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Gallery Exhibit, Catalog No. 77 and 77a

Robert Tindall’s Chart of the James and York Rivers, 1608
Ms. chart of the James and York rivers, “The Draught of Virginia by Robarte Tindall. Anno 1608.” Original held by the British Museum.
   First engraved in 1890 as item XLVI in volume 1 of Alexander Brown’s The Genesis of the United States.
   Although Brown’s printed reproduction (as a two-page spread) is large enough that it is possible to read the chart’s lettering (see enlarged 6600 x 3612 pixel JPG image), it is not of the highest quality, since it lacks the proper overlap at its center. This is not a case where some of the map’s information has been obscured by the book’s binding, but a case of two halves not aligning properly in the center. For example, the missing letter in the callout for “Prince H_nneri his River” is not simply obscured by the binding; the “e” is not there at all in the printed copy I worked from. I regret this distortion in the image, but my digitization is true to the original; I have reproduced the chart exactly as it’s printed in Brown.
View an enlarged 6600 x 3612 pixel JPG image (1.1MB)
Alternate reproduction in color of “The draughte by Robarte Tindall of virginia,” 1608. (Original in London, British Museum, Cotton Ms. Aug. I.ii.46.)
   Repr. as Fig. 282 (p. 237) in The Discovery of North America, by William P. Cumming, R. A. Skelton, and D. B. Quinn.
   While this reproduction is too small to make out the chart’s lettering (cf. enlarged 2300 x 1284 pixel JPG image), it does show the complete area in the center of the chart which is obscured by the binding in Brown’s monochrome reproduction.
View an enlarged 2300 x 1284 pixel JPG image (685KB)

IN RESPONSE TO CONTINUING QUESTIONS concerning the sources — English, Dutch, French, and Native American — of the 1610/11 map of North America (aka the “Velasco Map”), I include here Tindall’s 1608 chart of the James and York rivers.

Alexander Brown speculates that Tindall’s chart was one of the documents brought to England in May 1608 by Captain Newport, who was accompanied on this return journey from Virginia by Captains Edward-Maria Wingfield and Gabriel Archer.

We don’t know much about Robert Tindall (also Tyndall), other than that he was employed “making surveys, drawing maps, etc., for the [Virginia] company from the beginning” (Brown, I:461). We know of three voyages Tindall made to Virginia: the first voyage, from 19 December 1606 to about January 1609; the second, from May to November 1609; and the third, from April 1610 to June 1611. The following year, Tindall incorporated with the Third Virginia Charter of 12 March 1612, paying his subscription (of unknown amount), and in so doing, taking a bill of adventure. “No one was admitted to share in the Virginia colony for a less sum than £12 10s. This amount finally entitled the payer to a share of not less than 100 acres in Virginia.” (Brown, II:549n2)

Before becoming an official Virginia “adventurer” (investor), Robert Tindall was one of the first English “dyscovererers” of the country. He accompanyed Captain Newport on the first English exploration of the area around the James River falls (now Richmond, VA) in May 1607. Captain Gabriel Archer’s interesting account of their expedition, A relatyon of the Discovery of our River, from James Forte into the Maine; made by Captaine Christofer Newport, lists a “Robert Tyndall” in the group of 24 men, under the category “Maryners.”

Tindall kept a journal of their expedition to The Falls (“where never Christian before hathe beene”) and made a drawing “of our River,” both of which he enclosed in a letter to Prince Henry, postmarked “From James Towne in Virginia this: 22 of June 1607.” and signed “Tindall his H.[ighness’] Gunner — from Virginia.” Unfortunately, while the letter survives, both its enclosures are now lost, making it impossible to know if or how much the later Draught by Roberte Tindall of virginia. Anno 1608. differed from his 1607 drawing of the James River.

