Lot 3272
  • 3272

[Saxton, Christopher (c. 1542-c. 1610).

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
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  • An Atlas of England and Wales. London: Christopher Saxton, 1579-1590]
[2 (letterpress index)] pp., illustration: engraved title-page showing Queen Elizabeth as patroness of Astronomy and Geography attributed to Remy Hogenberg, double-page engraved plate showing coats of arms and a table of counties, and 35 double-page engraved maps, after Saxton by Hogenberg, Lenaert Terwoot, Cornelis de Hooghe, Augustine Ryther, Francis Scatter, and Nicholas Reynolds, extra-illustrated with an anonymous engraving 'The armes of the Earls, Lord Barons & Bishopricks' (London 1594) and 2 double-page plates of the arms of Oxford and Cambridge colleges (Oxford bearing the imprint of the London printer Thomas Orvinus (Orwin) dated 1591)

Boazio, Giovanni Battista (fl. 1585-1606). [Set of five maps and plates illustrating Drake’s expedition to the West Indies, 1585-1586. London, 1588]-1589, no text, illustration: double-page map and 4 double-page plates

2 works in one volume, folio (412 x 280mm.), together 40 double-page maps and plates in fine contemporary hand colour (see footnote), each map interleaved with blank sheet, binding: early eighteenth-century calf, spine gilt, frontispiece repaired at margin, several maps shaved at margins, map of Gloucester with repaired tear, Boazio maps and plates shaved at margins, last plate with slight loss, occasional discoloration, binding rubbed 


Chubb I; Evans and Lawrence, pp. 9–43; Skelton 1; Andrews, John H. ‘Sir Richard Bingham and the Mapping of Western Ireland’, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. 103C, no.3 (2003), pp.61-95; Keeler, Mary Frear. ‘The Boazio maps of 1585-86.’, Terrae Incognitae 10 (1978), 71-80; Burden, The Mapping of North America, map 70, notes

Catalogue Note

two of the landmarks of elizabethan cartography bound in one volume. the first printed atlas of england and wales and drake's west indian raid depicted by an eye witness.

Saxton's Atlas:

the first printed national atlas of england and wales surveyed by "the father of english cartography"

Saxton’s atlas of England and Wales is a landmark in the cartographic history of England. Saxton, previously a relatively little-known surveyor born in Dunningley in West Yorkshire, in the space of perhaps as little as eight years undertook and completed a survey of England and Wales, with individual maps appearing in print between 1574 and 1579, the date found on the general map of England and Wales.

The atlas although ostensibly the work of a private individual was sponsored directly by Thomas Seckford, a lesser figure in the Elizabethan government, but in all likelihood by William Burghley, Elizabeth’s chief minister, and, probably, by the Queen herself.

The Tudor period was a time of great political upheaval, the dynasty established only after lengthy civil wars, and still with only a fragile hold on the crown. The struggle between the houses of York and Lancaster had been replaced by the struggle between Protestant and Catholic, with the threat of Spanish (Catholic) invasion a real one for much of Elizabeth’s reign.

In the circumstances, it was important for Elizabeth, and her trusted ministers, to quantify the threats facing her, the concentration of aristocratic Catholic families, whose loyalty might be questioned, and the coastal defences to defend against invasion. It is evidence of the importance placed on this survey that the earliest example of each map was sent to Burghley, who had them bound with important manuscript maps, and extensively annotated by him throughout, as a primary tool of government.

This example of the atlas is the mature form of Saxton’s ‘First Edition’, datable to circa 1590, on the internal evidence of the double-page plate with the Coats of Arms and the table of cities. The page of Arms contains 84 shields, of which the first 65 are Peers of the Realm, then 18 Officers of State, and with one blank. Shield 66 is that of Sir Christopher Hatton, who is referred to as Chancellor, an office to which he was appointed in 1587 and which he held until his death in 1591. Shield 69 is that of Sir Thomas Heneage who is noted as Vice-Chancellor, an office to which he was appointed in 1589. It is presumed therefore that the date of engraving must fall between 1589 and 1591. The anomaly, that Seckford’s arms are included although he died in 1587, is probably explained as recognition of the importance of his role in the creation of the atlas.

