First Lords Proprietors Map of the Carolinas


James Moxon/John Ogilby.  “A New Discription of Carolina By Order of the Lords Proprietors.”  From John Ogilby’s America.  London: John Ogilby, 1673.  16 1/2 x 21 1/2.  Engraving by James Joseph Moxon.  Hand color.  Old repair in bottom margin.  Overall, very good condition.


A fine example of the important First Lords Proprietors Map of the English colony of Carolina.  This is the first, large scale map of the nascent colony, preceded only by three smaller and less detailed publications.  In 1663, Charles II granted the rights for a Province of Carolina to eight of the nobles who had assisted his restoration to the throne three years before; these were the Lords Proprietors of Carolina.  After a failed first attempt at colonization, the seeds of the colony of Carolina were firmly planted with the Charles Town settlement in 1670.  That year, John Ogilby was preparing to issue his illustrated volume, America, containing a history and description of the New World.  This was mostly a direct translation of a contemporary Dutch book by Arnold Montanus, who is not mentioned at all, and almost all the illustrations were those included by Montanus.  However, in order to make his publication more attractive to his intended English audience, Ogilby sought the latest new information on the English possessions in America, adding fresh text and four new maps, of Maryland, Jamaica, Barbados, and Carolina.

As Carolina was just in the process of being settled, and by some very influential figures, Ogilby was keen to include information and a map of the colony.  Thus he approached Peter Colleton, the brother of one of the Proprietors, John Colleton, who wrote to John Locke, secretary of another of the Proprietors, Lord Ashley, requesting a map he could use in his book.

Mr. Ogilby who is printing a relation of the West Indies hath been often wth mee to gett a map of Carolina wherefore I humbly desire you to gett of my lord [Ashley] those mapps of Cape feare & Albermarlee that he hath & I will drawn them into one wth that of port Royal & waite upon my lord for the nominations of the rivers, &c.

Ogilby was able to get a map, which included the very latest and most informed information on the new colony, which he then had engraved by James Moxon and added to his America.  The map is oriented to the west—so the coastline lies at it would appear as one sailed toward the colony from England—and it extends from the James River to just past St. Augustine in today’s Florida.  The map shows coastal details, but also an impressive amount of information on the interior.  An inset of the site of the Charles Town settlement is included, and two delightful cartouches grace two of the corners.

This map was much improved from the earlier, smaller maps of Carolina, based on sources available through the Lord Proprietors, and it added many new names, many of which honor those lords.  Much of the information came from John Lederer, who made three trips to the interior of the colony in 1669-70, providing new topographical information on what was hitherto a cartographically barren region.  While a considerable amount of this was an improvement on earlier maps, Lederer’s information also confirmed the reality of a non-existent lake in the Carolinas, as well as introducing two new cartographic fictions to the area.

The mythical lake had first appeared on a map by Jodocus Hondius in 1606, the result of his moving a Florida lake into the Appalachian Mountains.  Lederer said he actually visited this non-existent lake, thus re-establishing its actuality by ‘first-hand observation.’  Lederer’s two newly introduced errors were a marshy savanna along the foothills of the Piedmonts and a sandy desert in midsection of the Carolinas.  Assuming that Lederer believed what he wrote, rather than lied, there is a plausible explanation these two geographic misconceptions.  The savanna was likely the result of Lederer’s seeing some marshy areas in the foothills which he then exaggerated.  The “Arenosa desert” may reflect Lederer’s experiences of crossing the sandy pine barrens in July, though he again exaggerates in saying he traveled for twelve days without seeing a river.  As for the lake, Lederer could have seen the Catawba in flood, but the closeness of his account to the legends printed on the maps predating his travels indicates that here he may have been lying.

The new map of Carolina was not available when Ogilby first published America, in 1671, so for the first editions of his book he used an earlier map from Montanus, based on a map by Blaeu from about 1640.  The new map, engraved by James Moxon, first appeared in the 1673 edition of America, resulting in this map being particularly rare.  However, its depiction of the Carolina soon became the standard cartographic picture of the colony after it was copied by Francis Lamb for a map in John Speed’s 1676 Prospect of the Most famous Parts of the World.  The map, and the related text about the new colony, were used by the Lord Proprietors to promote their colony, so some copies of the map were likely sold separately.  It is interesting that though the map was surpassed in accuracy by Joel Gascoyne’s map of 1682, that same year the Lord Proprietors’ secretary, Samuel Wilson seems to have included Ogilby’s map in some of the copies of his promotional tract, An Account of the Province of Carolina.