Manuscript map of Maine, 1761

Contributed by Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education


This map indicates county boundaries and the boundary line between "the New Hampshire province & that part of the Massachusetts which was call'd the province Main N.2 W. true course."

Handwritten dedication: "To His Excellency Francis Bernard, Esqr., Capt. Genl. and Gouvernour in Chief in and over His Majesty's province of Massachusetts Bay in New England, Sir please favourably to accept this map of the countys of York, Cumberland & Lincoln taken from the best authorities by Your Excellenceys most obedt. and very humble servt. John Small. Scarborough, April 30, 1761."

Continuing warfare between the British, French, and indigenous populations severely weakened the Wabanaki to the point where they could no longer resist the region’s colonization. They progressively surrendered land in return for trade concessions as the English kept pushing along the coast and up the major valleys. English encroachment from the south intensified when New France fell in 1759 and removed the threat of French support for the Wabanaki.

The Massachusetts Bay authorities understood and arranged the new settlement in an apparently neat territorial hierarchy, shown in this map made by John Small in 1761 for the governor, Sir Francis Bernard. English settlement was organized in towns, shown by Small in red, that were allotted either by large land holders (such as the so-called Kennebec Proprietors) or directly by the provincial authorities. The towns were grouped by three administrative counties: the original county of York from which Cumberland and Lincoln counties were formed in 1760. Each country was defined as a stretch of coast between major rivers with an abstract, interior extension.

In reality, there were plenty of people who lived outside of this neat hierarchy, especially French settlers in the north, recent Irish immigrants, and of course the Wabanaki themselves (shown with clumps of triangles). English settlement required the prior agreement of local Wabanaki when they were able to assert their authority. On the ground, colonial settlement entailed extensive negotiations. On the map, the tool by which the English organized and comprehended the land, the Wabanaki were intentionally mapped out.

In 1775, Massachusetts Bay authorities resolved, in return for the Penobscots’ loyalty during the Revolution, to forbid trespassing on Penobscot lands within a band, six miles to either side of the Penobscot River, beginning at the head of the tide. However, the new Commonwealth of Massachusetts soon asserted that the Penobscot had implicitly agreed that their lands comprised only that band along the river. So began a rapid process that pushed the Penobscot from their land and opened it up to American settlement.

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About This Item

  • Title: Manuscript map of Maine, 1761
  • Creator: John Small
  • Creation Date: 1761
  • Subject Date: 1761
  • Location: ME
  • Media: Ink on paper
  • Dimensions: 76 cm x 98 cm
  • Local Code: 42889 (OS-1761-10)
  • Collection: Osher Sheet Map Collection
  • Object Type: Image

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For more information about this item, contact:

Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education
University of Southern Maine, Glickman Library, PO Box 9300, Portland, ME 04014
(207) 780-4850

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