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Luke & Matthew Spierin (c.1666-1726)

Please read this account in conjunction with the draft family tree at http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/20976966/recent?pg=42 - please be aware that some connections are tentative and should not be taken as confirmed fact unless there is clear documentary evidence. For example, currently the link between the London Spering's and the early Limerick Spierin's needs to be strengthened.

We have to jump forward now to the next link in the chain. Sir William Betham also wrote notes on the wills of Luke and Matthew Spierin, and commented that they belonged to the same family as Rebecca Speiran. I also found additional transcripts of their wills from an entirely different source (Green). There may be additional transcripts which have as yet to be unearthed.

In Betham's notes on Rebecca's "will", he states that Luke and Matthew "were George's sons". But which George? George II or George III? It was previously thought that they might be additional children of George II & Rebecca Carter, but I think it is more likely that they were children of George III, and therefore grandchildren of George II and Rebecca Carter. Here's my reasoning ...

Both Luke and Matthew's wills indicate that their children are minors and their inheritance is left in trust with their guardians. Now if the age of majority was, say, 21, then their children would have to have been born after 1705 in Luke's case, and 1697 in Matthew's. And if they were both about 35 when they had their first child (i.e. quite late) then they would have been born about 1670 and 1662 respectively. Now if Rebecca Carter got married at 15, the latest she would have been born would be 1618, meaning that she would have had to be 44 and 52 years old respectively when she had Luke & Matthew ... but as their putative father George died in 1657, they wouldn't have carried the Spering name unless Rebecca remarried to another Spering! So it is far more likely that Rebecca was their grandmother, and her SON George (b1646) was their father. Furthermore, they may have been born in Ireland, and not in London.

If George III was their father, this means that Luke, Matthew and Nicholas were born sometime between 1662-1680 (assuming the youngest age at which George III would have had children was 16 years old). This means that at the time of the Wills of 1718[18] and 1726, they would have been aged somewhere between 38 and 64 ... which could explain why their children were still 'minors' according to their wills.

However, can we be more accurate about these dates? Perhaps:

Between 1640 and 1680, there were tumultuous upsets in Britain and Ireland

  1. The English Civil War raged from 1642 till 1651. Atrocities were commonplace
  2. Cromwell invaded Ireland in 1649 and by 1660 the population had fallen from 1.5 million to 850,000. Ireland was a wasteland. The victors confiscated almost all Irish Catholic-owned land in the wake of the conquest and distributed it to the Parliament's creditors (the Adventurers), to the Parliamentary soldiers who served in Ireland, and to English people who had settled there before the war
  3. The Great Plague (1665-1666) was a massive outbreak of disease  - it killed an estimated 100,000 people, 20% of London's population.[1]
  4. The Great Fire of London swept through the central parts of the city from Sunday 2nd to Wednesday 5th September 1666.[1] The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman City Wall.
  5. If Matthew, Luke & Nicholas were born in Ireland, then was their putative father George III a soldier in Cromwell's Irish Army? and was he thereafter granted land for services rendered? No! He was too young! Cromwell fought in Ireland in 1649-1653 when George III was only 3-7 years old.
  6. So (same old question) how did the Spering's get their lands? It had to be someone in the previous generation to George III, but still close enough to Rebecca Spering (nee Carter) to bring her and her extended family (including George III) over to Ireland.
  7. One possibility is that George II was a soldier and fought in Cromwell's Irish campaigns in 1649-1653 but died in 1657 before he could get his land grant. So his wife (Rebecca) got it instead!
  8. Another intriguing possibility is William (b1597), Rebecca's brother-in-law, immediately older brother of George II her husband. There was a Captain William Spering active in 1648 (http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=32901&strquery=spering). If he is our William he would have been 51 at the time, 2 years older than Cromwell (b1599).
  9. This brings us back to a previous findings about a Henry Spering (who was granted land in Ireland in Co. Meath but also elsewhere?http://www.bomford.net/IrishBomfords/Chapters/Chapter1/Chapter1.htm). Could this be Henry (b1595) the brother of George II? He is mentioned in the 1596 Will of Alice Hanbury but not in the 1611 Will of George I so the presumption has always been that he died between 1596-1611 ... but maybe not? He would have been in his early fifties during Cromwell's campaign in Ireland.
  10. Either of these two possible brothers-in-law of Rebecca Spering (nee Carter) could have been granted lands in Limerick and, after the plague of 1665 and fire of 1666, might have said to Rebecca and her children "time to get out of London"
  11. A fourth possibility is the Hartwell connection. In Luke's will he states he wishes to be buried at Bohernekeilly, the burying place of his family. But this land was granted to Captain Humphrey Hartwell in 1666. We know that there were close connections between the Spierin's and the Hartwell's but we don't know why. There were a lot of Hartwell's around St Andrew Undershaft who would have been neighbours of the Spering's. Is this where the connection began? Did a Hartwell neighbour move the Spering's to Ireland?
  12. However, in March 2011 I checked the Records of Ireland (1821-1825)[19] for the inrolments and certificates of grants relating to land distribution in Limerick, and also the Book of Survey and Distribution for Limerick[20] Here is what I found:
    • Henry Spering was only granted lands in Co. Meath, none in Co. Limerick (446 acres, certified in 1669).
    • William Spering is not mentioned in either publication.
    • Captain Humphrey Hartwell was granted land in Limerick, specifically Parke (339 acres), Bohircoyle alias Bolherquill (146 A), Knockbane (49 A), Mooneshallow (3+5 A), total 877 A). He was also granted 44 acres in King's County. These grants were certified on 24th Aug 1666. See also Barry, pages 15 and 18.
    • Captain William Hartwell also applied for a grant of land in Limerick, but I can't seem to find any evidence that he actually got one (I was sure he had!). He was one of the "49 Officers" (these were royalists, totally opposed to the parliamentarian ideology of Cromwell. They had their commissions confiscated by Cromwell but later restored by Charles II). Other 1649 Officers included Thomas Hartwell and Captain Richard Hartwell.[21] Both William and Humphrey later became Mayors of Limerick.
  13. So Humphrey was granted Boherquill, and Luke asked to be buried there. What's the connection?
  14. Alternatively, Captains Henry & William Spering could be the sons of George II's older brother Nicholas (b1583) who was "one of the cittie captaines" and died in 1619, or they could be sons of William (b1571) or Harry (b1573), the sons of Nicholas the Goldsmith (brother of George I). They would have been born in England so their birth/baptism records must be available somewhere ...

What to do now?

Please feel free to email us suggestions, modifications and additions to this page. Specific areas where you could help include:
  1. Do you know any additional interesting facts or links that could go on this page? 

Maurice Gleeson
April 2011

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Last update: April 2011

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