John Speed was one of the most significant map makers of the medieval times in England. He was also renowned as a historian. John Speed was born in 1552 at Farndon, Cheshire. He came to London and settled down there in 1582. John Speed by profession was a tailor and while working as a tailor he developed an interest in history, especially on genealogies and antiquities.
Two of the most popular atlases of John Speed are the Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World and the Theater of the Empire of Great Britain. These two atlases were published in 1627 and 1612 respectively.
John Speed's first four sheeted Canaan wall map was published in 1595. Later he became the member of the Society of Antiquaries through the patronage of Sir Fulke Greville. Here he came in touch with some of the well known scholars like William Smith, Robert Cotton and William Camden. These scholars significantly influenced his works.
Around 1600, John Speed presented many maps to Merchant Taylors Company. From 1605 to 1610 Speed collected different materials, which included portraits, manuscripts maps, drawings of antiquities, coin rubbings and coats of arms. He made an extensive survey of British Isles for collecting information on town plans that later appeared on his maps.
These materials were passed to Jodocus Hondius, who engraved many maps of the Theater of the Empire of Great Britain.
Not only in England, John Speed is also a renowned map maker of the world.