Although Captain John Smith's map of Virginia is the first comprehensive and influential map of the area, it is not the first published map to show the Chesapeake Bay. The Spanish were the first Europeans known to have explored the Chesapeake Bay, and in 1592 cartographer Diego Gutierrez recorded the Chesapeake on a map, calling it "Bahia de Santa Maria."
In 1585, John White, part of the English expedition to the North Carolina coast of North America, drew a map of the Carolina coastline. White's map shows major bodies of water in the region, including the unnamed Chesapeake Bay, the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, and the York and James rivers. Importantly, White's map also shows the locations of America Indian settlements.
More than 20 years ahead of John Smith, John White traveled to North America as the artist and cartographer for the first Virginia colony, which was actually located at today's Roanoke Island, North Carolina. White went at least twice to the Carolina coast in the 1580's and in 1587 he was governor of the ill-fated "Lost Colony." In addition to his maps, White produced drawings and watercolors of everyday life of the Native Americans and of the flora and fauna of the Carolina coast. White's illustrations provide the most important documentation of 16th-century life in the region.