1756 Chart of the Florida Keys
by Captain David Cutler Braddock


Using a combination of skills acquired during a maritime career on which he embarked at an early age as an apprentice on his father's boat, Captain David Cutler Braddock charted the vast area of lower Florida and the Keys onto vellum, a parchment made from calfskin, lambskin, or kidskin. The chart, on which he states he and four other vessels are from New Providence in the Bahamas, is in the Library of Congress in Washington. He was in the Keys as a privateer lying in wait for unsuspecting Spanish vessels heading home laden with Mexican treasures.

The full-size chart measures 23 " by 26". The accompanying snap shot does little justice to the two and a half centuries old chart's for the most part legible detail.   

As can be seen, the chart is oriented with south at the top.

The chart's title, authorship and date are declared on the first two horizontal lines nearest the tip of mainland-Florida:

Chart2.tif (66982 bytes)

The Coast of Florida from the dry Tortugas
To the old Cape by David Cutler Braddock, 1756

Not all geographical points on the chart are identified. Those which are identified are labeled with numbers. The numbers and associated names are listed after the above title.

Most names shown are still in use, some with slightly different spellings or English translations. Loo Key, named after the British man-of war that wrecked on it in 1744, is among those shown (Ironically, Braddock's father-in-law, noted colonial mariner Captain William Lyford Sr., served as pilot of the Loo in Carolina waters):

N1. Cabo Viejo 2.is Key Biscayne 3. broken land 4. Key Largo 5. a turtle Crawle 6 the Martieres 7 Rodrigo 8. Key Tabernere 9. Key Mata Cumba Baya 10. Agua Key 11. Lena Key 12. Key Franzois 13. Key Mata Comba Mosa 14. Bivora Culebras Key 15. Key Pata 16. Hijos the Caia Vacas 17 Key Sombrero 18. Bay Hunda 19. Key Arena 20. Boca Chica 21. double iland [sic] 22. Key Loo 23. Key West 24. Acca keys 25 Boca Grande 26. Key Aves 27. Key Marquis 28. dry Tortugas

Several anchorages are noted . . .

Harbors & Roads. At Kee Biscayne a vesel may anchor with safety the cours in N N W keep close to the spit & you carry in nine feet at high water . . . .you may anchor almost anywhere within the Matieres Reef, but if it blows hard & your vessel draws no more than seven feet at high water run into that opening of Largo where you may ride safe against all storms that ever blow after you are got into the Channel leading in which is near the Spanish C[?] there is water there far the largest Merchant Man . . . . . but if you draw more & you see a nor' wester coming up run to Kee Rodrigo under the shelter of the Key rode the Sloop Bahamian & Schooner two Brothers 1765 when it blew very fresh the ground is clay[?] a little before you come in this Kee is the most [?] [?] part of this coast, within the reef, not being more than fourteen feet water at low water

Kee Tavernere will afford the like shelter - - - - - Kee Francois will be very safe with the wind from N E to N W but if the wind is likely to chop about run into the Channel to the Eastward of this Kee & shelter from S E or S W . . . . . Kee Sombrero will make smooth riding with the wind from N E to N N W at the Bay of Hunda you will be covered from the winds at S E to S W but at N N W & westerly you are too much aposed[sic].

You may anchor at Boca Chica which requires a good look out - - - - - at Key West you are safe from N E to N W but if it comes from the S E weigh and run to the wester most of the Rocas within the point & a sand bank lying a quarter of a mile from the point the marks to carry you in is bring the nor' west Kee on the bank and a mangrove bush open with the point of the wester most Rocas giving the point of the Kee a birth for a reef that lyeth of the S E part of it when you have these points open you may haul up for the inner point of the Kee & run as far as you like up that Channel - - - - - you may anchor under the N W point of the Marquis When you make the Tortugas give the easter most Kees a good offing by hauling to the Southward and then run in with the arrows[arrows indicating the course are on the chart]. they are very low and sandy without even a tree.

There are a[sic] several good Channels through the Martieres & so there is to the South west of them.

. . . following which is a partially decipherable line:

Cape passage southward of Biscayne lies in Latt, 25:20 . . .

A scale line is at the bottom right of the chart, under which is written:

A Scale of Leagues

Capt Braddock 1756 in Company with four other vessels from new Providence in a gale of wind ran into the Southermost Channels then found three fathoms all the way in but on coming out had only nine feet from side to side which he supposeth owing to a shift of wind at that time. The soundings of the northermost part of the Bay our author is not acquainted with but saw Spanish vessels that fish for Mullet of the Havanna working there & that it looked like deep water.

