(PORTLAND). STURT, J[ohn, engraver]. ~ [Lighthouse duty receipt with a map of Portland Bill, Dorset. n.d., c. 1725].
Engraved map with engraved text (205 × 180 mm on sheet 250 × 196 mm). Contemporary manuscript caption ‘A Cart of the Island of Portland’. Traces of old folds, light browning and waterstaining but a good copy.
A very rare engraved document, a blank receipt for duties levied on ships for the maintenance of the lighthouses on Portland Bill, Dorset. It incorporates a chart of this hazardous promontory and its long shingle barrier, Chesil Beach, with detailed sailing instructions for mariners. Portland Bill had claimed countless lives in shipwrecks, and permanent lights were only erected there in 1716, funded by duties on passing ships — levied at a halfpenny per ton for British ships and a penny per ton for foreign ships. The only copies we have been able to locate are the British Library copy and a partial copy (lacking part of the receipt panel) pasted into a copy of Coker’s A Survey of Dorsetshire (1732) in the Bodleian Library.