Individual examples of the atlas contain numbers of issue points, the issue points here pointing to a date of compilation of circa 1590. The richly engraved portrait frontispiece of Queen Elizabeth, one of the finest of all engraved portraits of the queen, particularly for being in contemporary colour, is in the second state with her dress falling naturally about her knees, and the more elaborate finery of her dress removed. The letterpress index leaf is in setting D, the final and most extensive version, which is associated with examples of the atlas also containing the plates of arms.

Most of the county maps are known in two states, a proof form, as found in the ‘Burghley-Saxton’, and then a final form revised and completed circa 1578, most notably with the addition of Saxton’s name, surprisingly omitted on many of the proof states, and the revision of Seckford’s motto from the pre-1576 version (Pestis patriae pigricies) of which there are 10 in this example, to the later motto (Industria naturam ornat) of which there are 25. Those maps engraved in late 1577 or 1578 are generally found in only one completed state. However, a number of maps have been found in additional states. In terms of states of the maps, with the exception of the Norfolk map, all the maps are in their final completed ‘Saxton state’. The paper bears the normal bunch-of-grapes watermark.

Boazio's maps:

The set comprises:

1. ‘The Famouse West Indian voyadge made by the Englishe fleete of 23 shippes and Barkes wherin weare gotten the Townes of S.t Iago= : S:to Domingo, Cartagena and : S:t Avgvstines the same beinge begon from Plimmouth in the Moneth of September 1585 and ended at Portesmouth in Iulie 1586 the whole course of the saide Viadge beinge plainlie described by the pricked line Newlie come forth by Baptista B.’

2. [Untitled plan of the town of Santiago, Cape Verde Islands] ‘Hoc opidum divi Jacobi eo nomine quo insula vocat.r et comercium habet cum Guynea et adiunctis regionibus Affricae unde merces in Lusitaniam deuehunt.’

3. [Untitled plan of Santo Domingo] ‘Civitas S. Dominici sita in Hispaniola Indica Angliae magnitudine fere aequalis, ipsa urbs elegantor ab Hispanis extructa, et omnibus circumvicinis insulis iura dat.’

4. [Untitled plan of Cartagena] ‘Civitas Carthagena in Indiae occidentalis continente sita, portu commodissimo, ad mercaturam inter Hispaniam et Peru exercendam.’

5. [Untitled plan of St. Augustine] ‘Opidvm S. Augustini lignis aedibus constructum, amaeninissimos habuit hortes antiq. solo faecundissmino anobis vero cum inde soluerimos iniecto ignae incineres redactam. Praesidium hic erat 150 Hispanioles aluidq item numero ad duodecim Septentrione versus leucas in loco S. Helenae dicta. haec enim praesidi quemadmodum canes in praesepi non alio condilio disposita erant nisi ad prohibendos Anglos et Gallos ne interiectam regionem quae prorsus inuere incet, occuparent.’ ‘S. Avgvstini pars est Terrae Floridae sub latitudine 30 gradora vero maritima humilior est, lacinata et insulosa.’

Giovanni Battista Boazio was an Italian draughtsman and cartographer, quite possibly a military engineer, who seems to have settled in England by 1585. In that year Boazio is encountered working with the Elizabethan forces in Ireland, where he was the colourist of John Browne (I)’s manuscript map of western and central Mayo, sent to Sir Francis Walsingham on 10th June 1585, and now housed in the National Archives (formerly P.R.O.). The map is signed ‘J. Baptist the painter’ (the signature in two different hands), but the attribution to Boazio confidently accepted by Andrews.

