History Center acquires extraordinary, rare map

Francis Drake’s Raid of St. Augustine, Baptista Boazio, ca. 1588, Touchton Map Library Collection, 2022.070.001
Francis Drake’s Raid of St. Augustine, Baptista Boazio, ca. 1588, Touchton Map Library Collection, 2022.070.001

The Tampa Bay History Center has recently acquired one of Florida’s oldest and most important maps. The map–the first map in history on which a U.S. city appears–was offered to the History Center’s Touchton Map Library by a prominent rare book and map dealer in London. The city is St. Augustine, and the map was likely printed in 1588. Due to its rarity, this map has never been offered during the 40 years of the creation and compilation of the Touchton map collection, and we do not believe another copy of the map is in Florida.

The map/view is one of four created by Baptista Boazio to chronicle Sir Francis Drake’s raids on Spanish possessions in the New World. Drake’s voyage began in late 1585 at the behest of England’s Queen Elizabeth I, who had granted Drake and his men letters of marque and gave him orders to harass the Spanish at every opportunity, with a focus on the Caribbean. Drake’s journey and subsequent attacks were quite effective at damaging Spain’s colonial possessions, including St. Augustine, which was his fourth and final assault on Spanish cities in the New World. Though serving on behalf of the queen, Drake was considered a privateer and was likely viewed as a pirate by the Spanish, who would not have recognized Drake’s quasi-official status.

The version of the map acquired by the History Center is likely the first edition of the map. A second (slightly larger) edition was printed in 1588 or 1589. That edition featured a few corrections, including redirecting the compass rose to point north (it points to the south in the first edition), changes to the key, and adding the “John White” dolphin.

The larger edition was also issued in full color. That copy, long thought to actually be the first state of the map, is often reproduced in books about early American history. Both states of the map are extremely rare, with fewer than 20 copies of either still extant today (including a copy of the larger, color version in the State Archives of Florida).

Drake’s raid occurred 31 years after St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés on behalf of the Spanish Crown. England’s Roanoke settlement (founded in 1585) had, unbeknownst to Drake, collapsed by this time. When he arrived at the colony following the attack on St. Augustine, he brought the failed settlement’s survivors back to England. The English colonies of Jamestown (1607) and Plymouth (1620) were still decades in the future.

The acquisition of the map was initiated by Tom Touchton, who also contributed to its purchase with Duncan and Jessica Belser, The Frank E. Duckwall Foundation, Celia and Jim Ferman, Adajean Samson (in honor of her grandchildren), The Saunders Foundation, The Dorothy Thomas Foundation, and an additional donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

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