Copper engraving, 25.5 x 32 cm, original hand-colour in outline, a map of Leicestershire with blank verso.
Blome published the first new series of county maps in the sixty years since the appearance of John Speed’s ‘Theatre’. In the straightened financial environment of post-Restoration London, Blome was forced to rely on innovative funding sources: he was one of the first publishers of illustrated books to rely heavily on subscriptions, and subscribers to the Britannia were entitled to have their coats of arms (Blome began his career as a heraldic painter) engraved on a map of their choice.
His map of Leicestershire is dedicated to Theophilus Hastings (1650-1701), 7th Earl of Huntingdon, a scion of one of what had been one of the most powerful landowning families in the county. The family fortunes had suffered during the turbulent decades of the Civil Wars and those of the 7th Earl would fare little better (he had a knack of backing the wrong horse, switching from attempting to have James II excluded from the royal succession to becoming an avowed Jacobite at just the wrong time, one of just 30 people excluded from William III’s 1690 Act of Grace). One can appreciate how, as a young man, he might have leapt at the chance to have his coat of arms on a new map of ‘his’ county as a step towards reasserting his family’s influence.