In 1612 a further national atlas, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, was published by John Speed. As suggested by the title, this concerned itself not only with England and Wales but also with Scotland and Ireland. 1603 had seen the accession to the English throne of King James I (already King James VI of Scotland) after Elizabeth’s death without heirs. The concept of ‘Great Britain’ was therefore increasingly important to Speed’s contemporaries.

Speed openly acknowledged the debt his atlas owed to Saxton and others, stating in its introduction: I have put my sickle into other mens corne, and have laid my building upon other mens foundations.