Tindall is next mentioned in a letter by Captain Archer, postmarked from Virginia, 31 August 1609. This letter of Archer’s tells of the harrowing May 1609 journey to Virginia of a fleet of seven ships, one of which was carrying the governors Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George Summers, along with Captain Newport. The English fleet encountered “a most terrible and vehement” hurricane (“which endured fortie foure houres in extremetie”) in the “Gulfe of Bahoma,” and sustained heavy damage. The seven ships were separated, and only four of the seven ships reunited and “fell into the King’s River haply the eleventh of August.” Archer was on The Blessing, one of the four ships that made it to port on the 11th; Gates, Summers, and Captain Newport were on The Sea Adventure, one of the three missing ships feared lost at sea. In his letter, Archer states:

When wee came to James Towne, we found a Ship which had bin there in the River a moneth before we came. This was sent out of England by our Counsels leave and authority, to fish for Sturgeon; and to goe the ready way, without tracing through the Torrid Zoan, and shee performed it: her Commander was Captaine Argoll (a good Marriner, and a very civill Gentleman) and her Master one Robert Tindall.

(repr. in Arber’s ed. of Smith’s Works, I:xcvi)

Archer goes on to describe the growing discontent and factions at Jamestown resulting from Smith’s presidency and the colony’s lack of a governor (“Perhaps you shall have it blazoned a mutenie by such as retaine old malice”); and Captain John Smith would, of course, counter with his very different version of events in later Virginia publications. Of note, one curious difference between Smith’s account of events and those of his critics concerns Tindall himself. According to Smith’s published account in 1624, the master’s name of the ship in the James River was Thomas Sedan, not Tindall:

But whilst this businesse was in hand, Arrived [10 July 1609] one Captaine Argall, and Master Thomas Sedan, sent by Master Cornelius to truck with the Colony, and fish for Sturgeon, with a ship well furnished with wine and much other good provision. Though it was not sent us, our necessities was such as inforced us to take it. He brought us newes of a great supply and preparation for the Lord La Warre, with letters that much taxed our President [i.e., Smith himself] for his hard dealing with the Salvages, and not returning the shippes fraughted. Notwithstanding we kept this ship till the fleete arriued [11–18 August 1609]. True it is Argall lost his voyage, but we revictualled him, and sent him for England, with a true relation of the causes of our defailments, and how imposible it was to returne that wealth they expected, or observe the[i]re instructions to indure the Salvages insolencies, or doe any thing to any purpose, except they would send us men and meanes that could produce that they so much desired: otherwise all they did was lost, and could not but come to confusion.

(Smith, The Third Booke of
The Generall Historie of Virginia,
New England, & the Summer
, p. 88)

Smith was certainly wrong about Sedan, and Alexander Brown has suggested that Smith was here (and elsewhere) deliberately deflecting attention from one whom he perceived as a competitor.

Smith, for some reason, avoids mentioning Robert Tindall, who made the first maps of Virginia.

(Brown, I:330n1)

Archer’s original letter was censored for printing in 1625 by Samuel Purchas, who included excerpts from it in vol. 4 of Purchas his Pilgrimes, pp. 1733–4. Purchas, who sided with Smith in the controversy over his presidency, simply suppressed the statements of Smith’s opponents (“Some things partly, false rumors, partly factious suggestions, are here left out,” Purchas writes in the margin). Tindall’s name was not suppressed, though, since it was part of Archer’s dramatic narrative about the “Terrible tempest” and “Sicknesse and mortalitie at Sea,” which storyline appealed to Purchas and his audience.

We next find Tindall’s name turning up in documents from 1610. In June of that year, he was sent on a fishing expedition in the Chesapeake Bay. This was not a planned survey of the environment, but a mission of life and death, since the Jamestown colonists were then threatened by famine, with no relief in sight. As the Council of Virginia reported home to the Virginia Company in London:

... because at our first coming we found in our owne river no store of fish after many tryalls, we dispatched with instructions the 17. of June [1610], Robert Tindall, master of the De la Warr, to fish unto all along and betweene Cape Henry and Cape Charles within the bay, who the last of the same [i.e., 30 June 1610] returned unto us againe; but mett with so small a quantitie and store of fish, as he scarce tooke so much as served the company that he caried forth with him. Nor were we in the meane while idle at the forte, but every day and night we hayled out nett sometimes a dozen times one after another, but it pleased not God so to bless our labours, that we should at any time take one quarter so much as would give unto our people one pound at a meale a peice (by which we might have better husbanded and spared our peas and oatmeale), notwithstanding the greate store we now saw dayly in our river.

