WELCOME Introduction to Historical Maps of Pennsylvania WELCOME

The Dutch established the first European settlement along the Delaware River at Lewes in 1631, but it was soon wiped out by the Indians, so the Dutch settled for occasionally manned trading posts. Next came the Swedes in 1638, who established a colony up and down the river, based at present day Wilmington, and called it New Sweden. The Dutch took over the area again in 1655, only to be superceded by the English in 1664. The future Pennsylvania, the land west of the Delaware River and north of the 40th parallel, became part of the proprietorship of New York, which also included New Jersey, under the control of James, Duke of York, the brother of King Charles II. New Jersey was given to Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret in 1676. The colony was divided into East and West, and Berkeley sold West New Jersey to the Quakers John Fenwicke and Edward Byllynge. In the latter 1670's families of Quakers began to settle there on the east bank of the Delaware. William Penn, as a prominent Quaker, became involved as an arbiter in land disputes between Fenwicke and Byllynge and also owned land in New Jersey, and these events likely influenced his petition to the King for additional Quaker settlement land. In 1702 all of New Jersey reverted to the control of the Crown and was reunited, and New Jersey and New York had the same royal governor until 1738.

The Charter of Pennsylvania was issued on March 4, 1681, and defined the boundaries of the colony as follows: ".....all that tract or part of land in America, with the islands therein contained, as the same is bounded on the east by Delaware River, from twelve miles distance northward of New Castle Town, unto the three and fortieth degree of northern latitude, if the said river doth extend so far northward; but if said river shall not extend so far northward, then by the said river so far as it doth extend; and from the head of the said river, the eastern bounds are to be determined by a meridian line, to be drawn from the head of the said river, unto the said forty-third degree. The said land to extend westward five degrees in longitude, to be computed from the said eastern bounds, and the said lands to be bounded on the north by the beginning of the three and fortieth degree of northern latitude, and on the south by a circle drawn at twelve miles distance from New Castle, northward and westward unto the beginning of the fortieth degree of northern latitude, and then by a straight line westward to the limits of longitude above mentioned."

It all sounds so simple, but the only Pennsylvania boundary that did not engender controversy was the Delaware River. European monarchs had a habit of dispensing portions of America to favorites without keeping track of what went before and geographical knowledge of the region was limited. The most troublesome inconsistency in the charter was that a circle of radius 12 miles centered upon New Castle Town did not intersect the 40th parallel, which lay some 20 miles farther north. The history of Pennsylvania's subsequent boundaries is summarized by Russ, the Maryland boundary dispute by Mathews, and a detailed chronology of boundary changes for the state and its counties is given by Long. Pennsylvania eventually ceded one degree of latitude to New York, and received about a quarter degree from Maryland. The modern boundaries (approximately) are: on the east, the Delaware River; on the south, the 12 mile circle and latitude 39d 43m 18s; on the west, longitude 80d 31m 20s; on the north, latitude 42d, and Lake Erie with the Erie triangle beginning at longitude 79d 45m 45s. The land boundaries vary somewhat with local surveys, one second is only about 100 feet.

On March 5, 1681, William Penn wrote to his friend Robert Turner as follows: "...this day my country was confirmed to me under the Great Seal of England with large powers and privileges, by the name of Pennsylvania, a name the King (Charles II) would give it in honor to my father (Admiral William Penn). I chose New-Wales, being as this a pretty hilly country, but Penn being Welsh for a head (i. e. pen), as Penmaenmawr in Wales and Penrith in Cumberland and Penn in Buckinghamshire, the highest land in England (not true), called this Pennsylvania which is the high or head woodlands. For I proposed, when the secretary, a Welshman, refused to have it called New-Wales, Sylvania, and they added Penn to it; and though I much opposed it and went to the King to have it struck out and altered, he said it was passed and he would take it upon him. Nor could twenty guineas move the undersecretaries to vary the name, for I feared lest it should be looked on as a vanity to me and not as a respect in the King, as it truly was, to my father whom he often mentions with praise."

Penn's concern about the name seems genuine. Since there was a New Scotland (Nova Scotia), a New England, a New York, a New Jersey and a New Hampshire, the name New Wales seems fitting, as does his second choice Sylvania. But the King didn't want bothered again and twenty guineas was not a sufficient bribe for the secretaries, so Pennsylvania was the name of the colony.

