The Western coastline protrayed (more or less) correctly in the first two maps has changed strangely here–California is an island! A misinformed Spanish letter came into the hands of the Dutch, and Dutch and English cartographers subsequently replicated this mistake for a hundred plus years. At this point the Spanish were settling all along the California coast so it seems astounding such a mistake was maitained for so long. It also suggests the large amount of imagination mapmakers of the time used to fill in blank areas. The cartographer was imagining a coastline that fit in with the scant information he had.
Right above Virginia you can see “James Citie,” or Jamestown, which became the first permanent settlement of the English in 1607. After 1607, English settlers were adapting to their new enviornment and dealing with the natives of “New India.” As horizons expanded geographically, English appropriated new words to describe it. Here are some words that entered the English language in the 16th and 17th c. as England began to explore and colonize the new world:
I don’t know if you can read the place names listed, but this detail includes Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. English maps gradually filled the blank spaces with names we recognize even today. The Native Americans’ presence in the English language was simularly reduced, to a handful of words and geographical names. Considering maps and words as signs of how the English concieved of the New World suggests a place of vast possibilities and exotic plants and animals with origins more in the imagination than in reality.
Detail of map header, labelling it “The North part of America.”