WITH MANUSCRIPT NOTATION OF ACQUISITION IN 1579 AT ST. PAUL’S CHURCHYARD FROM THE BOOKSELLER JOHN WIGHT. This is Christopher Saxton’s map of the counties of Warwickshire and Leicestershire produced in 1576. This example bears a fascinating manuscript annotation of acquisition in the scale, dated 1579. It supports the evidence that the maps were available individually as they were first engraved, in this case from 1576. It was acquired from the bookseller John Wight whose shop was at the Great North Door of St. Paul’s Churchyard, London. Wight was made a freeman of the Draper’s Company in 1540 and had a shop in the Churchyard from 1551 until his death in 1589. This map It was engraved by Lenaert Terwoort (fl.1575-91), a native of Antwerp who contributed five maps to the work. His imprint is found lower right. He was one of several Dutch engravers of the work. This example is in the usual finished state, the earlier one being a pre-issue.
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 at Dunningley in the 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 a remarkable early record of its acquisition in 1579: ‘Iohannes Colcellus est possessor. Iohannes Wight ei Vendi dit pro 2li.18D 17.8.A[nno].1579’. The British Book Trade Index notes that John Wight (fl.1549-89) was freed as a Draper by Thomas Petyt in 1540 aged 16. His address is given as the sign of the Rose, St. Paul’s Churchyard. The annual census of the Drapers records that he resided at the Rose between 1551 and his death in 1589. In 1551 he received a patent from Edward Vi to print and sell Matthew’s bible, the first bible in English to be printed in England in 1537. A John Colcell was a prebendary Canon at Salisbury from 1566-99. Provenance: acquired by John Colcel from John Wight the bookseller; private English collection acquired from a Cotswold Gallery 1987; Clive A. Burden Ltd. Catalogue 7 (2011) item 104; private English collection. Barber (2007); BBTI; Chubb (1927) I; Deadman & Brooks (2010) pp. 14-15; Evans & Lawrence (1979) pp. 9–43; Harley (1979); Harvey & Thorpe (1959) pp. 1-5, no. 1; Hind (1952-55) vol. 1 p. 73; Lawrence (1984); Shirley (2004) T.Sax 1a & b; Skelton (1970) 1; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).