Sprat, Thomas

Sprat, Thomas a learned English prelate, was born at Tallaton (Tallerton), Devonshire, in 1636, and from a school in his native place became a commoner of Wadham College, Oxford, in 1651, taking his degree in 1657. He obtained a fellowship, and after the Restoration took orders, becoming chaplain to the duke of Buckingham, and also to the king. In 1668 he became a prebendary of Westminster, and had afterwards the Church of St. Margaret. He was in 1680 made canon of Windsor, in 1683 dean of Westminster, and in 1684 bishop of Rochester. In 1685, being clerk of the closet to the king, he was made dean of the Chapel Royal, and the next year was appointed one of the commissioners for ecclesiastical affairs.

When the Declaration distinguished the acknowledged sons of the Church of England, he stood neutral, and permitted it to be read at Westminster, but pressed none to violate his conscience. When James II was frightened away, and a new government was to be settled, Sprat was one of the council to consider whether the crown was vacant, and manfully spoke in, favor of his old master. He complied, however, with the new establishment, and was left unmolested; but in 1692 an atrocious attempt was made by two unprincipled informers to involve him in trouble by affixing his counterfeited signature to a seditious paper. The bishop was arrested May 7, 1692, but succeeded in a little time in establishing his innocence. He died May 20, 1713. The works of Sprat, besides a few poems, are, A True Account and Declaration, of the Horrid Conspiracy against the late King, being a history of the Rye house Plot (1685): — The History of the Royal Society, etc. (1667, and other editions to 1764, 4to): — The Life of Cowley (1668, 1678, 8vo): — The Answer to Sobiere (1709, 8vo): — The Relation of his Own Examination (1693, 4to; 1722, 8vo): — and three volumes of Sermons (Lond. 1677, 4to; 1678-1705, 1710, 8vo; republished in 1722, 8vo). See Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.; Chalmers, Biog. Dict. s.v.; Hook, Eccles. Biog. s.v.

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