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Speed, John

John Speed (1551 or 1552-1629) was a chronologer, historian and England's best-known Stuart period cartographer, whose highly decorative maps helped to define early modern concepts of British national identity. He drew upon and improved the earlier shire maps of Christopher Saxton, John Norden and others, being the first to incorporate the hundred-boundaries into them, and he was the surveyor and originator of many of the town or city plans inset within them. He is best known today for his atlas, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine (published 1611, 1616, 1623), which included a set of county maps of England and Wales, as well as maps of Ireland and a general map of Scotland. This was followed in 1627 by A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World, the first world atlas produced by an Englishman; the North American maps contained therein are particularly highly prized today.