1672 Fryer Map of Bombay or Mumbai, India (First Printed Map of Bombay)

[Bombay]. - Main View

1672 Fryer Map of Bombay or Mumbai, India (First Printed Map of Bombay)


First printed map of Bombay.


  1673 (dated)     10.5 x 6.5 in (26.67 x 16.51 cm)     1 : 78000


This is the rare c. 1673 John Fryer map of Mumbai, India, considered the first published map of Bombay. Fryer's map of Bombay has been criticized as 'incomplete and inaccurate', but it nonetheless served as the basis of all subsequent maps of Bombay until the William Nicholson surveys of 1768.
Seven Islands Becoming One
When Fryer visited Bombay in 1673, it consisted of several islands surrounding a low salt flat. The British were actively engaged in landfill projects intended to make the islands a single large, more self-contained and defensible land mass. None of this work is indicated here, and the only sign of inland water is the presence of 'Salt Ponds'. Fryer's work can thus be understood as not only the first printed map of Bombay to reach the British public, but also the first printed iteration of the British vision for what Bombay might become.
A Closer Look
Oriented to the north, this map covers of Sallset Island (Canora), Bombay Island, and the nearby coast of India and a few other surrounding islands. It offers numerous depth soundings and identifies the Portuguese Jesuit Mission of Poloremo, a winter anchorage in the Bassein Estuary, and various fortifications. On Bombay Island, Bombay town and a small fort, inherited from the Portuguese, is evident. 'Fishing Stakes' are identified in the harbor. Several important locations are identified, including Mendam's Point (1), Malabar-Hill (2), The Great Inlet (3), Verulee (4), Matatam River (5), Baffein City (6), Tannaw City (8), and the Agoada Watering Place (11). 7, 9, and 10 appear on the map, but are not named in the legend.
Historical Mapping of Bombay
The earliest known published map of Bombay is the 1673 John Fryer Map. This map served as the base is for the John Thornton / John Seller hydrographic map of 1685. That map formed the basis for all subsequent maps of Bombay, including the Van Keulen, to the mid 18th century. In 1768, Captain William Nicholson was commissioned by the British East India Company to resurvey the increasingly busy harbor. His great chart, a massive eight sheet work, was published by John Spilsbury in 1768. That map now exists in only a single incomplete example in the Library of the Greenwich Maritime Museum. Spilsbury's draft fell into the hands of map publisher Robert Sayer, who produced a smaller version of the map in 1778. Sayer's business, including the plates for this map, were acquired by Laurie and Whittle, who issued a new edition, based upon the updated Bombay Marine surveys of Captain John Watson, in 1794. Decades again passed without significant survey work in the harbor. But, in 1829, the British East India Company's Indian Navy commissioned Lieutenant John Cogan to complete a trigonometrical survey of the harbor - which was initially published by James Horsburgh in 1833. The next major survey did not follow until the Admiralty surveys of the 1850s.
Bombay - Historical Context
On May 11, 1661, the marriage treaty of Charles II of England and Catherine of Braganza, daughter of King John IV of Portugal, granted the islands to the British Empire as part of Catherine's dowry. A royal charter in 1668 leased the islands to the East India Company (EIC). It was in the early days of EIC suzerainty of the island and the beginnings of their land reclamation efforts that is mapped here. In 1687, well after Fryar's visit, the EIC transferred their headquarters there from Surat. They rebuilt and reinforced the old Portuguese fort and began to aggressively acquire the surrounding islands. The population exploded until Bombay became the epicenter of British power in the subcontinent.
Publication History and Census
This map was drawn by Fryer in 1673 (it is sometimes mis-identified as 1762). The map was used as the basis for most subsequent maps of Bombay well into the late 18th century. It was committed to print until 1698, but may have been engraved much earlier, as it was made available to Thornton, who copied it in 1685. We see no history of the separate map on the market.


John Fryer (c. 1650 - March 31, 1733) was an English doctor and Fellow of the Royal Society, known for his descriptions of travel in Persia and East India. Fryer was born in London. He studied medicine at Trinity College and Pembroke College, Cambridge. In 1672 he took a position as a surgeon for the British East India Company. He arrived in India in 1673, visiting Madras and Bombay. He spent 8 years traveling throughout Indian and Persia before returning to England in August of 1682. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1697. He is credited with producing the first printed map of Bombay. More by this mapmaker...


Good. Pastedown key at bottom center. Some foxing. Full margins. Size with margins is 12 x 8 in.


Gole, S., Early Maps of India, page 99.