This Geographical Plan ... Saint Helena ..., Read, 1815

Read's map of St. Helena (565 × 425 mm) was first published in October 1815, presumably timed to capitalise on the interest generated by Napoleon's exile to, and imminent arrival at, St. Helena.

The shape and basic geography of the island is still that originally portrayed on Seller's map, but more detail has been added, including roads and numerous individual residences.

Interestingly, Plantation House is indicated as "The Residence of Buonaparte" [detail].

Versions of the map mounted on linen and folded into a slip-case have, pasted onto the back of the map, a brief description of the island titled A Descriptive Sketch of Saint Helena, to accompany Lieut. Read's Geographical Plan of the Island:

Image courtesy of Joel Kovarsky, The Prime Meridian.

The text states:
       THIS rugged, but interesting retreat, destined to be the residence of NAPOLEON BUONAPARTE, one of the greatest Generals, and the most extraordinary character of the age, is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, 15° 55" S. lat and 5° 49" W. long. ; 1200 miles W. of Africa, and 1800 E. of S. America. Its greatest length is 10 miles and a half ; breadth, six and three quarters, and circumference, at the water's edge, thirty ; surrounded by stupendous rocks, that render it inaccessible, excepting where protected with batteries.
        IT is interspersed with lofty hills and and fruitful vallies, which may well be said to lie in the lap of horror. The air is very salubrious, and forms a greater variety of temperatures than any other place of the same extent. The air at St. James's Town being so warm that fires would be insupportable, for which reason there are no chimneys or fire-places there ; but the Lieutenant Governor's country house (now the residence of BUONAPARTE), and many others through the island, have both, and such houses as are in very elevated situations require constant fires ; so that an invalid can be accommodated with any temperature of air his state of health may require. The vallies abound in cattle, corn, fruit, and vegetables. The hills are mostly covered with wild goats, and are often seen in flocks of a thousand strong.
        THE rocks being intermixed with huge masses of cinder, render it highly probable that the island is of volcanic origin, and has been thrown up by some great convulsion of nature. It was first discovered by the Portuguese in 1508, on the festival of St. HELENA, mother of the Emperor CONSTANTINE THE GREAT, and now contains about 4000 inhabitants, and 30,000 acres of arable and pasture land.
        THE military force has been hitherto a corps of Artillery, commanded by a Lieut.-Colonel, a regiment of Infantry, and five companies of white and black Militia ; but this force has been lately augmented by forty of the Royal Artillery, commanded by a Captain ; and the 53d regiment of foot, 500 strong. The number of cannon mounted on the forts and batteries, with the two parks of Artillery, are between four and five hundred, some of which are thirty-two pounders.
        THE Civil Establishment consists of the Governor, Deputy Governor, and two other Members of Council ; an Accountant, Paymaster, Storekeeper, Engineer, Chaplain, Surgeon, and the Secretary to Government, with their Assistants.
        IT was given to the English East India Company by CHARLES II. soon after it was taken from the Dutch by Admiral MUNDEN, in 1674 ; and on the present memorable occasion, has been given up by the Honourable the English East India Company to the Government of Great Britain.

British Library shelfmark: Maps 69570.(2.)
Library of Congress call number: Not in the catalogue.


Last updated: 19 December, 2011


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