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January 2014 added a new "Yorkshire " section with Calder Valley trees


In  the  Speke  district of South Lancashire, there are mentions of the de Speke family in deeds relating  to  the  Norris family,  who  were Lords of the Manor from at least 1314, and who in Elizabethan times built the Speke Hall  which  stands today.  The  collection of Norris Deeds predates their possession of Speke, and so Gilbert de Spek is mentioned  in  1240. Robert, son of Henry de Spek is mentioned in 1265. There are at least 10 different de Spec/Spek people mentioned living in this area pre 1300. These people appear to have been named after the place they inhabited; they did not give their name to the  place. So they certainly are not of Norman French origins. However, it is apparent from the deeds that many  of  them used the de Speke name as a hereditary surname.


The period 1300-1700:

There were Speke - "of Speke" families in the south Lancashire area from at least 1240 onwards, but the last mention of this  family there is in 1497, and by the start of parish registers in 1538 and after, there are no entries for the  name. The  family derives its name from the place, so they were probably of "English " stock. However, by the 1520's there  were Speak  families in the Ribble valley, N.E. Lancashire.

By the start of Parish Registers, they were well  established,  and continue to have a strong presence there today. There is some tentative evidence that the Speke family from Liverpool may be  linked directly to the Ribble Valley branch; Gilbert de Spek, well associated with Speke in the Norris Deeds,  appears in the Chartulary of Whalley Abbey, N.E. Lancs., ca 1230.


In Yorkshire, we find a wide distribution of the name Speght/Speyght/Speight from the east coast at Burton Fleming near Bridlington, across to Halifax in the West Riding, by the time of the first surviving parish registers. By the mid  1500's this  sometimes  modifies to Speake. It would appear that the name here has its derivation from the Old English,  and  not from the Norman French "Espec" of Walter Espec.

Lancashire and Yorkshire 1500- 1700 :

The North Country families after about 1550 are concentrated in two main areas:-

1) the N.E.corner of Lancashire, along the Ribble Valley, especially in the parishes of Downham, Whalley, and Great Harwood. Also just over the border into Yorkshire at Gisburn.

2) In the West Riding of Yorkshire, especially the parishes of Halifax and Heptonstall, the Calder Valley. Before 1700, I have found no evidence of any significant migrations of SPEAKE families from these two areas within the UK. The Speakes in Shropshire and Lancashire appear to have been tenant farmers rather than freeholders. In Yorkshire some Speake families were associated with the woollen and cloth trades from at least 1612, when William Speake of Gisburn is recorded as "Tailor". Also in 1636, Abraham Speeke was a clothier at Heptonstall.

Post 1700 -

Steam power was also finding application in the spinning and weaving trades of Lancashire and Yorkshire, transforming them from their previous "cottage industry" origins to largescale industries in the rapidly expanding towns of Bradford, Rochdale, and Leeds, which saw a rapid rise of population as labour was drawn in from the surrounding country areas. By the late 19th century, members of the family are listed as Worsted Manufacturer, of Bradford; Weaver of Heptonstall; Woolcomber of Keighley - showing migration to the industrial centres.

In the late 19th century at least two families emigrated to Australia and New Zealand from the Halifax area and at least one family from Lancashire. Please view the "Australia and New Zealand" pages for more information

SPEAKE Surname Distribution today:

Although the 20th century has seen the break up of the closely knit family groups which characterised the  previous  centuries,  it  is  surprising that even today in the UK that the old distributions remain largely unaltered. It  came  as  a surprise to me that in the UK , how regional the variations of the name spelling were. 66% of all SPEAK families are located in NE Lancashire and West Riding Yorkshire, but only 5% occurr in Shropshire, Wales and the West Midlands. For SPEAKE, the situation is reversed; only 12 % in NE Lancs/WR Yorks, 38% Shropshire /Wales/West Midlands. For SPEKE, the figures  are more pronounced; 7% and 36% respectively.


This Speake Family History website focusses on the British Isles and emigrants from there

These emigrants found their way all over the world, and there are pages on this site giving more information to these main areas. (more)

All people with Shropshire origins have been allocated unique codes to identify them and also allow links in my Relational Database. (more)


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