This is the history of the family of John Speake of Lancashire and Ann Malone of Irekland whose descendants emigrated to Sydney Australia.   It is reproduced here by kind permission of John C. McNamara of Australia.



(Generation One)

John Speak was born at either at Colne, Lancashire , England about 1836 or at Blakey, Lancashire about 1831. This estimate of place and year of birth is taken from the 1861 census return where his age is shown as 25 years and the 1871 census where his age is shown as 40 years. Unfortunately when John and Ann married, their age is only shown as ‘Full Age'.

John Speak married Ann Malone at the Parish Church of Ashton under Lyme, in the County of Lancashire, England on the 26 th November 1859. According to the marriage certificate of John Speak, his father was named Thomas Speak.

Ann Malone was born in Ireland about 1841 and her father was named as John Malone.

John Speak was a small-ware hawker and rag dealer and it would appear that he did not have a permanent place of abode and he was constantly on the move.

Eleven months after their marriage, Ann Speak gives birth to a son, John Thomas Speak at Hope Street , Horton, Bradford, Yorkshire on the 16 th October 1860. A further five months later the 1861 census records the family living at 15 South Street , Halifax .

No records can be found for Fanny Speak who is shown in the 1871 census aged 9 years and birth place of Halifax , Yorkshire .

Only record found for William Speak is his birth certificate which shows he was born on the 7 th September 1869 at East Moor, Stanley , Yorkshire .

1861 Census - 15 South Street , Halifax , West Yorkshire

John, Speak, Head, Mar, 25, Rag Dealer, Colne, LAN

Ann, Speak, Wife, Mar, 20, , Ireland

John T., Speak, Son, , 5mth, , Bradford, YKS


1871 Census - 2 Warwick Street , Blackburn, Lancashire , England

John Speak, Head, Mar, 40, Furniture Broker, Lancashire , Blakey

Ann Speak, Wife, Mar, 30, Furniture Brokers Wife , Ireland

John Thomas Speak, Son, , 10, Scholar, Yorkshire, Bradford

Fanny Speak, Dau, , 9, , Yorkshire, Halifax

William, Speak, Son, , 18mth, , Yorkshire, Wakefield

Kate Meloan, Visitor, Unm, 18, Domestic Servant , Ireland

Kate Meloan could possibly be a relative of Ann Speak but there is nothing to prove this.

Nothing else is known about John and Ann Speak apart from what has been found in the 1861 and 1871 census. Their deaths cannot be found nor do they appear in any census after 1871.

John and Ann Speak had three children ~

John Thomas Speak



Mary Ann Kelsall

Fanny Speak




William Speak






(Generation Two)


John Thomas Speak married Mary Ann Kelsall in the Parish Church at Etruria , near Stoke upon Trent , in the County of Staffordshire , England on the 10 th August 1882.

John Thomas Speak was born at Hope Street , Horton, in the Bradford District, Yorkshire on the 16 th October 1860.

The parents of John Thomas Speak were John Speak who married Ann Malone at Ashton-under-Lyme, Lancashire on the 26 th November 1859. The marriage certificate shows the occupation of John as Rag Dealer with his father being Thomas Speak a Joiner.

When John Thomas Speak married Mary Ann Kelsall his marriage certificate shows his occupation as Cabinet Maker, and showed his father, John Speak was also a Cabinet Maker.

John Thomas Speak was still shown as a Cabinet Maker on the birth certificates of Eliza and Edwin Speak when they were born in 1885 however on the birth certificate of Mabel Eveline Speak in 1891 he is shown as a Superintendent of Assurance Agent. He remained a Superintendent of Life Assurance up to the time of his death.

John and Mary lived in various locations; they were at Etruria in 1882, at Hatton in Derbyshire in 1883-85, at Cheadle in Staffordshire in 1891, at Ashborne in Derbyshire in 1893, and at Birmingham in Warwickshire in 1910.

It would seem the family moved every few years and did not have a permanent place of abode until they arrived in Birmingham , this may be because of the type of work that John was involved with.

John Thomas Speak died at the Birmingham General Hospital on the 4 th April 1912 aged 51 years.

Gertrude Speak, his daughter-in-law, was married to Edwin Speak and was a nurse at this hospital. She was told by the Sister-in-Charge to help prepare a body of someone who had died and when she went to the room she was shocked to see it was the body of her father-in-law.

