SPEAKE (SPEKE), Sir George (c.1530-84), of White Lackington, Som.
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Family and Education
b. c.1530, s. and h. of Sir Thomas Speke† by his 1st w. Anne, da. of Sir Richard Berkeley of Stoke. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. of Sir Andrew Luttrell of Dunster, wid. of Richard Mallet of Currypool, 1s. 2da.; (2) Dorothy, da. of Edward Gilbert of London, 1s. 2da. suc. fa. 1551. KB Jan. 1559.2
J.p. Som. 1559, q. 1577, sheriff 1562-3; commr. oyer and terminer, Cornw., Devon, Dorset, Hants, Som., Wilts. 1564; commr. piracy, Som. 1577, musters by 1588.
The Speakes had been settled in Somerset since the time of Henry II, acquiring their estates by judicious marriages and benefiting from the dissolution of the monasteries. The earliest reference found to Speake himself is his summons before Lord Chief Justice Portman in 1555 for misdemeanours in Neroche forest, but after this youthful escapade he settled down to the usual administrative and judicial functions of a country gentleman in his shire.3
Speake was connected with William, 1st Earl of Pembroke, at whose funeral in 1570 he acted as one of the four assistants of the body. In the previous year, Pembroke had been examined by the Privy Council on suspicion of complicity in the scheme to marry Mary Queen of Scots to the Duke of Norfolk, and Speake was one of those he called as a witness for the defence. Speake’s return at a by-election in 1576, occasioned by the death of Sir Hugh Paulet, probably owed nothing to this connexion. Sir Maurice Berkeley I, the other knight of the shire, was Speake’s uncle and the two families were sufficiently influential to secure him a turn as knight of the shire. Several of his friends and relations were already sitting: his wife’s nephew George Luttrell for Minehead; George Trenchard, his son-in-law, for Dorchester; and John Popham, one of the ‘trusty kinsmen and friends’ who acted as overseers of his will. Speake sat on the committees which drafted the subsidy bills on to Feb. 1576 and 25 Jan. 1581. His other committees concerned ports (13 Feb. 1576), cloth (16 Feb. 1576 and 4 and 13 Feb. 1581) and the referring of legal actions back to the county of origin (16 Jan. 1581).4
Speake died in 1584. To his ‘well beloved wife Dorothy’ he left furniture at White Lackington ‘as long as she lives there without absenting herself above 40 weeks in one year, and shall live sole and unmarried’. To Dorothy also he left the tithes of Ilminster, ‘the stone jug covered with silver, late the Countess of Pembroke’s’, wood for her household at White Lackington and 20 kine, a bull and a plough of eight oxen. There were small bequests to his daughters and younger sons, and the residue of the estate went to the eldest son. son, who was sole executor.5
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: Irene Cassidy
- 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
- 2. Vis. Som. (Harl. Soc. xi), 103; Vis. Som. ed. Weaver, 4, 43, 45-6; Machyn Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 186, 370; Som. Med. Wills (Som. Rec. Soc. xxi), 125; EHR, xxv. 553.
- 3. SP12/121/29; Lansd. 61, f. 168; 73, f. 162; 147, f. 19; CPR, 1563-4, p. 42; Collinson, Som. i. 67-8; Harbin, Som. MPs, 128; APC, v. 161-2.
- 4. HMC Hatfield, i. 431; Wilts. Mag. xviii. 128-30; D’Ewes, 247, 288, 289, 291, 295; CJ, i. 104, 105, 106, 119, 120, 122, 125.
- 5. PCC 19 Watson; C142/205/198.