Daniel Dunbibin, Nicholas Pocock, and Trees

One noticeable feature on a select few Carolina coastal charts published during the last half of the 18th century is a row of trees along the Grand Strand, a section of coast now dominated by high rise hotels and condos. Who “planted” these trees? Daniel Dunbibin or Nicholas Pocock?

18th Century charts by Nicholas Pocock, George Le Rouge, and John Norman each show a line of trees along the coast of present-day Myrtle Beach.
Image credits: 1770 Pocock image courtesy of Boston Rare Maps. 1777 Le Rouge image courtesy of North Carolina Collection at UNC-CH. 1794 Norman image courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.

Daniel Dunbibin

Daniel Dunbibin was a resident of the Cape Fear region of North Carolina, serving as one of the town commissioners of Wilmington. Not much is known about him; colonial records confirm his presence in North Carolina as early as 1743.  In advertisements placed in Charleston, SC, newspapers in the mid 1750s, he solicited subscriptions for a map of the coast of the Carolinas:

WHEREAS the Subscriber some Months since (by an Advertisement in this Paper) published his Intention of surveying and making a Draught of the Sea Coasts of North and South-Carolina, a great Part of which he hath already done. AND Whereas the Subscriptions in South-Carolina, have proved (as yet) too inconsiderable to enable hi to pursue his Survey of this Coast as Yet, being unwilling his Design should not be completed, He once more proposes, to survey this Coast as far as Port-Royal, if the Gentlemen in South-Carolina will only make up their Subscription One Hundred Pounds Sterling, which Sum he judges will barely pay Men’s Wages and defray the Charges of his Sloop during the Survey. Those Gentlemen who are inclined to subscribe, and encourage an Undertaking so useful (and so much wanted) to the Navigation in these Parts, may apply to Mr. Thomas Smith, jun. Merchant in Charles-Town, or to the Printer hereof, either of whom will shew them the Proposals and take in Subscriptions for
Daniel Dunbibin.

I’ve not yet learned the date of Dunbibin’s death, but his chart was apparently published posthumously in 1761. It was advertised in the Boston Gazette in mid-September of that year (transcribed below) and in Charleston, SC, newspapers the following month (bold added by blogger):

September 14, 1761 Boston Gazette:
“The Navigation on the Coast of North and South Carolina being very dangerous on account of the many Bars, Shoals, Sandbanks, Rocks, etc. The late Daniel Dunbibin, Esq. of North Carolina, has, at very great Expence and Labour, draughted the Sea Coast of both the Provinces in a large whole Sheet Chart of 33 inches by 23; together with all the Rivers, Bays, Inlets, Islands, Brooks, Bars, Shoals, Rocks, Soundings, Currents, &c. with necessary Directions to render the Navigation both easy and safe, and are much esteemed by the most expert Pilots…”

UPDATE (2/24/2018): An earlier ad for the chart was published in the July 23, 1761, issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette:

Just from the Press, and to be Sold by
In Walnut street, (Price Twenty Shillings) A NEW and most correct Draught of the Coast of North, and Part of South Carolina (ever published) including the Bar and Harbour of Charles Town, describing all the Shoals, Soundings, Bars, Harbours, and Settings of the Currents; together with compleat Directions for sailing along the Coast, and into all the Harbours, from the Capes of Virginia to Charles Town.
Taken from an exact Survey, by Daniel Dunbiben. Esq

Neither the Boston nor Philadelphia advertisers were engravers or printers; they were both general merchants. The “who” and “where” of the engraving and printing of the chart remains unknown, though Philadelphia should be considered given the currently known priority of advertisements (end UPDATE).

Unfortunately, there is no known surviving example of Dunbibin’s 1761 chart of the coast of the Carolinas.

In 1791, John Norman published an American Pilot in Boston. It contains a chart of the Carolinas, giving credit to Dunbibin. The size is very similar, but not identical, to that advertised in 1761. Some authors have postulated that Norman used the copper plates that had been used for Dunbibin’s 1761 chart, or had new plates engraved using a then surviving example of Dunbibin’s chart. The latter is much more likely.  Norman’s “Dunbibin chart” covers only part of the North Carolina coast; Dunbibin’s original, as advertised in 1761, apparently covered the entire North Carolina coast.

Nicholas Pocock

Nicholas Pocock was a well-known British maritime artist in the early 19th century.  As a young man, he had been master of a merchant ship that sailed between Bristol, UK, and Charleston, SC in the late 1760s. Pocock published a chart of the Carolina coast in 1770, believed to have been engraved and printed in Bristol. With the exception of a reference to it by Le Rouge on his 1777 chart of the Carolinas, there was no knowledge of Pocock’s chart and no known surviving examples… until 2017, when Boston Rare Maps acquired one. Further research located a circa 1980 photograph of a 2nd state (1781) of Pocock’s chart. This chart was in the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, UK. Unfortunately, they no longer know its whereabouts. Pocock’s 1770 and 1781 charts show a row of 12 trees along the Grand Strand.

The trees of Myrtle Beach

So, who “planted” these trees? If Norman copied the trees from a surviving copy of Dunbibin’s 1761 chart, then Pocock obviously also had a copy of Dunbibin’s 1761 chart and copied the trees from that chart. Could the trees have originated with Pocock’s 1770 chart? That possibility implies that Norman didn’t copy Dunbibin entirely, and that he obtained the trees from Pocock’s 1770 chart or Le Rouge’s 1777 chart. No copy of Dunbibin’s chart has surfaced in Bristol or anywhere else, while the only surviving copy of the first state of Pocock’s chart was found in the Boston area. Norman’s chart was printed in Boston. Coincidence? Unfortunately, we’ll never know if Dunbibin or Pocock was the tree planter unless a copy of Dunbibin’s 1761 chart surfaces. Thankfully, the world will continue to rotate even without an answer.

Do you have information about these charts you’d like to share? Comments or Corrections? Please use the “What’s on your mind?” comment box below.

If you’d like to read more about Daniel Dunbibin, good luck! You may find a few stray facts searching the variant spellings of his surname that I have found: Dunbibin, Dunbibbin, Durbiben, Dinbibin, and Dimbibin.

If you’d like to read more about Nicholas Pocock and his chart, please see Michael Buehler’s writeup on the Boston Rare Maps web site.

Image links:
Norman’s “Dunbibin” chart of the Carolina coast
Le Rouge’s chart of the Carolina coast, for which he gives credit to Pocock.

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