Robert Lythe (fl. 1556-1571) was an English surveyor and mapmaker. Nothing is known of his early life. Although he appears to have specialized as a military surveyor, he was sufficiently broadly educated to be able to make references to hydrography, land quality, natural curiosities and local history in his manuscript maps - which were themselves neatly and attractively executed. His earliest known work was a map of the vicinity of Calais produced during an Anglo-French border dispute. His farthest-reaching work were the Irish surveys he executed between 1567 and 1570, on behalf of the British government, in order to better understand how best to garrison and colonize Ireland following the Tudor conquest. Though these surveys were not for many years broadly disseminated, they would inform to a greater or lesser extent the maps executed by Mercator, Plancius, Boazio and Norden. Jodocus Hondius drew on Lythe for the Ireland maps he produced for van der Keere and Speed: thereafter, Speed’s 1610 map of Ireland incorporating Lythe’s surveys would provide the basis for most 17th century maps of the island.

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