Maps of New England in 1630

Captain John Smith, New England, 1614.(1)

After Masters Thomas Beecher and Peter Milbourne crossed the Atlantic Ocean, they probably referred to one of two maps; both published sixteen years earlier in 1614: one by Captain John Smith and one by Willem Blaeu.

In 1614, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, whom King James had appointed to oversee the colonization of the northern part of Virginia [today’s New England] commissioned Captain John Smith to survey “the Maine.” During that summer, Smith charted the coast from Penobscot Bay southwest to Cape Cod and created the map shown above. As you can see by a comparison to today’s map of the area, Smith was fairly accurate for his time. But the names he gave to the villages and rivers – all except Cape Elizabeth, Cape Ann, the Charles River, and Plimouth – were soon changed.

That same year, the Dutch commissioned Dutch explorer Adrian Block to survey the North American coastline, which he did. Cartographer Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638) of the firm Mercator and Hondius in Holland, whom we spoke of in the previous article, drew a map based on Block’s survey titled Nova Belgica et Anglia Nova [New Belgium and New England].

Willem Blaeu’s drawing of Adrian Block’s survey, Nova Belgica et Anglia Nova, 1614.(2

If we flip Blaeu’s chart so that north is at the top, it will look more familiar to you.

Blaeu’s chart is more extensive than Smith’s. It shows the coastline from just north of Penobscot Bay south to the entrance to the Bay of the Chesapeake. The Chesapeake had already been claimed by the English colonists in Jamestowne in 1607. By 1614, the Dutch claimed everything north of the Chesapeake to the west side of the Connecticut River [i.e. the south side of the Cape Cod peninsula]. By 1630, the English colonists in Plymouth were in a tug of war with the Dutch over the fishing rights around and south of Cape Cod. Governors John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and William Bradford of Plimouth Colony will have their hands full sorting things out. But that will occur after the time period covered by this web book.

Explorer Adrian Block was credited with reporting that both Long Island and Manhattan were islands, not peninsulas as Henry Hudson had claimed in 1610. Willem Blaeu labeled Long Island Matouwacs after the Indians living there. [Long Island did not get its current name until it appeared on Dutch maps as Lange Eylandt in the 1650s.](3) Blaeu labeled Manhattan Manatthans. [Earlier maps used the French name Angouleƒme.] Blaeu gave Adriaen Block Eylandt [Block Island] the name it has today. He shows Virginia firmly claimed for the English.

Willem Blaeu placed the label Norembega north-east of the Penobscot River and within Novæ Franciæ Pars [New France Partial], giving the mythical place to France. [That was a bone of contention between the French and the English.] The Atlantic is named Mar del Nort. The Hudson River is named the North River [Noord Rivier], on which was stationed the Dutch Fort Orange, where Albany, New York, was later located. Tiny illustrations introduce us to some of the fury creatures that would provide an income for the Dutch for the next half century.

Here is a close up of Willem Blaeu’s Niev Engeland [New England].

Remember, this was drawn six years before the Mayflower arrived to Cape Cod Bay in 1620. The Iroquois Indians reported to the Europeans that there was a huge lake to the west that could be reached by traveling north on the Kennebec River, which Blaeu labeled with the French spelling Quinebequi. That report confused the Europeans who thought the large body of water was the Pacific Ocean. Blaeu labeled the body of water Lacus Irocoisieusis or Lake of the Iroquois. The lake was later named Lake Champlain.

This contemporary map shows English settlement of New England up to the time John Winthrop’s fleet departed from Southampton Harbour.

Next article: The Importance of the Atlantic Islands to Winthrop’s Voyage


  1. Smith, John. New England. Included in Samuel Purchas’ Purchas His Pilgrims: or Relations of the World and the Religions observed in all Ages and Places discovered, from the Creation unto this Present, London, England, 1614.{{PD-1923}} Map published before 1923, in the public domain in the USA and UK. []
  2. Blaeu, Willem. Nova Belgica et Anglia Nova. Printed in Holland, 1614. {{PD-Old}} Public domain in both USA and Holland. []
  3. According to