An introduction to the interactive tour map showing places the Listons visited.

'I prayed never again to travel in an American Stage Coach in the Winter'

The Listons' way of life can be characterised as peripatetic. They travelled extensively and boldly.

During their five years away from Scotland between 1796 and 1801 they visited 16 U.S. states, crossed the border into Lower Canada and toured nine Caribbean islands. By stagecoach, boat, canoe, carriage and cart they covered about 7,100 miles (11427km). Including their Atlantic crossings in 1796 and 1801, this rises to 16,000 miles (25750km).

In 1812 the Listons sailed from Portsmouth through the Mediterranean and Aegean and across the Sea of Marmara to Constantinople (now Istanbul), the heart of the Ottoman Empire. During the time Robert Liston served as Ambassador to the Sublime Porte he and Henrietta visited France, Spain, Gibraltar, Sicily, Malta, Greece and the Greek islands and explored the city of Constantinople and its environs. The three European routes shown here covered a combined distance of 8,013 miles (12,896km), most of this being the sea voyages between Britain and Constantinople.

We have mapped the Listons' journeys as described in Henrietta Liston's journals.

All settlements, named places, natural landmarks, and historic sites Henrietta mentions and describes that can be identified from her journals have been marked. Henrietta's journals usually chronologically record places visited in order and include the return journey. The journals often contain place names and distances in miles. Occasionally, due to scant information, Henrietta's inaccuracies and misspellings, it has not been possible to locate and identify some stops on her journeys.

The map interface allows us to visualise the Listons' travels on a modern a map. It also contains different historical maps, including that published by the geographer William Faden in 1796, the very year the Listons arrived in North America.

Help notes for using the interactive map

This application shows the routes taken by the Listons, and provides a way of searching Henrietta's travel journals by selecting the places she and her husband Robert visited.

Important note

The circles indicating places visited are approximate. Sometimes the real locations have been inferred, and we have shown named settlements or places as a general central location, and not to the specific place visited on the ground. We have also shown direct-line distances between these points, rather than the actual route taken on the ground.

There are two main ways to select the places they visited:

1. Search the places as a list:

Select 'Search places visited' to display a panel with lists of all the places they visited. The default list of places is in chronological order, split into the eight tours. You can also select the 'Alphabetical' tab to view the places in alphabetical order. If you click on a place in these lists, the places panel closes, the map zooms to display this place in the centre of the left-hand panel, and selects it (so it is highlighted in orange).

2. Search the places on the map:

Zoom in on your area or tour of interest on the left-hand map and click on any circular place symbol to select it — when selected it is highlighted in orange. You can zoom with the +/- buttons to the upper left, by double-clicking / double-tapping on the map, by scrolling with the centre mouse wheel (if you have one), or by holding the shift key down and dragging a 'rectangle' with a mouse.

Viewing the diary pages

When a particular place is selected (see above), the details of the particular time or times that the Listons visited this place appear in a panel on the right of the left-hand map. For each place they visited at a particular time, the relevant page of the diary that includes the reference to the place is underlined in blue as a link — click on the link to view the particular diary page mentioning the place. The reference also includes details of the main date that they arrived in the place (where known), and the tour that this formed part of.

Left-hand map

The left-hand map shows the Listons' tours (with each tour shown in a different colour) on top of a modern map background. By default, all the tours are shown, but it is possible to view each tour separately by selecting the appropriate tour from the top drop-down list beneath the 'Search places visited' button (top left). It is possible to change the map background by selecting the drop-down list towards the upper left of the left-hand map and choosing a different map layer.

Right-hand map

The right-hand map shows historical maps from the 1790s – i.e. contemporary maps from the time when the Listons made their tours. Due to the geographic inaccuracies in these historic maps compared to modern maps, the places on them cannot be overlaid precisely on the same exact locations today. We have therefore shown the historic maps in this separate right-hand map.

Different historical maps are displayed when you zoom in and out, as well as if you zoom in on North America or the Caribbean:

  • The default world map displayed when you are zoomed out is Aaron Arrowsmith's 'Chart of the world on Mercator's projection exhibiting all the new discoveries to the present time …' (1796).

    This was one of the most accurate and up-to-date maps of the world at the end of the 18th century. Arrowsmith synthesized information from a wide range of sources, including details of all the discoveries made on Cook's three voyages. He also included tracks of 30 explorers, dating between 1492 and 1787, and the most recent information from voyages to the north-west coast of America, as well as the Arctic.

  • The default map of North America when you are zoomed in is William Faden's 'The United States of North America …' (1796).

    This map distinguishes the ownership of the different territories with different colours, following the Treaty of Paris of 1784 that formally ended the American Revolutionary War. The British territories to the north are coloured red; the United States territories in the centre are coloured yellow, Spanish territories in the south are coloured green, French territories in Newfoundland are coloured blue, and native American areas are coloured purple.

  • The default map of the Caribbean when you are zoomed in is William Faden's 'A General Chart of the West India Islands' (1796). This is useful for viewing the Listons' final tour, including the West Indies. The map colouring also reflects colonial ownership with British colonies coloured red, Spanish colonies coloured yellow, and French colonies coloured green.

  • The default maps of Europe when you are zoomed in are taken from John Pinkerton's 'A modern atlas: From the latest and best authorities' (1815). This includes a general map of the whole of Europe, and more detailed maps of particular countries. John Pinkerton (1758-1826) was a Scottish writer and publisher of literary, historical and geographical works. His folio atlases in the early 19th century were widely respected reference volumes. The state boundaries shown reflect the Congress of Vienna (1814-15) negotiations.

  • The detailed map of Constantinople when you are zoomed in is François Kauffer and Jean Baptiste LeChevalier's 'Carte de Constantinople', published in Edward Daniel Clarke's 'Travels in Various Countries of Europe, Asia and Africa' (1815). François Kauffer (1751?-1801) was an engineer in the service of the Turks, whilst Jean-Baptiste Le Chevalier (1752-1836) was an assistant to the French ambassador, Auguste de Choiseul-Gouffier. The map, which was originally published in Paris in 1786, provides excellent detail of the capital, including its street layout, significant monuments, buildings and districts.

These historical maps have been set to display at particular zoom levels only so the names on them are legible.

The two map panels show the same centre location — so when you pan either map by clicking and dragging the map, or select a place in the 'Search places visited' panel, the other map will reposition to match the same centre location. When you are zoomed out they also show the same zoom level.

The URL of the application changes dynamically to show the particular zoom level and centre of the map, as well as if a place is selected. You can save this specific URL to return to a specific map view or selected place.

This map application has been customised using OpenLayers with the historic maps prepared using MapTiler You can view and download the source code on the National Library of Scotland's Github page.