of August 1688, rumours began to be circulated as to the possibility of another western invasion, Speke thought it more politic to return to London. He made his way to Whitehall, and ‘diligently observed the countenances of the courtiers.’ Some of the latter appear to have suggested to the king the important use that might be made of a west-countryman, like Speke, who had suffered injury from the government, in the event of the Prince of Orange's landing. The king actually saw Speke, who was profuse in his offers of service, at Chiffinch's lodgings. Eventually, James offered him 10,000l. if he would introduce himself as a spy into the camp of the prince. To win the king's confidence he declined the reward, set out on 7 Nov. 1688, with three passes signed by Lord Feversham ‘for all hours, times, and seasons, without interruption or denial;’ proceeded to Exeter, gave his passes to Bentinck, who made ‘no little use of them,’ obtained the confidence of the Prince of Orange, to whom he was devoted ‘from principle,’ and wrote letters at the prince's dictation to the king. These letters were adroitly calculated to work upon James's fears and excite his distrust of those around him by pretending that his chief officers only waited the opportunity to desert him. The desertion of Prince George of Denmark, and of the Duke of Ormonde at Andover, served to confirm the king in the high opinion that he formed at this juncture of Speke's discernment.
About the middle of December, when the London mob were beginning to rifle the houses of the catholics in a pretended search for arms, and when the secret presses were working day and night, a remarkable document was found one morning by a whig bookseller under his shop door. The document professed to be a supplemental declaration under the hand and seal of the Prince of Orange. In it good protestants were adjured, as they valued all that was dear to them, and commanded under pain of the prince's highest displeasure, to seize, disarm, and imprison their catholic neighbours. Injunctions so congenial to the populace were soon printed and widely circulated, and had no little effect in inflaming the rabble against the objects of their dislike. Some of the results were seen on the night of 21 Dec., when the Spanish ambassador's house and most of the Roman catholic chapels in London were looted. William of course disclaimed all responsibility for the spurious proclamation. Ferguson and others were suspected; but it was not until 1709, in his ‘Memoirs of the most Remarkable Passages and Transactions of the Revolution’ (Dublin, 16mo, and 8vo abbreviated), that, in answer to a libel called ‘A Diary of Several Reports’ (1704), Speke proudly avowed that he was responsible not only for the ‘Third Declaration,’ as it was called, but also for the circulation of the alarming rumours which brought about the shameful panic known as the ‘Irish night.’ The declaration, dated ‘Sherburn Castle, 28 Nov. 1688’ (O.S.), is printed in full in Speke's pamphlet, which he dedicated to Thomas, earl of Wharton. He subsequently modified his narrative, and called it ‘The Secret History of the Happy Revolution in 1688 … humbly dedicated to his most Gracious Majesty King George by the principal Transactor in it [i.e. Hugh Speke],’ London, 1715, 8vo. In this pamphlet the spurious ‘declaration,’ the ‘Irish conspiracy,’ and James's flight are ‘all unfolded and set in the clearest light by the only person who was the author and manager of them.’ The dedication was equivalent to an appeal to the new king to reward his eminent services.
He had made a similar appeal to Anne upon her accession, claiming as a basis of a suitable recognition that the fine of 5,000l. which he had paid in 1687 should be refunded. Godolphin reported on his petition to the privy council in May 1703, and Speke, as ‘an object of compassion,’ was allowed 100l. He then went to Ireland, and seems to have been promised some employment by Harley. He wrote several letters to Ormonde from Dublin during 1710–11 (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. pp. 782, 813).
Though an egregious liar (as where he states that his father had paid 10,000l. for his composition), there is no valid reason for disputing Speke's admission that, out of hatred for James II, he had deceived him by false reports, or that he forged the criminal ‘Declaration.’ The probability is that he told only half the truth, and that, with that passion for intrigue which the popish plot had engendered among men of his stamp, he was guilty of other manœuvres even more treacherous and ambiguous in character than any he revealed. It is tolerably clear that in some way he became quite discredited during the reign of William, from whom, in response to the most extravagant claims, it appears that Speke never received more than a few doles of money amounting in all to no more than 500l. (see his begging letter to Thomas Pelham, dated 17 Oct. 1698, in Addit. MS. 33084, f. 131); and it is highly significant that his pamphlets were not put forth until death had removed a number of chief actors in the revolution from the scene. George I seems to