Boazio subsequently entered the service of Christopher Carleill, the step-son of Walsingham. Carleill was in Ireland from autumn 1584 to summer 1585, before joining Sir Francis Drake’s expedition to the West Indies in 1585-1586 as the Lieutenant-General. In 1585, Queen Elizabeth I, determined to be a thorn in the side of the Spanish, despatched a small fleet to raid the Spanish possessions in the West Indies, under the command of Sir Francis Drake. Boazio may well have entered Carleill’s service in Ireland, but certainly accompanied him on the West Indies expedition as a member of his party, serving as his page.

Drake’s fleet set sail on 14th September 1585, sailing first along the Spanish coast to Bayonne and Vigo, before reaching the town of Santiago in the Cape Verde Islands, on 17th November. Drake looted the town, and then put it to the torch, before commencing on the Atlantic crossing.

On New Year's Day 1586, the fleet arrived off Santo Domingo (Hispaniola), which Drake captured and plundered, before demanding, and receiving, a ransom of 25,000 Spanish ducats. He then sailed on Cartagena, capturing the place on 9th February, looting the town and successfully demanding a ransom of 110,000 ducats. There the fleet careened for about six weeks before sailing round western Cuba and through the Florida straits before arriving off St. Augustine, which was duly sacked between 28th and 30th May.

As his final act before returning home, Drake sailed up the eastern seaboard to Roanoke Island, to check on the English settlers there; finding the colony in parlous shape, he evacuated the surviving colonists, including John White, the artist, and Thomas Hariot, the scientist, and brought them safely back to England, landing at Portsmouth on 22nd July 1586.

The expedition caused a sensation in England, and an account of the expedition was prepared for the press by Thomas Cates (probably Sir Thomas Gates) from the manuscript account begun by Captain Walter Bigges, who died at Cartagena, and apparently continued by one Lieutenant Croftes, although even Cates himself was not certain of this.

The book was registered, as a form of copyright protection, with the Stationers’ Company on 26th November 1588: "Master Ponsonby  Licenced vnto him vnder th[e h]andes of the Bishop of London and master warden Coldocke A Booke intitytuled, 'The voyadge into the West Indyes made by Sir Ffrauncis Drake knighte.' ... [fee paid] vi d. [six pence]". Although registered by William Ponsonby, a distinguished member of the Stationers’ Company, the first edition was printed by Richard Field, boyhood-friend of, and early printer for, William Shakespeare, perhaps printing it for Ponsonby, although the latter’s name is not found associated with printed editions until 1596.

The first English edition was entitled A svmmarie and trve discovrse of Sir Frances Drakes VVest Indian Voyage. Wherein were taken, the Townes of Saint Jago, Sancto Domingo, Cartagena & Saint Augustine With Geographicall Mappes exactly describing each of the townes with their scituations, and the manner of the Armies approching to the vvinning of them... Imprinted at London by Richard Field, dwelling in the Blacke-Friars by Ludgate. 1589.

The book is actually accompanied by five engraved maps, comprising a general route map of the north Atlantic, showing the outward and homeward route, and the bird's-eye views/plans of the four unfortunate towns ‘visited’ by Drake during his expedition, as referred to on the title-page.

The plans are of particular importance; they are the first printed plan of each of the towns, and that of St. Augustine is the first printed plan of any city within the confines of the modern United States. They also contain the first appearance in print of any of the American natural history drawings of John White, the official artist of the Virginia colony, who returned to England with Drake’s fleet, his rendering of a dolphin enlivening the plan of St. Augustine, for example.

Within English terms, the set of maps are extremely important - one of the cartographic monuments of Elizabethan England. The set, if they may be termed an atlas, form the first overseas atlas published in England. They are among the very earliest engraved maps of overseas subjects published in England, the first detailed overseas maps based on original English observations, all this if they were indeed engraved and published in England.

