Keer's Atlas 1627

Notes by
Martin and Jean Norgate: 2000

This transcription is made from the title page and preface pages of England Wales Scotland and Ireland Described by Peter Keer, about 1605, edition of 1627. The pages are in the Map Collection of Hampshire CC Museums Service, item HMCMS:KD11996.17.

title page

England Wales Scotland / and Ireland Described / and Abridged With ye Historic / Relation Of things worthy memory / from a farr Larger Voulume / Done by / John Speed

Anno / Cum privilegio / 1627

And are to / bee sould by / Georg Humble / at ye Whit horse / in popeshead / Alley


THe State of every Kingdome well managed by prudent government, seemes to me to represent a humane Body, guided by the soveraigntie of the Reasonable Soule: the Country and Land it selfe representing the one, the Actions and State-affaires the other. Sith therefore the excellences of the whole are but unperfectly laid open, where either of these Parts is defective, our intendment is to take a view as well of the outward Body and Lineaments of the now-flourishing British Monarchy (the Ilands) Kingdomes and Provinces thereof in actuall possession, (for with others, no lesse justly claimed in the Continent, we meddle not) which shall be the content of our first or Chorographicall Tome, containing the foure first Bookes of this our Theater: as also of its successive government and vitall actions of State, which shall be our second or Historicall Tome, containing the five last Bookes. And here first we will (by example of the best Anatomists) propose to the view the whole Body and Monarchy intire (as farre as conveniently we could comprise it) and after will dissect and lay open the particular Members, Veines, and Joynts, (I meane the Shires, Rivers, Cities, and Townes) with such things as shall occurre most worthy our regard, and most behovefull for our use.

2 The Iland of Great Britaine (which with her adjoyning Isles is here first presented) containeth the Kingdomes of England and Scotalnd, and is of many accounted the greatest Island in the World, though Justus Lypsius gives that praise to Cuba in America, as the Orientall Navigators doe unto Sumatra (taken for Ptolemees Taprobana) or to Madagascar, the Island of S. Laurence, both which are neare unto, or under the Equinoctiall line; In which we will not contend: as pleasing our selves with her other praises greater then her Greatnes; yet with this honour also, that it was (without question) the greatest Island of the Romane World, and for any thing yet certainly known, of all the rest. Concerning whose positure in respect of Heaven, Lucretius (the first of the Latine Writers that names Britaine) seemeth to place it in the same Parallell with Pontus, wher he saith:
Nam quid Britannum coelum differre putamus, &c.
What differs Britaines heaven from that of Nile?
Or Pontus welkin, from Gades warmer Ile?
In which, by a certaine crosse comparison, he opposeth two likes against two unlikes, Britaine and Pontus against Egypt and Gades.

But to seek into profound Antiquitie, rather than present practise, for matters, in which Use makes perfectnesse, were to affect the giving like by shadowes, rather then by Sunne-shine.

3 It is by experience found to lie included from the degree fiftie, and thirtie scruples of Latitude, and for Longitude extended from the 13. degree, and 20 minutes, unto the 22. and 50 minutes, according to the observation of Mercator. It hath Britaine, Normandy, and other parts of France upon the South, the Lower Germany, Denmark, and Norway upon the East; the Isles of Orkney and the Deucaledonian Sea, upon the North; the Hebrides upon the West, and from it all other Ilands and Ilets, which doe scatteredly inviron it, and shelter themselves (as it were) undo the shadow of Great Albion (another name of this famous Iland) are also accounted Britannish, and are therefore here described altogether.

4 Britaine thus seated in the Ocean hath her praises, not onely in the present sense, and use of her commodities, but also in those honorable Eulogies, which the learnedst of Antiquaries hath collected out of the noblest Authors, that he scarce seemeth to have left any gleanings: neither will we transplant them out of his flourishing Gardens but as necessitie compells, sith nothing can be further or otherwise better said.

(5) That Britaine therefore is the Seas High Admirall, is famously known: and the Fortunate Island supposed by some, as Robert of Anesbury doth shew: whose aire is more temperate (saith Caesar) then France; whose Soile bringeth forth all graine in abundance, saith Tacitus; whose Seas produce orient Pearle, saith Suetonius; whose Fields are the seat of a Summer Queene, saith Orpheus; her wildest parts free from wilde beasts, saith the ancient Panegyrick, and her chiefe Citie worthily named Augusta, as saith Ammianus: So as we may truely say with the royall Psalmist, Our lines are fallen in pleasant places, yea, we have a faire inheritance. Which whatsoever by the goodnesse of God, and industry of man it is now, yet our English Poet hath truely described unto us the first face thereof, thus;
The Land which warlike Britaines now possesse
And therein have their mighty Empires raisde,
In ancient times was salvage Wildernesse,
Unpeopled, unmanur'd, unprov'd, unpraisde.

