John Speed (1552-1629) perhaps the of the most famous British mapmaker of all time.  He is noted for placing England into the mainstream of map publishing that was then dominated by the Dutch. 

Speed began as a tailor in London, but with an interest in intellectual matters.  He was befriended by a number of “learned” individuals and was able eventually to become a full-time scholar, having been granted a sinecure in the Customs House by Queen Elizabeth.  He focused on history and cartography, producing a map of the Holy Land in 1595, and historic maps of Great Britain between 1601 and 1604.  In 1611, Speed produced a Historie of Great Britaine and the following year he produced what he saw as a companion volume, the atlas, Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, the first printed atlas of Great Britain.  Speed had spent over 15 years assembling the information for this atlas, and it is one of the most influential atlases of the British Isles ever published, including maps of each of the British counties.

And while Speed is well known for his British map, he is equally renowned for the maps from his Prospect of the World (1627), an atlas in which he issued maps of other parts of the globe.  Speed’s maps are among the most sought after of any cartographer.  Part of that is that they are in English, but Speed’s maps are particularly noteworthy for their pictorial elements.  Many have carte-de-figures on the sides, insets of town plans, vignettes and other decorative elements.  His maps of the new English colonies of New England, Virginia, the Carolinas, Barbados and Jamaica, from the 1676 edition of his Prospect are of particular note.

Below is a selection of maps by John Speed.