Charlotte Harbor, the large inlet shown on Florida's west coast to the left of "Scale of Leagues," is identified as Boca Grande, Spanish for "large mouth," and is depicted in a larger scale than the rest of the chart, with the following explanation:

Boca Grande is not Northerly enough by four or five miles the reason of is very evident. The scale is just twice as long as the rest of the chart for Instance Two leagues of the chart is but one here.

Within the harbor is written:

Boca Grande

Latt. 27:10

On one of the several points of land in the harbor is written:

D. Comfort

On another that is labeled on modern maps as having Indian mounds is written:

Oyster bank

Written perpendicular between the tip of the Florida peninsula and the upper Keys is sounding information for that area:

From Biscayne to Vaca the Kees reach to the main out to the westward it is deep soundings. When the Spaniards come from Cuba to fish in the Bay of Applachia they fall in about Kee Oeste [West] & coast N. Easterly to the Vacas where they pass through for the Continent & again continue their coasting northerly.

South of the Keys from the above, also written perpendicular and in much smaller, partially legible writing, is a note about a good a fishing spot:

Capt. Edward Bunch says that at low water the large fish and Groopers become hemmed in by this reef of Key Arena as in a pond & that a boat will stop up the entrance as none can get out being open only on the . . .

At the top right, near the Dry Tortugas, is written:

The dry Tortugas ought to have been eleven leagues from Key Marquis which was owing to a want of room by a wrong calculation at setting out.

Written just inside the western coastline, near Carlos Bay is:

The Spaniards told Capt. Braddock that Bay Carlos was a very good harbour but can say nothing of his own knowledge.

A large anchor is drawn near the west tip of Key West. Latt. 25:28 is shown at the middle of Key Largo, and Latt 24:30 is shown at Dry Tortugas.

Two sections of information are recorded on the back of the chart. One describes sources of fresh water:

Watering Places At the S E point of Kee Biscayne is three wells near the seaside & about half a mile further northward is two wells more. At the South end of Mata Comba Baya near the white sandy beach At the N E end of Kee Mata Comba Mosa is two wells the path is about an hundred & fifty yards from the mangrove to the Southward & the well is about seventy yards in land. In roling the casks you cross a gulley which in many seasons will furnish good water At Kee Vaca is water at the Indian settlement on the starboard hind of the inlet The wells are about two hundred yards from the point of the entrance: the Indians have lived here a great while and it may be too dangerous to attempt it. Vessels cannot get within a mile of the inlet.

At the Bay of Hunda is several wells at the longest sandy bay. At the west end of Key West near the point is three wells At the dry Tortugas the water is salt There is water on Kee Largo but have not learned where.

The second section is an interpretation of some of the names used on the chart:

In the reference for Caia I have wrote the English of it, Kee, or Key, . . . . . Cabo Viejo is old Cape Biscayne a proper name. Largo is large Martieres Rodrigo is proper name Tabernero is Tavernkeeper Mata Comba Baya Agua is water Lena is wood Franzois is Frenchmen Mata comba Mosa Bivora Culebra a rattlesnake Vacas Cows Hijos the children Sombrero a hat Arena Sandy Boca Chica little mouth Loo where one of our men of war [several words here were obscured by a crease in the chart] Roca is rocks Boca Grande Large Mouth Aves birds Marquis Title Tortugas Turtle or Tortoise

Another chart he did, one of Tampa Bay, is mentioned in a book, A Concise Natural History of 
East and West Florida
, written in 1776 by naturalist Bernard Romans Romans had been a 
surveyor in Savannah earlier and probably was shown the chart  by David. The chart is thought 
to be no longer in existence. Romans wrote:

"The Harbour is made by a range of islands lying before it; the southernmost of which is called Long-Island; its North end is called Grant's point, in honor of governor Grant; the next lying about a mile North of it, is called Pollux Key; another about 1 mile to the N W b N of that is named Castor Key, in honor of two privateers, one of which was commanded by the late Capt. Braddock of Georgia: these two vessels cruized in those seas about the year 1744 or 1745; and Capt. Braddock was generally acknowledged the first Englishman who explored this bay. I have seen his original draught which (considering the circumstances under which it was taken) was pretty exact."

All of the above can be seen in Wooden Ships - Iron Men, a 300 page book by J. G. Braddock Sr. of the exploits of mariners of note David Cutler Braddock, David's son John Cutler Braddock, David's father-in-law, William Lyford Sr.. and David's brother-in-law William Lyford Jr.

J. G. Braddock's home page