “by a train of unforseen accidents, with a detail of which I will not presume to trouble you, my affairs were brought into so much disorder, that I was lately obliged to become a bankrupt” (letter in the E.E.Ayer Collection, Newberry Library cited by Harley ‘Bankruptcy’, 10). I have no doubt that Harley was broadly right, but “accidents” and “disorder” seem to betoken other and more imponderable factors, and there is too the fact that the pace and scale of the surveys seems almost to have increased rather than slackened after the bankruptcy.

[24] Hodson, op.cit, III. 42.

[25] Principal among these must have been Robert Sayer, with whom Jefferys visited Paris in 1768, perhaps intent on restoring his fortunes. The inventory of Jefferys’ working materials preserved in the library of the Royal Geographical Society (see note 36 below) records “a drawing of the Island of Cyprus, purchased by T.J. at Paris” but the only further record of this trip that remains is an unfortunate report on French police files – see Mary Pedley, ‘Gentleman abroad’, op.cit. One would imagine that Jefferys’ family were also involved in the rescue – his brothers were all wealthy men and the Raikes family too were of considerable substance.

[26] As John Ainsly – Ian Maxted, The British book trades 1710-1777: an index of masters and apprentices (Exeter, 1983), 0862a. Other Jefferys apprentices at this time were Humphrey Cotes (£50) and Richard Jackson, both 1767, and his son Thomas Jefferys in 1769. Cotes is probably the H.C. whose initials appear in the inventory – see note 36 below – but Jackson was turned over to a jobbing engraver on Jefferys’ death and completed his training elsewhere.

[27] PCC 1771, 444, Trevor PROB 11/972 f.224.

[28] A ten-day auction of the stock began on 29 January 1772, and a further nine-day sale of the “remainder” on 10 March 1772 – Hodson, op.cit., I.48 – but plainly there was enough left for Faden to revive the business – or perhaps there was simply an insufficiency of buyers.

[29] The younger Thomas Jefferys (b.1755) had been apprenticed to his father in June 1769. He was certainly actively involved in the business until 1776, although I suppose that in a legal sense Faden’s partnership with “Thomas Jefferys” may technically have been with Jefferys’ nephew, also Thomas Jefferys, the executor of the will.

[30] He described himself as “successor to the late Mr. Thomas Jefferys” on the title-page of The North American Atlas in 1777 (and elsewhere). There does not appear to be any documentary evidence linking Faden to the business prior to the summer of 1773 – some eighteen months after Jefferys died, but this does not preclude the possibility of his having been involved before that time. He had become a freeman of his livery company (Clothworkers) at the age of twenty-two in August 1771, having served a seven-year apprenticeship with the decorative engraver, James Wigley. It was common practice for freed apprentices to work as journeymen for someone other than their former master for a couple of years – to  round off and complete their training before setting up independently – and this may be more or less what happened in this case – Faden becoming a partner when his two years were completed. One senses, in such passages as the preface to Faden’s Geographical exercises (1777), that Faden must have known Jefferys and also to have found him in some sense an inspirational figure.

[31] A fuller account is given in Hodson, op. cit., III.44-45, and I am most grateful to Donald Hodson for sending me further details, including photocopies of the complete newspaper dialogue, which deserves publication in full in some appropriate form. The attack on Jefferys was contained in a newspaper advertisement announcing a new edition of Evans’ A general map of the middle British Colonies in America, originally published at Philadelphia in 1755 – “This Map, soon after it came to England, was, in a most audacious manner, pirated by the late Thomas Jefferys”. A new edition was to be revised by Thomas Pownall, and the wording of the advertisement is clearly related to Pownall’s preface to the third edition of his A topographical description of the dominions of North America, ed. Lois Mulkearn, (Pittsburgh, 1949). Pownall was clearly attempting to bully the younger Jefferys – they were in dispute on another matter and he had his own particular agenda, but as to the map in question my understanding is that the Jefferys edition (published in 1758 – and still being published by the younger Jefferys in partnership with Robert Sayer in 1775) was in fact originally engraved by John Gibson and published by Thomas Kitchin in 1756. In that Kitchin had recently engraved the great John Mitchell map of North America from official sources, he was probably better placed than anyone to “improve” on Evans’ work, which itself came in for some heavy contemporary criticism.

[32] – bar this singular lapse of judgement, an otherwise exemplary website.

[33] “The great Angles were taken by the Theodolite, & the Roads were measured by the Chain & Transcribed on the Plain Table in the Field” – Harley, ‘Bankruptcy’, 44.

[35] For the importance of Faden himself see Laurence Worms, ‘The Maturing of British Commercial Cartography: William Faden (1749–1836) and the Map Trade’, The Cartographic Journal, vol. 41, issue 1, June 2004, 5-11.

[36] RGS MS – Catalogue of drawings & engraved maps, charts & plans: the property of Mr. Thomas Jefferys; Geographer to the King: 1775. The inventory was presumably drawn up as part of the contractual arrangements arising from the younger Jefferys dissolving the partnership with Faden. He would have reached the age of twenty-one on 24 May 1776 – which I take to be the date at which the partnership ended. Thereafter  Jefferys appears to have engaged in his uncle Josiah’s brassfounding activities.

[37] A manuscript note on the flyleaf of the British Library copy reads: “Presented by the author, Mr. Dragge” – and see Harley ‘Bankruptcy’ n.86.

One thought on “Thomas Jefferys (1719-1771) : Beginning the World Afresh

  1. Pingback: The Engraved Holland Maps and their Evolution – Reg Porter's Heritage Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s