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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
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 worldwide.
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
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.