Charting the Chesapeake, 1590-1700

Introduction

Compass roseA chart is a road map for mariners. It tells them where they are, where they can sail safely, and delineates areas to avoid by describing the surface under the water. Anyone venturing out on the Chesapeake needs to consult a chart to ensure a safe voyage.

Today's charts provide mariners with a wealth of data. Hundreds of bits of information are readily available telling them virtually everything they need to know to reach their destination safely. Based on sophisticated surveys, modern charts reflect how much is known about the world below the surface.

Chesapeake mariners have not always had the benefit of such knowledge. Earlier charts were far less informative, depending on the state of exploration or survey work at a given time.  The charts presented here reflect four hundred years of knowledge about the bay. They illustrate how new information was made available to mariners over time. 

Because the Chesapeake Bay has been so important to the history of Maryland, charts have played a central role as well. From the seventeenth century forward charts were the key to economic or naval power.

Charts were indispensable to Maryland's early vessels of commerce and trade, such as the tobacco ships which transported the region's cash crop to market in Europe. They were also essential to both the British and American navies during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Sailors needed to know the location of shoals, conditions of the bottom, and the ways of tide and current to maneuver their vessels during battles on the Chesapeake and its tributaries.

Today's Marylanders also rely on charts of the Chesapeake to find their way. Maryland pilots use charts to guide foreign container vessels into and out of the bay's major ports, Baltimore and Norfolk. Millions of recreational boaters consult charts to navigate to safe harbor.  They are also used by watermen to locate the bay's natural oyster beds.

Adapted from Charting the Chesapeake, 1950-1990

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades K-4:

Topic 2: The History of the Studentsí Own State or Region 

STANDARD 3: The people, events, problems, and ideas that created the history of their state. 

Standard 3A: The student understands the history of indigenous peoples who first lived in his or her state or region. 

K-4: Draw upon data in paintings and artifacts to hypothesize about the culture of the early Hawaiians or Native Americans who are known to have lived in the state or region, e.g., the Anasazi of the Southwest, the Makah of the Northwest coast, the Eskimos/Inupiat of Alaska, the Creeks of the Southeast, the Mississippians (Cahokia), or the Mound Builders. [Formulate historical questions] 
K-4: Draw upon legends and myths of the Native Americans or Hawaiians who lived in studentsí state or region in order to describe personal accounts of their history. [Read historical narratives imaginatively] 
3-4: Compare and contrast how Native American or Hawaiian life today differs from the life of these same groups over 100 years ago. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas] 

Standard 3D: The student understands the interactions among all these groups throughout the history of his or her state.

3-4: Investigate the influence of geography on the history of the state or region and identify issues and approaches to problems such as land use and environmental problems. [Reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage] 

Standard 3E: The student understands the ideas that were significant in the development of the state and that helped to forge its unique identity. 

3-4: Draw upon a variety of sources to describe the unique historical conditions that influenced the formation of the state. [Obtain historical data] 

Primary Resources

  1. TITLE: Orbis terrae compendiosa descriptio.
    CARTOGRAPHER: Rumold Mercator
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1587
    NOTES: This double hemispheric world map influenced world maps for a full century. It is significant in a collection of Chesapeake-Maryland maps because it is one of the early printed maps on which the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay and the James and York Rivers are show. The name of the bay, however, did not occur until John White's print map in 1590 (see below). See Huntingfield Collection map report for additional information about this map.
    SOURCE: Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, MSA SC 1399-1-208
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives. Image shown is from the collection of the Hargrett Library, University of Georgia.

  2. TITLE: America pars, Nunc Virginia dicta...
    CARTOGRAPHER: John White
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1590, Frankfort
    NOTES: White's map contains the first printed use of the name "Chesapiooc Sinus" (Chesapeake Bay) and is the first reasonable accurate and detailed map of Virginia. It was derived from a watercolor manuscript drawn by John White in 1585 based on his experiences with the first Roanoke expedition. The map served as the basic prototype of the mouth of the Bay until John Smith's 1608 explorations. See Huntingfield Collection map report for additional information about this map.
    SOURCE: Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection,  MSA SC 1399-1-207
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  3. TITLE: Virginia 
    CARTOGRAPHER: John Smith
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1608 [1612], Oxford
    NOTES: Smith conducted the first detailed explorations of the entire Chesapeake Bay and produced the first map of the full extent of the bay based upon personal experience. When compared with satellite photographs of the Bay, one finds that Smith's depiction of the bay is surprisingly accurate considering that he had to take his bearing from an open barge. Maltese crosses indicate where personal observation ends and conjecture begins. Smith's map is still used by archeologists to locate the remains of Indian villages. The map served as the prototype of the Bay until the Augustine Herrman map of 1673. See Huntingfield Collection map report for additional information about this map.
    SOURCE: Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection,  MSA SC 1399-1-101
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  4. DESCRIPTION: Cecil Calvert (1606 – 1675), Second Lord Baltimore 
    ARTIST: Gerard Soest
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    NOTES:
     Cecil Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore, was the organizer of the first expedition to the Maryland colony in 1634. In this portrait by Gerard Soest, Calvert is shown holding the "Lord Baltimore Map" published in 1635. His namesake and grandson, Cecil Calvert, son of Charles Calvert, is shown standing beside him. The boy was the apparent heir, but died in 1681. A young attendant also appears in the background. See The Portraits of the Six Lords Baltimore: Cecil Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore for additional information. See also Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series) for additional biographical information.
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library

