Henry Timberlake (1730-1765) was born in Hanover County, Virginia, and joined the Virginia Militia at the outset of the French and Indian War in 1756. After participation in the action around Fort Duquesne and Pittsburgh, he participated in the campaign against the Cherokee in 1761, where he gained knowledge of the Over the Hills country of the Cherokee. Although the campaign originated with an expectation of war, peace treaties with the Cherokee were established instead. Timberlake traveled extensively among the Cherokee, before returning to Virginia, and subsequently to England, with several Cherokee chiefs. When Cherokee chiefs wanted another audience with King George in 1764 to protest peace treaty violations the Virginia governor refused to authorize the trip. Henry Timberlake paid for the trip to London where the Secretary of State for the Southern Department, Lord Halifax, refused to grant the Cherokee an audience, as the trip was unauthorized. Sadly, Henry Timberlake was imprisoned for failing to pay the debt for lodging of himself and the Cherokee. He likely wrote his Memoirs while incarcerated. Henry Timberlake died of small pox in 1765, possibly before his Memoirs was published. In November, 1765, a bookseller solicited public assistance for Timberlake’s pregnant widow. The earliest advertisement found for Timberlake’s Memoirs is in the December 7, 1765, issue of The [London] Public Advertiser.
The map bound into the book is oriented with north to the left and centers on a small section of what is now Tennessee, just west of its current boundary with North Carolina. It is the first map to include the term “Tennessee.” The “Tennessee River” on the map is now referred to as the Little Tennessee River, and the Over the Hills Cherokee Village sites shown on the map were submerged when dams were built for hydroelectric power in the 20th century. Timberlake lists the leader and number of fighting men (809 total) for each Over the Hills Village. His published Memoirs is considered the most detailed ethnographic account of Cherokee life in the late 18th century.
RELATED OBJECTS: An unbound copy of Timberlake’s map is in the MESDA collection (MESDA acc. 5549)
REFERENCES: Timberlake’s Memoirs can be read on line https://archive.org/details/memoirsoflieuthe00intimb
Cumming, The Southeast in Early Maps, 349