SPEKE, John (c.1652-1728), of White Lackington and Dillington, Som.
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Family and Education
b. c.1652, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of George Speke† of White Lackington by Mary, da. of Sir Robert Pye† of Westminster, Mdx. and Faringdon, Berks. educ. Wadham, Oxf. matric. 6 Apr. 1666, aged 14; L. Inn 1669. m. (1) 25 Dec. 1680, Katherine, da. and coh. of Edmund Prideaux† of Forde Abbey, Dorset, s.p.; (2) 25 June 1687, Elizabeth (d. 1702), da. and coh. of Robert Pelham of Compton Valence, Dorset, 1s. suc. fa. 1689.1
Commr. of inquiry, recusancy fines Mar. 1688.2
Speke was described as ‘a silly and insignificant man in all other things but Greek and Hebrew and such pedantries’. In his younger days he had been something of a Whig activist and in 1685 had joined Monmouth. However, his cowardly conduct in this enterprise, when he gave his orders as colonel of one of the Duke’s regiments ‘from the top of a steeple with his handkerchief’, resulted in his dismissal and exit to France. On being pardoned in 1687, he became a Whig collaborator of James II. He none the less retained his place on the Somerset bench after the Revolution, but in the elections to the Convention failed to regain his former seat at Ilchester. His inheritance of the family estate at the beginning of December focused his aspirations on the county in the 1690 election, his father having been a knight of the shire during the Exclusion crisis, but he was again defeated. A by-election opportunity soon afterwards arose at Taunton, and Speke was returned there without opposition in April. On several lists compiled between 1690 and 1693 he was consistently classed as a Court supporter. Re-elected for Taunton in the 1695 Parliament, he was forecast in January 1696 as a probable supporter of the government over the proposed council of trade, signed the Association in February and voted with the administration in fixing the price of guineas at 22s. in March. On 25 Nov., in the next session, he voted for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†.3
Speke failed to retain his seat at the 1698 election, and, in an analytical listing drawn up shortly afterwards, was noted retrospectively as a Court supporter. He did not stand in either of the 1701 elections, but in 1702 he contested the county, faring unsuccessfully. This marked the end of his own parliamentary career but in 1715 he actively campaigned in support of his son, George Speke†, in the county election, and in 1718 secured the dismissal of a Tory, Giles Strangways, from the Somerset commission of the peace for inactivity and disaffection. Speke died in 1728, leaving his estates to his only son.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. Collinson, Som. i. 68; Vivian, Vis. Devon. 621; Soc. of Geneal. Compton Valence par. reg.; Som. RO, Sanford mss DD/SF 3901, Hugh Speke to Edward Clarke I*, 20 May 1702; PCC 118 Fane.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 1804.
- 3. Add. 41819, ff. 57, 219; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 104; Dorset RO, Trenchard mss D60/F56, John* to Henry Trenchard*, 29 Mar. 1690.
- 4. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 153; Glassey, 257.