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DEVONIAE COMOTAT

DEVONIAE COMOTAT

Cartographer: Saxton, Christopher

Medium: Engraving, coloured

Date: 1575

Shelfmark: Royal MS. 18. D.III

Item number: f.12

Length: 40.7

Width: 54.4

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Map

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This map of Devon is by Christopher Saxton and dates from 1575. It forms part of
an atlas that belonged to William Cecil Lord Burghley, Secretary
of State to Elizabeth I. Burghley used this atlas to illustrate domestic matters.
This map is actually a proof copy of one which forms part of Christopher Saxton’s Atlas of England and Wales.
This atlas was first published as a whole in 1579. It consists of 35 coloured maps depicting the counties of England and Wales. The atlas is of great significance to British cartography as it set a standard of cartographic representation in Britain and the maps remained the basis for English county mapping, with few exceptions, until after 1750.
During the reign of Elizabeth I map use became more common, with many government matters referring to increasingly accurate maps with consistent scales and symbols, made possible by advances in surveying techniques. This map was produced under the patronage of Thomas Seckford, a Master of Requests to Elizabeth I, who had commissioned Saxton’s atlas of county maps, a project overseen by Lord Burghley, Secretary of State, whose administration increasingly involved the use of maps.

This map is interesting as there are several notes in the margins. In the lower right hand margin: 'A Note of hir maties Store of Ordonnaunce, powder and match, lead,&c.,remayningin ye L. Lieutenauntes, &c. hands'. In the upper right hand margin 'A Note what powder and match was appointed to be kept in store in every corporate towne'. In the left hand margin 'A Breef Note of ye places of Descent. . . yt are most daungerous and require greatest regard and assistaunce'. These annotations were most probably made by an assistant of Lord Burghley’s, and show the concern felt about coastal areas in the face of the threat from Spain which culminated in 1588 with the events of the Spanish Armada.

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