Recently, I completed a project trying to prove that Elizabeth Gwinn Spear was named for a Gwinn maternal ancestral line. I spent hours compiling documentation on the Speer family, but findings were broken up to fit into the case study pieces.
Since there are likely thousands of descendants of Andrew Speer of Somerset County, Maryland and I’ve not seen any recent updates on genealogical research concerning this family, I decided it is well worth the time to share what I’ve found. Maybe there are even some distant cousins out there who can add to my work. 🙂
Little is known about Andrew Speer, other than he is said to be of Irish descent.
Many early settlers of Somerset County, Maryland migrated from Accomack County, Virginia after Virginia passed a law in 1660 requiring Quakers to join the Anglican Church or leave. It isn’t known whether Andrew Speer was affected by this law. If so, there are no Speers in the Accomack County land deed index, which begins in 1663. In the few Accomack County records which survive from the 17th century, no mention is made of Andrew Speer, although there is a John Spiers, born c1650. Whether he is related to Andrew is unknown, but John Spiers remained in Accomack County.
Andrew appears(per other’s information) on the Somerset County Rent Rolls as the owner of the tract of land called Donegal, in Stepney Parish, from 1666-1723. He likely died before 1723, as I think the Andrew Spear on the tax lists from 1723-1727 pertain to his son.
He was likely born in the early 1640s, definitely by 1645 if owning land in 1666, and was alive as of March 1693, when Elizabeth “daughter of Andrew Speer” was involved in a court case (see below). Andrew Speer married twice. Jane may have died in childbirth or shortly afterwards. (1) Jane (MNU) (2) Priscilla, 10 March 1689/90, Somerset County, Maryland.
Children (First three by Jane, last by Priscilla:
- Elizabeth, born probably not later than 1675, assuming she was was at least 18 at the time of the court case in 1693. She accused Thomas Williams of attempted rape.
Archives of Maryland Online
- Isabel, born c1677; married William Langsden/Langston, who left a will dated 8 March 1708/09 and proved 26 September 1709. He named wife Isabel and children John, Spear, William, Sarah, Priscilla and “child,” who was either not yet born or a newborn and not yet named. Spear Langsden also apparently died as a young married adult, as there is Spear Langston, dependent of Thomas Cooper, on the 1738 tax list. That would place the younger Spear’s birth around 1722, if he was 16 years old.
- Henry, born c1686; died between 19 July 1758, when he wrote his will, and 17 August 1758, when his will was proved, Somerset County, Maryland; married Jane Calloway, c1711, probably Somerset County, Maryland. He appears twice in court records, first in 1709, when he accused Lawrence Doile (Doyle?) of stealing $2.00, and then again in 1711. In 1711, he was called a carpenter, living in Manokin Hundred, Somerset Parish and confessed to fornication with widow Margaret Buckley on or about 7 July 1710. Nine months later, Margaret Buckley gave birth to a child. Henry was fined 600 pounds of tobacco. Henry is placed as a son of Andrew because he inherited Donnegal when his father died without a will or land deed, Henry being the eldest son and heir.
- Andrew, born 10 July 1688, Somerset County, Maryland
- Mary, (daughter of Priscilla) born 20 September 1692, Somerset County, Maryland
No further information has been found on Elizabeth or Mary Speer.
Next, we will look in depth at Andrew’s sons, Henry and Andrew.