Photo-reproduction of R.H. Laurie's extremely rare map of the Virgin Islands.
Here, the islands of Great and Little Passage off the coast of Puerto Rico include the modern names of Culebra and Culebrita.
Bieque Island is now Vieque Island and the name of Sail Rock is added to Bergantin or Carvel. But Flanagan Island has switched names from Witch Island to Flanagon or Flemingham Island, while Pelican has become Witch Island. While clearing up the confusion between the names of Flanagan and Pelican, the chart is almost-spot on with St. Thomas and St. John coordinates.
We offer here a 20th Century reproduction. We have not previously handled the original 1821 edition of the map.
Richard Holmes Laurie (1777-1858) was the son of mezzotint engraver Robert Laurie, who had taken over Robert Sayer's publishing house with James Whittle in 1794. Richard Holmes Laurie joined in a partnership with Whittle when his father retired in 1812. The name of the firm then switched from Laurie & Whittle to Whittle & Laurie. Whittle died in 1818, leaving Richard Holmes to continue publishing alone as R. H. Laurie.
When the Hydrographic Office opened in 1795, it was tasked with creating and producing all the nautical charts for the Royal Navy so as to wean the Navy off dependence on foreign charts. By the 1820s, private publishers were augmenting HO charts and competing with them, including Richard Holmes Laurie. Richard gave up publishing anything except nautical materials by 1830. He also sold charts to Trinity House, the lighthouse and maritime safety fraternity. He died in 1858.
The firm continued to print under the name R.H. Laurie even after 1858. Later, the firm was managed by Laurie’s draughtsman, Alexander George Findlay, and, later, Daniel and William Kettle.