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The Kraus Map Collection


Kraus 28, Virginia (Circa 1610)

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Title   Virginia
Cartographer   Unknown
Subject   Cities and towns--Virginia--Maps
Publisher   Unpublished
Repository   Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Place of publication
     or creation
Date(s)   Circa 1610
Format   Printed map
Kraus catalog no.   28
Dimensions in mm.   470 x 635 mm.
Rights   No known U.S. copyright restrictions. Please cite the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, as the image source.


A manuscript map of Virginia dating from the earliest period of English settlement in America.

Drawn in ink on paper, with four legends written in an English hand of the early 17th century. Mounted on cloth. Small piece gone from the lower left corner; several breaks in the paper (without loss). From the collection of George Legge, first Baron Dartmouth (1648-1691). In green cloth case. The map measures 470x635 mm.

A manuscript map of Virginia dating from the earliest period of English settlement in America.

The territory depicted extends from the rivers of Pamlico Sound, North Carolina, northwards to Cape Henry, Virginia, then around the entire extent of Chesapeake Bay to Cape Charles. Inland, the Virginia rivers are shown running from a range of mountains, beyond which other rivers run westwards to the shores of a western sea (the Pacific), which was believed to be very close to the Atlantic. Along the rivers and coasts, about 70 semi-circles on the shores represent Indian villages, only two of which are identified. No English settlement, on the James River or elsewhere, is identified.

The map does not show the coastlines in any detail, only the general trend being shown, and the inland parts (i. e., the mountains and western rivers) certainly must have been derived more from information from the Indians than from direct knowledge. The four legends present on the map are: "C. (ape) Henry"; "Chesepian (sic) Bay"; "Werowacomoco"; and "Monacon enemyes to Powaton" (on the James River, above Richmond, the present Monakin).

The above legends afford us the only sure basis for determining the date of the map. As Werowacomoco, the principal town of Powhatan, was destroyed by Sir Thomas Dale in 1613, we have a reliable terminus ante quem for the map.(1)

The addition of the words "enemyes to Powaton" to the name of Monacon, a village on the James River, is significant. When the English arrived in Virginia in 1607, the country was dominated by the Indian chief Powhatan, who had built up a confederacy of some 28 tribes. Their attitude towards the settlers was one of thorough hostility, and attempts were made to secure allies among the tribes which were not m the Powhatan group. This is clearly shown in the "Instructions and Orders" given to Sir Thomas Gatesuponhis departure for Virginia as Governor, in 1609.2 The relevant passage reads, "And you shall be the securer of their (the Indians) trade partly for covetousness and to save (serve?) their own ends where the copper is yet in his (its) primary estimation which Pohatan hath hitherto engrossed, and partly for fear of constraint, Monacon to the east head of our river (the James), Powhatans enemys, and the Manhockes to the northeast." In the same document, "Seponacan, enemy to Powhatan" is also mentioned. We may conclude from this that Gates was to establish contact with these "enemies of Powhatan", to trade directly with them, with copper metal as an exchange medium, in order to attain a "balance of power" among the tribes. The occurrence of the almost identical phrase, "enemyes to Powaton" on the map shows that its maker also had some such scheme in mind.

It should be noted that Werowacomoco is shown in more detail than the other Indian settlements, it having a double line around it (palisade or wall), and a number of little roundels within, representing, no doubt, the Indian houses. The map may well have been hastily drawn up for Gates upon his arrival in order to show him the location of the rival tribes; in any event, Gates was not able to pursue such projects, as the settlement was then at its last gasp, and nearly at the point of being abandoned.

