Re-prioritizing Blome’s Description

There are 3 issues of the 1672 first edition of A Description of the Island of Jamaica; with the other Isles and Territories in America…published by Richard Blome, varying in the seller listed on the title page, as follows:

Printed by T. Milbourn, and sold by the Book-sellers of London and Westminster, 1672 (view)

Printed by T. Milbourn, and sold by J. Williams Junior, in Cross-Keys-Court, in Little-Brittain, 1672 (view)

Printed by T. Milbourn, and sold by Robert Clavel in Cross-Keys-Court, in Little-Brittain, 1672 (view)

There is no agreed upon priority for these 3 issues. For example, the Book-sellers imprint is “listed second by European Americana, but first by ESTC, and third by New Wing” (Howard S. Mott, Inc., Catalog 261, #10, p4).

Recently, an observation was made that there are 3 different states of the map of Carolina contained within copies of Blome’s Description. In an effort to determine if the state of the Carolina map contained within each copy could be useful in establishing priority of the 3 first edition issues, inquiries were sent to a number of institutions. The North Carolina Map Blog is extremely grateful for the time and information provided by:

Boston Athenaeum – Stanley Cushing

Clements Library – Diana Sykes

Duke University – Sarah Carrier

Georgetown* – Stephanie Hughes

Harvard – James Capobianco

John Carter Brown Library (JCB) – Kim Nusco

King’s College London – Stephanie Breen

Library of Virginia* – Audrey McElhinney

New York Historical Society (NYHS) – Joseph Ditta

New York Public Library (NYPL) – Kyle Triplett

Princeton – Stephen Ferguson

St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) – Celia Rabinowitz

Trinity College-Dublin (TCD) – Shane Mawe

University of North Carolina (UNC-CH) – Robert Anthony, Claudia Funke

University of Virginia – Heather Riser

Virginia Historical Society* – John McClure

Wake Forest University (WFU) – Megan Mulder

Yale – Francis Lapka, George Miles, Elisabeth Fairman

Ashley Baynton-Williams

Philip Burden

Rusty Mott / Michael Buehler

Barry Lawrence Ruderman


Additionally, copies from the following institutions were viewed on line:

Bodleian Library

British Library (BL)

University of Pittsburgh

Huntington Library*


* The books at these institutions did not contain the map of Carolina, or contained a facsimile.

The occurrence of each state of the map of Carolina with respect to each of the three issues of the 1672 first edition, and to the 1678 second edition of Blome’s Description is summarized in the following table:

The data may be insufficient for a statistically valid analysis, but that’s not going to stop the North Carolina Map Blog from proclaiming the following order of priority for the three issues of the 1672 first edition of Blome’s A Description of the Island of Jamaica…:

  1. Williams
  2. Book-sellers
  3. Clavel

We would be most appreciative if any library, collector, or dealer with a copy of this book would send us their data concerning title page imprint and state of the Carolina map in their copy.  Also, any corrections or comments would be greatly appreciated via the “What’s on your mind?” box below the comment section.

One final note… Shortly after this post was published, I was informed of the supposed existence of two “J. Williams Junior” title page imprints, one with and one without a hyphen between “Williams” and “Junior.” However, the only copy that appears to have a hyphen also shows stray ink blobs above the “r” of Brittain and partially obscuring the “s” of Keys. I do not believe any copies have an actual hyphen, and that any catalog entries indicating the presence of a hyphen have been copied from an erroneous catalog description. Indeed, two institutions whose catalog entries showed “Williams-Junior” have confirmed that “Williams Junior” is not hyphenated on the title pages of their books.

6 thoughts on “Re-prioritizing Blome’s Description”

  1. Ashley Baynton-Williams, author, scholar and map dealer, has shared a few of his research notes. With his permission, I have included them below:

    Stationers’ Company Registers: 1671 November 9th.
    Master Richard Bloome. Entred for his copie under the hands of Master
    Samuell Sparker [sic] and Master Warden Royston a copie or booke intituled
    ‘A discription of the Island of Jamaica, taken from the notes of S.r
    Thomas Lynch, K.t, present governour of the said island, & other
    experienced persons that have there inhabited, &c; to w[hi]ch is added a
    mapp of the said Island taken from the latest draught’. Saluo iure
    cuil[i]b[e]t _ _ _ vj.d

    Term Catalogues, 1672 Hilary Term – Licensed February 7th.
    The History, or Description, of the Island of Jamaica; with the other
    Isles and Territories in America, to which the English are related, viz.
    Barbadoes, St. Christopher’s, Nievis or Mevis, St. Vincent, Dominica,
    Montserrat, Anguilla, Barbada, Bermudos, Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New
    York, New England, Newfound Land, taken from the Notes of Sir Thomas
    Linch, Knight, Governour of Jamaica, and other experienced persons in the
    said places. Illustrated with Maps. Printed for Jo. Williams Junior in
    Cross Keys Court, in Little Britain. In Octavo. Price, bound, 2s.

    This isn’t definitive, but I’ve only got one datable record [day; month;
    year] for Clavel “in Cross Keys Court, in Little Britain”, and that on
    7th February 1673 (1672 old style) (Term Catalogues); he was in Little
    Britain in February 1674, but by May was “at the Peacock at the West End
    of St. Pauls Churchyard”.

    I don’t know when he moved to Cross Keys Court; he was somewhere else in
    1665, but then there’s a gap, in which he didn’t give a street address in
    his advertisements.

    The Blome and another book are dated 1672 from Cross Keys Court.

    I’d guess that these were issued in late 1672 / early 1673 modern calendar
    which would back up your sequence, but it’s only a guess based on the
    theory that as soon as he had a street address he would start to use it.

What's on your mind?