Much has been made of the fact that they first appear in a 1588 Leiden printing of Bigges’ text, Expeditio Francesci Draki Equitio Angli in Indias Occidentales a MDLXXXV..., published by Franciscus Raphelengius, the son-in-law of Christopher Plantin, and manager of his Leiden printing house. On that basis, it has been conjectured that the maps were engraved in Leiden, and then brought to England for the English edition the following year.

However, the preliminary text of the English edition offers another alternative, which is perhaps more likely. In the dedication to the Earl of Essex, Cates (or Gates ?) notes that he was writing “a yeare and a halfe since the voyadge ended...", so very approximately the start of 1588, while a note from the printer, on the verso of the title reads: “The Reader must understand, that this Discourse was dedicated, and intended to haue bene imprinted somewhat before the coming of the Spanish Fleete [the Armada] vpon ouyr coast of England: but by casualtie the same was forgotten and slacked for a time of some better leasure.”

Publication of Sir Anthony Ashley’s English edition of Lucas Jansz. Waghenaer’s Spieghel der Zeevaerdt, published in London in 1588 as the Marriners’ Mirrovr, was similarly delayed in printing until after the threat of the Armada had receded. In passing, it might be noted that Raphelengius, as Plantin’s representative, was printer of continental editions of Waghenaer.

It may be that the publisher, Richard Field, or perhaps William Ponsonby who registered for the copyright, intended parallel London and continental printings, but the London printing was delayed by the threat of invasion, while the Leiden printings went ahead as planned. It has been noted that the printed text of the Leiden edition is abridged from the London edition, and contains only the four town plans, as called for on the title-page of the first English edition. A supposition is that the four plans, drawn from eye-witness recollection were probably drawn and engraved first, while the plan of the North Atlantic, which had to be researched and composed from a variety of sources, was probably begun last and, from the evidence of the title-page, was probably not part of the original conception.

Although only the general map bears an author’s name, and that only the partial ‘by Baptista B.’, the title-page of the 1589 Ward edition attributes the four plans to Boazio. There has been much debate about who engraved the map. Jodocus Hondius Sr., a Flemish mapmaker and engraver working in London is certainly one possibility, while Burden introduces Michael Mercator, grandson of the great Gerard Mercator, also resident in London, as an alternative. In a lay subsidy of 1590, Mercator was described as “servaunte to Baptista”, suggested by some to mean Boazio, although this has been disputed.

The four town plans are by a different engraver than the Atlantic map, the latter a rather more naïve rendering. It is surprising that Augustine Ryther, an English engraver, mapseller and publisher hasn’t been mentioned in this context, as an English engraver competent enough to have engraved the town plans. Ryther contributed five maps to the Saxton atlas of England and Wales, and is believed to have taken over the sale of Saxton's maps and atlases, and come into possession of the plates after the expiry of Saxton's copyright in 1587. He would also be one of the few contemporary engravers and publishers with a printing press for maps, which Field, not otherwise known as a map- or print-publisher would not have had.

That the two sets were bound together may, however, simply be that Ryther as a map-seller, with his shop “a little from Leadenhall next to the signe of the Tower”, maintained a stock of sheets of the Drake maps - he also sold sets of Robert Adams’s Armada maps (which he engraved) - and would bind up combinations of the sets on demand.

The Macclesfield copy:

The Macclesfield set of Drake maps are bound with the Saxton atlas, and it was tentatively suggested that Pierre S. duPont III’s set (now in the Library of Congress, part of the Jay I. Kislak Collection) were also once bound ‘possibly [in] a Saxton’ atlas.

This example of the atlas is unusual colour for a Saxton, but displays a uniformity with the accompanying set of Boazio maps, for example the blue wash colour for the seas, that shows the colour to be contemporary; there is some evidence of recolouring, for example to some of the cartouches that may have occurred when the volume was rebound.

The combination of the Saxton maps and Boazio maps is a remarkable record of the emerging national identity of Tudor England, of developing confidence to overcome the insularity of recent years and a greater ambition for England to take her place on the world stage, published as England was taking her first steps in building a world empire.