This unusual and interesting name has two district possible origin. In most instances the modern surname is derived from an early medieval English nickname for someone thought to share some characteristic with the woodpecker. The nickname derive originally from the Old French 'espeche', in Middle English 'spek(e)', woodpecker. A number of modern English surnames share a similar derivation from bird's names, such as Lark, Nightingale, Swan and Heron. The second possible origin or the name 'Speak', and variant forms Speke, Speek, Speck, Spick and Speake, is from an Anglo-Saxon locational name, the place called 'speke' in Lancashire, which is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Spec'. The placename means 'brushwood', from the Old English pre 7th Century 'spaec', twigs, dry brushwood. The development of the surname includes Walter Espec 1130 (Yorkshire) and Ailfwin Speke 1180 (Buckinghamshire). The marriage of George Speak and Mary Pye was recorded on the 21st May, 1641 at St. Mary Abbots, Kensington, in London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Spec, which was dated 1086, The Domesday Book, Bedfordshire, during the reign of King William 1, 'The Conqueror', 1066 - 1087. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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