“To fill up time I have begun a Survey of Charlestown”: Henry Pelham’s map of 1775 Boston

The map shown here is a 1907 facsimile of one drawn by Henry Pelham in 1775 and published in England in 1777 depicting Boston and its surrounding areas in the early days of the American Revolution. The original map was one of the earliest gifts to the MHS, presented in 1791 by William Tudor.

A Loyalist in Revolutionary Boston

In 1914, the Massachusetts Historical Society published a remarkable cache of letters between Henry Pelham, his step-brother artist John Singleton Copley and sister-in-law Susanna Copley in London, and others in their circle of friends. The letters not only provide insight into the artistic careers of both Copley and Pelham, but provide an insider’s look at life in Revolutionary Boston from the Loyalist perspective. Letters between the brothers crisscrossed the Atlantic, detailing the escalating conflict between the colonies and their mother country (at least until Pelham figured out his mail was being opened and read). Pelham and others in his circle were staunch Loyalists, a stance that would eventually jeopardize his livelihood and force him to abandon his birthplace. In a 1774 letter, Pelham describes stopping at a tavern in Springfield, Mass., where he and his friends were outed as Tories

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Archive of Monthly Objects

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