The 1881 Census shows the family living in Sarah Street, Sheffield but ten years earlier in 1871 the SPEED family were living in the Courts adjacent to 254 Beet Street, Sheffield. WILLIAM and HARRIET SPEED are my great great great grandparents 

Census Place: Sheffield, York, England - Source: PRO Ref RG10 Piece 4683Page 4 - Entry 17

William SPEED Married 49 Male Plaisley, Nottinghamshire Head Edge Tool Forger
Harriet SPEED Married 40 Female Sheffield, York, England Wife  
Sarah Elizabeth SPEED   11 Female Sheffield, York, England Daughter Scholar
John William. SPEED   9 Male Sheffield, York, England   Son Scholar
Harry SPEED   3 Male Sheffield, York, England   Son Scholar
Florence SPEED   3m Female Sheffield, York, England   Daughter  
Reuben SPEED Unmarried 37 Male Sheffield, York, England   Lodger Cutler
Eliza MYCOCK   11 Female Sheffield, York, England   Lodger Scholar
Joseph LAVER Unmarried 27 Male Sheffield, York, England   Lodger Tool Forger (?)

There is a photograph of  246 - 262 Beet Street that was taken circa 1930. The court that the SPEED family lived in was behind 254 Beet Street.  

The conditions in the 1870's must have been appalling - nine people living in a back to back house in one of the poorest parts of Victorian Sheffield. William and Harriet's youngest daughter FLORENCE only lived to 3 years of age (GRO. Ref Births Jun 1871quarter Sheffield Volume 9c Page 349 - Deaths Mar 1874 quarter Sheffield Vo9c Page251). The other death that occurred at sometime in the 1870's was that of my great great great grandfather WILLIAM. His wife HARRIET is a widow by 1881 but to date I have not been able to locate any specific information on his death.

In late February 2009, I was contacted by a descendent of Sarah Elizabeth SPEED who had seen this site and added some very intriguing information. He obtained the birth certificate of Sarah Elizabeth SPEED which stated that Sarah was born in Sheffield at 131 Porter Street on 21st June 1859 and that she was the daughter of HARRIET LAWSON, of the same address. BUT the name and occupation of the father was left blank. There is no mention of WILLIAM SPEED.

The obvious conclusion is that HARRIET is an single unmarried mother. But the same descendent also supplied me with Sarah Elizabeth SPEED's marriage certificate. The marriage took place on 8th August 1880 in the Parish Church in Sheffield (now Sheffield Cathedral). Sarah is listed as a 21 year old spinster called SARAH ELIZABETH SPEED LAWSON of 38 Sarah Street, Sheffield. Her husband JOSEPH WOOD is listed as a 19 year old Slater of 199 Beet Street Sheffield. But the marriage certificate states that her father is WILLIAM LAWSON deceased, a former Edge Tool Maker. Moreover one of the witnesses to the ceremony is her brother John William who signs himself as JOHN WILLIAM SPEED LAWSON.

Until I received the two certificates, I thought that, based on the census information, WILLIAM and HARRIET were a couple who were married and had children. It is clearly not the case. There is no mention of WILLIAM on Sarah's birth certificate and as yet I have not been able to find details of William and Harriet's marriage. In fact I am beginning to wonder if they were ever married in the first place!.   

His son HARRY is down on the 1881 Census as HENRY. The other interesting entry is that of the lodger REUBEN SPEED. There is no indication on the census form that he is related to WILLIAM but is it to much of a co-incidence?     


The 1881 Census shows REUBEN living as a 48 year old lodger at 44 West John Street, Sheffield, York, England, Public Records Office Reference RG11, Piece / Folio 4642/37 Page Number 27. His occupation is given as Carter. There is a death registered in the March quarter of 1904 for a 74 year old Reuben Speed (Deaths Mar 1904 quarter Sheffield Vo9c Page320). According to the Census data he should have been born circa 1833 and so the age at the time of death does not match but I'm sure that he is the same person.

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This page was last updated on 09/03/09 10:29