(6) And albeit the Ocean doth at this present thrust it selfe betweene Dover and Callis, dividing them with a deep and vast entrenchment; so that Britaine thereby is of a supposed Penisle made an Iland, yet divers have stifly held, that once it was joyned by an arme of land to the Continent of Gallia. To which opinion Spencer farther alluding, thus closeth his Stanza.
Ne was it Iland then, ne was it paisde
Amid the Ocean waves, ne was it sought
Of merchants farre, for profits therein praisde,
But was all desolate, and of some thought
By Sea to have been from the Celticke Mainland brought.

Which as a matter meerely conjecturall (because it is not plaine that there were no Ilands nor hills before Noahs flouds) I leave at large: Virgill surely (of all Poets the most learned) when describing the Shield which Vulcan forged (in Virgils braine) for AEneas, he cals the Morini (people about Calis) the outmost men, doth onely meane that they were Westward, the furthest Inhabitants upon the Continent, signifying with all that Britaine as being an Iland, lay out of the world: but yet not out of the knowledge of men, for the Commodities thereof invited the famous Greeke Colonies of Merchants, which dwellt at Marsilia in France, to venter hither, as hath beene well observed out of Strabo.

(7) And as Julius Caesar was the first Romane which ever gave an attempt to conquer it, so will we close its prayses with a late Epigram, concerning the outward face of the Isle, and the motive of Caesars comming.
ALBIONIS vertex frondoso crine superbus.
Arboreas frondes plurimus ales habet.
Gramineam Montes & fundunt pascua pubem;
Et carpunt, circum pascua, gramem oves:
Sed LATII caruit potioribus Insula donis,
Victori potior Gloria ni LATIO.
Albions high tops her woody lockes farre shew,
With quiers of chanting Birds these Woods resounding.
Her Downes and Meadowes clad in verdant hew,
Meadowes and Downes with flockes and heards abounding.
Latium had greater Wealth, yet Caesar thought,
To Brittish Glory, Latiums Wealth worth nought.

8 The division of Britaine concerning the government and Territories thereof, at such time as Caesar here arrived, doth not sufficiently appeare. Caesar himselfe makes so sparing mention therein, that we have little cause to beleeve Florus, where he makes Livie say, that after Caesar had slaine an huge multitude of Britaines, he subdued the residue of the Ile, but rather with exquisite Horace, that he did not at all touch them, as the word in actus doth in him purport.

9 Kings they were, and therefore that division which was here in Caesars time, was into Kingdomes; the old names of whole Nations, as also the knowledge of their severall abodes, hidden under the rubbish of so many ages, hath of late with infinite labours and exquisite judgement, beene probably restored and abounded; yet that no mans expectation and desire be too much frustrated, reason wills that we briefly set forth such divisions of the Land, as may repute not ancient onely, but authenticke.

10 Our seeming ancient Historians begin it at Brute, who to every of his three sonnes gave a part, called presently after their names; as Loegria to Locrine his eldest sonne; Cambria to Camber his second sonne; and Albania to Albanist his third sonne: And doubtlesse, if there had beene more Nations of fame in this Iland, Brute should have had more sonnes fathered on him: which conceit some ascribe to Monmouths holding that before him it was never so divided.

11 Ptolomie naming Britaine the Great and the Lesse, hath beene by some mistaken, as so dividing this Iland into two parts; but his proportion and distance from the AEquator, compared with his Geographicall description will evince that he calleth this our Iland Great Britaine, and Ireland Britaine the Lesse.

12 Howbeit some later doe make indeed the South aud [sic] more Champion to be called Great Britaine, and the North more Mountainous, Britaine the lesse; whose Inhabitants anciently were distinguished into the Majatae, and Caledonii, and now by the Scots are into Heghlandmen and Lawlandmen. But that Northerne clime being more piercing for the Romans constitutions, and lesse profitable or fruitfull, they set their bounds not farre from Edinburgh, and altogether neglected the other parts more Northward.