  5. TITLE: Noua TERRAE-MARIAE tabula
    CARTOGRAPHER: Anonymous
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1635, London
    NOTES: This map, usually called "Lord Baltimore's Map," is the first to indicated the northern and southern boundaries of Maryland and the first to name "Delaware Bay." The map proved important in the boundary dispute with the Penns because it placed the northern boundary of Maryland at the head of the Chesapeake Bay, rather than, as the Charter required, at the 40th degree of North Latitude, which was farther up the Susquehanna. See Huntingfield Collection map report for additional information about this map.
    SOURCE: Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, MSA SC 1399-1-526
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  6. TITLE: Virginia   
    CARTOGRAPHER: [Ralph Hall]
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1636, London
    NOTES: Hall's map is one of the numerous derivatives of John Smith's map. The three main illustrations are poor adaptations of the Theodore de Bry's illustrations and they are supplemented with images of ships, sea monsters, and human figures. See Huntingfield Collection map report for additional information about this map.
    SOURCE: Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, MSA SC 1399-1-206
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  7. TITLE: Carta particolare della Virginia....  
    CARTOGRAPHER: Sir Robert Dudley (1574-1649)
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1646, Florence
    NOTES: Dudley's chart is the first map of the area that utilizes the Mercator projection. Many Indian names appear to be based upon John Smith's map. The North Carolina portion of the map is based upon John White's map. See Huntingfield Collection map report for additional information about this map.
    SOURCE: Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, MSA SC 1399-1-536
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  8. TITLE: A Mapp of Virginia Discouered to ye Hills....  
    CARTOGRAPHER: Virginia Farrer (d. 1687?)
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1651 [1652], London
    NOTES: The Farrer map illustrates the many geographic misconceptions still widely held in the middle of the 17th century. It shows the South Sea (Pacific) as a ten day's march over the hills. The Hudson is connected by a lake to the Pacific, perpetuating the belief in a northwest passage. Long Island is shown lying north-south rather than east-west. It depicts the Appalachians extending as far as the Hudson River. See Huntingfield Collection map report for additional information about this map.
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress

  9. TITLE: A Land-Skip of the Province of Maryland 
    CARTOGRAPHER: George Alsop
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1666 [1869]
    NOTES:
    In 1666, George Alsop published his fanciful map of the Chesapeake in A Character of the Province of Maryland, Alsop's account of his life as an indentured servant. See Huntingfield Collection map report for additional information about this map.
    SOURCE:
    George Alsop, A land-Skip of the Province of Maryland, 1666 [1869], in Gowan's Bibliotheca Americana, MSA SC 1213-1-435
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  10. TITLE: Noua TERRAE-MARIAE tabula
    CARTOGRAPHER: John Ogilby (1600-1676)
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1671, London
    NOTES: This is the second edition of the "Lord Baltimore Map" and is more widely available than the scarcer first edition. The map names ten Maryland counties, identifies other new places, better defines the major islands in the Chesapeake Bay, including Kent, and moves the northern boundary farther up the Susquehanna hiding the change with two extra rows of trees. Neither edition of the map is as geographically accurate as the John Smith map. See Huntingfield Collection map report for additional information about this map.
    SOURCE: Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, MSA SC 1399-1-187
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  11. TITLE: Virginia and Maryland as it is Planted and Inhabited this Present Year 1670, Surveyed and Exactly Drawne by the Only Labour & Endeavour of Augustim Herrman Bohemiensis
    CARTOGRAPHER: Augustine Herrman
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1673, London 
    NOTES: See Huntingfield Collection map report for additional information. Image from MSA SC 5339-1-172.
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress.

