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Comitatus Palatinus Cestriae

Comitatus Palatinus Cestriae

Cartographer: Smith, William

Medium: Pen and ink on paper

Date: 1585

Shelfmark: Harley MS 1046

Item number: f. 132

Genre: Map

This is a map of Cheshire by William Smith. It dates from 1585. William Smith was Rouge Dragon at the College of Heralds/College of Arms, an institution that specialised in genealogical work, increasingly more so during the Elizabethan age as the gentry class rose in importance. The Rouge Dragon is the name of one of the Pursuivants, a heraldic officer attendant on the heralds, often attached to a particular nobleman, named so because of their badges. The prominent coat of arms on this plan reveals Smiths heraldic interests. In 1588 Smith completed "The Particuler Description of England. With the portratures of certaine of the cheiffest citties & townes". This work consisted of drawings of English cities and towns in a traditional bird's eye view style, drawings amalgamating bird's eye and plan.

In the years 1602-03, William Smith anonymously published maps of Chester, Essex, Hertfordshire Lancashire, Leicester, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. These were probably engraved in Amsterdam and were intended to form sheets of a new atlas. After the publication of Saxton’s county maps in the 1570s, cartographers attempted to improve on Saxton’s atlas and replicate its success. Unfortunately for Smith, another cartographer, John Speed, was also preparing county maps at this time and competition proved too great, Speed being the victor.

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