Speechly, William (DNB00)

SPEECHLY, WILLIAM (fl. 1776–1821), agriculturist, was gardener to William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, third duke of Portland [q. v.], on his estate of Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire. In 1776, by order of the duke, he wrote for Alexander Hunter's edition of Evelyn's ‘Silva’ a description of the method of planting trees on the Nottinghamshire estates, which afterwards appeared as an article in Hunter's ‘Georgical Essays’ (ed. 1803, iii. 50–71). Speechly also contributed a note on the possibility of raising the pineapple without the use of tanner's bark. In 1779 he issued a ‘Treatise on the Culture of the Pine Apple’ (York, 8vo), followed in 1790 by a ‘Treatise on the Culture of the Vine’ (York, 4to), which were republished in one volume in 1820 (London, 8vo). In 1797 Sir John Sinclair (1754–1835) [q. v.], when president of the board of agriculture, contemplated issuing a comprehensive work on agriculture, and, at his request, Speechly undertook the sections on gardening and domestic rural economy. But in the following year the project was laid aside, and in 1800 Speechly's manuscript was returned to him at his own request. Soon after ‘a severe domestic loss,’ which may perhaps be connected with the death of ‘Mr. Speechley, nursery gardener and seedsman of Newark,’ on 4 June 1804 (Gent. Mag. 1804, i. 600), Speechly relinquished his post of gardener at Welbeck Abbey, and undertook the management of a farm. During this time his manuscript on rural economy was neglected, but on his retirement to Great Milton in Oxfordshire he completed and enlarged it, and published it in 1820, with several other essays appended, under the title ‘Practical Hints in Domestic Rural Economy’ (London, 8vo). This work, which is devoted chiefly to discussing the management of cottage gardens, is very complete in its treatment, and contains judicious directions on most points connected with the subject.

[Speechly's Works; Donaldson's Agricultural Biogr. p. 110; Allibone's Dict. of Authors; Gent. Mag. 1814, ii. 140.]

E. I. C.