The Map Used by British Strategists,
First Published During the French and Indian War
Click to enlarge:
LEWIS EVANS and THOMAS POWNALL.
Map. A Map of the Middle British Colonies in North America...with the Addition of New England, and the bordering Parts of Canada, London, March 25, 1776. 1 p. 21½ x 34 in. Three-part folding map with hand-colored colony borders.
Lewis Evans (1700?-1756) was a Welsh-born surveyor, geographer, and cartographer who produced two maps of British North America. The first, A Map of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and the Three Delaware Counties was first printed in 1749. His more famous A General Map of the Middle British Colonies in America first appeared in 1755. It was a joint venture between Evans and Thomas Pownall (1722-1805). Pownall came to America in 1753. After his patron died suddenly, he embarked on a tour of the colonies, observing everything from Indian life to colonial society. Expertise in Indian affairs and connections with Pennsylvania society earned him an invitation to attend the Albany Conference, a 1754 meeting of colonial officials trying to improve relations with the Indians and provide for better defense against French incursions. Pownall proposed a crown-level superintendant of Indian matters to limit political infighting and corruption, and a scheme for organizing colonial expansion west. After the conference, Pownall returned to Philadelphia, where he collaborated with Evans on the Map of the Middle British Colonies, as both men recognized the need for accurate maps of the lands under dispute during the French and Indian War.
Evans’s original map was printed by Philadelphia’s “B. Franklin and D. Hall” in 1755 and dedicated to Pownell. British General Edward Braddock, under whom a young George Washington served, used the Evans and Pownall map during the French and Indian War. The original map was pirated four times between its original issue in 1755 and this 1776 re-issue by Pownall. In this newer version, Pownall added the space of approximately 5 degrees of longitude to the map in the Atlantic Ocean. The addition appears to have been engraved on a different plate, and the two impressions were joined on one paper to make the map. In the newly-created space, Pownall provides lists of towns and counties in the Colonies.
In his introduction to the new atlas, he also reaffirms the accuracy of the 1755 map and its usefulness to the British effort in the Seven Years War. “It was found by the Officers and Servants of the Crown to have that Degree of Precision,” wrote Pownall in 1776, “that it was used by them both in England and in America, and served every practical purpose during the War.” Moreover, New England was better represented in his new version of Evans’s map. “What there was wanting to a compleat Map of New England, is now added from later Information....These 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 drawn, tracing the Features of it, and not in Default of that, filling up the Map with Writing.” Instead, Pownall’s New England is richly detailed; only the empty ocean space was filled with text.
Excellent overall. Minor smudging and scattered spotting.
Henry Newton Stevens, Lewis Evans: His Map of the Middle British Colonies in America
(London: Henry Stevens, Son, and Stiles, 1905) pp. 1-6, 19-23.