When John Thomas Speak died, his address was 109 Gordon Street , Harborne, Birmingham . The Will of John Thomas Speak leaves effects to the value of £304/8/5 to his wife, Mary Ann Speak.

Mary Ann Kelsall was born at Broad Street , Shelton , Stoke upon Trent , Staffordshire on the 25 th August 1859 and was the second child in a family of four children.

Mary's parents were William Walley Kelsall who had married Ann Tams Bloor at Cobridge, Stoke upon Trent on the 20 th August 1855.

Mary Ann Speak, or Polly as she was known, had a post office and corner store at 86 Ledsam Street , Ladywood, Birmingham and during their trip from Australia to England , in 1925, Gertrude Speak, wife of Edwin Speak with her daughter Kathleen, visited Mary Ann Speak. My mother told me that she remembered her as being a lovely old lady.

Mary Ann Speak died at 86 Ledsam Street , Birmingham on the 11 th July 1932 aged 72 years. The Will leaves effects to the value of £412/11/9 to her daughter, Eliza Ann Speak. Witnesses to the Will were her daughter Mabel Eveline Dawson and husband Yorke Dawson of 39 Barlows Road , Edgbaston.

John Thomas and Mary Ann Speak had four children ~

Laurence John Speak



Ethel Nellie Angelina Hearn

Eliza Ann Speak




Edwin Tams Speak



Gertrude Farmer

Mabel Eveline Speak



William Henry Yorke Dawson



(Generation Three)


Laurence John Speak , first child of John Thomas Speak and Mary Ann Kelsall was born in Hatton, Derbyshire , England on the 20 th May 1883.

Laurence was baptised at the St. John Church , Hanley, Staffordshire on the 19 th August 1883. This was the church that the Kelsall family attended. Mary Ann probably brought Laurence home for her parents to see and have him baptised even though she was still living at Hatton, Derbyshire.

When a boy, Laurence was apprenticed to the Merchant Marine Navy with his younger brother Edwin, and after his apprenticeship he then enlisted into the Royal Navy.

He entered the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on the 30 th November 1899. He was a Portsmouth Rating, his Official Number was 207500, and he engaged to serve for 12 years from age 18 years.

His personal description shows his height as 5' 6 ¼ “ (5' 7 ½ “ at age 18), hair brown, eyes blue, complexion fresh and he had an anchor on the left forearm and a cross on the right forearm.

The ships and shore establishments in which he served, together with the relevant dates and his rating at the time, were recorded as follows:

HMS Impregnable

Boy 2nd Class

30 Nov 1899 - 29 Aug 1900

HMS Impregnable

Boy 1st Class

30 Aug 1900 - 20 Mar 1901

HMS Agincourt

Boy 1st Class

21 Mar 1901 - 19 May 1901

HMS Agincourt

Ordinary Seaman

20 May 1901- 20 May 1901

HMS Duke of Wellington I

Ordinary Seaman

21 May 1901 - 30 May 1901

HMS Excellent

Ordinary Seaman

31 May 1901 - 28 May 1902

HMS Excellent

Able Seaman

29 May 1902 - 31 Mar 1904

HMS Excellent

Leading Seaman

1 Apr 1904 - 20 Jun 1904

HMS Terrible

Leading Seaman

21 Jun 1904 - 22 Dec 1904

HMS Excellent

Leading Seaman

23 Dec 1904 - 16 Jan 1905

HMS Firequeen I

Leading Seaman

17 Jan 1905 - 5 Feb 1905

HMS King Edward VII

Leading Seaman

5 Feb 1905 - 31 Mar 1905

HMS King Edward VII

Petty Officer 2 CL

1 Apr 1905 - 4 Mar 1907

HMS Excellent

Petty Officer 2 CL

5 Mar 1907 - 16 Jul 1907

HMS Bonadventure

Petty Officer 2 CL

17 Jun 1907 - 2 Sep 1907

Laurence was discharged ashore on the 2 nd September 1907 by purchase, his character has been recorded as “Very Good” throughout his service and he joined the Royal Fleet Reserve the following day. His Royal Fleet Reserve Number was Portsmouth B.2295.