(repr. in Brown, I:408–9)

Despite the desperate straights he and his crew were in, it’s hard to imagine that Tindall didn’t continue documenting the Virginia coastline, even on this expedition.

Tindall’s name turns up again that year in Francis Maguel’s Report on Virginia made to the Spanish council of state in July 1610:

For the same reason [i.e., espionage] they have tried in that Fort of theirs at Jamestown an English Captain, a Catholic, called Captain Tindol, because they [learned/knew] that he had tried to get to Spain, in order to reveal to His Majesty all about this country and many plans of the English, which he knew, but which the Narrator [Maguel] does not know.

(repr. in Brown, I:399)

Brown believes that Maguel’s “Captain Tindol” must have been Captain Robert Tindall; however,

It seems certain that Maguel was mistaken about his being a Roman Catholic, as at the time Maguel was writing (July, 1610) Tindall was still actively employed in Virginia.

(Brown, II:1035)

Brown also suspects a further mix-up in Maguel’s intelligence concerning Tindall’s catholicism. As Tindall

was in the employ of Henry, Prince of Wales, I doubt his being a Catholic. The Irishman [Maguel] may have gotten him confused with Captain Wingfield.

(Brown, I:399n1)

I believe Brown is right. Captain Edward-Maria Wingfield (who returned to England on the same ship as Tindall’s chart)

was elected, May 14, 1607, the first president of the first council in the first English colony in America. “There were never Englishman left in a forreigne Countrye in such miserie as wee were in this new-discovered Virginia.” They were assailed by pestilence and famine. Wingfield was blamed for what he could not prevent, and was made a scapegoat by the other members of the council, who deposed him, not only from the presidency, but from the council also, September 10, 1607. He left Virginia April 10, and arrived in England May 21, 1608....

He was a man of age (probably near fifty) and long experience in the wars when he went to Virginia, and was presumably thought to be better qualified for the position to which he was elected than any other one of the colonists ... but in the midst of the terrible misfortunes which assailed the colonists, the serious charges were brought against him by his opponents: that he was a Catholic, that he did not bring a Bible with him, that he conspired with the Spaniards to destroy Virginia, etc. He was of a Catholic family — Cardinal Pole and Queen Mary were sponsors for his father — and such charges brought against him under such circumstances necessarily destroyed every prospect of his usefulness in a colony being established especially in the interests of Protestantism, directly antagonistic to Romanism.

(Brown, II:1055)

It would seem that Maguel mistakenly fused Tindall’s person and Wingfield’s experiences in his character of “Captain Tindol.”

Spanish intelligence concerning what the English were up to in Virginia was often erroneous. And we must bear this in mind whenever we cite “facts” and interpretive statements in letters by the Spanish ambassadors Zuñiga, Velasco, and Gondomar as historical evidence. For example, Velasco’s explanation in a letter of 22 March 1611 concerning the origins of the “Velasco Map” is not necessarily the complete or correct story:

This King [James I] sent last year a surveyor to survey that Province, and he returned here about three months ago and presented to him [King James] a plan or map of all that he could discover, a copy of which I send Y[our]. M[ajesty]....

Brown has noted that the ship referred to here in which James I’s surveyor returned was The Dainty, arriving in England in December 1610.

Since Tindall was still then in Virginia (he didn’t return to England until June 1611), it would seem that Brown is wrong to think that Tindall may have “compiled and drawn” the Velasco Map:

I am inclined to think that the map was compiled and drawn either by Robert Tyndall or by Captain Powell. However, I cannot be certain. The names of places on this map [the “Velasco Map”] are sometimes different from those on Tyndall’s Chart, and when the names are the same they are generally spelled differently. While I do not know positively that either Tyndall or Powell was the draughtsman, it is certain that the Virginia Company of London, from the beginning, employed competent surveyors and posted themselves as rapidly as possible regarding the cartography of the country; but it was highly important that they should preserve the fruits of their labor in this kind for their own use, and they did so as far as they were able.

