Cumberland Academy

Seutter’s Map of Novi Belgii

Engraving with watercolours, 1740

This map was engraved and first published in 1730, but its information for New England is derived from the famous Jansson-Visscher maps of New England first issued in 1651.

Mattaeus Seutter’s version is the first to show the boundaries of Massachusetts, New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania; but examination shows that the geographic information of interior locations is about a hundred years out-of-date, while the information for Plymouth Colony is about right for what was known in Europe ca. 1630.

A major feature of importance is the visual depiction of animals and of Native American houses, which, together with the names of Indian tribes, makes it possible to imagine the earliest settlers’ conception of the vast land and its inhabitants when they first began their villages along the coast. One can read “Patuxet at Neu Pleymont” on the spot where the Pilgrims first settled, giving us the Indigenous as well as the colonists’ name for the place. The map indicates names in German and in Latin, hence some repetition, like “Neu Niederland” and “Nova Belgica” (which does not refer to modern-day Belgium of course, but to the Roman name for the Low Countries).

Matthaeus Seutter was born in Augsburg in 1678. He was appointed Imperial Geographer in 1731 by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI. He died in 1757.

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