'STAFFORD COUNTIE ANS TOWNE with the ancient Citie LICHFEILD described'' by John Speed c.1616
A highly decorative and finely engraved early 17th century map of Staffordshire which was published in John Speed's Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine (London: Sudbury & Humble, 1616). The inset town plans of Stafford and Lichfield, probably surveyed by Speed himself, are the earliest known of these places. On the reverse of the map there is a complete set of text briefly describing the history and topography of the county. This particular example has Latin text on the reverse.
John Speed (1552-1629) was born in the Cheshire village of Farndon and from his youth pursued his father's profession of tailoring. He later moved to London to continue this trade, though Speed's real passions lay elsewhere, namely in the fields of antiquity and cartography. He joined the Society of Antiquaries where his enthusiasm soon attracted the attention of notables such as William Camden and Sir Fulke Greville. In 1596 Greville provided Speed with a full time allowance to write a 'Historie of Great Britaine'. It was during this project that Speed decided to add a cartographic supplement to the work and it was from this that his famous atlas, 'The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine', was born.