The Plymouth Colony Archive Project

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2000 Copyright and All Rights Reserved
by Patricia Scott Deetz and James Deetz

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The maps listed below include three of seventeenth century New England that show the location of Plymouth, and the only map known to us dating from the seventeenth century that shows Plymouth. After that, in so far as Plymouth is concerned, there appears to be a conspicuous gap through the eighteenth century. Coverage of Plymouth in the nineteenth century is far greater. The maps commissioned by Samuel Morison for his 1952 edition of William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation are an excellent addition to the small body of material available.


Seventeenth Century


1613 Samuel de Champlain's Chart of Port Saint-Louis (Plymouth Harbor).

The earliest map of Plymouth is that of Samuel de Champlain. On June 18, 1605 Champlain accompanied French commander Pierre du Gua, Sieur de Monts, as first officer, navigator and artist on a voyage of exploration down the New England coast. The purpose of the voyage was to find a suitable place for a permanent French settlement. Sailing from Sainte-Croix Island, the pinnace rounded the Gurnet on July 17, and anchored in a sheltered harbor that Champlain named Port Saint-Louis, after the royal saint of France. It was in fact the same harbor that the English settlers on the Mayflower named "Plymouth" in December 1620, fifteen years later. It is not likely that they had access to Champlain's chart, however, as the first thing that they did was to take soundings in Plymouth Harbor, just as Champlain had done and noted on his 1605 chart. He published it in 1613 in an account of his voyages.

Champlain's chart of Plymouth Harbor has been reprinted in a number of works, three of which are as follows:

James Deetz and Patricia Scott Deetz, The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony (New York: W.H. Freeman, 2000), p. 56.


A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth: Mourt's Relation . . . 1622. Dwight B. Heath, ed. (New York: Corinth, 1963).

The Works of Samuel de Champlain . . . , H.P. Biggar (Gen. Ed.), 6 vols. (The Champlain Society, 1922-36), vol. 2, Les Voyages, Book II (1613), p. 346.


1614 Captain John Smith's map of New England, dated 1614.

The map was probably drawn by Simon van der Passe, the son of a Dutch engraver, based on one drawn by John Smith. It is very similar to an earlier version which omitted the "New" which prefaces "Plimouth," and does not include Salem. The English colonists who settled in Plymouth in 1620 almost certainly had access to this map. In his Advertisements for the Unexperienced Planters of New England, or Any Where (London, 1631), Smith commented wryly: "Now since them called Brownists went, some few before them also having my bookes and maps, presumed they knew as much as they desired . . . " (The Complete Works of Captain John Smith (1580-1631), ed. by Philip L. Barbour (Univ. Of North Carolina Press, 1986), vol. 3, p. 285.


Reprinted in Deetz and Deetz, The Times of Their Lives, p. 70.


1620 William Bradford's sketch of the town of Plymouth.

The Bradford sketch, entitled "The meersteads & garden plots of which came first layed out 1620" is the only known map of the original town layout. The sketch is bound into the front of a manuscript volume entitled "Plimouths Great Book of Deeds of Lands Enrolled from Ano 1627 to Ano 1651." The first part of the volume is in the handwriting of Governor William Bradford, as is the map. The volume now comprises Vol. 12 , Deeds, &c. Vol. 1 1620-1651 of The Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, edited by Nathaniel B. Shurtleff and David Pulsifer (William White, 1855-61; AMS Press, 1968).


John A. Goodwin, in his The Pilgrim Republic (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1920; Kraus reprint 1970), has extended the plan to include his interpretation of the position of occupants on the north side of the street, and of the street in relation to the harbor and the fort.


The original Bradford sketch is reprinted in Deetz and Deetz, The Times of Their Lives, p. 66.


1634 William Wood's Map of "The South Part of New England, as it is Planted this yeare, 1634."

Wood's map was published in his New England's Prospect, in London in 1634. His work is generally considered to be accurate, and it is mentioned here simply because of the sparsity of seventeenth century maps of the coast of New England which show Plymouth Colony. It gives the location of Greene's Harbor, which was the original name given to what finally became Marshfield.


William Wood, New England's Prospect, Alden T. Vaughan (Ed.), (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993), p. 16.


