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Saxton's rare map of Yorkshire

[Yorkshire] Eboracensis Comitatus.
SAXTON, Christopher
Publication place
Publication date
525 by 720mm. (20.75 by 28.25 inches).


Engraved map on two sheets joined, original hand colour, trimmed to image and remargined, the verso strengthened and laid on linen.


A map of Yorkshire by Christopher Saxton.

Dubbed "the father of English cartography" (Skelton), little is known about Saxton's personal life. Born in Yorkshire between 1542 and 1544, his yeoman family were probably clothiers and farmers. It is likely that Saxton was apprenticed in cartographic draughtsmanship and surveying to John Rudd, Vicar of Dewsbury (1554-1570) and Rector of Thornhill (1558-1570/78). Rudd had a passion for maps, and was engaged at some time in the 1550s in making a 'platt' of England; in 1561 he was granted leave from his duties to travel further to map the country. It is suggested that Saxton accompanied him on these travels, at which time he would have been about 17 years old. Records show that Saxton was employed by Rudd by 1570.

Saxton came to London at an unknown date and was chosen by Thomas Seckford to survey and map the counties of England and Wales. A court official, Seckford worked closely with William Cecil, Lord Burghley, who was possibly behind both Rudd's and Saxton's mapping projects. It is Seckford, however, who is generally thought to have financed the undertaking. His involvement is reflected in the appearance of his mottos and coats of arms on every map in Saxton's atlas. The project was further authorized by Queen Elizabeth I.

After the last one was completed in 1578, the maps were available in atlas form or singly, as in the present example.