Wilhelm and Johan Blaeu: Grooten Atlas, 1664

The title page shows much less effort this time. This is the second volume of the nine-volume Great Atlas. Note the publication date at the bottom of the page.

The border decoration on most of these maps includes coats of arms; I presume the shields are not chosen randomly. Wanna bet they represent the nobility from the areas covered by the maps?

Whatever they mean, some of the engravings are truly outstanding.

Again I was interested in Holt, which today is only a neighborhood in Essen—or perhaps suburb is a better description. My ancestor Tjerck Claessen DeWitt was said to have come from a place called Grootholt, and some have suggested that this Holt is that place. (As stated elsewhere, I favor the explanation that he was from Grootholum, on the coast of Ostfriesland.)

Grootholt, where Tjerck DeWitt was from, was said to be in Zunderlant. I suspect the existence of this word results from a misreading of an original text that said Emderlant. But those who would put Grootholt in Westphalia claim that the southern third of Westphalia was once called Sunderland. I have not found that name on any maps yet, though the Sauerland is a real area that exists today, just east of Essen.

If you click on the map above, you’ll get a larger version of it, and you’ll be able to see some interesting details. The right edge of this map is the north end (instead of the top). The Rhine runs south across the top of the map, starting around the middle and heading to the left. The big dark river that runs right down the center of the map is the Ruhr, whose valley forms the center of Germany’s industrial heartland.

With these landmarks, you can find Essen and Holt on this map. Then you can look down at the bottom edge of the map (the east edge, that is). About a third of the way over from the left side, you’ll find a little town called Sundern.

I have not yet been able to find out whether the area around Sundern was ever called Sunderland. But on modern maps there are several other Sunderns in the area, and the name must come from somewhere. I’d be surprised if the name for that region was used for the area around Essen and Holt too. (I’ve already said I don’t buy the theory that Tjerck was from Holt in Westphalia.) But this is the only plausible candidate I’ve heard so far to explain the combination of Grootholt and Zunderlant. Draw your own conclusions.

Blaeu 1659 . . . Blaeu 1664 1 . . . 2 . . . more

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