A bad good authority?

In his 1854 report on the survey of Beaufort Harbor in North Carolina, Lieutenant James Maffitt stated the following:

…Wimble’s chart published in 1737 (one hundred and seventeen years ago,) gives eighteen feet as the depth on the bar at low tide. It is also stated on good authority that Lawson’s chart published in 1718 coincides with Wimble’s in the depth at low water.

John Lawson died in 1711. Furthermore, neither the original English version of Lawson’s map of Carolina, published in 1709, nor subsequent German and Swiss derivatives, show any soundings in the vicinity of Beaufort. I have been unable to locate a Lawson published map or manuscript map that shows soundings at the inlet to Beaufort, nor any map published circa 1718 that might have been misattributed to Lawson. The not-so-“good authority” is not named by Maffitt, so one is impeded in trying to investigate from that angle. Edward Moseley’s map of North Carolina, published in 1733, contains an inset of “Port Beaufort”. Perhaps that is the map to which the “good authority” was referring. If anyone has a better suggestion, please let us know via the “What’s on your mind?” comment box. Thanks.

3 thoughts on “A bad good authority?”

  1. I agree that the inset on Moseley’s map is probably the ‘good authority,’ as Moseley inherited all of Lawson surveys and soundings. Further evidence to this is that the Moseley map shows Thigpen’s Trace the first wagon road crossing the back-country. It is shown as ending at the Yadkin and that hints that the Lawson draft of that road was made in 1702 or 1703 as the road was pioneered between 1702 and 1704 and it is possible Lawson overtook the construction crew at the Yadkin and showed the road terminating where he met the crew. Lawson would have known that the road was going to the Gulf of Mexico but he was too preoccupied preparing his mss and maps for publication and may never have visited the road again.

      1. No idea what happened to Lawson/Moseley documents. It is probably a good surmise that anything purporting to be pre-1711 was inherited by Moseley thought they both were on task before Lawson’s demise. For example, the road on Moseley’s Map as ‘the Trading Road to the Catawba and the Cherokee was probably Lawson’s work because it closely followed part of Lawson’s trek through the back-country. Alas, we’ll never know for sure. But what we do know is that the road was a military road, that parallel lines were adopted as a mapping convention for a wagon road in the late 17th or early 18th century, that the Albemarle district was an early (ca 1650) success story which Lawson probably mapped even before he returned to England to publish.

        As with Lawson’s manuscripts, I’ve been looking for Tadeusz Kościuszko’s papers for twenty years with no luck; he led a crew of (I believe 28 Engineers, plus support staff) that mapped all the stream crossings between SC and VA for Greene, before Greene even entered NC.

        Oh, well, if it wasn’t for the missing bits we’d have no reason to surmise.

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