- Marriage: Unknown
- Died: Yorkshire, England
Another name for William was William Speke.
Walter Espec, the founder of Rievaulx Abbey, Yorkshire, was probably the son of William Espec, who in 1085 held Warden, Bedfordshire, where some fifty years later Walter Espec founded and endowed an abbey [Domesday Book, vol. i. 214 b, 215 a; Dugdale, v. 280].
The Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. VI, pp. 868-689 902
Noted events in his life were:
• Background Information. 1211
A church was founded here by William 'the noble,' probably William Espec, and Bilsdale was in 1145 given by Walter Espec to Rievaulx Abbey [Burton, Mon. Ebor. 359.]. Walter Espec was the foremost noble of his time in the northern counties. He was justice of the forests and justice itinerant of the northern counties under Henry I and commanded at the battle of the Standard on the English side in 1138. He died in about 1153 [Dict. Nat. Biog].
Walter Espec's heirs were the sons of his three sisters Hawise, Aubrey and Odelina, married respectively into the families of Bussy, Trailly and Roos (Ros). Odelina by her husband Peter de Roos had sons Everard and Robert [Rievaulx Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 21]. In 1157-8 Robert rendered account of 1,000 marks for the land of Walter Espec, [Hunter, Gt. R. of the Pipe, 2-4 Hen. II (Rec. Com.), 146] and confirmed the grants of Walter to Rievaulx Abbey for the souls of his father and his brother Everard [Rievaulx Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 21]. Robert had a son Everard, [Ibid. 23] who was in 1166 a minor in the custody of the sheriff, [Red Bk. of Exch. (Rolls Ser.), 432] and in 1174-5 paid fine for his lands [Pipe R. 21 Hen. II (Pipe R. Soc.), 167, 169]. Everard left a son Robert called Furfan, [Rievaulx Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 25.] who had livery in 1190-1, [Rievaulx Chartul. (Surt. Soc.), 26n.] and built the castle of Helmsley.
A History of the County of York, North Riding, Volume I, pp. 485-505
• Web Reference: Old Warden Manors Domesday.
In 1086 Old Warden had three landowners. The largest was William Speke, who held nine hides from King William I "as one manor". The manor contained 18 villagers, 4 smallholders and 4 slaves, as well as a mill. The manor had belonged to eight freemen in 1066 but, true to form, the new Norman King took their land away and gave it to one of his supporters. In their day the manor had been worth £8, by 1086 this had fallen to £6.