A New and (Improved?) Correct Map of the Province of North Carolina

Moseley manuscript map
A New and Correct Map of the Province of North Carolina drawn from the Original of Colo. Mosely's, 1737

One of the most famous maps of early North Carolina is the one created in 1733 by Edward Moseley, the Surveyor General of the province (Note: It’s NOT the one above. Keep reading to learn more). Moseley’s A New and Correct Map of the Province of North Carolina is generally cited as the first map of North Carolina to provide a detailed–and accurate–survey of the North Carolina coast. The Moseley map includes the names of European settlers and plantations on the Albemarle Sound and along the Pamlico, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers. The survey also includes some details on the North Carolina interior, noting rivers and creeks as well as the Indian people settled in the areas and their trails.

At 57 1/8 x 45 1/4 inches, Moseley’s map was large, with one inch representing five miles. The survey was engraved by John Cowley. Only 3 copies of the map are known to survive today. East Carolina University holds one copy as do Eton College in England and the National Archives of the United Kingdom in London.

Moseley’s map proved a source on which future surveys of North Carolina built. One such survey is a 1737 manuscript map (the one above) placed up for auction by Swann Galleries in New York in 2007. A New and Correct Map of the Province of North Carolina drawn from the Original of Col. Mosely’s Survey by J: Cowley appears to be a smaller version of Moseley’s 1733 map, with identical place names and locations of rivers and inlets. But, unlike its 1733 predecessor, the 1737 map shows a proposed settlement at the head of the Pee Dee River, where the Yadkin and Uwharrie rivers merge. An inscription near the settlement reads “This is a Representation of an Improvement (sic) made at the conflux of the two Rivers, which Demonstrates the advantages of such a situation, both for Profit, Pleasure & Security.” Settlement along the lower Pee Dee River did begin in the 1730s, but no community appears to have been established upriver. It’s unclear who created the 1737 map. Perhaps it was John Cowley, the engraver credited on the 1733 map. But who was John Cowley and, if he’s the creator, why did he copy Moseley’s map? And why did he include the information on the upper Pee Dee River settlement?

Have we piqued your interest? If so, then join the North Carolina Collection, the Rare Book Collection at UNC and the William P. Cumming Map Society on March 10 for a talk on the 1733 Moseley Map and its 1737 copy. Mike McNamara, a Williamsburg collector of Colonial maps and furniture, will speak at 10 a.m. in the Pleasants Family Room at Wilson Library.

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