Laurence married Ethel Nellie Angelina Hearn in the Parish Church of St Saviour at Croydon which is not far from London in the County of Surrey on the 26 th June 1909. His occupation as this time is shown as a Constable with the London Police Force. Ethel was born at Coddenham, Suffolk , England on the 15 th April 1883. Ethel was the tenth child in a family of thirteen children; her parents were Benjamin Hearn who married Sarah Ann Osborne at Ipswich, Suffolk in 1868.

Laurence came to Australia on the Ship "Commonwealth" landing at Sydney on the 27th April 1913, and Ethel then followed on the ship “Norseman” with her daughter Ethel Mary Speak arriving in Sydney on the 5 th April 1914.

With the outbreak of World War I he enlisted into the Royal Australian Navy as a Petty Officer Drill Instructor and served 15 months with the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force in New Guinea . This was a temporary force raised to defeat the German influence in New Guinea . He was discharged from the Navy and then joined the Australian Army on the 16th February 1916 and saw service in England and France with the 5th Divisional Artillery, by the end of the War he had risen to the Rank of Lieutenant, by 1927 he had reached the Rank of Major and was placed on the Reserve of Officers list. His Military Awards are ~

1914-15 Star Medal (Naval);

British War Medal 1914-18; and

Allied Victory Medal.

Laurence and Ethel lived at 9 Horton Street , Marrackville, a suburb of Sydney , New South Wales , and during the Second World War it was read in the newspaper that whilst working in a civilian capacity as Master-at-Arms on the Troop Ship “Queen Elizabeth” , he had died on the 22 nd September 1941 and he was buried at sea.

The “Queen Elizabeth” sailed from Trincomalee, Ceylon at 1200 hrs on the 16 th September 1941 and arrived at Suez Anchorage (Port Tewfik) at 0600 hrs on the 25 th September 1941 so Laurence was probably buried at sea somewhere near Aden.

In November 1954 it is shown in her Will that Ethel still lived at 9 Horton Street, Marrackville, but at some time after this date she then moved to 14 Crane Street, Ballina, Northern New South Wales, her daughter's family are also shown as living at this address.

It was at Ballina that Ethel Nellie Angelina Speak died on the 25 th September 1968 aged 85 years, she is buried in the East Ballina Cemetery in Anglican Section B, Row 13, Grave 6.

Ethel Mary Speak , only daughter of Laurence and Ethel Speak was born at 332 Scott Ellis Gardens , Marylebone, London , England on the 13 th April 1910.

Her death certificate for Ethel shows she was born in England and had spent 61 years in Australia , and at the time of her death she was 63 years old.

My mother who was born in 1915 told me that Ethel Mary Speak was five years older than she was, so this would mean Ethel was born about 1910, however the death certificate of Ethel would indicate that she was born in 1920. Ethel may have lied about her age all her life as she was 10 years older than her husband Laurie John Williams and may have said she was 10 years younger for conventional purposes or else when she died, whoever gave the information for her death certificate not knowing her true age had assumed she was a similar age as her husband who had died 14 years earlier.

Ethel Mary Speak had the nicknamed “Topsy” and in 1941 this name was shown in the newspaper in the death notice for her father.

In 1952, Ethel Mary married Laurie John Williams and they lived at 6 Myrtle Street , Balgowlah, Sydney, there were no children from this marriage. This was Ethel's first marriage and the second for Laurie, his previous marriage was to Grace Isabel Mary Buchanan at Sydney , New South Wales in 1942.

Laurie John Williams was born at Wardell, Northern New South Wales about 1920 and he was a cabinet maker by trade. Laurie died at 14 Crane Street , Ballina on the 3 rd October 1969 and he is buried in the East Ballina Cemetery , Anglican Section B, Row 13, Grave Number 7, which is next to his mother-in-law, Ethel Nellie Angelina Speak.

Ethel Mary Speak died at 6/112 Burnett Street, Ballina on the 20 th December 1983 aged 63 years and is buried in the East Ballina Cemetery, Anglican Section B, Row 14, Grave Number 5, which in the row behind her mother and husband.

The position of the grave is in one of the nicest spots in the cemetery and is just below the crest of the hill that looks out over the coastline and ocean, I think it would be hard to find a place closer to Laurence Speak who is buried at sea.


(Generation Three)


Eliza Ann Speak , second child of John Thomas Speak and Mary Ann Kelsall was born at Hatton, Derbyshire , England on the 18 th June 1885

Lizzie as she was known is the twin sister of Edwin, being 45 minutes older than her brother.