1677 William Hubbard's Map of New-England. A Scale of forty miles.

The map appears to have been commissioned by Hubbard for his volume The History of the Indian Wars in New England that was published in London and Boston in 1677. It is described by Samuel G. Drake, editor of Hubbard's Indian Wars (1865) as "the curious Woodcut Map," a facsimile of which he included in his edition since it had been published in the first edition of Hubbard's work. Hubbard, in a rubric on the map, describes it as " the first that ever was here cut, and done by the best Pattern that could be had . . ."


William Hubbard, The History of the Indian Wars in New England from the First Settlement to the Termination of the War with King Philip, in 1677. Samuel G. Drake (Ed.) (New York: Franklin, 1971 reprint).


Nineteenth Century


1830 Map of Plymouth, settled in 1620. Surveyed and drawn by S. Bourne. Scale: 2 inches to a mile.

A map of Plymouth Village, on a scale of 50 poles to an inch, is inserted in the top right-hand corner of the map. The map of Plymouth Village is clearly based on the map published in James Thacher's 1832 History of the Town of Plymouth (see below). No source for Bourne's map has yet been traced, so please advise us of any information you may have.


1832 Map of Plymouth Village 1832

Published in 1832 as a fold-out in James Thacher's History of the Town of Plymouth, from its First Settlement in 1620, to the year 1832 (Marsh, Capen & Lyon, 1832). Scale: 50 rods to an inch.


1846 A Map of Plymouth Village, 1846

An update and expansion of the 1832 Thacher map, but we have not yet traced the original place of publication for the 1846 map. Scale: 50 rods to an inch. A lithographic copy was inserted in William S. Russell's Pilgrim Memorials, and Guide to Plymouth (Boston: Crosby & Nichols, 1864). Additions to the 1846 version include an expansion of the References A-P from the 1830 map to include A through W, and a new 22 entries under References to Streets, &c.


1879 Village of Plymouth, Mass. Scale 500 feet to 1 inch. Plymouth County Atlas, 1879



1883 Map of the Mile and a Half Tract of Plymouth Mss in 1701. Population about 600.

Drawn by C.H. Holmes, Plymouth, this map was published in William T. Davis, Ancient Landmarks of Plymouth (Boston: Williams, 1883). The map is the result of Davis's extensive knowledge of the titles to estates in Plymouth that he details in Part I of this two-part volume. He states in the preface to Ancient Landmarks that "The map of Plymouth in 1701 is the result of the author's investigations. It exhibits the streets and ways existing at or near that time, with the houses of about two-thirds of the inhabitanats, and the names of their occupants within what was called the mile-and-a-half tract." He does not give any sources for the population figure of 600 that he cites, but it corresponds closely enough to that of Plymouth in 1690, some 775 according to figures from Evarts B. Greene and Virginia D. Harrington's American Population Before the Federal Census of 1790 (New York, 1932). There is a key on the map to the property location of many of the early residents of Plymouth, including John Rickard, John Barnes, James Cole., JR., John Atwood, as well as sites such as the prison and grist mill.


Twentieth century


1620 Map of Part of Cape Cod showing the routes taken by the English settlers in 1620 when they sent out exploring expeditions from the Mayflower in search of a suitable area in which to establish their plantation.


Drawn by Erwin Raisz for Samuel B. Morison's edition of William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 (New York: Knopf, 1952), p. 67.


Reprinted in Deetz and Deetz, The Times of Their Lives, p. 40.


1620-50 Map of Plymouth Bay 1620-1650. Soundings and channels from chart in The Atlantic Neptune, 1780. Land data from U.S. Geological Surveys 1853-1934.


Drawn by Erwin Raisz for Samuel B. Morison's edition of William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 (New York: Knopf, 1952), p. 91. Shows Town Brook and Billington Sea which do not appear as clearly on any other map listed in this collection.


1620-50 Map of The Colony of New Plymouth, Commonly known as "The Plymouth Plantation" 1620-1650 with Adjacent Settlements.

Drawn by Erwin Raisz for Samuel B. Morison's edition of William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 (New York: Knopf, 1952), pp. 306-07.


Reprinted in Deetz and Deetz, The Times of Their Lives, p. 76.


1690 Approximate Boundaries of Towns in Plymouth Colony about 1690.

This map forms the end papers to the Plymouth Colony Probate Guide: Where to find Wills and Related Data For 800 People of Plymouth Colony 1620-1691, compiled by Ruth Wilder Sherman and Robert S. Wakefield (Warwick, RI: Plymouth Colony Research Group, 1983).


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Patricia Scott Deetz and Christopher Fennell