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Payette Bible Series — 1610 Map of Scotland by John Speed
Seventh installment in Forsyth resident's remarkable collection
A flawless 404-year-old map of Scotland created by John Speed, part of Forsyth County resident Charles Payette’s collection. This was truly Speed’s most famous work before taking his place in history as the creator of the “Genealogies and Map” for the first King James Bible and many subsequent editions. The map is printed to scale in Scottish miles. In the lower right corner, next to the portrait of the future King Charles I, is the author Speed, the date and even the place the map was to be sold. - photo by Micah Green

About this series

Charles Payette’s Bible collection — numbering more than 3,000 books, wood blocks and other rare artifacts — is considered one of the world’s finest and rarest in private hands. In fact, some books in his collection are the only known ones in existence. Over the next several weeks, the Forsyth County resident is offering a closer look at some of the Bibles.



Visit to watch a video of Charles Payette talking about the 1610 John Speed Map of Scotland.


Next week

In the eighth of a 12-part series on the Payette Bibles, the FCN will offer a look at the 1610 Geneva Bible in a pocket-sized Octavo.

FORSYTH COUNTY — In this seventh installment in the Forsyth County News series on resident Charles Payette’s Bible collection, we will examine perhaps the most famous and sought-after printed map of Scotland — the 1610 John Speed map. One other copy hangs in the National Library of Scotland.

So, one may ask, what do this map and John Speed have to do with the Bible collection?

Well, it turns out not long after finishing the map in late 1610, Speed was commissioned to create a map of Canaan, as well as the genealogies for what would become the most popular selling book in the history of the world — the King James Bible.

Speed was initially brought up to follow in his father’s footsteps as the town tailor. But as a young man, he found he had an aptitude for cartography, or the science of drawing maps.

In the modern world of GPS and other electronic devices, it is easy to forget the importance of maps to the people of the 16th and 17th centuries. Readers will also remember this was the time of exploration and expansion. People traveled more frequently, ports were built and, of course, wars meant more territories.

Sir Fulke Greville had Speed released from his commitment with his father, and afforded him the opportunity to study in London as a member of the Society of Antiquaries.

Speed loved history, as well as the art of cartography, and proved an excellent student and master of map drawing. He wanted to create an atlas of his home county of Cheshire, England, with incredible detail and specifics to define the boundaries and names and how they were mapped out.

Such attention to detail — accuracy as well as beauty — were to become Speed’s signature style. He completed many maps, all of which are considered unique historical documents.

Widely regarded by historians as the most decorative map of Scotland in existence, the 1610 map measures 540 mm by 420 mm and is framed and glazed.

Amazingly, the rear glass panel, which originally protected the front of the map, is original. The new front is museum-grade UV protective glass.

Besides being geographically correct, the map features detailed royal portraits, making it a beautiful work of art in excellent condition.

The text on the verso reads “The Type of the Famous Kingdome of Scotland, with a Generall Description of Sundry Things Remarkeable Therein.”

The 1610 map itself is extraordinary, hand-colored with stunning pigments that 404 years later amazingly remain quite brilliant.

There are four large portraits of the Stuart royal family — King James, Queen Anne, Prince Henry (Prince of Wales) and Charles Duke of York and Albany (later King Charles I).

When the map was revised in 1652, these exquisite portraits were replaced with portraits of “commoners,” evidence of the anti-royalty sentiment from the political and religious unrest of the times.

This 1610 Map of Scotland was printed right before Speed was commissioned and granted an exclusive license to print the map and 34-page genealogy that was fused in the first edition of the King James Bible in 1611. They were clearly noticed and well received, as both were inserted directly before the first page of Genesis.

Speed likely was assisted with the genealogies by Hugh Broughton, a well-known Hebraist, and obtained a 10-year patent on the genealogies so he had exclusive rights to future royalties. The genealogies begin with Adam and Eve and end with Jesus Christ.

Also included in the King James Bible was Speed’s famous Map of Canaan, which also was included in future printings of the Bible in all sizes until about 1650.

The map, which was actually first begun by John More then finished by Speed, filled two pages. The map is loaded with information including printed on the verso (reverse side) in early 17th century English.

Notice how the spelling contrasts to our present day English, yet is still easily read: “An Alphabeticall Table of the Land of Canaan, and the borders adioyning: the diuersitie of names obserued; the texts of Scriptures quoted; and the Tribes, Cities, Townes, and places set in their receiued graduations.”

The printing process resulted in several minor variations to the map, most notably some with the sea shaded, some without.

Speed could not have known when he drew and hand-colored the portrait of the king that his map of Canannan and extensive genealogies would be printed in all King James Bibles for the next 40 years, as well as many of the Geneva Bibles from 1611 on.

Speed’s royalty prices were fixed: large folio, two shillings; small folio, eighteen pence; quarto, 12 pence; octavo, six pence.

Clearly, Speed was also a shrewd businessman to have had the forethought to a patent and pricing. The 1610 Map of Scotland was the last map Speed drew/painted before he became wealthy. Indeed, Speed became known as the most famous map maker in the 17th century.

Next week’s featured Bible from the Payette Collection is a 1610 Geneva Bible in a pocket-sized Octavo.

This amazing gem is yet another Bible that’s sure to astound —especially when you learn about its rare and fascinating provenance and connection to William Shakespeare.