Ould Virginia, one of many newe names that didn’t stick.

When the English shifted their colonization efforts north from Roanoke Island to the James River and Chesapeake Bay, they took the name “Virginia” with them. So what did they call North Carolina once they absconded with its original Virginia moniker? Ould Virginia, of course.

Theodor de Bry’s 1590 published engraving of John White’s map of Virginia was the first printed map focused specifically on what is now North Carolina. The second such map was published by John Smith in his 1624 book, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles...

1624-1626 map of Ould Virginia, courtesy of Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps. Click on the link for BLR’s discussion of the map; click on the above image for a higher resolution image of Ould Virginia.

It is a small map on a sheet that includes scenes illustrating Smith’s adventures in “new” Virginia. The region of North Carolina on this map is labeled “Ould Virginia”, to distinguish it from the James River settlements. The latter region is labeled on a frontispiece map as “Virginia now Planted.”

Map dealer/scholar Philip Burden describes four states of the engraved plate1. The following is partly derived and partly copied directly from Burden’s description :

  1. No trees; thirty-seven placenames (majority Native American), many of which are derived from Theodor de Bry’s 1590 engraving of John White’s map.
  2. With trees and twenty-five new English place names, but before addition of Iames Reeve as printer.
  3. Inscription, printed by Iames Reeve, added in the Pocahontas-Smith image to the right. Davers Ile and P Barkley added along the coastline (the above example).
  4. Adams Sound added above C Henry.

For Smith’s map of New England2, Smith “presented this Discourse with the Map, to our most gracious Prince Charles, humbly intreating his Highnesse hee would please to change their barbarous names for such English, as posteritie might say Prince Charles was their God-father.”3  Many of the English place names supplied by Prince Charles to Smith’s map of New England persist to this day.

Smith’s book does not identify who Anglicized the map of Ould Virginia.The source for the English names added to the map of Ould Virginia may have been John Smith and/or the engraver, Robert Vaughan.  On this map, the “barbarous” names were not changed, but were supplemented with English names. Many of the English names are randomly placed, particularly those in the interior where no English exploration had yet occurred. Referring to the English place names on Ould Virginia, Burden comments, “None of these were taken up by contemporary sources, probably owing to the fact that they were not based on first hand experience.”

In addition to the English place names, one curious Welsh place name is found on the map of Ould Virginia,  “Ynys llygod”, translating to Mice Islands,4  an obvious addition by the Welsh-born engraver, Robert Vaughan.  Following is a list of the English names found on states 1-4 of the map of Ould Virginia:

State 15

Abigails Iles

Alice Smith field (John Smith’s mother)

C[ape] Amidas (possibly there, image resolution insufficient)

C feare

Greenevills rode

Heriots Ile (see also this post)

Howard’s Mountaynes

Ile Goade (probably there, image resolution insuffiient)

Layn flu

P[oint] Bacon

Purchase Iles


State 2:

Abbots Ile

Anadales chase

Arundells Ile

Beauchamps playne

Bedfords valley

C. Henry

Cecils Harbor

Essex Ile

Gordens Ile

Hertfords Ile

Ile Hatton

Masons Bush

Mildmaids roade
Mountayne’s forest

P Box

P Corbett

P Vaughan (the engraver?)

Richmonds steps

Salvage Ile

Salvage Rocke

Segars grove

Stuards reach

Townfrows end

Waldens Oake

Worcester inlet


State 3:

Davers Ile

P Barkley


State 4:6

Adams Sound


A facsimile edition of Smith’s The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles…, including newly engraved maps, was published in Richmond, Virginia, in 1819.7

Comments, questions, corrections, and further discussion are gratefully accepted via the “What’s on your mind?” box below.


  1. Entry 212 in Burden, Philip D. 1996. The mapping of North America a list of printed maps, 1511-1670. Rickmansworth: Raleigh Publications. This is volume 1, available at www.caburden.com/book_vol_one.htm or on Amazon.com. Volume 2, covering 1671-1700, was published in 2006.
  2. An example can be seen at https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-c3cf-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
  3. THE COMPLETE WORKS OF Captain John Smith
    SPONSORED BY The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation The National Endowment for the Humanities
    The Newberry Library and The Institute of Early American History and Culture
    THE COMPLETE WORKS OF Captain John Smith (1580-1631) in Three Volumes
    Edited by Philip L. Barbour VOLUME II; available on line here: http://www.virtualjamestown.org/exist/cocoon/jamestown/fha_one?doc=/db/jamestown/smith/SmiWorks2.xml&keyword1=thrice
  4. See page (column?) 110 in The Cambrian Traveller’s Guide, in Every Direction; Containing Remarks Made … By Emilius Nicholson , available on line here: https://books.google.com/books?id=_dVgAAAAcAAJ&lpg=PA109&ots=dl_uRRihnQ&dq=%22ynys%20llygod%22&pg=PA109#v=snippet&q=ynys%20llygod&f=false
  5. A low resolution image can be found by searching for Princeton on the following web page: http://www.virtualjamestown.org/exist/cocoon/jamestown/fha_one?doc=/db/jamestown/smith/SmiWorks2.xml&keyword1=thrice
  6. An example of the 4th state can be seen at https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-c3c5-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
  7. See https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:The_Generall_Historie_of_Virginia%2C_New-England%2C_and_The_Summer_Isles

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