The Dumaresq Map

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The Dumaresq Map

This article by John Tessier-Yandell was first published in the 1978 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

This map was reproduced by the Royal Geographical Society in 1971, and the circumstances attendant upon its reappearance are of interest.

The original map was drawn on vellum from a Survey by Phillippe Dumaresq, Seigneur of Samares, in which manor he was born in 1637. Phillippe's early life was eventful; he and his mother, Marguerite Herault, were by consequence of his father Henri's Parliamentary sympathies, banished from Jersey to France when he was 14, and it is possible that he served in Cromwell's Navy.

Royal petition

In 1660 after the Restoration he petitioned the King for the "taking off of the confiscation of the Manor and Seignury of Samares". His petition was granted and he did homage in December of that year.

His principal hobby was gardening, he was also that type of man who entered with zest into litigation. However despite his other activities he found time to conduct a comprehensive survey of the Island and eventually produced the most accurate map drawn to that time. FaIle pronounced it "equally calculated for a Sea Chart or a Land Map". The original vellum shows the demarcation of the Parishes and the Vingtaines, giving the number of houses in each. It also names not only the bays but also the rocks and shoals around the coast, thereby justifying Falle's description.

This map, together with his manuscript Survey of the Island of Jersey, Being an Account of the Situation, Soyle, Inhabitants, Fortifications, Landing Places, Rocks and Tides about the same, was presented to King James II on his accession in 1685. He estimated the population at that time as 15,000. He was critical of the value of Mont Orgueil as a Fortress and recommended the strengthening of Elizabeth Castle, including the demolition, fortunately not carried out, of l'Hermitage. He had by this time overcome his Cromwellian sympathies and his description and comments on the tides, currents, rocks, shoals and marks around the Island, indicating the vulnerable landing places were of particular value. These were later brought to the attention of Philippe d'Auvergne, Duc de Bouillon, during the Napoleonic Wars. His "Survey" was published by La Société in 1935.

The original vellum was redrawn on a smaller scale and engraved on copper by Thomas Lempriere "Philomat", also of Jersey, and first printed in 1694 "for John Newton at the Three Pigeons over against the Inner Temple Gate in Fleet Street". The size of this smaller verison is 18 in. x 14½ in. and there is therefore less detail than on the larger vellum. It is the 1694 version that was included in An Account of the Isle of Jersey by Philippe Falle, Rector of St Saviour. For the second edition of this book, published in 1734, certain changes were made to the plate. In the title Their MAJESTIES Ifland of Jersey was altered to His Majesties, the inscription of origin under the map relating to John Newton was removed, symbols indicating the appearance of the major rocks at various states of tide were placed beside the scale, and depth soundings and anchorages indicated in the sand banks. These alterations are clearly recognisable on the plate, but not on the republication of 1971, which is in colour and is an extremely attractive little map which fortunately is still available from La Société at a very reasonable price.

Quite how or when the plate came into the possession of the Royal Geographical Society is not known. An unknown artist used the reverse as the base for a portrait of a woman - also unknown - and in this state it was stored for many years in the Society's picture collection at Kensington Gore until its original purpose was rediscovered by chance and its re-issue put in hand.

The map publishers, John Bartholomew and Son in Scotland, who still had engravers on their staff, were entrusted with the preparation of the plate, which had not been used for printing for over 200 years. It was found that when last used the ink had never been cleaned off and as a result the fresh ink would not print satisfactorily. The old ink was in fact as hard as cement and would not yield to any cleansing agents. The engraver eventually worked it out with his tools in reverse to avoid damage. A very satisfactory impression was pulled and from this a lithograph plate was made. The specimen of the map in the National Library of Scotland was used as a guide for the colours.

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