A/Correct Map of the Coast/OF/NEW ENGLAND./1731

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Some of Southack's harshest contemporary critics (like William Douglass and John Green) argued that destroying Southack's charts was infinitely safer than trying to navigate by them. Douglass stated in 1749 that Southack's chart of New England and Nova Scotia "being one continued error" should be "destroy'd wherever it is found amongst sea charts."

This is certainly true in the case of his chart of Casco Bay. The first edition was printed around 1720. In 1758 William Herbert and Robert Sayer, London publishers, combined Southack's eight charts of the northeast that first appeared in The New England Coasting Pilot and published them as one large chart. Mount, Page & Mount reissued this large compilation chart in 1775.

rnCyprian Southack was born in London in 1662 but immigrated to Boston at the age of 23. In 1689 during the French and English war over their American holdings he became a privateer. Southack traveled up and down the coast in pursuit of enemy ships and Indian trade, spending much time in American waters. Around 1694 Southack prepared his first coastal chart, one of Boston Harbor. This was the first of approximately twenty coastal charts based on surveys he himself made.

Southack is probably best known for his atlas entitled The New England Coasting Pilot that was published between 1729 and 1734. Though the atlas contains no text, it does contain descriptive notes within each of the charts that were designed to guide navigators. The charts cover the area from roughly Sandy Point in Long Island, New York up to Nova Scotia (and including part of Cape Breton).

Though Southack demonstrated that he was capable of creating accurate and useful charts, some charts commonly ascribed to Southack were not only inaccurate but also dangerous to navigate by. His chart of Casco Bay is one such chart. Any sailor daring to use it would just as likely run aground as make it safely along the course he had plotted. It has been suggested, due to the fact that Southack had the reputation of being an accomplished navigator and mapmaker, that the inaccurate charts were not truly Southack's. He may have been using other's information without verifying the accuracy of this outside information. Comparing this chart to more modern charts of the same region the differences are clearly visible. It is truly a wonder that this chart was printed and used at all.


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Map Group Information

Full Atlas Title:

 A/Correct Map of the Coast/OF/NEW ENGLAND./1731


 Maine, Massachusetts, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island


 North America

Publish Date:




Number Maps in the Atlas:


Source Institution

Osher Map Library Smith Center For Cartographic Education

Souce Media

Original Document