(Brown, I:458)

But it is not impossible that Tindall may have “compiled and drawn” the Velasco Map while in Virginia, and sent it home with James I’s surveyor in the final months of 1610. Whoever actually drew up the Velasco Map, its content was no doubt a collaborative effort, as Brown points out:

I think the map evidently embodies (besides the surveys of Champlain and other foreigners) the English surveys of White, Gosnold, Weymouth, Pring, Hudson, Argall, and Tyndall, and possibly others. Strachey, referring to Argall’s voyage of June to August, 1610, says he “made good, from 44 degrees, what Captayne Bartho. Gosnoll and Captayne Waymouth wanted in their discoveries, observing all along the coast, and drawing the plotts thereof, as he steered homewardes, unto our bay.”

Purchas (vol. iii. p. 590), in a side-note to the narrative of Hudson’s voyage along our Coast in August, 1609, says, “This agreeth with Robert Tyndall.” Tyndall made a plan of James River for the Prince of Wales in 1607, which is now probably lost. He made a chart of James and York rivers in 1608, which I have given. He was not in Argall’s voyage, June to August, 1610, because from June 17 to 30 he was employed in the Chesapeake; but he was probably afterwards with Argall while trading in the Bay, the Potomac, etc.

(Brown, I:457–8)

BROWN DOESN’T HAVE MUCH TO SAY about Tindall’s 1608 chart of the James River; his commentary (see below) is unusally brief. I also give below the short commentary on Tindall’s chart from Cumming, Skelton & Quinn.

There are 21 toponyms given on Tindall’s chart. As near as I can make out from the handwriting and archaic spelling, these read (from left to right):

its tributaries and connections
(alternatives: Powhatan River, King’s River)

  J1   Cape Henneri    
  J2   King James his River    
  J3   Cape Comforte    
  J4   Nallamonge   village
  J5   Chechotanke   village
  J6   Ores Reyek   village
  J7   Tindalls shouldes    
  J8   James Towne    
  J9   Puskoheagh   village
  J10   Tapahunna   village
  J11   Wynagh   village
  J12   Pamonke   village
  J13   [gu? or qu?] __ne of Mullisa   village
  J14   Arahalleak   village
  J15   Poetan   village

on the YORK RIVER,
its tributaries and connections
(alternatives: Pamunkey River, Prince’s River)

  Y1   Prince Henneri his River    
  Y2   Newportes poynte    
  Y3   Tendales fronte    
  Y4   Chesc___yok   village
  Y5   Poetan   village
  Y6   Pamenke   village

Thirteen of the callouts — nos. J4, J5, J6, J9, J10, J11, J12, J13, J14, J15, Y4, Y5, and Y6 — are for Indian villages (indicated by the little sign for Indian huts or dwellings). Some of the tribal placenames given by Tindall are easily translatable to their more familiar variants (such as “Pamonke” and “Pamenke” for Pamunkey, “Arahalleak” for Arrohateck, and “Poetan” for Powhatan); others are more obscure, such as the callout at J13, which I still can’t make out, and at first interpreted as a reference to the seat of the “queen” of the Appamattucks, but having never before seen her territory or tribe linked with “Mullisa,” I continue to be puzzled by this.

Another open question concerning Tindall’s callouts is prompted by the claim of Cumming, Skelton & Quinn (see below) that “Below and to the north” of the James River “are ‘Prince Henneri His River’ and ‘Mobjack Bay.’” I can find no evidence of any callout for Mobjack Bay on either copy of Tindall’s chart.

Also of note concerning the chart’s callouts, Tindall appears to have made the usual show of “discoverer’s” vanity with at least one, and possibly two, eponyms: “Tindalls shouldes” (J7) and “Tendales fronte” (Y3).