13 This neerer part of Britain they then divided into two parts; for the more Southern tract, together with Wales, Dio termeth the Higher, and that more Northward the Lower, as by the seats of their Legions doth appeare; for the second Legion Augusta (which kept at Caerleon in South Wales) and the twentieth called Victrix, (which remained at Chester) hen placeth in the Higher Britaine: but the sixt Legion surnamed also Victrix, resident at Yorke, served (as he writeth) in the Lower Britaine; which division, as seemeth, was made by Severus the Emperour, who having vanquished Albinus, Generall of the Britaines, and reduced their State under his obedience, divided the governement thereof into two Provinces, and placed two Prefects over the same.

14 After this againe the Romans did apportion Britaine into three parts, whose limits our great Antiquary assigneth by the ancient Archiepiscopall Seates, grounding his conjecture of the saying Pope Lucius, who affirmes that the Ecclesiasticall Jurisdictions of the Christians, accorded with the precincts of the Romane Magistrates, & that their Archbishops had their Sees in those Cities wherein their Presidents abode: so tha the ancient Seates of the three Archbishops here being London in the East, Caerleon in the West, and Yorke in the North; London Diocesse (as seemeth) made Britaine prima, Caerleon, Britaine secunda; and Yorke, Maxima Caesariensis.

15 But in the next age, when the power of their Presidents began to grow over-great, they againe divided Britaine into five parts, adding to the three former Valentia and Flavia Caesariensis: the first of which two seemeth to have beene the Northerly part of Maxima Caesariensis, recovered from the Picts and Scots by Theodosius the Generall, under Valence the Emperour, and in honour of him, named Valentia: and Flavia may be conjectured to receive the name from Flavius the Emperour (sonne of Theodosius) for that we reade not of the name Britaine Flavia, before his time.

16 So these five partitions had their limits assigned after this manner: Britaine prima contained those coasts that lay betwixt Thamesis, the Severne, and the British Sea: Britaine secunda extendeth from Severne unto the Irish Seas, containing the Country that we now call Wales: Flavia Caesariensis, was that which lay betwixt the Rivers Humber and Tyne: and Valentia from the said River, and Picts wall reached unto the Rampire neare Edenburgh in Scotland, the farthest part that the Romanes possessed when this division was in use. For the severall people inhabiting all those parts, with their ancient Names & Borders (whether designed by the Romans, or the old Britaines) together with our moderne Names and Shires, answerable to each of them: we will referre you to the Tables thereof elsewhere.

17 This whole Province of Britaine, as in our History shall appeare, was highly esteemed of the Emperours themselves, assuming as a glorious surname Britannicus: coming thither in person over those dangerous and scarce known Seas; here marrying, living, and dying; enacting here Lawes for the whole Empire, and giving to those Captaines that served here, many ensignes of great honor; yea Claudius gave Plantius (the first Prefect of that Province) the right hand, as he accompanied him in his triumph: and his own Triumph of Britaine was set out with such magnificence, that the Provinces brought in golden Crownes of great waight, the Governours commanded to attend, and the very Captaines permitted to be present at the same: A Navall Coronet was fixed upon a pinnacle of his Palace, Arches and Trophees were raised in Rome, and himselfe on his aged knees mounted the staires into the Capitoll, supported by his two sonnes in Law: so great a joy conceived he in himselfe for the Conquest of some small portion of Britaine.

18 How the Romans found it, held it, and left it, as times ripened and rottened their successe, with the Names, the Inhabitants, Manners & [Resisters], I leave to be pursued in the following Histories: and will onely now shew thee these three Kingdomes, that are (in present) the chiefe Bodies of Great Britaines Monarchie; two of which (Scotland and Ireland) shall in their due places have their farther and more particular Descriptions.

Table of data about the shires.
table After the first page of chapter 1 is a tabulation:-
A Catalogue of all the Shires, Citties, Bishoprickes, Market Townes, Castles, Parishes, Rivers, Bridges, Chases, Forrests, and Parkes, conteyned in every particular shire of the Kingdom of England.

The table header is:-
Shires / Cities / Bishopricks. / Mark Tounes. / Castles / Parish Church / Rivers / Bridgs / Chases / Forrests. / Parkes.
The entry for Hampshire is:-
Hant-shire / 01 / 01 / 18 / 05 / 248 / 04 / 31 / 00 / 04 / 22

Keer's Hampshire 1605, contents
General index
Old Hampshire Mapped

Text HMCMS:KD1996.17
 ©  Martin and Jean Norgate: 2003
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