This “Plan of the Town and Chart of the Harbour of Boston” is reproduced (reduced about one half) from a folding plate in the Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 45: facing p. 41 (January 1775). The engraving is not signed, but it is dated at the foot “Feby. 1st. 1775.”
Commerce being the lifeblood of the Province and most Bostonians being connected in one way or another with seafaring, they knew better than their descendants do the maze of islands, rocks, and tidal flats that clutter Boston Harbor and leave only a few well-defined ship channels and “roads” or deep-water anchorages. The present chart shows them all, names most of them, and thus admirably illustrates the letters of the Adams family circle during the Revolution. Abigail Adams' Smith and Tufts family connections lived in the highly exposed town of Weymouth (bottom center of chart), and were driven from their homes by the British raid on Grape Island, May 1775, in the repulse of which both of John Adams' brothers took part as members of the local militia. Just northwest of Weymouth on the chart is a structure marked “Quinzey,” evidently representing the house of Mrs. Adams' uncle, Norton Quincy, on the shore of old Braintree (near present Wollaston Beach). The Adamses' own “cottage” and farm were a mile or two inland from there; and it was at Norton Quincy's house in February 1778 that John Adams met Capt. Samuel Tucker, walked across Hough's Neck (the little peninsula indicated on the chart only by
“Hoffs Tombs” north of it), and was rowed with his son John Quincy Adams to the Boston
frigate lying in Nantasket Roads (between the bluff designating present Hull, Mass., and George's Island) for their secret embarkation for France. (See Adams' letters to his wife, 13 February 1778
, vol. 2:388–389.) The letters of Mrs. Adams and others during and after the siege of Boston allude repeatedly to British forays for hay, cattle, and fuel on many of the islands in the inner and outer harbor, to raids and counterraids to destroy and repair Boston Light at the Brewsters, and to engagements between British naval patrols and American armed vessels, from Chelsea at the north to the “Rocks of Kenchaset” (off modern Cohasset), in the southeast corner of the chart. The chart also makes clear why John Adams and others felt that it was both feasible and imperative, following the British evacuation, to make the harbor impregnable by fortifying all the islands on which there were eminences adjacent to ship channels.