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Thomas Sprat

Thomas Sprat (1635 - May 20, 1713), English divine, was born at Beaminster, Dorset, and educated at Wadham College, Oxford, where he held a fellowship (1657-1670).

Having taken orders he became a prebendary of Lincoln in 1660. In the preceding year he had gained a reputation by his poem To the Happie Memory of the most Renowned Prince Oliver, Lord Protector (London, 1659), and he was afterwards well known as a wit, preacher and man of letters.

His chief prose works are the Observations upon Monsieur de Sorbier's Voyage into England (London, 1665), a satirical reply to the strictures on Englishmen in Samuel de Sorbière's book of that name, and a History of the Royal Society of London (London, 1667), which Sprat had helped to found.

In 1669 he became canon of Westminster, and in 1670 rector of Uffington, Lincolnshire. He was chaplain to Charles II in 1676, curate and lecturer at St Margaret's, Westminster, in 1679, canon of Windsor in 1681, dean of Westminster in 1683 and bishop of Rochester in 1684.

He was a member of James II's ecclesiastical commission, and in 1688 he read the Declaration of Indulgence to empty benches in Westminster Abbey. Although he opposed the motion of 1689 declaring the throne vacant, he assisted at the coronation of William and Mary. As dean of Westminster he directed Wren's restoration of the abbey.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.