7.1. Speed’s 1610 Map of Lancashire

Commentary by Helen Moorwood

John Speed’s must be the most magnificent map of old Lancashire ever produced. It was not the first one based on a ground survey – that had been produced by Christopher Saxton in 1577 and John Speed drew very much on his predecessor’s work. However, Speed turned it into a real ‘historical’ map by including portraits of many of the Lancastrian and Yorkist monarchs. The date of 1610 can be seen at the top, but it is often dated 1611 because of its publication in that year with all the other county maps.


Speed 1611 Lancashire


The helpful colourist did indeed include all the external boundaries of Lancashire, but he missed out part of one internal boundary between Salford and Blackburn Hundreds, and gave the mistaken impression that SE Lancashire bordered on Derbyshire, which is not the case. For the boundaries of Cheshire one needs to turn to his map of that county.

There have been many reproductions of his county maps, one of the most recent and excellent compendia being The Counties of Britain, A Tudor Atlas by John Speed, published in Association with the British Library, introduced by Nigel Nicolson, Pavilion Books Ltd, London, 1988 hardback, 1995 paperback.

The Lancastrian King Henries on the left start chronologically at the bottom with Henry III, Henry V in the middle and Henry VI and VII at the top. For reasons known only to himself, Speed omitted Henry IV (son of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster). However, he (or some other helpful colleague) provided informative texts in boxes:


The portraiture of all those kings sprunge frô ye royall families of Lancashire and Yorke which with variable successe got, and enjoyed ye Crown and kingdom. This first syde of his mapp of Lancashire, sheweth them of Lancaster, and the other side: them of the house of York.
The Yorkist kings on the right are Edward III at the bottom, Edward V (one of the Princes in the Tower) in the middle and Richard III at the top, with his niece Elizabeth of York next to him, thus as close as possible to her husband Henry VII. Their marriage united the Houses of York and Lancaster and, as Speed tells us, “joined the Red and White Rose in one”. The colourist seems to have overlooked this fact and coloured all the roses red.
HENRY the forth, and first of Lancaster, by a for ced resignation and affecti: oned election, got the King: dom, his sone and sones sone succeeded him Ed. 4, of York surprised him and after him, his sone and Brother raigned, his eldest daughter of Yorke matching with Lancaster ioyned the Red and White Rose in one.


One hardly needs reminding that today we know several of these kings and much about the Wars of the Roses because Shakespeare wrote the plays Henry IV 1, 2, Henry V, Henry VI 1, 2, 3, and Richard III. The recent BBC bonanza on The Tudors and the current series The White Queen has informed us all in a different fashion.

Many of the Lancastrian characters who appear on this website found themselves intricately involved with some of these monarchs, most particularly Sir Christopher Standish of Duxbury and Sir Alexander Standish of Standish, who were both knighted by Gloucester, the future Richard III, in 1482, but at Bosworth forsook him along with their leader in the Stanley army that entered at the last minute and put Henry VII on the throne. Long before that, several Standishes had been at Harfleur and Agincourt with Henry V and several more fought in France during the reign of Henry VI.


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