Chester County Pa, Isaac Taylor, 1703. Pen, ink & watercolor on laid paper exhibiting the upper half of a “Pro Patria” watermark. Signed and dated by Taylor, 6.5” x 8”. Fine condition overall.
On the 8th day of the 4th month, 1697, George Willard executed a deed for 500 acres of land lying in Willis-town Township to Peter Thomas, which 500 acres was one-third of 1,500 acres of land formerly surveyed and laid out by the order of the Governor, William Penn, for Thomas Brassie. This 500-acre tract was described in the deed as follows: "Beginning at a marked red oak, being the comer mark of Francis Yarnell's land; from thence north-north-west 166 perches to a corner post; thence east-north-east to a corner chestnut standing by Crum Creek's side; from thence down the several courses thereof to a corner maple, being also the corner of Francis Yarnell's land, and thence west-south-west by the said Yarnell's land to the mentioned red oak." It was in the present township of Willis-town. – W. Thomson “Chester County and It’s People” page 171.
Thomas Brassey [Brassie] (1647-1690) was one of 200 “First Purchasers” of Pennsylvania lands, a staunch friend of William Penn, member of the Provincial Council and also an early member of the joint-stock company “Free Society of Traders” formed by William Penn in 1681. Brassey’s tract is included on Thomas Holmes 1681 “Map of the Improved Part of Pennsilvania” bounded by the Delaware River, Chester Creek and Preest [sic] Creek and labeled Chester County. George Willard was a later “First Purchaser” and his involvement with Thomas Brassey, the “Free Society of Traders”, or the “Provincial Council” for conveyance of Proprietors’ lands is unclear however; his name appears on many colonial deeds.
On October 28, 1702 the Board of Property granted Peter Thomas’ a re-survey warrant as there remained an inquiry into the Willis-town Patent viz: how it came from Brassey to Willard. Enter Isaac Taylor, Deputy Surveyor of Chester County. This map, surveyed and drawn by Taylor follows the 1697 “metes and bounds” of the George Willard deed cited above but measures out to 528 acres. The map was received by the Surveyor General’s office on 20 March, 1703 and the return presented to the Commissioners on 24 March 1703. Peter Thomas’ 528 acre Patent was granted.
Taylor’s map offered here is the actual finished product of his efforts. Precisely drawn, annotated and colored, it exemplifies the talent and skill of this prominent and prolific colonial surveyor. He was a quiet man held in high regard by his close contemporaries including William Penn, Thomas Holme, James Logan, Nicholas Scull and others. Isaac Taylor’s most enduring contribution was undoubtedly establishment of the unique circular boundary known as New Castle Arc. A feat which certainly enflamed the Penn-Calvert boundary dispute and likely contributed to Taylor’s later arrest for surveying on land claimed by Maryland.
Isaac Taylor was Deputy Surveyor of Chester County under the direction of Chief Surveyor Thomas Holme. Soon after his appointment in 1701, Isaac Taylor was commissioned by William Penn to run the “New Castle Arc” and establish Delaware-Pennsylvania boundary line. Taylor was accompanied by Thomas Pierson, Surveyor of New Castle under similar commission from Delaware. The surveying was accomplished by Taylor and Pierson in ten days using only a surveyor’s chain and compass. No small task in 1701 when ascertaining longitude was more guesswork that science. The boundary demarcated by the pair would remain virtually unchanged for until an 1892 joint state commission would resurvey the 12-mile radius arc with modern instruments lay permanent markers then ratified by Congress in 1921. Despite common mis-perception Mason & Dixon never did survey the arc line, rather only used the western-most arc point they established as their westward starting point.
A lovely and quite rare colonial Pennsylvania land record. The Pennsylvania State Archives preserves numerous such examples of Isaac Taylor’s prolific surveys, letters and papers. We have been unable to locate a single similar cartographic example of Taylor’s expertise appearing on the antiquarian market in the past 50 years.
Ref: “Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography” Vol.89 No. 2 pp. 154 &157 and Vol.47 No. 3 pp.238-258; William Engle “Minutes of the board of public property of the Province of Pennsylvania” p.342 & 379; John Jordan “Colonial Families of Philadelphia” Vol.3 p.1313; Joseph Harris “The Collateral Ancestry of Stephen Harris” pp.87-89, 100, 103; Samuel Wiley “Biographical and Historical Cyclopedia of Delaware County” p. 46-47; Pennsylvania Historical Society “Mason-Dixon Papers”.