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Abstract

The British Army engaged, in 1755, the young Dutch officer, Samuel Holland (whose patron was already the Third Duke of Richmond), to serve in North America as an artillery and engineering subaltern. Following many months’ service directly under the field commander, Holland became deeply involved in the siege of Louisbourg (1758) as the engineering assistant to James Wolfe. The latter warmly commended Holland to Richmond for his superior efficiency and his bravery under constantly heavy enemy fire. After the siege, Holland drew an accurate plan of the fortified port, illustrating the steps of the siege-attack and defence. He became busy in 1758 and 1759 in the preparation of the British attack on Quebec, during which he met the famous British navigator, James Cook, with whom he exchanged expertise. At the siege of Quebec he continued to serve Wolfe until the latter’s death in the battle of September 1759. From then until 1762 Holland served James Murray, first as part of a team of engineers participating in the defence of Quebec against a French siege, during which he was named acting chief engineer in place of a wounded officer and eventually confined in the city with the rest of the garrison until the siege was raised by the Royal Navy. Thereafter, under Murray’s command, Holland’s main achievement was his part in the surveying and mapping of the St. Lawrence valley, leading to the production of the “Murray Map”, an immense contribution to eighteenth-century cartography. Murray vehemently held, in the face of claims by officers of the Royal Engineers, that Samuel Holland deserved the most credit for the success and high quality of the product.

During the Seven Years War, Holland had been promoted Captain. Excluded from the Royal Engineers, he was therefor quite independent of the bureaucracy of that corps when in 1763 he sought-in new American colonies ceded by France-an appointment in surveying and cartography.

As a guest in the London house of the Duke of Richmond he had the opportunity of meeting influential politicians, where the recognition by Wolfe and Murray of the high quality of his professional competence finally led the British government to appoint him Surveyor General in North America.

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