A General Plan for laying out Towns and Townships, on the new-acquired lands in East Indies, America, or elsewhere…. Granville SHARP.
A General Plan for laying out Towns and Townships, on the new-acquired lands in East Indies, America, or elsewhere…

A General Plan for laying out Towns and Townships…
A General Plan for laying out Towns and Townships, on the new-acquired lands in East Indies, America, or elsewhere…

London: n.d., but, 1794.

Octavo, large folding plate of plans with early handcolouring in red; bound in original heavy pink card wrappers, a bit faded, with early manuscript title to front.

Laying out the settlements

Very scarce first edition of this model for the planning and building of an ideal colonial settlement under British rule, published in 1794 as a guide for free settlers and government officials alike. Although not specifically contemplating colonial town-planning in New South Wales, its date makes this a significant publication for the laying-out of early outlying settlements such as the so-called Macquarie towns along the Hawkesbury River, or the more ambitious distant settlements such as Newcastle in the north or Bathurst and Orange to the west. Sharp's text formed part of a very small canon of town-planning literature that would have been available to the colonists. At a later date issues of urban design were more in the forefront of colonial planning, so that Colonel Light's Adelaide, for example, had a grid of streets long before it had a colonist.

Very scarce first edition of this model for the planning and building of an ideal colonial settlement under British rule, published in 1794 as a guide for free settlers and government officials alike. Although not specifically contemplating colonial town-planning in New South Wales, its date makes this a significant publication for the laying-out of early outlying settlements such as the so-called Macquarie towns along the Hawkesbury River, or the more ambitious distant settlements such as Newcastle in the north or Bathurst and Orange to the west. Sharp's text formed part of a very small canon of town-planning literature that would have been available to the colonists. At a later date issues of urban design were more in the forefront of colonial planning, so that Colonel Light's Adelaide, for example, had a grid of streets long before it had a colonist.

Sharp (1735-1813), a prominent abolitionist, is also remembered as the tutor to Omai, and took an active interest in all of the British colonies. He firmly believed that better social conditions for slaves but also for all of the lower classes including convicts would result in a more equitable society. As a result, this work is of considerable architectural and town planning interest as it reflects a sort of ideal city, a hybrid of military planning and civil law, that clearly sheets back to earlier classical and particularly Roman ideas. The work dates from a period in which such proposals were actively solicited and keenly studied by officials and settlers alike, chiefly because the founding and building of entire cities from scratch was fundamental to British colonial policy. Sharp himself considered that his great achievement was the founding of Freetown in Sierra Leone in 1787, established by freed African slaves sent from England.

Sharp's interest in the Pacific was encouraged by the time he spent with Omai: while the famous Raitaean was staying with Joseph Banks he was taught the rudiments of writing by Sharp. He explained the method he used in his An English alphabet: for the use of foreigners (1786). The record shows that Sharp tutored Omai regularly for a month, but by 6 April 'Omai was so taken up with engagements that I could have no more opportunity of giving him lessons, which were but fifteen in all'. Just over a decade after Omai returned to Huahine with Cook, Sharp published An English alphabet, probably in anticipation of a need for such a work in the spread of the gospel in the South Seas.

A second edition of this General Plan for laying out Towns and Townships was printed in 1804. Despite its evident Australian interest we have traced only microfilm or electronic copies in Australian libraries.

Goldsmiths', 16046; Sabin, 79821.

Price (AUD): $11,000.00  other currencies     Ref: #4002604