1732 Barbot/ Churchill Map of the Coast of Angola and Luanda

[Part of Congo / Part of Angola Alias Dongo Kingdom] - Main View

1732 Barbot/ Churchill Map of the Coast of Angola and Luanda


Key Port in the Atlantic Slave Trade; also, Mermaids, err umm.. Manatees.


[Part of Congo / Part of Angola Alias Dongo Kingdom]
  1732 (undated)     13.5 x 10.25 in (34.29 x 26.035 cm)


This is a 1732 map of the coast of Angola, printed by Awnsham and John Churchill to accompany Jean Barbot's posthumously-published A description of the coasts of north and south-Guinea, and of Ethiopia inferior, vulgarly Angola. The map covers the Angolan coast from the Bengo River to the Cuanza river, but is in many respects a chart, only focusing on coastal detail. Its primary focus is on Luanda, its several navigational threats, and its fortifications; with particular detail regarding coastlines suitable for landing, the location of fresh water, and the vicinity of the Portuguese custom house. The map is centered on the island and fortress of Luanda, which is now the capital of Angola. Founded by the Portuguese in 1576, it is one of the oldest colonial cities in Africa: the center of the slave trade to Brazil before its abolition. Barbot's account was a description of the Atlantic Slave Trade, and this map presents details needed for ships to land, and take on their human cargo.
Stand by your Manatee
Barbot's account of Angola includes a detailed description of mermaids - most likely actually manatees - which are also here pictured. He describes:
... a fish, by the inhabitants call'd Ambisangalo and Pesiengoni; by the Portuguese, Peixe Molher, or woman-fish; by the French Syrene , and by the English the mermaid; both male and female, some eight foot long, with short arms, and hands, and long fingers, which they cannot close together, because of a skin growing between them, as is in the feet of ducks and geese. They feed upon grass on the sides of lakes and rivers, and only hold their heads out of the water. Their heads and eyes are oval, the forehead high, the nose flat, and the mouth wide, without any chin or ears. The males have genitals like horses, and the females two strutting breasts; but in the water there is no distinguishing the one from the other, being both of a dark grey. They do no harm, nor go ashore. The flesh of the upper part of their body tastes like pork, the lower part is somewhat leaner, but all reckon'd good food by the natives, especially broil'd.
(Not exactly Disney fare.) Barbot's text goes on to point out that images A and B on the map correspond to the mermaid described in the book; the horned fish marked 'C' is described as a different creature altogether.
Publication History and Census
Barbot's description is well represented in institutional collections as part of the Churchill Collection of Voyages and Travels, both in its 1732 edition and the third edition of 1744. We do not see the separate map catalogued in OCLC.


Awnsham Churchill (1658–1728) was an English bookseller; he was also a radical Whig politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1705 to 1710. He was the son of William Churchill and Elizabeth Awnsham, and brother of members of Parliament Joshua and William Churchill. Apprenticed to George Sawbridge, Awnsham became a Freeman of the Stationers' Company in 1681. He, with another brother, John, entered business as booksellers and stationers. They were politically engaged, and took part in opposition to James II of England, going so far as to consort with those supporting Monmouth's Rebellion in Amsterdam. Awnsham was arrested in 1687 for printing letters promoting William of Orange's policies of religious toleration. With the rise of William III, however, Churchill would flourish: he became stationer to the King, and a leading bookseller. He became a Whig Member of Parliament for Dorchester in 1705 and 1708. His radicalism led to his defeat in 1710, and a failed 1713 election attempt spelled the end of his political ambitions. Awnsham was friendly with John Locke, served as his publisher, and managed Locke's money and business - becoming his trustee after his death. More by this mapmaker...

Jean Barbot (May 25, 1655 - December 27, 1712) was a French commercial agent on slave ships working for the Compagnie du Sénégal. Between 1678 and 1682 he made two voyages to the Guinea Coast; on the strength of these excursions he began to write an account based on his own journals as well as previously printed sources. He was made a refugee by French persecution of the Huguenots, fleeing to England in 1685. The interruption delayed completion of his work until 1688, at which point he discovered that so voluminous a French text could find no publisher in his new country. At his death in 1712 he was still revising and expanding an English edition of his work, which would not find a publisher until 1732. Barbot's 'A description of the coasts of north and south-Guinea, and of Ethiopia inferior, vulgarly Angola' provided a detailed description of what were commonly known as the 'Slave Coasts' and the Atlantic slave trade itself. Barbot's work was for centuries considered authoritative, although recent scholarship has revealed that a significant amount of his work relied on an amalgam of earlier writers, in particular Olfert Dapper (1639-1689). Learn More...


Churchill, A. and J. A Collection of Voyages and Travels, (London) 1732/44.    


Fine. A superb example with a bold strike. Centerfold very unobtrusive.