Click here to skip to content



Cartographer: Smith, William

Medium: Pen and ink on paper

Date: 1598

Shelfmark: Harley MS 6159 f. 4*

Length: 42.4

Width: 52

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Map

This map of Lancashire dates from 1598 and is by the cartographer and antiquarian William Smith. 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 Smith's heraldic interests.
In 1588, Smith completed "The Particuler Description of England. With the portratures of certaine of the cheiffest citties & townes.1588". This work consisted of drawings of English cities and towns in a traditional birds eye view style, and drawings amalgamating bird's eye view and plan.
In the years 1602-03, William Smith anonymously published maps of Chester, Essex, Hertfordshire Lancashire, (for which this may be preparatory work) Leicester, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwickshire and Worcester. 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
Here the ‘Countie stone’ is marked and labelled at the boundary point which separates Lancashire and Westmorland. A panel of text at bottom right provides a description of the County of Lancashire and Duchy of Lancaster.

Search within this collection

Elsewhere on our websites


Latest events - register free online