This fascinating sea chart represents the first printed map to focus on Bombay (Mumbai) and captures the city and its vicinity from an easterly perspective. It depicts the English colony as it appeared around 1680, following a period of explosive economic and population growth, which brought Bombay to prominence for the first time. It is based on a manuscript chart drafted by the Thames School of cartographers, a group of chartmakers who operated in London, and who relied on a sketch brought back from India. The manuscript chart was then engraved by John Thornton, the official hydrographer to the English East India Company.
In 1661, the Island of Bombay was given to England as part of the dowry for the Portuguese Infanta Catherine of Braganza’s marriage to Charles II. Bombay was leased in 1668 to the East India Company. The adjacent ‘Sallset Island’ (Salsette) remained under the control of Portugal, while the mainland was technically under Mughal rule. ‘Bombay Towne & Castle’, marking the centre of the city, was the residence of the EIC governor. ‘Mazagoem’ (Mazagaon Fort) represents a fortification that existed from 1680 to 1690, built to guard the landward approaches to the city.
Intended to be a working sea chart, the harbour features nautical information, including bathymetric soundings, the locations of hazards and fishing stakes. The map labels a number of centers that were important to European trade in the region. In the Ganges Delta these include ‘Cassimbazar’ (Kasimbazar), ‘Dacca’ (Dhaka, Bangladesh) and ‘Hulgly’ (Hooghly-Chinsura). Notably, Calcutta does not appear on the map, as it would not be founded until 1690.