After Pennsylvania was created, the counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex continued to be administered as part of New York. Penn petitioned the Duke of York, the proprietor, for title to these counties because he wanted to secure control of the Delaware River. His petition was granted in August, 1682, even though the Delaware-Maryland boundary was unsettled and Lord Baltimore claimed the same lands. The Delawarians at first acquiesed to Penn's control, but rebelled in 1704 and started their own assembly, thereby founding Delaware, not yet so called. Delaware was known as the Three Lower Counties of Pennsylvania in colonial times. Pennsylvania and Delaware continued to share the same proprietor (a Penn) until the Revolution and some maps continued to show Delaware as part of Pennsylvania until then. Delaware was also an integral part of the Pennsylvania and Maryland boundary dispute. The Catholic Duke of York became King James II, only to be ousted by Protestants William & Mary in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

There appear to be three claimants for the title 'first map of Pennsylvania'. A map made by Peter Lindstrom circa 1655 shows Swedish settlements on the Delaware (see Garrison, Lindstrom). The original map was apparently destroyed by fire but a manuscript copy is in the Royal Archives of Sweden and an engraving of the original was made in 1696. This early map obviously did not carry the name Pennsylvania. The title on the 1696 map is NOVA SVECIA, ANNO 1654 OCH 1655, ARDENNA NOVAE SVECIAE CARTA MED, DESS RIVIERS OCH LANDZ SITUATION OCK, BESKAFFENHET AFTAGEN OCK TILL CARTS, FORD AF P. LINDSTROM. In 1702 Thomas Campanius (Holm) retitled the map across the top NOVA SVECIA HODIE DICTA PENSYLVANIA, retaining the rest of Lindstrom's original imprint on the bottom. Thus, except for the title modification, the 1702 map is essentially the same (state 2?) as the 1655 map. So the question becomes: "What counts, the title or the map?" Perhaps the dates can be averaged to 1679 and thus make it the first Pennsylvania map.

The second claimant is A MAP OF SOME OF THE SOUTH AND EAST BOUNDS OF PENNSYLVANIA IN AMERICA BEING PARTLY INHABITED, by John Thornton & John Seller. This map is undated and sometimes called 'The William Penn Map of Pennsylvania'. It is thought by some (see Garrison) to be the map accompanying the King's grant to Penn made in March, 1681, in which case it would be the earliest map with the name Pennsylvania. More recent studies (see Soderland, Black, Kane) have concluded the map was published in the summer of 1681 as part of Penn's efforts to attract settlers and investors (i.e. land buyers) to his new colony. Sometime in the spring or early summer of 1681 Penn wrote a promotional pamphlet titled A Brief Account of the Province of Pennsylvania, and this map accompanied one version of that pamphlet. The map placed the 40th parallel 40 miles too far south and Penn's assumption of its accuracy initiated the long border dispute with Lord Baltimore.

The third claimant is A PORTRAITURE OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA IN THE PROVINCE OF PENNSYLVANIA IN AMERICA, BY THOMAS HOLME SURVEYOR GENERAL. SOLD BY ANDREW SOWLE IN SHOREDITCH, LONDON. This map was printed in A Letter from William Penn Proprietary and Governour of Pennsylvania in America, to the Committee of the Free Society of Traders, London 1683, and was generally considered the first map of Pennsylvania before the 1681 date of the Thornton-Seller map was accepted. Penn originally wanted to set aside 10,000 acres for Philadelphia, but the riverfront property was already taken by previous Swedish and Dutch settlers. Penn's commissioners bought land along the Delaware from three Swedes named Swanson, and along the Schuylkill from two other Swedes named Cock and Rambo (all is true, see Soderland). This gave a rectangle two miles long and one mile wide, or 1280 acres, between the rivers. Holme based his grid plan of Philadelphia on this rectangle.

By definition no maps of Pennsylvania exist before the state was created in 1681. Most maps of the region up to 1700 are reproduced in Burden and provide a map history of the Pennsylvania region up to that date. From 1670 to 1681 two maps appear which are important to the cartography of the state. In 1673 Augustine Herrman published a map titled VIRGINIA AND MARYLAND, which included southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. This map resembled the 1612 John Smith map of Virginia (and its many derivatives) in that north was to the right, but the Herrman map was more accurate with more geographic detail than previous maps. Most importantly, this map correctly placed the 40th parallel near (future) Philadelphia and had it been used in granting Penn's charter, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland would likely look different today. Sometime circa 1678, John Thornton and Robert Green issued A MAPP OF VIRGINIA, MARY=LAND, NEW=JARSEY, NEW=YORK & NEW ENGLAND, which shows New Castle Town about 10 miles south of the fortieth parallel. This map was probably one of the sources for setting the twelve mile circle. It is also the apparent source for the Thornton & Seller map mentioned above, but does not have that map's erroneous latitudinal markings.

