Bowling Speake was born in 1674 in St. Mary’s County, Maryland and died there, in the same location, which by then was Charles County, Maryland, after he signed a deed on July 23, 1755 and before his will was probated on Sept. 13, 1755.
Thomas Speake, his father, had arrived in the colonies about 1660 and subsequently married Elizabeth Bowling. They were having children by 1665 when their son John, known as John the Innkeeper, was born. A record of their marriage does not exist.
Their only other known child was Bowling Speake, although it would have been very unusual to have only two children. John and Bowling are the only ones named in the will of Thomas or that we can find in either earlier or subsequent records.
We know positively that Elizabeth Bowling and Thomas Speake were Catholic because Thomas states in his will “that my Loving brother in Law James Bowling hath the Disposall of my children to be brought up in the Roman Catholick faith.”
According to Harold Speake, early Speake historian, now deceased, John Speak left the Catholic Church when he married Winifred Wheeler, an Anglican (the date of the wedding was apparently August 11, 1685). Bowling Speak remained a Catholic and retained the family homestead.
In March of 1722, Bowling gives a deposition about the bounds of a tract of land called Mudd’s Rest that he purchased about 13 years prior from the daughter of Thomas Mudd. This would put his land purchase in about 1709.
In 1718, we discover that Bowling was a shoemaker.
Charles Co. Land Records Liber D2 p. 203
6 Aug 1718 mentions Bowling Speake, shoemaker.
In September of 1718, Bowling Speak acquired land called “The Mistake,” 200 acres, for 5000 pounds of tobacco, in an area known as Zekiah Manor which is today the land on which the current St. Peter’s Church is located. I have always wondered how “The Mistake” got it’s name. There has to be a good story in there someplace!
Land known as “Speak’s Enlargement” abutted “The Mistake,” according to a 1754 deed in which he deeded both to his son Thomas in which the land was identified as “where Thomas Speake’s dwelling place now is.”
In August of 1718, Bowling also purchased part of a tract called “Boarman’s Reserve” for 9000 pounds tobacco and later, in 1739, patented land called “Speake Meadow” which abutted Boarman’s Reserve.
These two tracts of land were located about 7 miles apart in Charles County, Maryland.
Bowling lived on his land at Boarman Manor, according to his will which says he leaves Edward “my dwelling plantation and a small tract of land called the Meadow.” Before Bowling’s death, he had sold part of the Boarman’s Manor land.
Upon Bowling’s death in 1755, he left the balance of his “Mistake” and “Speake’s Enlargement” lands to his children. In his will, he gives the location of this land which Speak cousin, Jerry Draney, traced through deeds to the current owners, the Catholic Church. Bowling’s son, Thomas (known as Thomas of Zachiah or Zekiah), born about 1698, lived on this land.
On July 23, 1755, Bowling Speake deeded land to his son Thomas Speake. Bowling’s will was then probated on September 13, 1755. On August 2, 1755, Thomas Speake, Bowling’s son, wrote and dated his will. His will was also probated September 13, 1755, the same day as his father. I can’t help but wonder if his father’s death in some way contributed to his own death. Or perhaps Thomas’s death was more than Bowling could stand.
Bowling’s poor wife, Mary – to lose her husband and her son within days of each other must have been almost too much to bear. We know she was alive at Bowling’s death according to his will, unless she had died between October 20, 1750, when he wrote his will and his death nearly 5 years later. It was unusual during that timeframe for men to make wills significantly prior to their death. He may have had an earlier scare and recovered. Wills at that time were often much more of an “on my deathbed” kind of event. Mary signed a release of dower in 1744 but when land was sold but in 1754 and 1755, no dower release was signed. We don’t know when she died.
Thomas’s children lost both a father and grandfather as well. The entire family was in double mourning.
Thomas of Zachiah left his land, today the land of St. Peter’s church, to his children, specifically to sons Charles Beckworth (or Beckwith) Speake and Nicholas Speake. Thomas’s will and his father Bowling’s will were probated at the same court session on September 13, 1755. That must have been a very sad day.
