Jeffreys, Thomas (c.1719-1771) The Western Coast of Louisiana and the Coast of New Leon. 1775.

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Thomas Jeffreys (c. 1719-1771)
The Western Coast of Louisiana and the Coast of New Leon
From the “West India Atlas”
Copper plate engraving with original hand color
London: Robert Sayer, 1775


England's expert on North America published the first map to focus on the Texas coast, while tempting English seamen with the capture of Spanish silver.


Thomas Jeffreys was England’s expert on the geography of North America during the mid-eighteenth century.  Like De L’Isle a generation before him in France, Jeffreys used his close contacts with the British crown (he was Geographer to Frederick Prince of Wales and later to King George III) to create and sell maps and atlases that reflected English objectives.  He was active during the period of tension that resulted in the Seven Years’ War, as well as the American Revolution.  His monumental atlas of North America was a best seller, making important contributions to the cartography of the continent. 


Beginning in the 1750’s and continuing for over a decade until his death, Jeffreys worked to create the definitive marine atlas of the West Indies. The result, published posthumously, consisted of 39 magnificently detailed maps and charts, built carefully on Dutch and Spanish sources, updated with the latest astronomical observations.  One such chart depicted the gulf coast, from present day Vermillion Bay, Louisiana in the northeast down to South Padre Island in modern Texas.  This was the first published map to focus on the Texas coastline.  Prominent on the map is a line of ships, representing the Spanish Flota – the flotilla of treasure ships that carried silver from Vera Cruz to Havana and on to Spain.  Sailors of all nations, operating as privateers under Letters of Marque, watched the passage of such Spanish treasure ships with strong and avaricious interest.
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Louisiana, Texas and Mexico - Mapping Louisiana 1650-1850

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