Arguably one of the most desirable of the maps by Saxton is that of Cornwall. It is one of five plates engraved by Lenaert Terwoort a native of Antwerp. Of the several Dutch and Flemish engravers employed by Saxton we know the least about him. This example is the usual second state, the first being an early pre-issue. It is one of only five maps to include Hundreds, all were early productions. Evans and Lawrence speculate (p. 13) that Saxton began the survey of Cornwall late in 1575 and completed it in early 1576. Only eight maps are believed to pre-date it.
Christopher Saxton produced one of the earliest national surveys of any kind and the first uniformly conceived cartographic survey of England and Wales. It was begun in about 1574 and completed by 1579: ‘in the long list of British atlases the first name is also the greatest, the name of Christopher Saxton’ (Chubb). Saxton (c.1542–c.1610) was born in the Dunningley, West Riding of Yorkshire. While the details of his early life are sketchy, it is known that he attended Cambridge University, and in 1570 he was apprenticed as a map maker to John Rudd, Vicar of Dewsbury. Saxton began work on his county maps in about 1574. In 1577 he received letters patent from Elizabeth I protecting his maps against plagiarism for the next ten years. As well as the Queen’s protection, Saxton also enjoyed the patronage of Thomas Seckford, Master of the Queen’s Requests, whose mottoes are found on the maps.
Evans and Lawrence wrote that he ‘left a legacy of maps of the counties of England and Wales from which succeeding generations of map-makers drew extensively … amazingly accurate in detail, [the atlas] survives as testimony to his expertise when surveying techniques and comprehension of the mathematical sciences were still limited.’ They are arguably the most highly prized by collectors of county maps. This example bears the crossed arrows watermark issued it is believed closer to the late 1580s after the Spanish Armada when the atlas was made more available to the public. Barber ‘Mapmaking in England, ca.1470-1650’ in The History of Cartography volume 3 part 2 pp. 1623-31; Chubb (1927) I; Evans & Lawrence (1979) pp. 9–43; Harley, Brian ‘The Map Collector’ no. 8 pp. 2-11; Hind (1952-55) vol. 1 p. 73; Lawrence, Heather ‘Christopher Saxton’ in The Map Collector 27 pp. 16-18; Quixley (1966) no. 1; Shirley (1980) no. 128; Shirley (2004) T.Sax 1b-e; Skelton (1970) 1; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).