Charles Beckworth (or Beckwith) Speake was born in 1741 to Thomas of Zachiah and wife Jane. His brother Nicholas, who shared the land with him, was born in 1734. To date, a sale of this land has never been found, but it surely was sold, because Charles Beckworth Speak would strike out for North Carolina by 1788, taking with him his young son Nicholas Speak, born in 1782, who would in the 1820s found the Speaks Methodist Church in Lee County, Virginia. Nicholas’s great-grandfather, Bowling, probably turned over in his grave! His grandson had become a Protestant!
You can read more about this land and see it today in the article “Thomas Speak (c1634-1681) – The Catholic Immigrant.”
In a 1739 record, we discover that Bowling Speak married Mary Benson, via this archival record dealing with land in 1739 and that her father’s name was Hugh Benson.
Archives of MD v40 Assembly Proceedings, May 1–June 12, 1739
(LHJ Lib. No. 45)
Your Commitee find on Inspecting the papers of the Petitioners and Land Called Crackburns Purchase Containing Two Hundred acres was Granted on the 24th Day of October Ann. Domr. 1659 unto Richard Crackburn assignee of Walter Peak and Peter Mills assignee of Paul Simpson in ffee. Your Committee furhter find that the said Richard Crackburn by his deed bearing Date the 17th Day of November 1681, Did bargain and sell the said Tract of Land to Richard Gardiner of St. Marys County in ffee.
Your Committee also find that Richard Gardiner and Mary his wife of St. Marys County afd. Did Convey to Hugh Benson of the same County Planter one Hundred acres part of the said Tract in ffee.
Your Committee Likewise find that Mary the Daughter and Heiress at Law of Hugh Benson Intermarried with Bowling Speak of Charles County and that the said Bowling Speak and the said Mary his wife by their Deed bearing Date the 31st day of March 1739 did Convey the said Parcell of Land unto the Petitioners in ffee….
Bowling’s Act of Defiance
This next 1752 record involving Bowling is just a wonderful peek into his life.
Archives of MD 50, p57-58
Assembly Proceedings, June 3-23, 1752 The Lower House.
L.H.J. Liber No.47; June 17 (p237-238)
The Lord Proprietary against Bowlen Speak} The said Bowlen Speak being bound by Recognizance for his Appearance here this Court, to answer of and concerning a Presentment by the Grand Jurors, for the Body of the Province of Maryland, against him found; for that he, on or about the first Day of March last, did, in a public Manner, drink the Pretenders Health, and good Success in his Proceedings; and being demanded whether he is guilty of the Premisses in the Presentment aforesaid mentioned, or not guilty, says he is guilty thereof, and submits to the Court’s Judgment thereon.
Therefore it is considered by the Justices here, that the said Bowlen Speak, for the Offence aforesaid, be fined to his Lordship the Lord Proprietary in the Sum of Ten Pounds Current Money; and he is ordered to give Security for the Payment of the Fine aforesaid: But for the Want thereof, he is committed to the Custody of the Sheriff of Charles County, there to remain until, &c. who being present here in Court, took Charge of him accordingly.
And it is further ordered, that he give Security in the Sum of Fifty Pounds Current Money, himself, with one Security, in the like Sum, or two Securities in the Sum of Twenty-five Pounds like Money each, for his the said Bowlen Speak’s keeping the Peace, and being of good Behaviour, until next Court; and do for the payment of the several Officers Fees arising due by Occasion of the Premisses aforesaid.
Thereupon the said Bowlen Speak, being present here in Court, acknowleges himself to owe and stand justly indebted to his Lordship, the Right Honourable the Lord Proprietary, in the Sum of Fifty Pounds Current Money, together with William Bryant of Charles County, Planter, as his Security, being likewise present here in Court, acknowleges himself also to owe and stand justly indebted unto his Lordship, the Right Honourable the Lord Proprietary, in the like Sum of Fifty Pounds like Money: And they severally acknowlege, that the several above Sums shall be levied on their respective Bodies, Goods, Chattels, Lands and Tenements, to and for the Use of his said Lordship, his Heirs, and Successors; in case he the said Bowlen Speak, shall not keep the Peace, and be of good Behaviour, until the next Provincial Court, and shall not pay the several Officers Fees arising due by Occasion of the Premisses aforesaid.
A true Copy from the Records of the Provincial Court, Liber E I, No. 10.
Folios 231 and 232.
Per R. Burdus, Clerk.
In Testimony whereof the Seal of the said Provincial Court is hereunto affixed, this 15th Day of June, Anno Domini 1752. L.S.
