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The 1753 Fry-Jefferson Map and Its Predecessors and Derivatives

Guide to the Fry-Jefferson Map of Virginia and related maps in the Library of Virginia's collection


section of Fry-Jefferson Map showing James River and Hampton Roads
Fry, Joshua and Peter Jefferson. A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia[...]. London: Thomas Jefferys, [1755?]

The 1753 Fry-Jefferson Map was the most important map of Virginia drawn in the eighteenth century. Created by surveyors Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson, the map dominated cartographical representations of Virginia until 1807.

The Fry-Jefferson map was commissioned in 1750 by the Board of Trade in London. In 1751, Fry and Jefferson delivered a draft to acting governor Lewis Burwell. The map was formally presented to the commissioners of the Board of Trade in March 1752. It was then given to Thomas Jefferys, an engraver, who hired artist Francis Hayman and engraver Charles Grignion to design and execute the cartouche. The design for the cartouche emphasized Virginia’s dependence on a tobacco economy based on chattel slavery.

Several editions of A Map of the Most Inhabited Part of Virginia were published. It was an important resource for John Mitchell, who created one of the most important political maps of colonial North America, A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America (1755). Fellow Virginian John Henry relied heavily on Fry and Jefferson’s map as he plotted out Virginia’s county boundaries in his New and Accurate Map of Virginia (1770). Thomas Jefferson, Peter Jefferson’s son, also used his father’s map extensively while compiling A Map of the Country Between Albemarle Sounds, and Lake Erie to accompany his Notes on the State of Virginia (1785).

This guide lists a selection of maps of the late-seventeenth, eighteenth, and early-nineteenth centuries held by the Library of Virginia, including the Library's collection of Fry-Jefferson maps of Virginia, the Fry-Jefferson map's derivatives, and maps influenced by Fry and Jefferson’s work.

Except as noted, maps are available for viewing in the Special Collections Reading Room. Contact Special Collections to schedule an appointment.

Fry-Jefferson Maps Online