The present map is among the earliest of Virginia which survive. Three others from the period of the settlement are known. They are: (1) Robert Tindall's map of the James and York Rivers (British Museum, Cotton Augustus I, vol II, No. 46). It is dated 1608, and shows only the lower western region of Chesapeake Bay. The extant manuscript may be in Tindall's autograph. The handwriting is entirely different from that of the present map. (2) A copy of an English map, sent by Pedro de Zuniga, Spanish Ambassador to England, to King Philip III, Sept. 10, 1608. Displays the James, York and Rappahannock Rivers in some detail, with the upper parts of Chesapeake Bay delineated very sketchily. (Simancas, General Archives, Dept. of State, Vol. 2586, fol. 145). (3) A copy of an English map, sent by Alonzo de Velasco, Spanish ambassador to England, to Philip III, March 22, 1611. (Simancas, General Archives, Dept. of State, Vol. 2588, fol. 22). A large map depicting eastern North America from the St.Lawrence to North Carolina, and including an excellent detailed map of the Chesapeake regions.3 Other manuscript maps are known only from references in the early literature (see Brown, below). The early period of Virginia cartography cul¬minates in the engraved John Smith map of 1612 (possibly based upon (3) above - see Brown, II, 596). The Smith map was the best one of the region available until the Fry-Jefferson map of 1750.

In the present state of our knowledge, it is not possible to indicate the author of this map with certainty. We have compared the handwriting on it with available specimens of the early settlers, and it is similar to that of George Percy, younger brother of the 8th Earl of Northumberland, who was Governor of Virginia in 1609-1610, just prior to the arrival of Sir Thomas Gates. The only specimen of Percy's writing we could locate, except for the signature reproduced in Winsor (III, p. 134), are two letters by him, now owned by the Duke of Northumberland. These prove to be in secretarial hands, signed by Percy. The very distinctive Greek-type letter V; the form of the letter "r"; and the habit of Percy of writing most of his letters separately, in a quasi-printing rather than cursive style, make his authorship of the map a strong possibility, but the shortness of the specimens does not permit a certain determination. Apparently no lengthy specimen of George Percy's handwriting is extant.

The present map is from the collection of George Legge, Baron Dartmouth, one of the most trusted military commanders of Kings Charles II and James II of England. He became Master-General of the Ordnance in 1682, an office which was in charge of the fortifications of the realm. It is apparent that the Dartmouth maps and charts were not really a private collection at all, but were abstracted partly from the Ordnance office files, and partly from the Royal map collections. Dartmouth would have had the privilege of holding sudi maps in the course of his official duties as Master-General, and would have had little interest in returning them when his Royal patron and friend, James II, was driven from England by William of Orange in 1688. Other Dartmouth maps date to as early as the reign of James I, and even Elizabeth I.(4)

This official provenance adds immeasurably to the interest of this map. James I is known to have been interested in the cartography of his American possessions, as Velasco states, in regard to the 1611 map (No. 3 above), that "This King [James I] sent last year a surveyor to survey that Province [Virginia] and he returned here about three months ago and presented to him a plan or map of all that he could discover, a copy of whidi I send Your Majesty [Philip III]".(5)

From the above it can be seen that this map of Virginia is a most important document of the earliest period of Anglo-American history. It bears on it, in the written legends, evidence of the attempts of the Virginia Company and the settlers to deal with the hostile Indians. Furthermore, it is by far the earliest manuscript map of Virginia which is in private possession, so far as we can determine.


1. Winsor, Narrative and Critical History of America, III, p. 139. Werowacomoco was on the York River, below West Point, Va.

2. British Museum, MS. vol. 21933, fol- 178 ff.; published in D. Bushell, "Virginia from Early Records", in: American Anthropologist, N.S., IX (1907), p. 3 5 If.

3. The three maps are reproduced in Alex. Brown, 7¾e Genesis of the United States, I, pp. 151, 184, 456. For maps (2) and (3), see also Wm. P. Cumming, The Southeast in Early Maps, pp. 131-132, nos. 28, 29.

4. See R. A. Skelton, "The Royal Map Collection of England", in: Imago Mundi, XIII (1956), pp. 181-183, for the early history and source of the Dartmouth collection. The present map was no. 22 of volume V of the collection as it was mounted and bound up in the 19th century; it bears pencilled notation "V. 22" on recto, and stamped "22" on verso.

5. Brown, op. cit., I, 457.