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James Horsburgh

James Horsburgh


James Horsburgh (1762 -1836) was a Scottish hydrographer who worked for the British East India Company (EIC) and charted much of China, Southeast Asia, India and contiguous regions in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Horsburgh went to sea at the age of sixteen and was captured and imprisoned by the French at Dunkirk. After his release, he made voyages to the West Indies and Calcutta. In 1786, as first mate in the Atlas, Horsburgh sailed from Batavia to Ceylon and was subsequently shipwrecked on the island of Diego Garcia. This disaster influenced him in his decision to produce accurate maps after he found his way back to India.

EIC hydrographer Alexander Dalrymple published three of Horsburgh’s earliest charts of the Straits of Macassar, of the western Philippines, and of the tract from Dampier's Strait to Batavia. In 1799, Dalrymple published Horsburgh’s Observations on the Eastern Seas on behalf of the EIC.

Meanwhile, Horsburgh continued his sailing career in the Carron, which had been taken up by the British government as a transport to the West Indies and, on his return to England, sailed again for Bombay. There, in April 1798, he was appointed to the command of his old ship, the Anna, and during the next seven years he made two voyages to England, besides several to China, Bengal, and Madras.

On the return trips to England in 1799 and 1801, Horsburgh became acquainted with the London scientific community including Sir Joseph Banks, the astronomer Nevil Maskelyne, and Henry Cavendish. Horsburgh kept barometric records for Cavendish during his voyages from 1802 to 1804, which elucidated the diurnal variation in the open sea between 26°N and 26°S. It was these measurements and his high society contacts that assured Horsburgh nomination and approval as a Fellow of the Royal Society upon his retirement from the sea in 1806.

Horsburgh continued to publish on nautical navigation. In 1806, he released Memoirs Comprising the Navigation to and from China. Next, in 1809 and 1811, Horsburgh finalized Directions for Sailing to and from the East Indies, China, New Holland, Cape of Good Hope, and the interjacent Ports, compiled chiefly from original Journals and Observations made during 21 years' experience in navigating those Seas, also known as the India Directory. These publications made Horsburgh a likely candidate for the position of hydrographer to the EIC, a post he gained in 1810. While serving as hydrographer he revised the Directory, with subsequent editions in 1816-7, 1826-7, and 1836. He also oversaw the compilation and publication of the EIC’s Atlas of India in 1827.

Horsburgh died in 1836. However, his legacy lived on. Friends and admirers in Canton raised a memorial subscription and erected the Horsburgh Lighthouse on Pedro Branca in the Strait of Singapore. With the permission of his children, the Admiralty took up the Directory and released editions in 1841, 1852, 1855, and 1864. After his death and with the demise of the EIC, his charts passed to the Admiralty Hydrographic Office, who reissued them.



1

1814 - (West Indian and Southern Oceans) To The Honble The Court of Directors of the United East India Company This Chart, Intended as an Accompaniment to the Book of Directions for Navigating to, from and in the East Indies Is Inscribed by Their Faithful and ob

  • $21.99

Provides one of the First Accurate Descriptions of Bouvetøya A detailed and fascinating chart of the South Indian Ocean, showing some of the most important journeys of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This includes Cook's 1776 voyage and du...


2

1823 - China Sea Sheet II . . . 1823 (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, etc)

  • $21.99

First State of Horsburgh's Second and Substantially Improved Chart of the Coast of China, Philippines and Cochinchina etc. Finely executed general chart of the South China Sea from Na Trang to Tonkin, Taiwan and Mindoro, with a number of approach...


3

1831 - To Charles Marjoribanks Esq. and the other Members of the Honourable East India Company's Factory at Canton. This Chart of Choo Keang or Canton River

  • $21.99

An Important Early Sea Chart of the Area around Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta Updated To Incorporate Placenames in Chinese Rare separately published chart of the areas between Canton (Guangzhou), Hong Kong to the islands around Hong Kong, with a...


