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John Speed [sp.]

John Speed was the fifth child of John Roxby Speed & Hannah Wheatley born September 7th, 1865 at Easington Lane, Co Durham.

In 1871 the family were living at High St, Hetton-le-Hole, Co Durham where John’s father was a coal miner.  Sadly John’s father died 6 years later.

The 1881 census shows John living at home, Richard St, Hetton-le-Hole with his widowed mother who was a grocer.  John was working as a general labourer & there were 2 brothers & a sister still at home.

John was still with his mother at Richard St in 1891 & he was now a grocer’s assistant.  Presumably he was helping his mother who was described as a grocer & tobacconist.

In Jan-March 1892 John married Elizabeth Ann Williamson in Houghton-le-Spring, Co Durham.  Elizabeth was born Oct-December 1865 at Shotton Colliery, the daughter of Mary Nicholson & Benjamin Williamson, a coal miner.

In 1901 John & Elizabeth were living at Richard St, Hetton-le-Hole, just a few doors away from John’ mother.  John was described as a tobacconist working from home.

John & Elizabeth were still living at Richard St in 1911 & John was still a tobacconist working from home but noted as travelling 2 days a week.  They had a daughter Hannah (9) & a son John (5).

Elizabeth, aged 66, died at Richard St on February 2nd, 1932 & was buried on February 5th at St Nicholas, Hetton-le-Hole. Elizabeth had been an invalid for many years (Sunderland Daily Echo & Shipping Gazette of February 2nd, 1932).

The 1939 register shows widowed John living at 7 Richard St, Hetton & now a retired tobacconist & special constable.  With him was son John, a wholesale tobacconist, & his wife Isabella.

John, aged 74, died on February 28th, 1940 at 7 Richard St & was buried March 3rd at St Nicholas, Hetton-le-Hole. Probate of his estate was granted to son John & Hannah Applegarth (wife of Fred Applegarth) & his effects were £7,897.13s.6d & resworn as £7,313.13s.6d.  An obituary in the Sunderland Daily Echo & Shipping Gazette of February 29th, 1940 stated that he carried on the family business that was founded in 1879.  He was on the board of Hetton Race Co. for over 50 years.  For many years he was Chairman of the Houghton Feast race meeting & under his chairmanship greyhound racing was added on the Houghton Course. He had also been secretary of the Hetton rugby club & was a freemason.

(Photo courtesy of Andrew Speed,


The children of John Speed & Elizabeth Ann Williamson were:

sp.   Hannah Speed born September 18th, 1901 at Hetton-le-Hole; died October 21st, 1953 at Ashcroft, Newbottle, Co Durham

sp.  John Speed born March 21st, 1906 at Hetton-le-Hole; buried December 20th, 1960 at St Nicholas, Hetton-le-Hole



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