Thomas Speak(e) and his wife, Elizabeth Bowling, were the ancestors of most of the large Speak, Speake, Speaks, and Speakes family in the US, now scattered across the states like flower petals in the wind. Thomas was born about 1633 near Gisburn in Lancashire, England, a Catholic. His wife, Elizabeth Bowling was born not far away, near Chorley, also in Lancashire. They immigrated about 1660 to Maryland, a haven for Catholics who were at that time unwelcome in England, and settled in Charles County, Maryland.
Jerry Draney has been instrumental in identifying the original location of the Speak(e) land in Charles County. It is located on the land of St. Peters Church, three miles east of Waldorf. During the SFA Convention in 2011, Jerry coordinated a visit for descendants of the original Speak immigrants. He has graciously provided us with the following photos, maps and information.
Above is a drawing of the St. Peter’s Church plat that shows 37 acres called The Mistake clearly identifying the land that Bowling Speak, son of the immigrant Thomas, purchased in the early 1700s. By the early 1800s the land was owned by Thomas Reeves who willed it to the church.
The photo above shows the first St. Peter’s Church circa 1900 that shows the Reeves’ Mansion to the right of the church. We know that Thomas Reeves lived on The Mistake. Jerry was unable to find any additional history about this mansion. The remaining pictures are of the new church today when members of the Speak Family Association visited during the convention in La Plata, MD in October 2011. The new church was built in the same location as the old church in the above picture and the Reese Mansion was torn down.
Bowling owned a second tract of land as well near Bryantown, MD 7 miles southeast of Waldorf MD on route 5. When Bowling Speak was growing up in this area, probably living with his uncle James Bowling, a prominent citizen of his time, route 5 was an indian trail. Bowling Speak owned 200 acres purchased in 1718 shown in three plats in the topo map in orange just north of Bryantown, and green next to the north and yellow.
There is also a 17 acre plat just to the north in light blue called Speaks Meadow. Bowling sold the northern plat in yellow and willed the remaining land to his grandson Edward Speak son of Thomas of Zekiah. The will included Bowlings dwelling plantation which Jerry believes to be located in the green plat where the Speaks family visited, probably near the home of the current owner.
Above is an overlay of the land on a Google Map that shows the land as it exists today.
These group pictures were taken on the middle (green) plat when we toured during the SFA convention in October 2011. Above, the current owner of the land shows the group around.
The entire group of Speak(e)(s) descendants gathered on Bowling’s land for a photo op during our 2011 visit. It was a beautiful day and such in inspiring experience to stand where our ancestors stood, lived, loved and died.