What was Bowling doing, and why? The Pretender here probably refers to “Bonnie Prince Charlie” given the date of 1751 when Bowling uttered these traitorous words for which he stated he was guilty and was remanded to jail because he did not have the fine of 10 pounds. Ironically, his security recognizance to be released, after paying the 10 pounds, to assure his good behavior “until the next court” was 5 times that much – 50 pounds. Apparently the judges felt that Bowling’s good behavior was anything but a sure bet!
However, Bowling’s friend, William Bryant, paid the security, of course, assuming I’m sure that Bowling would behave and his security money would be returned. The lesson here is never open your mouth unless you can afford the consequences or you’ll wind up in jail!!!
Bowling was not a young man when this happened. He was 78 years of age. His children were in their 50s, probably rolling their eyes and scurrying about trying to scrape together the money to bail Bowling out of jail. It makes me wonder if he was suffering perhaps from dementia that made him forget what was politically correct. Or maybe, at age 78, he simply didn’t care anymore. He was going to say what he wanted, the consequences be damned. I love his spirited heart and am so glad he left us this unquestionable view of his beliefs.
All of this dissention hearkens back to the Protestant vs Catholic battles and politics in England, Scotland and Ireland, and was at the heart of the Jacobite movement. Remember that the US was a colony of Great Britain, so indeed, this mattered to the people who lived here. It involved who officially ruled them. The phrase “Pretender” alluded to one who believes he is rightfully entitled to the English throne, but who is currently not King. In this case, the men who would have been King has England been a Catholic country at that time.
Jacobitism was the political movement in Great Britain and Ireland to restore the Roman Catholic Stuart King James II of England and his heirs to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. The movement took its name from Jacobus, the Latinised form of James, and refers to a long series of Jacobite risings between 1688 and 1746. After James II was deposed in 1688 and replaced by his Protestant daughter Mary II, ruling jointly with her Protestant husband and first cousin (James’s nephew) William III, the Stuarts lived in exile, occasionally attempting to regain the throne. The strongholds of Jacobitism were the Scottish Highlands, Ireland and Northern England. Significant support also existed in Wales and South-West England.
The Jacobites believed that parliamentary interference with monarchical succession was illegal. Catholics also hoped the Stuarts would end recussancy. In Scotland, the Jacobite cause became entangled in the last throes of the warrior clan system.
The emblem of the Jacobites is the White Cockade. White Rose Day is celebrated on 10 June, the anniversary of the birth of the Old Pretender in 1688.
Yorkshire Rose, heraldic symbol of the House of York
White Rose of York from a manuscript of Edward IV in the late 1400s
After the execution of Charles I in 1649, his son Charles II became Pretender until his restoration 11 years later.
After the overthrow of the Catholic James II and VII in the Glorious Revolution in 1688, many refused to accept the legality of the new regime of William and Mary, James’s Protestant daughter and son-in-law, and continued to recognize James as King. James made a significant effort in 1690 to recover Ireland, but was defeated by William at the Battle of the Boyne. After James’s death, his supporters recognized his son, James Francis Edward Stuart, the Roman Catholic son of the deposed King James VII and II.
James was barred from the succession to the throne by the Act of Settlement 1701. Notwithstanding the Act of Union 1707, he claimed the separate thrones of Scotland, as James VIII, and of England and Ireland, as James III, until his death in 1766. In Jacobite terms, Acts of Parliament (of England or Scotland) after 1688, (including the Acts of Union) did not receive the required Royal Assent of the legitimate Jacobite monarch and, therefore, were without legal effect. James was responsible for a number of conspiracies and rebellions, particularly in the Highlands of Scotland. The most notable was The Fifteen, which took place in 1715-16.
Charles Edward Stuart, James’ elder son, the would-be Charles III, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, led in his father’s name the last major Jacobite rebellion, the Forty-Five, in 1745-46. He died in 1788, without legitimate issue.
In essence, what Bowling said, publicly, in 1752, probably, if I had to guess, after having a bit too much to drink, was that he supported the overthrow of the government under which he was living. Not a wise thing to say in public. However, for Bowling’s descendants, it makes him a colorful man and allows us a peek at his true character. We know he remained a strong Catholic. This also tells us that his wife would have been Catholic as well, and his children baptized in that faith.
