ESSEXIAE COMITAT f.36
Cartographer: Saxton, Christopher
Medium: Engraving, coloured
This is a map of Essex by Christopher Saxton which dates from 1576. It forms part of an atlas that belonged to William Cecil Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s Secretary of State, who 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. Illustrating the increasing use of maps in government matters, Lord Burghley, who had been determined to have England and Wales mapped in detail from the 1550s, selected the cartographer Christopher Saxton to produce a detailed and consistent survey of the country. The financier of the project was Thomas Seckford Master of Requests at the Court of Elizabeth I, whose arms appear, along with the royal crest, on each map. Lord Burghley has added several place names to the map. At the mouth of the river Blackwater Lord Burghley has also written "Heyghfeld fayre and fatt, Barndon park better than that, Coppledon beares a Crown, Copthall best of all". The last-named is probably Sir Thomas Heneage's seat, near Epping in. Essex.
The name of the engraver of the map has not been included but would have been one of a team of seven English and Flemish engravers employed to produce the copper plates for the atlas.