Speed's map of Lancashire
By SPEED, John , [1676].

The Countie Pallatine of Lancaster Described and Divided into Hundreds 1610.

British Isles English Counties
  • Author: SPEED, John
  • Publication place: [London]
  • Publisher: And are to be solde by Thomas Bassett in Fleet Street, and Ric: Chiswell in St. Pauls Churchyard,
  • Publication date: [1676].
  • Physical description: Double-page engraved map with hand-colour, minor wear to edges.
  • Dimensions: 390 by 510mm. (15.25 by 20 inches).


A map of Lancashire from the 1676 edition of the first large-scale atlas of the British Isles, Speed’s ‘Theatre’. In the top right-hand corner is an inset town-plan of Lancaster, probably the first printed plan of Lancaster. On the left-hand side are portraits of monarchs from the house of Lancaster, including Henry IV, and on the right of monarchs from the house of York, including Richard III. 

On the verso of the map is printed ‘Hundreds in Cheshire’ and a description of ‘The County Palatine of Chester’. 

John Speed (1552-1629) was the outstanding cartographer of his age. By trade a merchant tailor, but by proclivity a historian, it was the patronage of Sir Fulke Greville, poet and statesman, that allowed him to pursue this interest in earnest. His ‘Theatre of Great Britain’, from which the present work is drawn, was first published in 1611 or 1612 and is ‘the earliest English attempt at atlas-production on a grand scale’ (Skelton). Drawing heavily on the work of Saxton and Norden, little of Speed’s cartography is original (he acknowledges, ‘I have put my sickle into other mens corne’), instead it is his blend of cartography and history, incorporating town-plans, vignettes, and genealogy, that makes Speed an innovator.

This map is from the 1676 edition of the ‘Theatre’, published by Thomas Bassett and Richard Chiswell.


  1. Chubb, CIV
  2. Shirley [Atlases], T.Spe-1j
  3. Skelton, 92
  4. Whitaker, 123.