Lizzie never married although a story handed down in the family says that she was once engaged to William Henry Yorke Dawson who married her sister Mabel Eveline Speak. Mabel is said to come home from her “finishing school” and stole Dawson off Lizzie and married him.

Lizzie did not immigrate to Australia like her two brothers but she did visit Sydney for nearly six months in 1935, departing London on the ship ‘Orsova' on the 1 st February 1935. Her age is 46 years, occupation is postmistress and her UK address is 86 Ledsam St , Birmingham

On the 19th July 1935 Eliza Speak aged 46 years and her niece Ethel Mary Speak aged 25 years are shown arriving in London on the ship 'Baradine' of the P&O Steam Navigation Company, in the inwards shipping records for the United Kingdom , having departed from Sydney Australia. Records show proposed address for both as 14 Ledsam Street , Birmingham 16. The occupation of Eliza is Postmistress and for Ethel as Teacher. Country of last permanent residence for both women is shown as England .

The mother of Eliza Ann Speak was Mary Ann Speak nee Kelsall and she had a Post Office and Corner Store at 86 Ledsam Street , Birmingham .

Mary Ann died in 1932 and her Will left everything to her daughter Eliza Ann. It would seem that there is little doubt that after the death of her mother that Eliza came to Australia to visit her brothers Laurence, and the grave of her brother Edwin. It is not sure exactly when Eliza arrived in Australia , but Edwin died on the 14th February 1934. It is thought that Ethel Mary Speak who returned to England with Eliza is the daughter of her brother Laurence. Ethel Mary Speak returned to Australia on the ship ‘Baradine' departing London on the 12 th March 1936.

Eliza Ann Speak died at the Holy Trinity Hospital , Taunton , Somerset on the 16 th January 1966 aged 80 years. Cause of death was hypertensive cardiac failure. The informant on the death certificate was M. E. (Mabel Eveline) Dawson, sister of High Street, Stogursey, Bridgwater, Somerset .

At the time of death, Eliza lived at 25 Westonzoyland Road , Bridgwater, Somerset and her occupation is shown as Post Office Clerk (retired).

As Eliza's mother had a Post Office and Corner Store in Birmingham , it's very possible that Eliza would have taken over the business after her mother's death in 1932.



(Generation Three)

 Edwin Tams Speak (known as Ted Speak), third child of John Thomas Speak and Mary Ann Kelsall was born at Hatton, Derbyshire, England on the 18 th June 1885 he is the twin brother of Lizzie.

When he was about 14 years old, Edwin and his brother Laurence were both apprenticed into the Merchant Marine Navy and they spent four years at sea.

Edwin married Gertrude Farmer at St Margaret's Church, Ward End, Birmingham on the 29 th March 1910. Gertrude was born at Birmingham , Warwickshire , England on the 27th August 1885. Gertrude was the fifth child in a family of six children. Her parents were James Farmer who had married Ann Maria Wood at St Andrew's Church, Bordesley, Warwickshire on the 15 th August 1875.

Before his marriage, Edwin was a fireman and he lived at the Bordesley Green Fire Station near Birmingham . At some time after his marriage, Edwin must have decided to go to Australia on his own to join the New South Wales Fire Brigade and to establish a home. When this was done he would send for Gertrude to join him in Australia .

 Edwin arrived in Australia on the ship “ Geelong ” of London , a ship of 7951/5030 tons, under the command of W.C. Simonds, which sailed from London via Ports to Sydney , and arrived on the 19 th February 1912. Edwin worked the voyage as an Able Seaman in the Crew.

On the 23 rd February 1912 within four days of his arrival, he joined the New South Wales Fire Brigade as a 4 th Class Fireman earning 7/6d a day. On joining, Edwin shows his occupation as Seaman and was approved to join the Permanent Fire Brigade, and did not enter as a volunteer, which was the usual method.

Once he was established, Edwin then sent for Gertrude, who travelling on her own, arrived in Australia on the S.S. Waimana on the 28 th August 1912. The S.S. Waimana of Southampton was a vessel of 6734 tons, under the command of W. Burville Holmes, and had sailed from Port of Liverpool to Sydney .

With the outbreak of the First World War (WWI), Edwin resigned from the Brigade on the 26 th September 1914, as he had enlisted three days previously into the Australian Army on the 23 rd September 1914, Army Number 442, 13 th Battalion, AIF.

