US Beginnings – Charles County, MD

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.

St Peters 1900

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.

St Peters today

St Peters tour

Speak Family at ST. Peters

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.

bourman map

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.

Bourman satellite

Above is an overlay of the land on a Google Map that shows the land as it exists today.

bourman family

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.

bourman group

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.


13 Responses to US Beginnings – Charles County, MD

  1. James R. Speaks says:

    As you can see by the name I am a Speaks and I’m very interested in learning more about my ancestry. But I see the name speak and I’m not sure I’m from the same bloodline. But I would be very interested in learning more about this. By the way my family came from Steubenville Ohio. Thanks I look forward to hearing from you.

    • nicholas speak says:

      im the GGGGgrdson of Nicholas Speak/ son of joe s grdson of timothy and nancy/ my cousin mary francis speaks hentchal does the geaneoligy/ cm 5178039814

    • John Payne says:

      James, Send an email to John Payne, the Speak/e/s/es Family Association Archivist at and I will give you some assistance on how to find your Speaks ancestors by return email.

  2. Genna Vinson says:

    Anyone related to the Kentucky Speake’s. My 4th great grandmother was Nancy Ann Speake’s. She married John Brawner. They settled in Columbia Kentucky. They came through the Cumberland Gap in the very early 1800’s. ‘Ann’ Speake Brawner was the daughter of John Speake (son of John the Innkeeper) and Ann Taylor. I am interested in know more about Ann Taylor.

  3. John Payne says:

    Genna, there are some documents in the Speak/e/s/es Family Association archives related to this branch of the family. The archives are available to all members of the SFA, have you registered? Send me an email and I will be in touch on the types of resources we have available.

  4. nicholas speaks says:

    Thomas was my fifth great.My cousin mary francis hentchel knows all about the speaks family.

  5. KENNETH GOCHENOUR Grandson of Frank S Speake says:

    I am contacting the Speake family in Honor of my Grandfather, Frank Stanley Speake (1887-1971). My grandfather lost both of his parents at a very young age,6, and he never had any contact, or knowing of any Speake’s related to him. This was something he missed all his life, but now I know. Thomas & Elizabeth Speake are my direct 8th Great Grandparents. We are from Baltimore Maryland, & lived in Pimicilo, at 5002 Levindale Rd. I am available to anyone the wants to discuss the Speake family!

  6. John Payne says:

    Charles Gochenour you may contact the Association archivist and historian by email at We would like to hear from you to help connect you family story to the Speake family.

  7. Jane Irish Nelson says:

    I am a descendant of Sarah Jane Speake, who married Terrence Connor; Sarah Jane is a third-great-granddaughter of Thomas Speake and Elizabeth Bowling.

  8. Mary White says:

    I’ve been working on the paternal branch of my family tree. My 2nd great-grandmother is Elva Pearl Speakes (1879-1972), daughter of George W. Speakes (1848-1912) and Emma T. Boswell (1852-1900). I stumbled on the Speakes Family Association and am curious as to what I can find. I’ve worked mainly with and have hints from other trees that point back to Thomas Speake and Elizabeth Bowling, however, I only have proof back to my 4th great grandfather, John Lawson Speakes (1812-1877) of Virginia. He is possibly the son of George W Speaks b. 1780 in Charles County, Maryland.

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