Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/330

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

have paid no regard to his appeal, though the writer had it translated into French for the king's benefit. In March 1719 Speke was residing at High Wycombe with a Dr. Lluellyn, on whose behalf he wrote a letter to Sir Hans Sloane. He probably died between that date and 1725.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Burke's Landed Gentry; Roberts's Life of Monmouth, passim; Burnet's Own Time; Eachard's Hist. of England, p. 1131; Mackintosh's Hist. of the Revolution; Lingard's Hist. vol. x.; Macaulay's Hist.; Luttrell's Brief Hist. Relation, vol. i. Ellis Correspondence, i. 194, ii. 356; Sir George Sitwell's The First Whig, pp. 197, 199, 200; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xii. 403; Secret Consults, 137, 140; Speke's Works in Brit. Mus. Library, and a copy of his ‘Secret History’ in the London Library, containing a manuscript note in Speke's own hand.]

T. S.

SPEKE, JOHN HANNING (1827–1864), African explorer and discoverer of the source of the Nile, second son of William Speke (1798–1887) of Jordans, near Ilminster, Somerset, by Georgina Elizabeth, daughter of William Hanning of Dillington, was born at Jordans on 4 May 1827. His father, who had been a captain in the 14th dragoons, was the representative of a younger branch of the ancient family of Speke of White Lackington [see Speke, Hugh] (Collinson, Hist. Somerset, i. 69). From his childhood Speke was educated for the army, and entered the 46th regiment Bengal native infantry (1844). He served through the Punjab campaign under Sir Hugh, first viscount Gough [q. v.], and was present during the Sikh war at the battles of Rámnagar, Sadullápur, Chilianwala, and Gujarat, acting in Sir Colin Campbell's division. He was promoted lieutenant 1850 and captain 1852. At the close of the war Speke appears first to have conceived the idea of exploring Central Equatorial Africa (What led to the Discovery of the Nile, p. 1), and all the leave of absence which he could secure in India he spent in hunting and exploring expeditions over the Himalayas and in unknown portions of Thibet, during which he proved himself a competent sportsman, botanist, and geologist. Having completed his ten years' service in India, 3 Sept. 1854, he left Calcutta the following day for Aden, intending to put in effect the scheme he had formed for African exploration. He arrived at Aden at a moment when an expedition was being organised by the Bombay government, under the command of Lieutenant (afterwards Sir Richard) Burton, for the purpose of investigating the Somali country. At the suggestion of Colonel (afterwards Sir James) Outram [q. v.], Speke was put on service duty as a member of the expedition. He was at first despatched, 18 Oct. 1854, in preparation for the main journey, to Bunder Gori, with instructions to penetrate the country southwards as far as possible, to inspect the Wadi Nogul, and eventually to join the rest of the expedition at Berbera. But mainly owing to the unsatisfactory character of his headman or guide, who took advantage of his ignorance of the language, he was compelled to return to Aden, 15 Feb. 1855, without accomplishing the object of the journey. On 21 March 1855 he started again for Berbera, arriving there 3 April. Many camels had been got together, and great preparations had been made for the advance, but the expedition was doomed to failure, a night attack being made on the camp by the Somalis, in which Speke was dangerously wounded. Leaving Aden on sick certificate, Speke arrived in England in June 1855, and almost immediately volunteered for the Crimean campaign. He was attached to a regiment of Turks, with the commission of captain, and proceeded to Kertch in the Crimea, where he served until the close of the war. On its termination he meditated exploration in the Caucasus, but abandoned the idea on receiving an invitation from Burton to join in another African expedition. The new expedition was undertaken at the joint expense of the home and Indian governments, and at the recommendation of Lord Elphinstone, then governor of Bombay, Speke was officially appointed a member of the party. The instructions of the Royal Geographical Society to Burton were to penetrate inland from Kilwa or some other place on the east coast of Africa, and make the best way to the reputed lake of Nyassa, to determine the position and limits of that lake, and to explore the country around it.

On 3 Dec. 1856 the expedition, under the command of Burton, sailed in the East India Company's sloop Elphinstone from Bombay to Zanzibar, where they arrived on 21 Dec. The journey inland was not commenced until 27 June 1857, the six months preceding being occupied in exploring the coast and determining the best line of march. Starting from Kaolé and proceeding in a south-west direction as far as Zungomero, and then north-west through Ugogo and Ukimba, the travellers arrived at Kazé, south latitude 5°, east longitude 33°, on 7 Nov. 1857. Here they received information of three inland lakes from an Arab trader, Sheik Snay, which first led Speke to entertain the idea that the most northern lake might prove to be the source of the Nile. Moving slowly forward, owing to