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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
This state of Fry and Jefferson’s map reflects several geographical changes made to State 2 based on the explorations of Christopher Gist (ca. 1706–1759). Employed by the Ohio Company, Gist explored the Ohio River and traveled with George Washington to visit French forts near Lake Erie. Fry and Jefferson received maps prepared by Washington and Gist, and Fry may have had access to Gist’s journals. The two western plates were reworked to reflect Gists’s findings and the map displays the corrected courses of the Ohio, Kanawha, and New Rivers, and identifies the location of French settlements on Pennsylvania’s border. The engraver received additional information from John Dalrymple (d. 1766), a Scots officer who provided a scale of distances that appeared in the upper left quadrant and who may have given the location of wagon roads and information concerning western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and Kentucky. This and succeeding states can be identified by the inclusion of the word “most” in the title. The third state is distinguished by incorrect longitude degree marks inside the upper and lower borders.
Soon after State 3 was published, Fry and Jefferson’s map was reworked yet again to correct the longitude degree marks from 65°–72´ to 75°–82´ longitude west of London. State 4 is the last one in which any geographical changes were made. The 1755 and later printings proved extremely popular, and the map was sold individually until Jefferys incorporated it into his General Topography of North America and the West Indies. Among its other merits, the map was the best contemporary map of Maryland, often cited as the least mapped of all the British colonies.
The date in the cartouche has been changed to 1775, but the imprint is the same as that published in State 5. The firm of Robert Sayer (1725–1794) and John Bennett (d. 1787) published Thomas Jefferys’s American Atlas in 1775 and 1776 with this state of the Fry and Jefferson map of Virginia. This plate was also used by William Faden (1749–1836) in his North American Atlas (1777–1778).