He was at the landing at Gallipoli, and several months later he contacted severe Dysentery and Enteritis and had to be evacuated to England .

After convalescence in England , he then served in France and Belgium until the end of the war, and was discharged on his return to Australia on the 3 rd February 1919.

Edwin Speak died of reoccurring illness sustained during the First World War at Leichhardt, Sydney on the 14 th February 1934 aged 48 years old and is buried in the Rookwood Methodist Cemetery , Sydney in Section 3, Grave Number 2849.

Gertrude trained as a Nurse at the Birmingham General Hospital and after her arrival in Australia , she had to complete further training as a nurse.

On the 18 th August 1923 she passed the Educational Examination held by the Australian Trained Nurses Association. On the 27 th April 1926 she gained the Women's Hospital, Sydney Obstetric Nurse's Certificate. Then on the 10 th September 1926 she attended a Course of Lectures in Invalid Cookery at Crown Street Women's Hospital and gained her cooking certificate.

Gertrude was once a Sister-in-Charge of a Ward at the Crown Street Women's Hospital in Sydney and later was to have her own hospital which was named the Sycamore Private Hospital (named after her parents home, “Sycamore View” in Birmingham ) at Chester Hill, Sydney .

In 1924, Gertrude, with her daughter Kathleen aged 9 years, went to England on the S.S. Orsova to visit her family and they returned to Australia on the S.S. Orvieto in 1925.

In February 1934, Gertrude's father died in England and then two weeks later her own husband died. Only weeks after these two events occurred, Gertie with her daughter Kathleen then aged 19 years, went to England on the S.S. Balranald in April 1934 and they returned to Australia a year later in April 1935.

In 1953, Gertrude with her daughter Kathleen and grandson John then moved to Brisbane , Queensland where she lived the remainder of her life.

Gertrude Speak died at Herston Hospital , Brisbane on the 6 th November 1975 aged 90 years and was cremated at the Albany Creek Crematorium, Brisbane, her ashes are located in Section 3, Row 11, which is within a few metres of the ashes of her daughter, Kathleen Emily White.

Children of Ted and Gertrude Speak were:

Lilian Gertrude Speak




Kathleen Emily Speak


m. 1.

m. 2.

Herbert John McNamara

Peter James White


(Generation Three)

 Mabel Eveline Speak , fourth child of John Thomas Speak and Mary Ann Kelsall was born at Queen Street , Cheadle, Staffordshire , England on the 3 rd May 1891.

Mabel Eveline Speak married William Henry Yorke Dawson at the St John's Church , Harborne near Birmingham on the 7 th December 1910.

William Henry Yorke Dawson was born at 114 Broad Street , District of Ladywood, Birmingham on the 29 th January 1878. His parents were Edward Dawson, who married Josephine Haywood Reynolds at Aston, Warwickshire in 1877.

At the time of his marriage, William was an accountant clerk with the Corporation Water Department. The marriage certificate shows Edward Dawson, as a gentleman, however the birth certificate of William shows his father was a hairdresser. Witnesses to the marriage were John Thomas Speak, Joseph Gibson and Eliza Ann Speak.

In 1932 when Mabel's mother died, the couple lived at 39 Barlows Road , Edgbaston near Birmingham .

William Henry Yorke Dawson died at Quantock Cottage, Stogursey, Bridgwater, Somerset on the 26 th August 1967 aged 89 years. Cause of death was broncho pneumonia, cardiac failure, Arterio Silerosis and hypertension. The informant on the death certificate was his widow M. E. Dawson of Quantock Cottage, Stogursey. William's occupation is shown on the certificate as Local Government Officer (retired).

Mabel died only a couple of months after her husband. Mabel Eveline Dawson died at the Selly Oak Hospital , Birmingham on the 13 th October 1967 aged 75 years. Cause of death was cerebro vascular accident and congestive cardiac failure. The informant was K. W. Bailey causing the body to be cremated of 49 Ryde Park Road , Rednal, Birmingham .

Mabel's usual place of residence was Quantock Cottage, stogursey, Bridgwater, Somerset .

Only child of the marriage is Yorke Dawson Born 11 th August 1911 and he died within a few weeks of his birth.

Neither Laurence John Speak nor Edwin Tams Speak had any male descendants therefore the Speak name for this family ceased to exist.

Follow this link for some excellent family photographs