Old Hampshire Mapped

Saxton's Hampshire 1575

Notes by
Martin and Jean Norgate: 1998


The whole map
Index sheet to parts of the map
Gazetteer, place names
Index sheet to market towns, etc
Map features
Christopher Saxton
His surveying
Raw data
Other maps

These notes are made from a copy of Christopher Saxton's map of Hampshire. Saxton was commissioned by Thomas Seckford of Suffolk, a Master of the Court of Requests to Elizabeth I, to map all the counties of England and Wales. This project of national importance having the support of Elizabeth I; the survey was to result in maps which would be an aid to the government of the country.

Christopher Saxton's survey began about 1574 having received a letter from Elizabeth I dated 28 July in the 15th year of her reign, ie 1573. He travelled through the whole of England through towns and villages ... with the utmost labour and industry ... . Early copies of each map were sent to William Cecil, Lord Burghley - proof copies which still exist. Hampshire was done in 1575, and in this case an even earlier state exists in the Bodleian collection. The map published in 1579 in the completed atlas had a few amendments to the original engraving; Saxton's name added for example.

The 34 county maps were published in an Atlas of England and Wales, 1579; the first national atlas of provincial maps in the world. The arms of Elizabeth I and of his patron Seckford, appear on the maps.

Lord Burghley said, a few years later, in 1592:-
A Secretarie [of State] must likewise have the Booke of Ortelius' Mapps, a booke of the Mappes of England ... and also a good description of the Realme of Irelande ... and if anie other plottes or mapps come to his hands, let them be kept safelie.
(Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, a world atlas, was published by Abraham Ortelius, Antwerp, 1570.) The unit of Saxton's survey was the county. This has long been the territorial unit of english local administration. Saxton used a strategy which still has some currency. We no longer, usually, leave blank paper on our maps outside the county being mapped, although the early 19th century Ordnance Survey maps, the 25inch County Series, still did just that.

The map used is in the collection of Hampshire County Council Museums Service, item Identity number: HMCMS:KD1996.1.

Some of the symbols and labelling on this copy of the map have been added to the printing plate in an indifferent hand; it is a late version?

This study concentrates upon what can be seen from our example of the map; studies of the background of county mapping in England, and map makers have been published elsewhere.

Christopher Saxton
Christopher Saxton was born in Dunningley, near Wakefield, Yorkshire, about 1542-44. He wrote, in 1596, that he was:-
[... of Dunningley, in the parish of Westardeslye in the countye of Yorke, Gent., of age fiftye twoo yeares or thereabouts.]
Little is known of his early life but that he became a servant to John Rudd, vicar of Dewsbury, prebendary of Durham Cathedral, and a map maker. There was a new interest in land surveying at the time; land owners having estate plans drawn, enclosure disputes needing maps to clarify land holding, and a general interest in knowing the land better in this period of increasing learning.

Saxton was issued a pass, to give him royal authority in his surveying, by the Privy Council, 11 March 1576:-
A placart to [ ] Saxton servant to Mr. Sackeford Mr. of the Requests to be assisted in all placs where he shall come for the view of mete placs to decribe certen counties in carts being thereunto appointed by her mait.s bill under her Signet
Already , 11 March 1574, Elizabeth I had granted Grigston Manor, Suffolk, to Christopher Saxton:-
[... for certain good causes, grand charges and expenses lately had, and sustained, in the survey of divers parts of England.]
A licence to publish his maps for ten years was granted 22 July 1577:-
[Whereas Christofer Saxton servaunte to oure trustie and welbeloved Thomas Sekeford Esquier Master of Requests unto us hath already (at the greate coste and charges of his said master) travelyed throughe the greateste parte of this oure realme of Englande and hathe to the greatepleasure and commoditie of us ... uppon the perfecte viewe of a great nomber of the severall Counties and Shyres ... drawen oute and sette fourthe diverse trewe and pleasaunte mappes .... And so from tyme to tyme to cause the same platts and decriptions to be well and fayre ingraven of copper and to be after impressed and stamped out ...]
Later, Elizabeth I granted Saxton the right to a coat of arms, recognising his:-
Geographicall descripcion of all the several Shires and counties within this Realme ... now finished ... to his lasting praise ...
The blazon of his arms includes: three chaplets or garlands in a bend gules .
[... for his crest upon the healme on a torse or wreath argent and sable, the demys arme of a man, with the sleave gold, the hand proper, coulor holdinge a payre of compasses gold ...]

Saxton's death is unrecorded. Thomas, his elder brother, includes Christopher as a legatee in his will written 1610; and Christopher had died before 1626 when the will of his son Robert was proved.

References : 1936: Atlas of England and Wales, Saxton 1574-79 (facsimile): BM (London):: eg copy at NLS Map.fac.b C17 (1579)

Batho, G R: 1959: Two Newly Discovered Maps by Christopher Saxton: Geographical J: vol.125: pp.70-74

Box, E G: 1932=1935: Hampshire in Early Maps and early Roadbooks: Hampshire Field Club: XII: pp221-235

Briscoe, A Daly: 1979: Tudor Worthy, Thomas Seckford of Woodbridge, A: (Ipswich, Suffolk)

Eden, P (ed):: Dictionary of Land Surveyors and Local Cartographers of Great Britain and Ireland, 1550-1850

Evans, Ifor M; Lawrence, Heather: 1979: Christopher Saxton, Elizabethan Map-Maker: Wakefield Historical Pblications; Holland Press:: ISBN 0 901869 06 6

Fordham, Herbert G, Sir: 1928: Christopher Saxton of Dunningley, his life and work: Miscellanea of the Thoresby Society (Leeds) : 28: pp356-84, 491

Harley, J B: 1979: Christopher Saxton and the First Atlas of England and Wales 1579-1979: Map Collector: 8: pp 2-11

Hodgkiss, A G: 1981 (4th edn): Discovering Antique maps: Shire Publications (Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire):: ISBN 0 85263 581 8; an inexpensive and approachable introduction to old maps

Lawrence, Heather: 1982: Permission to Survey: Map Collector: no.19: pp.16-20

Lyam, E: 1950: English maps and Map Makers of the Sixteenth Century: Geographical J: 106: pp10-14

Manley, G: 1934: Saxton's Survey of Northern England: Geographical J: vol.83: pp.308-16

Marcombe, David: 1978: Saxton's Apprenticeship, John Rudd a Yorkshire Cartographer: Yorkshire Archaeological J: vol.50: pp.171-75

Penfold, Alastair J: 1994: Introduction to the Printed Maps of Hampshire: Hampshire CC Museums Service

Ravenhill, William L O: 1983: Christopher Saxton's Surveying, an Enigma: (pubd in Tyacke 1983 p112-119)

Ravenhill, William L O (ed): 1992: Christopher Saxton's 16th Century Maps: Chatsworth Library:: ISBN 1 85310 354 3; facsimile; copy see NLS Map Library Map.Fac.a.C17 (1579)

Skelton, R A: 1970: County Atlases of the British Isles 1579-1850: Carta Press (London)

Skelton, R A: 1974: Saxton's Survey of England and Wales: (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Tyacke, Sarah; Huddy, John: 1980: Christopher Saxton and Tudor Map-Making: British Library (London):: ISBN 0 904654 44 3

Saxton's Hampshire 1575, contents
General index
Old Hampshire Mapped

Map HMCMS:KD1996.1
Martin and Jean Norgate: 2003
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