The creation of comprehensive cartobibliographies of printed maps such as The Mapping of North America by Philip Burden, New England in Early Printed Maps 1513 to 1800 by Barbara McCorkle, the MapForum listings, and the many map history books published (see References), have made it possible to attempt a Checklist of Pennsylvania Maps to 1800. Manuscript maps, identified as such, are also included, but no claim to inclusiveness can be made for them. A fair number lie buried in archives or are described only in scattered (and sometimes obscure) publications. Hulbert (1907) published a five volume collection of photographs of manuscript maps of America held in the Crown Collection of the British Library, and collections of French & Indian War (Brown, Schwartz 1994, Stotz) and Revolutionary War (Marshall & Peckham, Guthorn) manuscript maps have appeared. Some of the more well known ones are reproduced in Schwartz & Ehrenberg, Fite & Freeman, and other map histories and articles. Also, manuscript maps of Pennsylvania are listed by Docktor. However, no record is ever made of most manuscript maps, they are ephemora, and undated ones present the additional problem of dating. For example, it is common to prepare a small map whenever a survey of land is done, and hundreds of these from the late 17th century on exist in land records. With a few exceptions, manuscript land survey maps are not included in the Checklist. A description of available Pennsylvania Archives land records is given by Munger, and is online at PA State Archives - RG-17 . Old land records including maps are also held at county courthouses. The Archives also has a large number of road and turnpike maps described at PA State Archives - RG-12. About fifty are manuscript maps dating prior to 18oo. However, as they are well described (see description in Record Group 12.9) in the archives website, they are not included in the checklist.

Burden describes over 750 printed maps of North America up to 1700, of which less than 100 fit the description of a map of Pennsylvania as adopted here. That is, they show the eastern United States (and southern Canada) at most, and include the Pennsylvania region. This definition is arbitrary as a large world map can have more detail than a crude local one, but it limits the maps considered to regional ones of the state. Maps of North America and continental maps of the United States are excluded. Maps of the eastern United States that include Mexico or the Caribbean islands are also excluded. An exception is made for maps where Pennsylvania is in the title and these few are included. Burden and McCorkle are used as the primary published references. For 18th century maps, the definition of a Pennsylvania map used here corresponds to that adopted by McCorkle for New England maps, thus printed maps of the eastern United States up to 1800 appear there. For manuscript maps and maps specific to Pennsylvania, the references vary depending upon where the map was found. For the period 1750-1789 Sellers & van Ee is a major reference and many of the maps listed can be seen in greater detail at Library of Congress - Maps. Also, Docktor provides an extensive list of Library of Congress maps related to Pennsylvania, including manuscript and reproduction maps.

Since the number of maps after 1750 is considerable, reissues of earlier maps are not usually listed after this date. Also, maps of Canada, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland published after 1750 may contain parts of Pennsylvania though they are not listed here. Also, because of the large number of maps after 1750, a decade is split into two pages. A word about prime meridians; the maps shown here use different prime meridians depending upon the source and date. Those most used are the following: Ferro Island in the Canary Islands; Ferro, the most westerly place known to ancient European geographers, was used by the Hellenistic geographer Ptolemy for the prime meridian of longitude circa AD150, and until around 1800 some maps continued this use. Paris is used on French, and sometimes Italian, maps prior to about 1900. Greenwich (or London on older maps) is used on American and British maps and on all modern maps. The Greenwich meridian was chosen as the world Prime Meridian in 1884. Washington is used on American maps up to around 1900. Philadelphia is used as prime meridian on some early American maps, usually ones published there.

What constitutes a map of Pennsylvania? Obviously the state appears on world maps, on western hemisphere maps, on maps of North America, and on maps of the United States. The smallest scale map included here is of the eastern United States (with southern Canada). The maps are arranged chronologically by century and decade. A catalog number is given for every map up to 1800 consisting of two parts, a date and index number. For example, 1700.2 would refer to a map dated 1700 and listed second. The order of listing is not meaningful.

If interested browsers note a missing map on the checklist up to 1800, an email would be appreciated sent to the address on the home page.

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