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JUST PUBLISHED !
'A History of the Speake Family in
Shropshire' - (The River of Lives)
About the Book
This book is the result of 45 years of part-time research into
the Shropshire Speake families. It describes the history of the
author’s family through thirteen generations, as well as all
other associated Shropshire Speake families. In some cases it follows
them across the nearby border into Wales, and the possible reasons
for their migration.
It focuses on the period prior to the advent of census returns
and the civil registration of births, marriage and deaths in the
early nineteenth century.
Prior to this date research becomes more difficult and time consuming,
and the aim of this book is to help Speake family researchers to
link their family trees back to this earlier period. This approach
has enabled this book to be kept a reasonable size.
It is the story of periods of prosperity in the late sixteenth
century, with accompanying social advancement. This is contrasted
with the problems of two court cases brought against them in the
infamous Court of the Star Chamber in London, 150 miles distant.
After the mid-seventeenth century they lived the precarious existence
of the rural poor, at the mercy of poor harvests, poverty, accidents,
chronic illnesses and sudden death.
Outline family trees for the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
are included, to help those interested in their Speake family to
connect with the earlier information presented here. In particular,
the very large Eaton-under-Heywood and Westbury families are comprehensively
shown in outline. This reconstruction was made possible by the use
of a large computerised relational database.
Shropshire was an early leader in the Industrial Revolution and
the new industries in Ironbridge and Ketley provided alternative
employment for the rural poor.
The later nineteenth century growth of local government also provided
new opportunities for employment and increasing prosperity. The
advent of the railways made it easier to seek work further afield
and many Speake families migrated to the industrial districts of
Lancashire, South Wales and the adjacent ‘Black Country’
of the Midlands. More distant migrations were made to Canada, Patagonia,
Australia and New Zealand.
This book is a record of often short, hard lives, and although
documentary evidence is hard to find, their lives can bring surprises.
This book has 452 pages, contains 130 family trees, nine specially
commissioned maps, two original artworks and an extensive index.
A comprehensive collection of Appendices contains summaries of all
known Speake wills, lay subsidies, marriages licences and hearth
tax entries and many other
documents. These make this volume an essential addition to the
book collection of family historians and others with an interest
in Shropshire history and the Speake families.
About the Author
John Speake was born in Shropshire where his family have lived
since at least 1500. He was educated at Wellington Grammar School
and Walker Technical College before moving to Cambridge to start
a career in Telecommications Electronics. He is the holder of several
patents related to electronics circuit design. He has also worked
on the design of military radios, the design of radio controlled
aircraft electronics and medical monitoring devices.
He started his research into the Speake families of Shropshire
in 1974 and the name Speake and variants are registered with the
Guild of One Name Studies. Other spare time interests have included
stained glass design and manufacture – his windows are to
be found in domestic and public buildings in the Cambridge area
including the chapel at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
Another interest is looking after his classic 1986 Porsche 928S2.
This has led to his present business of providing electronics repair
services for these cars and he is an acknowledged expert with customers
He lives in Cambridge with his wife and they have three daughters
and five grandchildren.
The book is available by order from any bookshop or from Amazon.
ISBN 978-9161142-1-0 Hardcover
ISBN 978-9161142-0-3 Softcover
I have been researching SPEAKE family history since 1974. This study initially focussed on the numerous families of that name in Shropshire, where they have lived since at least 1525. The study has since expanded to include the Speke family of Devon, Somerset and Wiltshire, Speak families in Lancashire and Yorkshire and branches of the families who moved to Australia, New Zealand, India and USA. In order to be able to search and discover links between the various individuals, since 1987 I have complied and added to a large relational database of my research. I am keen to share my research with other people interested to these families and to receive further contributions, and to put enquirers in touch with each other if they so wish.