BERNARD, Sir Francis (1712-1779) - [Francis MILLER, surveyor (1733-1800)]
[Manuscript map, titled within the map:] The Road from Boston to Albany by way of Springfield and Great Barrington ... [and] ... by way of Northampton to Albany
[New England: 1765]. Pen-and-ink on laid paper, with the road coloured in sepia and with water elements in green, with a yellow wash border within the gradients, on 17 sheets. (Minor repairs, one small blank section in the upper border lacking). Provenance: Sir Francis Bernard, Colonial Governor of Massachusetts (1712-1779); by descent to Robert Spencer Bernard, Nether Winchendon House, Buckinghamshire, England. Sheet size: 27 1/2 x 214 inches, overall (if joined).
Among the earliest American road maps: an important large-scale survey 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 ... westward to Albany, New York, on a one-inch to two-thirds-mile scale. It was along part of this Albany to Boston road that the American rebels dragged the heavy cannon captured at Fort Ticonderoga that, set up on Dorchester Heights, forced General Howe's evacuation of Boston in 1776 ... 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 across Massachusetts, though does not extend as far as Albany. The road, divided into miles throughout, extends from Boston to Springfield, where it splits into two westward routes to Albany: the first a more southerly route via Great Barrington, Massachusetts, which ends on the present map at a point approximately 33 miles from Albany; and the more northerly route which is shown on the map as far as Northampton, just past the Connecticut River. The map is done on a very large scale of approximately 2/3 of a mile to the inch, with towns, rivers, mountains, residences, meetinghouses, and numerous taverns identified along the way. Cumming records this map (though as four separate entries [i.e. MP21-24, though with an incorrect sheet count]).
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 for renewed English settlement and trade, thus necessitating the need for more accurate surveys of the roads. The present manuscript map was surveyed and drawn by talented military mapmaker Francis Miller in 1765 for Bernard, the details of which are recounted by Bernard in a 1766 letter to Lord 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 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 westward towards Albany, 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).