4

1806 - To the Honourable Jonathan Duncan Governor of Bombay, this Plan of Bombay Harbour is inscribed by his most obliged and most obedient Servant James Horsburgh . . . 1806 . . . Additions to 1844

  • $14.99

A fine early plan of Bombay (Mumbai) Harbor, first published from the survey work of James Horsburgh in 1806. The chart is the result of Horsburgh's survey work in Bombay in 1803 and 1804, with additions by an Admiralty assistant to 1844. It includes...


5

1821 - China Sea Sheet 1 (Singapore, Siam, Cambodia, Mindanao, Borneo)

  • $21.99

Detailed sea chart of the region extending from Singapore, Gulf of Siam, Cambodia, Vietnam, Mindanao and Borneo, first published by the East India Company in 1821. Extremely detailed chart of the region, with a number of coastal profiles. The present...


6

1848 - Eastern Passages To China Sheet 1 (Java, Bali, Lombock, Sumbawa, Southern Borneo, Celebes, etc.) (Includes Sketch of the Bally Straits)

  • $14.99

Detailed sea chart of the region extending from Southern Borneo and Java to the Celebes and Borneo, with 2 large insets, published by the East India Company in 1848. The need for more accurate charts was forcibly brought home to James Horsburgh on May...


7

1848 - Eastern Passages To China Sheet 1 (Java, Bali, Lombock, Sumbawa, Southern Borneo, Celebes, etc.) (Includes Sketch of the Bally Straits)

  • $14.99

Detailed sea chart of the region extending from Southern Borneo and Java to the Celebes and Borneo, with 2 large insets, published by the East India Company in 1848. The need for more accurate charts was forcibly brought home to James Horsburgh on...


8

1821 - China Sea Sheet 1 (Singapore, Siam, Cambodia, Mindanao, Borneo)

  • $9.99

First State! Detailed sea chart of the region extending from Singapore, Gulf of Siam, Cambodia, Vietnam, Mindanao and Borneo, first published by the East India Company in 1821. Extremely detailed chart of the region, with a number of coastal...


9

1828 - (Philippines / Manila Bay) Eastern Passages To China Sheet III

  • $21.99

Rare Early Philippine Sea Chart Detailed sea chart showing most of the Philippines, with a large inset map of Manila Bay, including an extensive set of Explanatory Remarks. The need for more accurate charts was forcibly brought home to James...


10

1806 - A Plan of the Soundings from Pulo Aor to the Southward and outside of the Reef off Point Romania towards the entrance of Sincapour Strait. with the Land adjacent and the relative positions of the Hills, &c. . . . 1818

  • $14.99

Horsburgh & Ross's Chart of Eastern Part of Singapore Strait Rare early sea chart of the Easternmost part of Singapore Strait, showing the area between Singapore, the southwestern tip of Malaysia, Bintan Island and Batam Island, published in...


11

1818 - (Straits of Sunda and Western Java -- Batavia Roads) To Captain Krusenstern, of the Imperial Russian Navy As A Tribute For His Laudable Exertions to benefit Navigation and Maritime Science, This Chart of the Strait of Sunda Is Inscribed by His Faithful

  • $21.99

Detailed sea chart showing the Straits of Sunda, with a large inset Plan of Batavia Road and the Adjacent Channels and two smaller inset maps. This chart was published in numerous editions. The present map appears to be the earliest; we are aware of...


12

1819 - (Gaspar and Banca Straits) To The Honble The Court of Directors of the United East India Company This Chart, Intended as an Accompaniment to the Book of Directions for Navigating to, from and in the East Indies Is Inscribed by Their Faithful and obliged

  • $21.99

"IN ALL THESE STRAITS Piratical Proas usually Lurk" An extremely detailed navigational map showing the Strait of Bangka and the surrounding Java Sea. The map includes exhaustive soundings, shoal locations, reference points, and much more. In addition,...