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Thomas Wheeler was one of Samuel Holland’s team of talented surveyors and draughtsman working as part of the team surveying the Canadian & North American coast, after 1763 as part of the General Survey. Unfortunately, for all the hugely valuable and important work known to have been completed by Wheeler over the course of the 15 years following the end of the French Indian War in 1763 very little is known about him.

The team included Thomas Wright, Charles Blaskowitz, George Sproule and James Grant. Every one of this team of surveyors and draughtsmen were capable of working on their own or in small collaborative groups. During this period, leading up to the War of Independence, Wheeler worked more often than not with James Grant. Together they produced a series of surveys down the Eastern seaboard from the mouth of the St.Lawrence River, St John's and Nova Scotia down through Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts under the direction of Samuel Holland. Several were adapted by J.F.W. Des Barres for inclusion in his folios of the Atlantic Neptune.

Between 1770 and 1774 the survey team including Wheeler was based in Portsmouth NH where Wheeler and Samuel Holland himself undertook a good deal of Survey work at the behest of Governor John Wentworth who personally (and financially) supported the survey effort as he recognised the value it brought to the State of New Hampshire.

In 1774 Wheeler was specifically charged by Holland with overseeing the surveying of the the land and coastline of Massachusetts between Boston and Plymouth.

His name appears consistently in the Muster Books of HMS Canceaux, the British survey vessel attached to the General Survey from the 16th June 1766 (Louisburg) near the outset of the Survey. He is not credited with a specific role, as were James Grant, Charles Blaskowitz and George Sproule who were accredited as Deputy Surveyors. The last entry for Wheeler in the muster book was in April 1776 as that of a Surveyor and Draughtsman with a servant - one Nathaniel Todd.

With the onset of war Wheeler was, along with Blaskowitz, Sproule and Grant, left in New York when Holland was recalled to London. He is recorded as being employed in the service of John Montresor as a draughtsman in June 1777 and then on the staff of General Sir William Howe as of the 11th June 1777. Wheeler produced a number if significant surveys and plans as the British Army pushed Washingtons army south through Philadelphia [1] and later in New York [2]

[1] A plan of the attacks against Fort Miflin on Mud Island which surrendered 16th, November 1777 to the Kings troops under the command of the honorable Sir William Howe K.B. general and commander in chief &c., &c. Library of Congress .G3824.P5:2F6S3 1777 .W5

[2] A Plan of the City of New York. 1778. Clinton Map 140.Brun 390.


Thomas Wheeler

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