And finally, Fite and Freeman make the following observation about similarities in Tindall’s 1608 Chart, the “Velasco Map” of 1610/11, and Smith’s published Map of Virginia (1612 and 1624):

Jamestowne, on the Powhaton, thirty-eight miles from the sea, is almost an island on Smith’s map as on that of Robert Tyndall of 1608 and on the Simancas map of 1610. Today, it is an island.

(Fite & Freeman, A Book of Old Maps 119)

Changes in nomenclature cause Fite and Freeman to question Brown’s claim that Smith’s Map of Virginia is based on the earlier Velasco Map.

On the other hand, the occurrence of Cape Henry and Cape Charles on a map of 1610, and of ‘Cape Henneri’ on that of Robert Tindall in 1608, tends to overthrow Smith’s statement that he is the author of these geographical terms, his compliment to royalty.

(Fite & Freeman, A Book of Old Maps 109)

Perhaps this explains Smith’s conspicuous silence on all matters having to do with Robert Tindall, his “discoveries,” and his charts.

Alexander Brown’s Commentary on Tindall’s 1608 chart of the James & York Rivers

Item XLVI, “Tindall’s Chart of James River”

(from Alexander Brown, The Genesis of the
United States
, i:151)

“I think this ‘Draught of Virginia by Robarte Tindall. Anno 1608,’ probably accompanied the ‘Large Journal of Newport’s Journie to Werowocomoco’ [now lost]. The York River and most of the James is evidently drawn from actual survey. ‘Werowocomoco,’ strangely enough, still bears its old name of ‘Poetan’ (i.e. Portan) Bay, although it has been frequently, if not always, located elsewhere. This ‘Draught of Virginia’ is the earliest drawn by an Englishman now known to be in existence. It has never been engraved before.”

Cumming, Skelton & Quinn’s Commentary on Tindall’s 1608 chart of James & York Rivers

Caption for Fig. 282

(from Cumming, Skelton & Quinn,
The Discovery of North America, p. 236)

“This, the first extant map of Virginia drawn by a Jamestown colonist, is of historical importance because it shows with an unusual degree of accuracy the location of Indian villages on the James and York Rivers observed on the expeditions of Captain Newport in the summer of 1607 and the spring of 1608. Tindall, a gunner in the service of Prince Henry, who was a patron of the Virginia Company, listed fourteen names on the James and five on the York on this now faded manuscript. He accompanied Newport.

“The west is at the top of the map, with the entrance to Chesapeake Bay and Cape Henry to the left. Near Cape Comfort at the mouth of ‘King James his River’ is the Indian settlement of Chechotanke (Kecoughtan); farther up the James is Jamestown, with its peninsula location, now an island, clearly indicated. Several Indian settlements are marked and named between Chickahominy River and Poetan (Powhatan) below the falls at the present site of Richmond. Below and to the north are ‘Prince Henneri His River’ and ‘Mobjack Bay’; at the head of the York River is the confluence of its two unnamed branches, Pamunkey and Mattaponi.”

Related Links

• more on Tindall and his 1608 Draught of Virginia (also on Captains Archer and Smith) in the GALLERY exhibit, The “Zuñiga Chart” of Virginia, 1608

• an IN BRIEF biography of the immensely popular and precocious Prince Henry, Tindall’s employer and a patron of the Virginia Company

• two more GALLERY exhibits with topographical maps of Amerindian Virginia at the time of contact: “Modern map of the Powhatan confederacy, 1916” and “Modern map of the Powhatan confederacy, 1994”

• a GALLERY exhibit on the 1610/11 map of North America, aka the “Velasco Map” (reproduced as item CLVIII in Brown)

• a GALLERY exhibit on Captain John Smith’s A Map of Virginia, pub. in 1612 and 1624

• a digital transcription of Captain Gabriel Archer’s 1607 A relatyon of the Discovery of our River, from Iames Forte into the Maine; made by Captaine Christofer Newport in the LIBRARY

• a digital transcription of “the report which the Irishman made touching Virginia” — Francis Maguel’s report of 1610 (reproduced as item CXXXI in Brown) — in the LIBRARY

• an IN BRIEF biography of Captain John Smith



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