4. Pieter van den Keere / (John Speed) 1605


London in the late sixteenth century was a refuge for many from the Low Countries seeking to escape religious persecution: Pieter van den Keere (1571-c.1646) was one of these refugees. He moved to London from Ghent in 1583 with his sister, Colette, who later married Jodocus Hondius and returned to Amsterdam in 1593.1 Pieter may have been apprenticed to his brother-in-law who was eight years older. He engraved a large number of maps for important cartographers, amongst these a map of London for John Norden’s Speculum Britanniae, an Atlas of the Netherlands (1617-22) and one complete and one incomplete set of county maps of the British Isles.

Back in Amsterdam, Keere engraved plates to 44 maps for a county atlas (some dated as early as 1599), the English maps being based on Saxton, the Scottish on Ortelius and the Irish on a map by Boazio which he had also engraved. These maps were not published at once in book form; one source suggests that individual maps were on sale in Amsterdam between 1605 and 1610, but perhaps they only existed in proof form until 1617 when Willem Blaeu issued them with an abridged Latin edition of William Camden’s Britannia by Regner Vittelius.

While the original maps had no text on the reverse (or manuscript text) references in the later printed text suggest a date of 1605 or shortly after.2 For the 1617 issue maps of the British Isles and Yorkshire were added, the latter derived from Saxton. The title page of this edition is signed Guilielmus noster Janssonius, the Latinized form of Blaeu’s name he used up to 1619. Pieter van den Keere himself signed his maps Petrus Kaerius.

Sometime before 1619 George Humble, John Speed’s publisher, came into possession of the plates (6). Knowing the popularity of Speed’s Theatre and the liking for miniature atlases Humble reissued the Keere maps as a pocket edition abridged from a far larger volume by J Speed. In 1627, he added the abridged text and hence they mistakenly became known as Miniature Speeds. Of the 63 maps in the Atlas, 40 were reworked from the Keere plates, 16 copied from Speed and a further 7 maps were added. The pocket atlas was reissued as late as 1676.

A number of Devon towns do not appear on the map of Devon itself but do appear on the maps of neighbouring counties, correctly placed in Devon; Sauldon, Clauton, St Giles, Siddenham, St Budix and Redfort appear on the Cornwall map; Uplyme, Axmouth and Beare on the Dorset map; and Hight and Baunton on the Somerset map. Devon was the only map with a compass, perhaps to show that Devon had been tilted slightly to fit the frame. From about 1646 when a new edition (but still dated 1627) was issued bound with John Speed´s A Prospect of the Most Famous parts of the World the map of Devon starts to show signs of wear and two cracks appear (at Bideford Bay and by the D of Devonshire) and a third crack appeared about 1668 (see text p.ix).3

These were not the only county maps to be engraved by Pieter van den Keere. About 1620 he started working with Jan Jansson and in 1648 the German edition of Atlas Minor contained maps of four Irish provinces and eight English counties including another map of Devon (13).


Size 85 x 120 mm.                                                                                                                                            Scala Miliarium (10 = 16.5 mm).

DEVONIA. Signature: P. Kaerius caelavit. Maps have no page number and no text on reverse (or have manuscript text).   



 1. 1605   Collection of maps of the counties of England and Wales   IX, S4, BL, RGS, (E). 
2. 1617   Page number 113 and a horizontal H type printed on map.4  
    Guilielmi Camdeni, Viri clarissimi Britannia , sive florentissimorum Regnorum Angliae, Scotiae, Hiberniae, & Insularum adjacentium ... descriptio.  
    Amsterdam. Guilielmi Ianssonij (W J Blaeu). 1617.  X, S12, BL, C, W, RGS.
3.  1619 Title is now DEVONSHIRE, the cartouche extending to the border. Plate number 7 (Be) added. No text on reverse. No page number or signature (ie no 113 or H, see text and illustrations).  
    England, Wales And Ireland: The severall Counties, Abridged from A farr larger vollume: By John Speed ... to bee sold by George Humble in pops head alley  
    London. George Humble. (1619).     BL.
4. 1627  Number 7 erased and - 9 - added (Ed) above title. Reverse has English text taken from first Devon page of Speed.  
       (E), (NDL).
    England Wales Scotland and Ireland Described and Abridged With ye Historie Relation of things worthy memory5  
    London. George Humble. 1627.  
    London. George Humble. 1627 (1632).       XI, S17, BL; XII, S19, BL, W. 
    England Wales Scotland and Ireland Described6  
    London. William Humble. 1627 (1646).   XIII, S37, BL, W. 
    England Wales Scotland and Ireland Described  
    London. Roger Rea the Elder and younger. 16627. XV, S69, W, BCL.
    England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland Described (No title-page.)8  
    London. Roger Rea. 1665. S82, [Gard.]. 
5. 1666  The plate has been touched up; S of SHIRE goes into lower border and half-circle by scale now completed through border. 3 cracks now evident in Devon plate.9  
    England Wales Scotland and Ireland Described  
    London. Roger Rea. 1666, (1668).    XVI, S83, [B]; S86, BL, RGS.
    England Wales Scotland and Ireland Described10  
    London. Thomas Bassett and Richard Chiswell. 1676. XVII, S93, BL, W. 

[1]See England´s Gain– Netherlanders in Elizabethan England Part II by Rodney Shirley; in IMCoS Journal, Issue 113, Summer 2008.

[2] See H Wallis in Atlas of the British Isles (a facsimile isue of this atlas); H Margary; Lympne Castle; 1972.

[3] See Skelton page 59.

[4] This edition had Latin text by Regner Vittelius on reverse. The maps usually contain printer’s collation reference letters and numbers in addition to page numbers (see illustrations). The map of Devon (on p. 113) is the first page of an H series (p. 115 is H2, p. 117 is H3 etc.). The map is bound in sideways and east may be at the top or bottom of the page. The H appears inside the map border, either easily seen, in Somerset, or partly concealed within the shotsilk sea off the Cornish coast. Where the map is backed with the Latin text (DAMNONII. C. Iterior ... ) and has the page number 113 left or right it will also have the printed H. This does not follow for all the maps but when collation occurs and the map is printed on the right hand page a signature letter will appear (eg Oxford has been seen with P, Hartford Q3, Norfolk T30, Lincoln Y2 etc). Guilielmi Camdeni was reprinted in 1639 with maps by Bertius.

[5] These were printed by John Dawson but the text was corrected for the later issue.

[6] Issued bound with A Prospect of the Most Famous parts of the World ... performed by John Speed, Printed by M.F. (Miles Fletcher) for William Humble dated 1646.

[7] Clive Burden has a copy with the 1627 title-page with a Roger Rea label pasted over it.

[8] Text reset; bound with Prospect with a title page Printed by M.S. (Mary Simons).

[9] Illustration from the website of McMaster University Library, Hamilton, Ontario.

[10] Text again reset, dated 1676. Bound with Prospect dated 1676. Collective title page An Epitome of Mr John Speed’s Theatre ... And of His Prospect ... 1676.