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Maps, views and documents from 19 wars

Philip Durell (active 1739-d. 1740)

Battle of Porto Bello, 1739

THIS PLAN / of the Harbour, Town and Forts of / PORTO BELLO / (Taken by Edward Vernon Esqr. / VICE ADMIRAL of the BLUE / on the 22.d of November 1739. With Six Men of War only,) published 27 Mar 1740

Etching and engraving; printed on paper | Scale: 1:11,000 approx. | RCIN 728025

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A map of the Battle of Porto Bello, fought on 20-21 November 1739 between the British Fleet, commanded by Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon (1684-1757), and the Spanish garrison, under the command of Francisco Javier de la Vega, which resulted in the British capturing the town. War with Spain (Jenkins's Ear) (1739-48); part of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48). Oriented with south-east to top (compass rose).

The title gives the date of the battle as the 22nd of November; however, the engagement was begun on the 20th and the town was taken on the 21st. The victory was popular with the British public, the Portobello Road in London being named after it, and George Washinton's estate, Mount Vernon, in Virginia being named in honour of the Admiral.

A plan of Porto Bello by Lt Philip Durell was published in Traill, (1894-7), vol. IV, p.17. According to Charnock (1794-8), Captain James Rentone, by whom the drawing for this map was brought back to England, was employed by Vice Admiral Vernon because of his knowledge of the area. Vernon selected him to take the news of the victory back to London and he arrived on 13 March 1740. Vernon's dispatches included Philip Durell's manuscript map which appears to have been engraved and published in record time, the publication date being only seventeen days after the arrival of the map in London.

  • Philip Durell (active 1739-d. 1740) (draughtsman) [bottom left, following on from title, in title panel:] Drawn by Lieuten.t Philip Durell; [bottom centre, inside neatline:] P. Durell delin. November 1739.

    William Henry Toms (active 1723-61) (engraver and publisher) [bottom right, inside neatline:] W.H. Toms Sculpt 1740.

    Harding: St. Martin's Lane (S. Harding (1739-41)) (publisher) [bottom left, in separate rectangular panel below title panel:] Published March 27.th 1740. and Sold by S. Harding on the Pavement in St Martin's Lane, and / W.H. Toms Engraver in Union Court near Hatton Garden Holborn. Price One Shilling.

    Sir Charles Wager (1666-1743) (dedicatee)

  • Watermark: None

    Condition: one fold line; trimmed. Verso: offsetting from a different image; ghosting from the removal of Cumberland's cipher label which reads: VOL. IV / 60

  • Scale: 1:11,000 approx. Scale bar: A Scale of Two English Miles [284 mm =].

    38.1 x 57.9 cm (neatline)

    43.0 x 58.8 cm (image)

    44.0 x 59.7 cm (platemark)

    50.7 x 63.4 cm (sheet)

  • Printed title:

    THIS PLAN / of the Harbour, Town and Forts of / PORTO BELLO / (Taken by Edward Vernon Esqr. / VICE ADMIRAL of the BLUE / on the 22.d of November 1739. With Six Men of War only,). [bottom left, in rectangular panel]

    Dedication:

    Is most Humbly Inscribed to the / Rt. Hon:ble SIR CHARLES WAGER / First Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty. [bottom left, following on from 'Drawn by Lieuten.t Philip Durell']

    Additional text:

    I do assure the Publick that this Plan is exactly copied from the Original (and only) / Drawing brought over by me / Ja: Rentone / Charing Cross, March the 27.th 1740. [bottom left, below dedication] REFERENCES [Bottom, below map, a key, A-I, K-P, to the names of the ships, other significant place, and the units of measure of the sounding]

    Annotations:

    George III heading: Porto Belo 22 Nov.r 1739.

    Other annotations: (Recto) none. (Verso) [right, centre, red pencil:] 60.

    George III catalogue entry:

    Porto Belo Plan of the Harbour, Town and Forts of Porto Bello, taken by Admiral Vernon on the 22.d Nov.r 1739: by Lieut. Ph. Durell, 1740.

  • From the collection of military and naval maps and prints of Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721-65), third son of George II; subsequently acquired by George III (1738-1820)

  • Subject(s)

    Portobelo, Colón, Panama (09°33'00"N; 79°39'00"W)

  • Bibliographic reference(s)

    R. Harding, ‘Vernon, Edward (1684–1757)’, Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, online edn 2008

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