Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Speed, Samuel

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SPEED, SAMUEL (1631–1682), divine, born in 1631, was the eldest son of John Speed, M.D. [see under Speed, John, (1552?–1629)], by his wife, a daughter of Bartholomew Warner, M.D. Elected to Christ Church, Oxford, from Westminster school in 1645, he matriculated on 1 Feb. 1647, and graduated B.A. on 8 July 1649, and M.A. on 30 Oct. 1660. He refused to submit to the parliamentary visitors and was deprived of his studentship (Burrows, Register of Parl. Visitors, p. 490). Family tradition said that forced to fly the country for complicity in a plot against Cromwell, he went to the West Indies and joined some buccaneers. He may have been the same Samuel Speed who was released from the custody of the sergeant-at-arms by an order of the council of state, dated 8 Dec. 1653, on giving his bond not to act for the future to the prejudice of the Commonwealth (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1653–4, p. 291). After the Restoration he was presented by the dean of Salisbury to the vicarage of Godalming, Surrey, after the crown had withdrawn its nominee (ib. 1663–4, pp. 191, 192). He also became chaplain to Thomas Butler, earl of Ossory, with whom he was present on board the admiral at the naval action fought with the Dutch on 2 June 1665. Speed is said to be alluded to in Sir J. Birkenhead's ballad:

    His chaplayne he plyed his wonted work,
    He prayed like a Christian and fought like a Turk.

Wood, in a manuscript note in Ashmole, calls him ‘the famous and valiant sea-chaplain and seaman’ (Fasti Oxon. pt. ii. p. 347, Bliss's note). Speed was named prebendary of Lincoln on 20 Sept. 1670, and of Christ Church on 7 May 1674. On 30 May 1675 a letter of the chancellor praying to have the degree of D.D. conferred on him, was read in convocation at Oxford. Besides his benefice of Godalming, Speed held the rectory of Whitburn, Durham, from 1673 to 1675, and that of Alverstoke, Hampshire, from the latter date till his death. Notwithstanding his preferments, he seems to have fallen into debt and to have been imprisoned in Ludgate for some years, probably until his death. He died on 22 Jan. 1682 (N.S.), and was buried on the 25th in the chancel of St. Michael's, Queenhithe, in the city. His wife, a daughter of Howard Layfield, rector of Chidingfold, afterwards subsisted on Bishop Morley's foundation at Winchester for the widows of clergy.

In 1661 Speed contributed a poem on the death of Mary, princess of Orange, to the Oxford collection; and in 1678 he published a translation of the ‘Romæ Antiquæ Descriptio’ of Valerius Maximus.

A contemporary, Samuel Speed (d. 1681), a stationer of St. Dunstan's, London, and a bookseller at the Rainbow, Fleet Street, was arrested on 8 May 1666 on the charge of publishing and dispersing seditious books, and was discharged on the 26th on giving his bond for 300l. to discontinue the practice (State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1665–6, pp. 386, 409, 413). The stationer appears to have died at Stepney some time in 1681, and to have been the author of ‘Fragmenta Carceris; or the King's Bench Scuffle, with the Humours of the Common Side,’ a volume of doggerel which appeared in 1674; and of ‘Prison Pietie, or Meditations, Divine and Moral, digested into practical heads on mixt and various subjects,’ a manual founded largely on Quarles and George Herbert.

A portrait of ‘the author,’ engraved by F. H. van Hove, is prefixed to ‘Prison Pietie.’ In the right-hand corner are two books inscribed with the names of Herbert and Quarles, and underneath is a rhymed quatrain. A ‘Panegyrick to the Rt. Rev. and most nobly descended Henrie, lord bishop of London,’ is annexed to the work.

[Welch's Alumni Westmon.; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Manning's Surrey, i. 647 n.; Watt's Bibl. Brit. i. 871; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Granger's Biogr. Hist. iv. 57; Bromley's Cat. Engr. Portraits; Le Neve's Fasti Eccles. Anglic. For the discussion as to the identity of the naval chaplain and the author, see Notes and Queries, 4th ser. iv. 372, 395, 462.]

G. Le G. N.