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1749 Henry Ellis / Lattré Map of Efforts to Discover a Northwest Passage

Nouvelle carte des parties, où l'on a cherche le passage de nord-ouest dans les années 1746 et 1747. - Main View

1749 Henry Ellis / Lattré Map of Efforts to Discover a Northwest Passage


Continuing effort to Discover, or failing that to Suggest, a Northwest Passage.



Nouvelle carte des parties, où l'on a cherche le passage de nord-ouest dans les années 1746 et 1747.
  1749 (dated)     6.25 x 17.5 in (15.875 x 44.45 cm)     1 : 23681767


This is the rare, French edition of Henry Ellis' A New Chart of the Parts where a Northwest Passage was Sought in the Years 1746 and 1747. This map was included in the French translation of Ellis' A Voyage to Hudson's - Bay, which chronicled his journey - largely on behalf of Arthur Dobbs - to northern and Maritime Canada in order to discover the Northwest Passage, which Dobbs believed had been kept hidden by the machinations of the Hudson's Bay Company.
Not The First Try
Dobbs had already funded a 1741 expedition to Hudson's Bay sending, Christopher Middleton, who found no passage to the Pacific despite wintering in the bay. Middleton published a chart showing his findings in 1743, after reporting to a disappointed Dobbs. Members of Middleton's own crew perjured themselves, accusing Middleton of at best malingering or at worst deliberately misrepresenting alleged passages as closed bays or rivers. A pamphlet war ensued between Dobbs and Middleton, and a 1746 Bowles map, dedicated to Dobbs and drawn by Captain Middleton's perfidious clerk John Wigate, emphatically showed the existence of a potential passage to the Pacific in the form of 'Wager Strait.' Ellis' 1746 expedition was dispatched specifically to prove the existence a Northwest Passage leading from Hudson's Bay, to prove Dobbs' accusations against Middleton, and, in doing so, to bring down the Hudson's Bay Company. Ellis failed to achieve these goals, but even so maintained that the existence of a Northwest Passage was nevertheless probable. So while in the present map Ellis reluctantly closes 'Wager Strait' into 'Wager Bay,' he includes several new possible passages, such as the 'Golfe de Chesterfield' south of Wager Bay, Repulse Bay beyond it, and several promising passages from the Davis Strait. While the publication of Ellis' findings discouraged further English attempts at finding a Northwest Passage, the gauntlet was eagerly taken up by the French mapmakers Buache and De l'Isle who in 1752 incorporates his cartography with the apocryphal Pacific Northwest discoveries Admiral de Fonte in an effort to propose a convincing passage between the Pacific Ocean and the North Atlantic.
Publication History and Census
This map is rare. It was engraved by Lattré for inclusion in the French edition of Henry Ellis' Voyage de la baye de Hudson : fait en 1746 et 1747, pour la découverte du passage de nord-ouest ... (Paris: Ballard fils) 1749. Despite the book being well represented in institutional collections, we only see examples of the separate map cataloged at Princeton, Michigan State University, Western University, and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. This French edition of the map is very rare in dealer's catalogs and the auction record, with only one listing appearing in the past 38 years.


Henry Ellis (August 29, 1721 - January 21, 1806) was an Irish explorer, author, slave trader and governor of the colonies of Georgia and Nova Scotia. He was educated in the law, but in 1746 he would subscribe to, and work for a company, led by Arthur Dobbs, dedicated to the discovery of the Northwest Passage. Ellis served as agent for the company on the voyages it funded between 1746 and 1748, which failed to identify a viable connection between Hudson's Bay and the Pacific. Nevertheless, Ellis' impassioned arguments for the existence of a Northwest Passage - and his published accounts of the failed efforts to find one - would see him inducted into the Royal Society. Doubtless seeking a more reliable source of income, Ellis between 1750 and 1755 became a slave trader, taking active part in the purchase of Africans for sale to buyers in Jamaica. Perhaps his success in the trade led Lord Halifax, President of the Board of Trade, to name Ellis lieutenant governor of Georgia in 1756. He would become royal governor there in 1758, where he would be notable for negotiating a treaty with the Creeks in order to secure the colony's border. Georgia's climate appears to have made an impression on him: his contribution to the 1758 transactions of the Royal Society was an article entitled 'Heat of the Weather in Georgia' and by 1760 he would have to resign his post due to the impact of the heat on his health. Between 1761 and 1763 he was commissioned governor of Nova Scotia, the duties of which position he did not appear to execute. He would later retire to scientific researches in Italy, where he would die in 1806. Learn More...

Jean Lattré (170x - 178x) was a Paris based bookseller, engraver, globe maker, calligrapher, and map publisher active in the mid to late 18th century. Lattré published a large corpus of maps, globes, and atlases in conjunction with a number of other important French cartographic figures, including Janvier, Zannoni, Bonne and Delamarche. He is also known to have worked with other European cartographers such as William Faden of London and the Italian cartographer Santini. Map piracy and copyright violations were common in 18th century France. Paris court records indicate that Lattré brought charges against several other period map publishers, including fellow Frenchman Desnos and the Italian map engraver Zannoni, both of whom he accused of copying his work. Lattré likes trained his wife Madame Lattré (né Vérard), as an engraver, as a late 18th century trade card promotes the world of 'Lattré et son Epouse.' Lattré's offices and bookshop were located at 20 rue St. Jaques, Paris, France. Later in life he relocated to Bordeaux. Learn More...


Ellis, H., Voyage de la baye de Hudson : fait en 1746 and 1747, pour la découverte du passage de nord-ouest ... / traduit de l'anglois de M. Henri Ellis, (Paris : Ballard fils) 1749.    


Very good. Margin reinstated at right, not impacting printed image.


OCLC 66529712. Kershaw, Kenneth A., Early Printed Maps of Canada, 438.