“The Country round Trichinopoly with the Camps and Marches of the English and French Troops in 1753 and 1754” By Thomas Jefferys

TrichinopolyThis map from Richard Owen Cambridge’s An Account of the War in India Between the English and French on the Coast of Coromandel From the Year 1750 to the Year 1760 shows encampments of French and British forces around the city of Trichinopoly, a central battleground in the Karnatic Wars in mid-eighteenth century India. Jeffreys, who was the official geographer to the British King George III, was not only a mapmaker but also a commercial printer and engraver, perhaps best known for his work documenting British imperial claims in North America during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). Cambridge’s Account set out to familiarize the British public with the geography and strategic importance of Indian empire in this global Anglo-French conflict; this competition even extended to his opinion of French written accounts of India, contrasting his “authentic” description with their versions he argued were “partial” and misleading.

Richard Owen Cambridge And Thomas Jeffreys

Richard Owen Cambridge was a writer, born in London in 1717. While he holds the authorship for the history written with Jeffrey’s map Trichinopoly, it is, at best, a compilation of several other writer’s works. The history was written during his foray into history writing as opposed to his typical essays and poems, all were less than successful. Although he is the author of the book that contains the map, emphasis is better placed on Thomas Jeffreys, the map engraver. He was named official geographer to King George III; however, that is just one of many honors attributed to Jeffreys. One his largest contributions to geographic knowledge of the period was his work with large-scale county mapping. This expensive venture eventually found him in bankruptcy, but he would still be known as “the leading map supplier of his day he was a principal figure in the emergence of London as an international center of cartographic enterprise.”

 War in India

The Seven Years’ War interaction on the Indian subcontinent between 1757 and 1763 was known as the Third Carnatic War in that theatre. The Carnatic Wars were a series of conflicts that often involved the British and French East India Companies,  along with native Indian principalities, struggling for territory and succession. The Third of these interactions resulted at the outbreak of the Seven Years War. While their were multiple interactions throughout India, including in the French settlement of what is now Chandannagar, which was eventually taken by the British, the war was won in the south, like in Trichinopoly. The city was under siege between 1751-1752, but remained in the hands of the British after the surrender of Chanda Sahib’s French-supported army. The British would maintain control of the area as depicted in Jeffreys map. The map was used to forward an image of British control in India to the population back in England, especially to the readers of the Weekly Dispatch, which would later come to be know by its more recognizable title, The Sunday Dispatch.

Further Reading

Sambrook, James. ‘Cambridge, Richard Owen (1717–1802)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/4430, accessed 29 Sept 2013]

St. John, Ian. “The Making of the Raj: India Under the East India Company.” Praeger. 2011.

Worms,Laurence. ‘Jefferys, Thomas (c.1719–1771)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/14696, accessed 29 Sept 2013]

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