BERNARD, Sir Francis (1712-1779) - [Francis MILLER, surveyor (1733-1800)]
[Manuscript map on vellum surveying the road from Boston to Penobscot Bay, Maine, titled on the map:] A Plan of the Road From Boston to Penobscott Bay
[New England: 1765]. Pen and ink with some grey wash, on three sheets of vellum, each linen backed at an early date with rollers top and bottom. Sheet size: Approximately 14 x 78 inches, if joined. Housed in a black morocco-backed box. Provenance: Sir Francis Bernard, Colonial Governor of Massachusetts (1712-1779); by descent to Robert Spencer Bernard, Nether Winchendon House, Buckinghamshire, England.
Among the earliest American road maps: an important original manuscript survey on vellum accomplished for the Colonial Governor of Massachusetts in 1765.
In November 1969, noted historian of cartography William P. Cumming discovered in the family home of Sir Francis Bernard "a collection of maps that, in purpose and type, differed so markedly from the more usual military, coastal and general colonial maps of the time that it stands out in both interest and importance. These were domestic maps, of a gentleman's estates and the roads to them ... Probably Sir Francis's most important contribution to cartography was to have careful surveys made of the roads from Boston to Saint George's Fort in Maine ... No route maps as detailed as these, except for two short New Jersey road maps, are known for any other section of the eastern seaboard until those of Christopher Colles in 1789" (Cumming, p. 29-30).
The present manuscript map depicts the road from Boston to St. George's Fort Maine, as well as the road from Boston to Weston, with mileages given between points and towns and rivers, large and small, identified along the way. Done on a scale of approximately 2 miles to the inch, the map includes a box for a title drawn in on the central sheet, but only the first word "A" has been inserted. Cumming records this map (though as three separate entries) and cites a similar map of the same region and on the same scale, though the present example appears to be a draft which preceded it (see Cumming, Appendix A, maps MP/2, MP/3 and MP/4 and map MP/7).
Sir Francis Bernard became the Colonial Governor of Massachusetts in late 1759, shortly after British troops were victorious in the Battle of Quebec. That decisive French and Indian War victory opened a vast region of present-day Maine for potential English settlement. To honour their new governor, the Massachusetts Assembly petitioned the Crown to grant to Bernard "the Island of Mount Desart [sic] lying north eastward of Penobscot Bay." Bernard very quickly began to establish a scheme to colonize the lands, thereby affirming his grant. Writing to Viscount Barrington in June 1763, Bernard revealed his intentions to survey the region:
"I propose to reconnoitre this Country this Summer with great accuracy, the assembly having authorised me to employ a Mathematician to make observations all along the Coast. I have a very good Man for that purpose, the Professor of Mathematics at this College [John Winthrop], whom I shall accompany, & assist myself. And I shall make a further progress in surveying Mount Desert, unless I am ordered off from home. I have concluded with 60 families with a Minister at their head & a Merchant to supply'm to settle there this Summer upon a plan already laid out: I want only power to make them a title. There are also 920 families ready to settle upon the continent adjoining to the Islands in 12 Townships already mark't out. I shall greive much (setting aside my own interest) if this settlement should be defeated; as it is compactly planned & laid out to great advantage. And when I consider how much it has Cost the Government of Great Britain to settle 4000 Souls in some other Parts of America, I think it will be a great pity that such a Settlement should be refused when offered to be brought forward at no public expence at all. For my own part I have been drawn into this scheme imperceptibly: & now the People call on me to be their leader, which I shall decline no longer, than till I can learn that my establishing a New Colony in a desert (which will long remain unpeopled if this opportunity is neglected) will be approved" (Bernard to Barrington, 15 June 1763, quoted in The Barrington-Bernard Correspondence, p. 70).
The year following that letter to Barrington, the present manuscript map was surveyed and drawn by talented military mapmaker Francis Miller, the details of which are recounted by Bernard in a 1766 letter to Barrington:
"I am desired to certify to your Lordship, that at the beginning of the Year 1764 Genl Gage at my Request, gave Leave to Ensign Francis Miller of the 45th regiment, then stationed in Newfoundland to come to Boston to assist me in some Works of Public Surveying, which I had undertaken in pursuance of resolutions of the general Assembly & partly by Orders from England. Mr Miller being then at an outpost & not easily relieved did not arrive at Boston till Nov in that Year, when the Season for actual Surveying was over. He was employed that Winter & Spring following in protracting the Surveys made that Summer, among which was a compleat Route from Fort Pownal on the River Penobscot to Quebec, & some other curious explorations of the Eastern parts of New England hitherto unknown to Englishmen: of which, elegant Maps drawn by Mr Miller have been transmitted to the Board of Trade. Early in the Last Summer I employed M' Miller (having previously informed Gen! Gage of the Intention) to make an actual Survey from Boston to Albany & back again by another Way being near 200 Miles; & afterwards from Boston to Penobscot [emphasis added] being above 200 Miles; by which Means a true Geometrical Line of 400 Miles in length through part of New York & all the habitable part of New-England has been obtained, which will afford great Assistance to the Ascertaining the Geography of this Country & its Sea Coast. After this Survey was finished he was employed in protracting the Same & making Drawings thereof which he has done with great Accuracy & Elegance" (Bernard to Barrington, 11 January 1766, quoted in The Barrington-Bernard Correspondence, p. 103).
This important manuscript map, detailing the route from Boston to Maine, constitutes among the earliest of American road maps.
William P. Cumming, British Maps of Colonial America, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974) pp. 29-30 and Appendix A; cf. The Barrington-Bernard Correspondence (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1912).