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Extremely rare chart of Singapore and the surrounding region, compiled by Thomas Jefferys, and published by Sayer & Bennett in London in 1778.
The map extends from Sumatra in the southwest to just north of Singapore in the north. Numerous islands including Batam ("Pulo Battam"), Bintan ("Pulo Bintan") and Lingga ("Pulo Lingan or Linging") are depicted.
The map includes two sea tracks, the track from Malacca to Pulo Aore, and the track of the East Indiaman The Bute in 1764-65.
Interestingly, the map shows an anchorage at "Governors Island", just north of St. John's Islands, no doubt denoting a nascent Singapore Harbour at the spot where Singapore Town would later be founded.
The Singapore Straits would not be systematically surveyed for another 65 years, with the task finally being completed by Thomson and Congalton in 1844. Until that point, this chart and its derivatives represented the state of the art in cartographic knowledge of the vital and difficult to navigate straits.
There are at least two later states of the map, bearing the imprint of Sayer only in 1787, and the imprint of Laurie & Whittle 1794, after they took over from Robert Sayer and relabeled all of his plates. There is probably also an earlier state, from the last 1760s, as Jefferys died in 1771, seven years before this map was issued. A later, and frankly, less accurate, version of the map was issued in 1799 by Laurie and Whittle.
This chart was issued as plate 45 in the 1778 edition of The Oriental pilot, or, A select collection of charts and plans... for the navigation of the country trade in the seas beyond the Cape of Good Hope.
Thomas Jefferys (ca. 1719-1771) was a prolific map publisher, engraver, and cartographer based in London. His father was a cutler, but Jefferys was apprenticed to Emanuel Bowen, a prominent mapmaker and engraver. He was made free of the Merchant Taylors’ Company in 1744, although two earlier maps bearing his name have been identified.
Jefferys had several collaborators and partners throughout his career. His first atlas, The Small English Atlas, was published with Thomas Kitchin in 1748-9. Later, he worked with Robert Sayer on A General Topography of North America (1768); Sayer also published posthumous collections with Jefferys' contributions including The American Atlas, The North-American Pilot, and The West-India Atlas.
Jefferys was the Geographer to Frederick Prince of Wales and, from 1760, to King George III. Thanks especially to opportunities offered by the Seven Years' War, he is best known today for his maps of North America, and for his central place in the map trade—he not only sold maps commercially, but also imported the latest materials and had ties to several government bodies for whom he produced materials.
Upon his death in 1771, his workshop passed to his partner, William Faden, and his son, Thomas Jr. However, Jefferys had gone bankrupt in 1766 and some of his plates were bought by Robert Sayer (see above). Sayer, who had partnered in the past with Philip Overton (d. 1751), specialized in (re)publishing maps. In 1770, he partnered with John Bennett and many Jefferys maps were republished by the duo.
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