The first chart to name Hong Kong
By LAURIE, [Robert] [and] [James] WHITTLE , 1794

A Chart of the China Sea from the Island of Sanciam To Pedra Branca with the Course of the River Tigris From Canton to Macao Corrected From the Surveys Made By Capn. Jos. Huddart and Captn J.P. Larkins

Asia China
  • Author: LAURIE, [Robert] [and] [James] WHITTLE
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Laurie & Whittle, 53 Fleet Street
  • Publication date: 12th May 1794.
  • Physical description: Double-page engraved chart, minor loss to lower corners of chart skilfully repaired in facsimile.
  • Dimensions: 630 by 860mm (24.75 by 33.75 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 1251


Second state of the earliest printed British Maritime Chart to show Hong Kong. The map also includes a fascinating depiction of Hong Kong Island divided into two islands, with a narrow channel between the two land masses.

The map was originally issued by Sayer & Bennett, with the date of 29 November 1780, with the title ‘A Chart of the China Sea from the Island of Sanciam To Pedra Branca with the Course of the River Tigris From Canton to Macao from a Portuguese draught communicated by Captain Hayter and compared with the Chinese Chart of the Macao Pilots’.

Captain George Hayter of the East India Company was the Captain of the York, which frequented Chinese waters from 1741 to 1787. Hayter is credited with a second printed chart dated 1787. This second state was updated by Captains Joseph Huddart and John Pascal Larkins of the East India Company. In his article on the first edition of the map, Henry D. Talbot notes that the tracks of the soundings depict the route taken in the initial explorations of the region, which we almost certainly annotating their charts to improve the depiction of the coastline of Hong Kong and the other regions visited. Talbot observes that most of the place names on the map are romanized versions of the Chinese names, noting that this accounts for the appearance of Botae Island and Lammon. Pengu Chau is misnamed Tay Pak and Siu Kau Yi as Sui-pak.

The most notable feature of the map is the division of Hong Kong Island, separated by a channel from Shau Kei Wan (Aldrich Bay) to Tai Tam Bay. Talbot surmised that at the time the ship was passing from the north of the island, the visibility was so bad that the hills were not visible and therefore the bay appeared to be a strait. The name “Fan-Chin-Cheou” is unique and does not appear as a name for Hong Kong Island on other maps known to Talbot. He-Ong-Kong was seen by Talbot as a mistranscription of the Heong-Kong. The shape of Lantao is badly distorted, especially on the eastern side. A number of bays, including Silvermine Bay are not shown, while the peninsula north of Chang Cheou Island is shown as a separate island. The name “Iron River” is shown for Hebe Haven, perhaps evidence of the chartmaker’s knowledge of the iron-ore deposits at Ma On Shan. Mers (Mirs) Bay is shown as being very small. Talbot observed that this was likely additional evidence of the poor visibility, as the many soundings at the entrance to the bay suggest a relatively close inspection of this region.