Bowling Speake, born in 1674, according to several depositions during his lifetime, in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, died in August or early September 1755 in Charles County, Maryland, just three years after publicly drinking to the Pretender. His will was probated on September 13, 1755.
In the name of God Amen I Bowling Speake of Charles County in the province of Maryland being in perfect health and memory thanks be to God do make & ordain this my will & testament in manner & form following Viz.
Imprimis I give and bequeath to my son Thomas Speake his heirs & assigns forever 121 acres of land being part of a tract of land. ..Mistake beginning at the first bound tree and running thence to Jordan Branch & up the Branch to a small (sic) next of his Dwelling place and thence to the beginning to make acres –
Item I give and bequeath to my son William Speake two hundred and two acres with Dwelling place being part of a tract of land called mistake to him & his heirs forever and bequeath to my well beloved wife my Dwelling plantation and the use of all my persc Estate during her natural life and after her decease I give and bequeath to my grandson Speake the son of Thomas Speake my Dwelling Plantation and also a small tract of land c(alled) the meadow also his first choice of the negroes and the first choice of my beds and fuz
Item I give and bequeath to my granddaughter Ann Higdon the second choice of my beds an furniture my great chest one Dish & three plates one iron pot & Cattle and Sheep that a make to her without interuption –
Item I give & bequeath to my Daughter Mary Baggott th 112 of my cattle and sheep one feather bed and furniture and one chest
Item I give & to my son William one negro –
Lastly I do hereby nominate constitute and appoint my beloved wife Mary Speake and my aforesaid grandson Edward Speake the son of Thomas Speake full sole Executors of this my last will and textament
In Witness whereof I have hereunto se hand and affixed my seal this this(sic) Twentieth day of October in the year of our Lc Signed sealed published & delivered in the presence of us
Will McPherson Junr Wm Comes Bowling Speake seal
Annexed to the foregoing will was the foll(owin)g probate to wit
Maryland for 13th September 1755 Marmaduke Semmes William McPherson Junior and William Coomes the three subscribing witnesses to the foregoing will being duly & solemn sworn on the hole Evangels deposeth and saith that they saw the Testator Bowking Speake & seal the within will and heard him publish & declare the same to be his last will and and that at the time of his so doing was to the best of their apprehensions of sound & mind & memory and that they severally subscribed as witnesses to the said will in the presence of the Testator & at his request which was taken in the presence of Edwd Speake heiz who did not object to the same.
Perhaps Edward was Bowling’s executor because his son Thomas was already ill.
Children of Bowling Speake and Mary Benson were:
- Thomas Speake, born 1698 in St Mary’s County, Maryland; died between August 2nd and September 13, 1755, in Charles County, Maryland; married Jane, last name unknown
- William Speake, born about 1699.
- Mary Speake, born about 1700; married ? Higdon and a Baggott?
However, it seems there was more than religion that separated John Speake from his brother, Bowling. As it turns out, there might be DNA as well.
Lancashire DNA Speaks
In 2013, on our Speaks family trip to Lancashire, we were very fortunate to meet several of our Speak(e) cousins in various locations. Several joined us for dinner one evening at the Stirk House, a country manor house once owned and restored by Harry Speak himself.
Our trip was precipitated upon DNA findings. Our cousin, Doug, from New Zealand tested and matched our American line descended from Thomas Speak(e) born about 1634 and who immigrated to America around 1660. The blessing was that Doug knew exactly where his Speak ancestors were from – Gisburn, Lancashire, England.
During and shortly after our visit, three of our British cousins, Gary, Stan and David took the Y DNA test to see if they matched each other as well as Doug. The prevailing sentiment was that indeed, the Speak families were not related to each other.
David, based on his genealogy, we know is a cousin of our New Zealand cousin, Doug, who matches the American line. In fact, it’s Doug’s fault that we were all there, in Gisburn – because our New Zealand cousin knew who his oldest ancestor was – John Speak – the man whose children were baptized in the 1700s in St. Mary’s of Gisburn.
Gary indicated that he was told that his line is not related to ours. By this time, in the 1900s, the different Speaks families were on the other side of Pendle Hill, not terribly close to each other and in different communities. The known ancestral villages of the three different Speaks lines are shown on the map below. Pendle Hill is the high area in the middle. The two most distant points, Gisburn and Bolton are about 25 miles as the crow flies, or about 30 miles driving, and Bolton is a more recent location.
