A rare separately published 1776 American Revolutionary War map of New England by Carington Bowles - here in the scarce 4th edition that immediately followed the action at Bunker Hill. It represents one of the best and most up-to-date Revolutionary Era maps of New England. This map was initially issued by Carington Bowles in 1765 as a reduced and updated improvement upon the 1755 John Green / Braddock Mead map. The map transitioned through six known states, the present example representing the fourth state, updated with relevant content at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783).
A Closer Look
Centered on Massachusetts, this map covers the New England coastline from Long Island, New York, to Little Kennebec Bay, Maine, and from Cape Cod and Nantucket westward to just beyond the Hudson River. This edition contains a wealth of updates. Dartmouth College appears for the first time. There are also significant updates in and around both Lake George and Lake Champlain - soon to be a major theater of war. It also adds the large inset of Boston in the lower right - significant for its annotation of defenses (see below).
Sir William Johnson
In New York, just north of Albany, there is a note identifying the Seat of Sir William Johnson. Johnson was an Anglo-Irish Baronet who moved to New York to manage an estate in Mohawk territories. Johnson mastered the Mohawk language as well as Iroquois customs and served as a liaison between the British Crown and the American Indian nations. He died shortly before the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. Additional fortifications and settlements are noted all along the Hudson River.
The large and detailed plan of Boston in the lower right makes its first appearance in this edition of the map. While Boston was always an important trade center, the present map follows on the Battle of Bunker Hill and other Revolutionary War action that put it at the forefront of the conflict. Centered on Boston proper, the inset details from Malden to Dorchester and from Cambridge to Boston Bay. Roads, topography, important buildings, and military installations are noted and referenced via alphanumeric tables to either side of the inset.
Publication History and Census
First published in 1765, this map exists in six states, this being the fourth:
- 1st state: John Bowles imprint
- 2nd state (1771): Carington Bowles imprint - '1st Jany. 1771'.
- 3rd state (1776): New Title: Bowles's Map of the Seat of War in New England; Boston inset added.
- 4th state (1776): New Title: Bowles's New Pocket Map of the Most Inhabited Part of New England; Dartmouth College added.
- 5th state (1780): Vermont is added, with a note 'This States extends Northward to the 45th degree of Latitude.'
- 6th state (1796): New Title: Bowles's New One-Sheet Map of New England, comprehending the Provinces…; Bowles and Carver imprint.
While the map series is well represented institutionally, as the map is undated, it is difficult to identify states held due to insufficient catalog data. We see little evidence of this map on the market, with only a single example of the 4th edition, and four examples of earlier editions in auction records.
The Bowles family (fl. c. 1714 - 1832) were publishers and map sellers active in London from c. 1714 to c. 1832. The firm, under Thomas Bowles ( fl. 1714 - 1763), John Bowles (1701-1779), Carrington Bowles (1724 - 1793), and as Bowles and Carver (fl. 1794 - 1832), produced a massive corpus of work that included numerous atlases, pocket maps , and wall maps. The Bowles publishing tradition was kept alive over four generations starting with Thomas Bowles who was a print engraver in the late 17th century. The first maps issued by the firm were actually produced by his son, Thomas Bowles the second, who was based at St. Paul's Churchyard, London. Thomas's brother, John Bowles (called "Old John Bowles" or "Black Horse Bowles" by those who knew his shop), was also an active publisher and was established at no. 13 Cornhill. It is said that he was one of the first publishers of William Hogarth's works. It was here that John's son, Carrington Bowles, was introduced to the trade. Carrington took over the Cornhill bookshop and eventually merged it with his uncles shop in St. Paul's Churchyard. On Carrington's death in 1793, the business was passed to his son Henry Carrington Bowles, who partnered with Samuel Carver, renaming the firm, Bowles and Carver. Under this imprint the firm continued to publish maps and atlases until the early 1830s. Learn More...
Tooley, R. V., The Mapping of America, (Stevens and Tree), 32d. McCorkle, B. B, New England in Early Printed Maps 1513 - 1800, #765.1. Library of Congress, G3720 178- .B6. Fite, Emerson David and Freeman, Archibald (eds.), A Book of Old Maps, Delineating American History from the Earliest Days down to the Close of the Revolutionary War, #60. Baynton-Williams, Ashley, Printed Maps of New England to 1780, (MapForum, issue no. 15), item #1765:01f. Cobb, 'Vermont Maps Prior to 1900,' Vermont History, vol. XXXIX no. 3-4 (1971), item #45.