A108 - Rhode Island and the Town of Newport
A unique, historic and significant Plan of Rhode Island. Drawn and signed by Charles Blaskowitz circa 1774-5. The town of Newport is drawn on the left as an inset, and Rhode Island and its environs on the right. The survey of Newport is undoubtedly the basis for Des Barres' later, 1776, plan of the town.
- Charles Blaskowitz
- h42" x w51"
When Samuel Holland was appointed Surveyor General of the Northern District of America in 1764, one of his first tasks was to assign a survey team to chart the coast of Rhode Island, no doubt to ascertain the suitability of the area of Newport as a harbor for ships of the British Navy.
The survey team was led by Charles Blaskowitz who, in the course of this work, is reputed to have also accepted a private commission by the local Rhode Island farmers at that time to create a map for their purposes. That this is indeed his original 1664 survey of the region is unlikely, simply because it includes the 4th Baptist Meeting house on it, which dates from 1770. It may still, however, be the survey upon which Blaskowitz, on a return visit to the area between 1774 and 1775, at the behest of the principle farmers and land-owners deliniated their property and added their names.
Engineers, surveyors and cartographers of the time, such as Charles Blaskowitz, were poorly rewarded by the government for their skills, so private commissions probably provided welcome additional income.
That this particular survey has been in the hands of the British Admiralty since it was drawn tells us that the information included on it was significant to the British Government and information such as who owned what was very much in line with the orders of Lords of the Board of Trade when they initiated the General Survey in the first place.
Along with the c1775 Plan of Rhode Island with the adjacent islands and coast of Narragansett Bay (see Heritage Chart A105), this chart was at the heart of both the well-known William Faden chart of 1777 (which credits Blaskowitz as the surveyor) as well as J.F.W. Des Barres' publication of the same, published in 1776 (see Heritage Charts A106).
The inset Plan of the Town of Newport on the left-hand side of the Plan is clearly used as the basis for later publications of the Plan of the Town of Newport by both Blaskowitz included in the Atlantic Neptune folio in 1777 (see Heritage Chart A103a). A derrivative was also published by London publisher William Faden in 1777).
Close inspection of the inset showing the town on the left-hand side of the plan reveals an intended extension of the town plan to the south (note the orientation of the town plan with North to the left). It is the same as the Des Barres version.
It should also be noted that Blaskowitz, along with a few of his colleagues were practicing Masons and the inclusion of meeting houses on their maps and plans as they surveyed the eastern seaboard were always a feature.
- Rhode Island and the Town of Newport with the country and islands adjacent