So indeed, we are all quite interested in the outcome of the Y DNA testing.
And the answer is……drum roll…..all 4 men, Doug, David, Stan and Gary do share a common paternal ancestor. So yes, we are all related. Of course, figuring out exactly how we are related, and how far back, is another matter altogether.
I’ve reconstructed their pedigree charts as best I can. The men graciously provided me with their genealogy information.
What I’ve tried to do with these results is to group them according to ancestor. In other words, in the group above, 201632 and 312514 both share a common lineage via the John born in 1822 in Burnley and who married Mary.
This second chart is a bit more complex. We know that Gary’s ancestor Thomas was the brother of Harry who owned the Stirk House. Gary is still working on his ancestry, but in the mean time, I found a lovely family tree on Ancestry.com provided by the granddaughter of Harry Speak. It’s fully sourced, so I felt good about using it. So even though we don’t have a DNA sample from Harry of the Stirk House, we do have his genealogy which I aligned side by side with Gary’s, as the genealogy should be identical from brothers Thomas and Harry on back in time.
As you can see, the oldest ancestors here are Henry who was born in Twiston and baptized in Downham in 1650 and John born in 1700, location unknown, but who died in Hey, Houlridge and who married Mary.
The common ancestor between these two groups is further back in time. We really don’t know how much further back, but we do know it was after the adoption of surnames. The first mention of a Speak or similar surname male in this region is found in 1305 when Robert Speke was named as a landowner in Billington, which is inside the Whalley parish. This is the earliest known Speak or similar surname record. Given this information, we can safely say that the common Speak ancestor lived sometime between the 1300s and about 1650, a span of about 14 generations.
Let’s take a look at the DNA results found in the Speakes DNA project.
In the first section, after the kit number, you can see the names of the participants oldest ancestors, followed by DNA values at specific markers found on the Y chromosome which they inherited from their fathers unmixed with any DNA from their mother. Therefore, their Y chromosome also matches that of their father, and grandfather, on back in time on the paternal side – except for an occasional mutation. We count on those mutations to identify families and within families, to identify specific lines of descent.
This is actually quite interesting, because all of the British men, plus Doug from New Zealand, have a value of 17 at location DYS19. Two of the American participants have this value as well. This tells me one thing and then begs a second question.
The piece of information this provides me for sure is that the value of our original ancestor in this location was 17. We know this because all of the British samples and the New Zealand sample have this value. This tells me that the mutation happened either in Thomas, the American immigrant’s generation, or thereafter.
The fact that two American samples also have this value isn’t unusual, as one would expect for Thomas to have carried this value as well. However, here’s the fly in the ointment. The two American men who carry this value are from two different sons of Thomas the immigrant. However, none of the rest of the American men have this value. This means one of a few things – options below.
- The genealogy of one of the two American men who carry this value is incorrect and they both descend from the same son of Thomas who carried the original mutation. This means that Thomas’s other son had a mutation to a value of 16.
- Both of Thomas’s sons had a value of 17, and both of their lines fairly quickly had a mutation to a value of 16. This is unlikely but not unheard of.
- Of course, the problem is that both of the two known descendants of Thomas Speak, the immigrant, have additional descendants that have tested and who don’t carry a value of 17.
How can we find out what happened here? We can’t. We can continue to research and if we find something significant in the research that suggests a different genealogy for one participant, that might shed light on the topic. But assuming this is a genetic mutation and not a genealogical problem, the only way we could ever sort through this to test people who descend from every generation of men along the way to see when and where this mutation took place. It’s interesting, but it’s not THAT interesting nor will it answer the question of which Lancashire line the American line is closer to genetically.
What I was hoping to find was a marker that differed between the Lancashire men. For example, if the green group of Lancashire men had a value of 12 at the first marker, 393, and the red group of men had a value of 13 at 393, we would immediately surmise that we most likely were more closely related to the group that sported a value of 13, since all of the Americans carry that value. Unfortunately, there is no marker yet tested in the British men that shows this level of differentiation.
However, we also haven’t tested everyone to 111 markers. The 111 marker upgrade was created for exactly this type of situation. Indeed, the answer may well be waiting for us, waiting to be uncovered or discovered in the 111 marker test.