SPEKE, John (c.1652-1728), of White Lackington, Som.
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Family and Education
b. c.1652, 1st s. of George Speke. educ. Wadham, Oxf. matric. 6 Apr. 1666, aged 14; L. Inn 1669; travelled abroad 1671. m. (1) Katherine, da. and coh. of Edmund Prideaux of Forde Abbey, Devon, s.p.; (2) 25 June 1687, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Robert Pelham of Compton Valence, Dorset, 1s. suc. fa. 1689.1
J.p. Som. 1679-80, Feb. 1688-d., commr. for assessment 1679-80, 1689-90, dep. lt. 1679, 1691-d., commr. of inquiry into recusancy fines Mar. 1688.2
Speke, a younger son, complained that his annual allowance was only £200. This did not prevent him from participating in the political activities of his family which at times verged on the seditious. He was particularly associated with his brother-in-law, John Trenchard, and his first wife’s father, both members of the Green Ribbon Club. He stood for Ilchester with William Strode II, at the first election of 1679. After a double return they were marked ‘honest’ on Shaftesbury’s list, and seated in the first Exclusion Parliament on the merits of the return. Speke’s only committee was for the habeas corpus amendment bill, but he voted for exclusion. A letter of 14 June to his brother Hugh, in which he reports a conference with Titus Oates, suggests that he may have been one of the managers of the Popish Plot, in the forwarding of which Hugh Speke was actively engaged. He was re-elected in August, but accused of treasonable words in 1680 like his father. He left no trace on the records of the second Exclusion Parliament, and was defeated at the general election of 1681. In 1685 he joined Monmouth with forty ‘ragged horse’, and was made a colonel, but was dismissed for cowardice at Frome, and escaped overseas. He was pardoned with his father in 1687 and became a Whig collaborator. He was recommended for the commission of the peace, and the King’s electoral agents regarded him as a suitable court candidate for Ilchester in 1688. He was also said to have some chance of gaining a county seat. His attitude towards the Prince of Orange in 1688 is uncertain, and the ‘Mr Speke’ who joined William at Exeter was probably his brother Hugh. His previous collaboration with James II may have injured Speke’s reputation, for he failed to win Ilchester in the election to the Convention. In two subsequent Parliaments, however, he sat as a Whig and in 1696 he signed the Association. He died in 1728. His son George sat for various Somerset boroughs as a Whig between 1722 and 1747.3