Francis Speight (c.1614 - c.1684) MP

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: England
Death: Died in Nansemond , Virginia
Occupation: Indentured servant, planter
Managed by: Doug Robinson
Last Updated:

About Francis Speight

Francis Speight was born in 1614 in England.  His parentage is unknown.  He is our immigrant ancestor coming to America in 1635 at the age of twenty-one.  Almost all Speight’s in America (except the family of North Carolina Governor Richard Dobbs Speight whose line died out when his son went childless) descend from Francis Speight.  He sailed from Gravesend, England aboard the ship, “Thomas and John”, captained by Richard Lambard.  Before the ship left the English port, a minister would have certificated that the Virginia bound passengers conformed to doctrine and practices of The Church of England, followed by an oath of allegiance to King James I. 

He arrived at Jamestown, Virginia on June 16, 1635 after two and half months at sea with one hundred and three other passengers.  Just twenty-eight years after the founding of Jamestown.  Jamestown was commonly regarded as the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States.  Francis was among fifteen people indentured to Puritan leader William Eyres for seven years working on Chuckatuck Creek Plantation in what is now Suffolk, Virginia..  Indentured servants worked out their loans for passage money to America (known as a temporary white slave).  If you were an indentured servant it was not the person, but the work of the servant that was owned by the master.  That was a large different than a black slave being owned by their master.  In the 1600s three-quarters of all English colonists served as indentured servants.  Half of them died before their service was completed.  One quarter remained poor afterward and the other quarter achieved a degree of prosperity. As a whole, women fared somewhat better than men.  A female servant who had completed her service could easily find a husband.  Francis was the first and only indentured servant of the Speight Family and the first one to have indentured servants working for him.

After his seven-year term as an indentured slave,  on May 23, 1642 Francis received fifty acres of wilderness land from Mr. Eyres in Indian Branch (now Lake Prince in Suffolk, Virginia).  This meant that Francis had saved enough money for the legal fees, tools, seed, and livestock needed to become a planter (which then meant farmer).  Indian Branch was an important waterway.  Flat bottom boats transported hogsheads of tobacco to market.  Francis married in 1642 shortly after his land was deeded to him.  Francis’ first priority would have been building shelter and digging a well for his family. The family house would have been a thatched roof hut.  Its roof was made by bundling reeds from a nearby swamp.  “Cottages” had an end-hooded chimney and a hard packed dirt floor.  In the English tradition they were called cottages not cabins or huts.   In the spring of 1643 the Speights were blessed with their first child, John.  In 1644 the Opechancanough Indians attempted to run the colonists from their land, killing almost five hundred colonists, but the population had grown too large for them to succeed.

Timeline

1614 - Francis Speight born in England

1635 - age 21, arrived at Jamestown, VA on the "Thomas and John" from Gravesend England, 6/16 June

1635 - he was indentured to William Eyres in 1635, one of the Puritan leaders in Virginia.

1642 - William Eyres lists Francis Speight as one of his head rights for land grant.

ca 1642 - married [when his seven years of service were up]

ca 1643 - son John Speight born

1654 - 17 March - Francis Speight granted 300a in Nansemond Co VA "by a White Marsh" [this was probably in what is Gates Co NC today]

1684 - 21 April - John Speight was granted 300a in Nansemond Co VA "formerely granted to Francis Speight. "given by will to him by Francis Speight

1703 -- Nansemond Co VA - patent for 161 a to Francis Speight Jr and William Speight Jr.

Sources

  1. page two of the passenger listing on the "Thomas & John" listing Francis Speight (Spight). It is from the book "List of Emigrants to America - 1600-1700"

-------------------- In the early Spring of the year 1635 Francis Speight, at the age of 21 left Gravesand, England aboard the ship "Thomas and John", captained by Richard Lambard. He was examined concerning his conformity to the orders and discipline of the Church of England, followed by an oath of allegiance to Church and King James I. He and 103 other passengers arrived in Jamestown, Virginia on June 16 after 2 months at sea. He was indentured to Puritan leader Richard Ayres for 7 years to pay for passage fare, working on Chuckatuck Creek plantation in what is now Suffolk, VA. Francis was the first and only indentured servant of the Speight Family and the first one to have indentured servants working for him. In 1642 Francis married a Miss O'Rourke and received 50 acres of wilderness land from Mr. Ayres in Indian Branch (now Lake Prince in Suffolk), VA. The family built and lived in a thatched roof hut and grew tobacco to ship by flatboat to market. In 1644 the Opechancanough Indians attempted to run the colonists from their land, killing 500 colonists, but the population had grown too large for them to succeed. In 1650 Francis moved 8 miles south through wilderness to Mill Creek which was renamed Speights Run, located near the Nansemond River. The family made their final move in 1654 to a 300-acre tobacco farm in Sunbury, NC. They acquired 6 indentured servants, 5 males and 1 female named Mary Wells.

In 1664 Francis gave his 10-year-old property in Speights Run to his son John who would be known as "John of Speights Run". By 1682 Francis was a widower and closed his house at Sunbury. He then moved north to a 500-acre plantation in Somerton Creek, Virginia where he lived until his death in 1684 at age 70.

Almost all Speights in America (except the family of North Carolina Governor Richard Dobbs Speight whose line died out when his son went childless) descend from Francis Speight.

Children: John (1643-1703) and William (1653-1719); possibly 2 other sons Francis and Thomas (unproven)

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Francis Speight's Timeline

1614
1614
England
1642
1642
Age 28
Suffolk, Virginia
1643
1643
Age 29
Nansemond C., Va
1653
1653
Age 39
Speights Run
1684
1684
Age 70
Nansemond , Virginia
????
Nansemond C., Va