Francis SPEIGHT[1]

Male 1614 - 1684  (70 years)


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  • Name Francis SPEIGHT 
    Born 1614  London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died Apr 1684  Sommerton Creek, (now Pittmantown), Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I29761  Carney Genealogy
    Last Modified 1 Apr 2019 

    Family Elizbeth O'ROURKE,   d. 1682 
    Children 
     1. William SPEIGHT,   b. 1665, Suffolk, Nansemond, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1735, Suffolk, Nansemond, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 70 years)
    Last Modified 29 Aug 2016 
    Family ID F14018  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Arrived 1635 according to Passenger List Index COLDHAM, PETER WILSON. The Complete Book of Emigrants.

      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.

      It is anyone's guess as to what Francis might have been thinking and feeling the day he boarded the ship for America. He was leaving kin and friends. Sailing to America in the early 1600s was anything but a pleasant voyage. They usually did not leave on schedule because they had to wait for a favorable wind and a rising tide to get under way. This was before they had a steam-tug to pull the ship out to sea. The ships were crowded, cold, drafty, and damp. Passengers would have squeezed into any available space not taken up by the crew, cargo, baggage, and farm animals. The ships were never designed for passengers. Crossing the Atlantic was always a dreadful passage with most of the passengers getting sick. There was also the possibility that the ship would not make the voyage. Although the sailing vessels were well constructed and made of sturdy material, they were no matches for the fierce storms of the Atlantic. If the ship made the voyage one out of five passengers died en route. Living conditions were deplorable. The passengers ate poorly. They would have cooked a communal meal in a large cast iron pot. When the sea was rough, meals could not be cooked because of the danger of fire aboard the ship. For days they would eat raw food. Francis would have packed necessities for insuring his survival in the New World in a sea trunk.

      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.

      After eight years at Indian Branch, Francis and his family moved eight miles south through wilderness to land located on Old Major's Creek and Mill Creek, which was later named Speights Run, which made up the head waters of the Nansemond River. The journey would have been a tedious, tiresome, and dangerous one. There were no roads, dangerous Indians. Again Francis' first priority would have been to build shelter and to dig a well for his family. In 1650 Francis Speight and James Arrorke jointing patented fifty acres on the north side of Speights Run. In 1653 Francis and his wife had their second child, William. In 1654 at the age of forty, Francis, his wife, and two sons made their final move to a three hundred acre tobacco farm in Sunbury, North Carolina. This land was located on higher ground bordering a stream (present day Raynor Swamp) that connects with Bennett's Creek, which flows into the Chowan River. Locating near the waterway was necessary for transporting the half-ton tobacco packed hogsheads. For the third time Francis would have to build shelter for his family. One of the reasons for moving would have been to obtain fresh land as tobacco quickly depleted the soil.

      Life for Francis and his family was not easy. They had to be strong. Routine tasks of plowing, planting, tool sharpening, baking, mending, washing clothes, grinding corn, milking cows, butchering meat, brewing beer (water was usually contaminated), and other backbreaking efforts required to keep a Virginia plantation together. Raising tobacco was a very labor-intensive job (picking suckers, worms, and insects from the tobacco plants). The fields were cleared and barns built. From sunup to sundown, each family member worked at tasks necessary to survive. Later in 1654 Francis acquired six indentured servants. This group consisted of five males, Abraham Standford, James Prouce, Alexander Dunbarr, John Jackson, Thomas Lightoll and one female, Mary Wells. With the arrival of help, work began on a large house. Mrs. Speight and Mary Wells would have had their hands full feeding eight adults and two children plus all the other daily tasks.

      Francis still owned the land at Speights Run and in 1664 he gave that land to his oldest son, John who would be known as "John of Speights Run". Since the land had been left uncultivated for ten years it was ready once again for growing tobacco.

      By 1682 Francis was a widower and closed his house at Sunbury. He went north and patented five hundred acres of land on Somerton Creek (now Pittmantown), Virginia where he lived until his death. At this location he had ten indentured servants, Eliza White, John Harris, Walter Price, William Booker, Hum Green, Edward Harris, Richard Catach, Jane Catach, Thomas, Frost, and Richard Jones. This was the largest and last piece of land owned by Francis. In the winter of 1684 Francis died at the age of seventy. The burial place of Francis is unknown. He could be buried in Pittmantown, the place he spent his last two years or more likely he was taken back to Sunbury where he would be laid to rest beside his beloved wife on their plantation.

  • Sources 
    1. [SAuth] Jim Carney, compiled by James H Carney [(E-ADDRESS), & MAILING ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Minyama, Queensland 4575 AUSTRALIA.