New book celebrates Shropshire family over 13 generations

By Matthew Growcott | Ironbridge | Telford entertainment | Published:

The story of one Shropshire family across 13 generations will be told in a new book.

John Speake with his new book

The book, A History of the Speake Families in Shropshire, has taken 45 years of part-time research, but author John Speake has now published it.

It describes the author's family through hundreds of years, as well as other associated Shropshire Speake families.

Their story begins with periods of prosperity in the late 16th century, but court cases brought against them in the infamously corrupt Star Chamber court pushed the family into poverty.

After the mid-seventeenth century, they lived the precarious existence of the rural poor, at the mercy of poor harvests, poverty, accidents, chronic illnesses and sudden death.

But as the Industrial Revolution came to Shropshire, the Speakes found new work in Ironbridge and Ketley. With the increase in railways, soon the Speakes were living in Lancashire, South Wales and the Black Country, and even further afield in Canada, Patagonia, Australia and New Zealand.


Mr Speake went to Wellington Grammar School and Walker Technical College before moving to Cambridge, where he now lives with his family. He has three daughters and five grandchildren.

"This book is a record of often short, hard lives, and although documentary evidence is hard to find, their lives can bring surprises," he said.


"I wrote it in my spare time, while earning my daily crust, bringing up a family and renovating a succession of houses.

"As time went on, online sources became much more useful as the number of records expanded.

"It came to a point when I had lots of material, but only I knew what linked it all together. I had known several family historians whose work wasn't published and after their deaths their notes were destroyed. As I was getting older myself, I decided to self publish using Writersworld who have made a very professional book from my amateurish draft."

A History of the Speake Families in Shropshire is available from Amazon and other booksellers.

Matthew Growcott

By Matthew Growcott
Reporter - @MGrowcott_Star

Shropshire Star reporter


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