Saxton, Christopher (DNB00)

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SAXTON, CHRISTOPHER (fl. 1570–1596), topographical draughtsman, was born of an old Yorkshire family at Tinglow in Mosley Hundred, near Leeds. He was educated at Cambridge, but at what college is not known. It is uncertain when he came to London, but he was attached to the household of Thomas Seckford [q. v.], master of requests and of the court of wards. Saxton undertook, at Seckford's instigation and expense and with the authority of the queen, to survey and draw careful maps of every county in England and Wales. These maps were commenced about 1574 and completed in 1579, in which year they were published with a dedication to Queen Elizabeth. This was the first survey of the counties in England, and all subsequent maps of the period—e.g. those in Speed's ‘Chronicle’—were based upon them. Seckford obtained for Saxton from the privy council special facilities ‘to be assisted in all places where he shall come for the view of such places to describe certain counties in cartes, being thereunto appointed by her Majestie's bill under her signet.’ Travelling in Wales being a matter of difficulty, special injunctions were sent in 1576 to all justices of peace, mayors, and others in Wales ‘to see him conducted unto any towre, castle, highe place or hill, to view that countrey, and that he may be accompanied with ij or iij honest men, such as do best know the countrey, for the better accomplishment of that service; and that at his departure from any towne or place that he hath taken the view of, the said towne do set forth a horseman that can speke both Welshe and Englishe, to safe-conduct him to the next market-towne’ (see Acts of the Privy Council, 1575–7). The maps drawn by Saxton were engraved by Augustine Ryther [q. v.], Remigius Hogenberg [q. v.], Leonard Terwoort of Antwerp, Nicholas Reynold of London, Cornelius Hogius, and Francis Scatter. There is no evidence on the maps that Saxton engraved any of them himself, but, according to one account, he engraved those of the Welsh counties and Herefordshire with his own hand. Saxton obtained a license to sell these maps for a term of ten years. Complete copies of Saxton's maps are very scarce. Saxton also published a map of Yorkshire with views of York and Hull. He was alive as late as 1596, when he measured and described the town of Manchester (Dee, Diary, Camden Soc., pp. 55, 56). He stayed at Dee's house on this occasion. Saxton was married, and left sons who died without issue, and a daughter Grace, who married Thomas Nalson of Altofts, Yorkshire (Familiæ Minor. Gent., Harl. Soc., p. 822).

[Thoresby's Ducatus Leodiensis and Diary; Ames's Typogr. Antiquities; Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 420, 568; manuscript notes in Daines Barrington's copy of the maps in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries.]

L. C.