  12. TITLE: A Map of Virginia and Maryland  
    CARTOGRAPHER: Anonymous
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1676, London
    NOTES: This is the ninth and last major derivative of the John Smith map and includes information from the Augustine Herrman map of 1673. The land areas, except along the Delaware Bay and River, follow Smith, while the place names are from Herrman. See Huntingfield Collection map report for additional information about this map.
    SOURCE: Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, MSA SC 1399-1-197
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  13. TITLE: Virginische Paskaart.... 
    CARTOGRAPHER: Jacobus Robijn (d. ca. 1710)
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1692, Amsterdam
    NOTES: Robijn's map is based largely upon the Augustine Herrman map and uses Herrman's symbols for plantations along the shores of the major rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. See Huntingfield Collection map report for additional information about this map.
    SOURCE: Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, MSA SC 1399-1-102
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  14. TITLE: Carte Particuliere De Virginie, Maryland, Pennsilvanie, La Nouvelle Iarsey, Orient et Ocidentale 
    CARTOGRAPHER: A. H. Jaillot (1632-1712)?
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1700, Amsterdam
    NOTES: This large scale map of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay area is one of the most beautiful in the history of cartography of the region. Its basic representation of the coastal area is based upon Herrman and is supplemented by new names, new soundings and features from Thornton's 1689 chart. The map, essentially a sea chart, published as part of an atlas in 1700 that was intended more as a showpiece than a working chart for pilots. See Huntingfield Collection map report for additional information about this map.
    SOURCE: Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, MSA SC 1399-200
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

See also: 

Additional Media Resources

Charts and Maps Used by the Early Settlers of Maryland. Examples from Edward C. Papenfuse and Joseph M. Coale III, The Maryland State Archives Atlas of Historical Maps of Maryland 1608-1908. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

Charting the Chesapeake, 1590-1990. Electronic exhibit of the Maryland State Archives. 

Mapping Maryland. From the Maryland Historical Society.

Rare Map Collection - The New World. From University of Georgia, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Rare Map Collection - Colonial America. From University of Georgia, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library

John White Drawings/Theodor De Bry engravings. From Virtual Jamestown

Additional Instructional Resources

Close Encounters of the First Kind, 1585-1767
Includes maps and documents relating to the first encounters of the English settlers and explorers with Native Americans. The objective is to introduce students to how explorers, settlers, and Native Americans reacted to, and learned from one another

Daily Life in the New World, 1634-1715 
To examine the nature of civil liberty and the quality of life in 17th and early 18th century Maryland using wills, inventories, & a plat from the period 1660s-1715. One indicator that can be used for comparative purposes in answering the question what life was like in the New World is the information to be found in probate records. Probate records are public documents that provide details of what property people owned at death. Carefully read the enclosed wills. Compare and contrast the inventories. Try to read the actual inventories using the typescripts as a guide. Bear in mind that in Maryland, inventories only include personal effects, NOT land, while wills will mention land. When disputes arose over ownership of land, maps of the property in question (called "plats") were often included in the court case and can be found among the court records.

This Land is Whose Land? From UMBC Center for History Education, Teaching American History Lesson Plans.

Native American Gender Roles in Maryland. From UMBC Center for History Education, Teaching American History Lesson Plans.

Pontiac's War. From UMBC Center for History Education, Teaching American History Lesson Plans.

Maryland's First Capital: Discovering a Lost City. From Maryland With Pride (Pride of Baltimore)

Disappearing Islands of the Chesapeake. From Maryland With Pride (Pride of Baltimore)

Whose Land Is This Land? From PBS Newsource

Secondary Resources

Brugger, Robert. "From Province to Colony (1634-1689)." In Maryland: A Middle Temperament. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the Maryland Historical Society, 1988.

Morrison, R. and Hansen, R. Charting the Chesapeake. Annapolis: Maryland State Archives, 1990.

Morrison, R., Papenfuse, E. C., Bramucci, N. and Janson-La Palme, R. J. H. On the Map. Chestertown: Washington College, 1983.

Papenfuse, E. C. and Coale, J. M. The Hammond Harwood Atlas of Historical Maps of Maryland 1608-1908. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982.

Papenfuse, Edward C. and Joseph M. Coale, III. The Maryland State Archives Atlas of Historical Maps of Maryland, 1608-1908. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

Associated Heritage and Preservation Organizations

Maryland State Archives
350 Rowe Boulevard
Annapolis, MD 21403
Calvert Marine Museum
14200 Solomons Island Road
Solomons, MD 20688
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
Navy Point
St. Michael's, MD 21663
Historic St. Mary's City
18751 Hogaboom Lane
St. Mary's City, MD 20686
Maryland Historical Society
Museum and Library of Maryland History
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
St. Clement's Island Potomac River Museum
38370 Point Breeze Road
Colton Point, MD 20626
Phone: (301) 769-2222

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Credits

Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

This document packet was researched and developed by Nancy Bramucci.

 

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