Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/430

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Hist. (1823 ed.) ii. 248, iii. 218, 226–7, vi. 117, 164–5; Macaulay's Hist. ii. 95, 423, 495, iii. 118, 471–2, iv. 248–55; Gent. Mag. 1779, p. 511; Wren's Parentalia, 1750, pp. 254–60; Peck's Cromwell, 1740, pp. 81–2; Stebbing's Verdicts of History Reviewed, p. 78; D'Israeli's Quarrels of Authors (1814 ed.), ii. 1–77; Dunkin's Bromley (1815), pp. 13–22; Curll published in 1715 a meagre account of Sprat, with a copy of his will; information has also been furnished for this article by Capt. William Spratt, R.N.]

W. P. C.


SPRATT, JAMES (1771–1853), commander in the navy, a descendant of the Rev. Devereux Spratt (d. 1688) of Mitchelstown, co. Cork, where the family settled, was born at Harrel's Cross, co. Dublin, on 3 May 1771. After several years in the merchant service, he entered the navy as a volunteer in 1796, served on the coast of Guinea and in the West Indies, was rated a midshipman on board the Bellona, and in her was present in the battle of Copenhagen on 2 April 1801. In 1803 he was rated master's mate on board the Defiance with Captain Philip Charles Henderson Durham [q. v.], was present in the action off Cape Finisterre on 22 July 1805, and in the battle of Trafalgar. The Defiance had been for some time engaged with the French Aigle of 74 guns, whose fire had sensibly slackened, and Durham wished to board her; but the wind failed, and Spratt, who had volunteered to lead the boarders, unable to do so from the ship, and finding that all the boats were disabled, called to his men to follow him, dashed overboard, and, with his cutlass between his teeth, swam to the Aigle. His men had not heard or not understood, and when Spratt arrived alongside the Aigle he found himself alone. He would not, however, turn back; but, climbing up by means of the rudder chains, got in through one of the gun-room stern-ports, and succeeded in getting on to the poop. Here he was attacked by three men with fixed bayonets. Two of these he disabled, the third he threw from the poop on the quarterdeck, where he broke his neck. Spratt, however, fell with him, and found himself in the thick of the fight, the Defiance having succeeded in throwing her men on board. By the time the Aigle's colours were struck, Spratt's right leg was shattered by a musket bullet, and, swinging himself back on board the Defiance, he was carried down to the cockpit. He would not allow his leg to be amputated, and was afterwards sent to hospital at Gibraltar, where, after he had suffered most excruciating torments, his wound was so far cured that he was able to be sent home. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on 24 Dec. 1805, but his right leg being now three inches shorter than the left, and his general health being enfeebled, he was appointed to the charge of the signal station at Teignmouth, where he remained till 1813. He then served for a year on board the Albion on the North American station; but his wound still caused him acute pain, and he was compelled to invalid. He was during the early part of 1815 in command of the Ganges, prison-ship, at Plymouth; and in January 1817 retired on his half-pay and a pension of 91l. 5s. a year. On 17 July 1838 his scanty means were somewhat increased by his promotion to commander's rank. He settled down in the neighbourhood of Teignmouth, where he had married, in April 1809, Jane, daughter of Thomas Brimage, by whom he had a large family. To the last he was a remarkable swimmer; during his service afloat he saved, at different times, nine men from drowning by jumping overboard to their assistance; and when nearly sixty he is said to have swum more than fourteen miles for a small wager. He died on 15 June 1853. His eldest son, Thomas Abel Brimage Spratt [q. v.], is noticed below.

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; Army and Navy Gazette, 11 March 1893; Gent. Mag. 1853, ii. 311.]

J. K. L.


SPRATT, THOMAS ABEL BRIMAGE (1811–1888), vice-admiral, hydrographer, and author, eldest son of Commander James Spratt [q. v.], was born at East Teignmouth on 11 May 1811. He entered the navy in 1827, and from 1832 served in the Mastiff, and afterwards in the Beacon, surveying vessels in the Mediterranean, under the command of Lieutenant Thomas Graves, who had himself been trained as a surveyor under Captain Philip Parker King [q. v.] He passed his examination in January 1835; but though specially recommended in October 1837 for gallantry in saving a man who had fallen overboard, as well as for the valuable work he was doing in the survey, he was not promoted to be lieutenant till 15 Oct. 1841. Graves had just been promoted to the rank of commander, but remained in the Beacon, as also did Spratt till 1847, when he was appointed to command the Volage, on the same service. On 5 March 1849 he was promoted to commander's rank, and succeeded Graves in command of the Spitfire, in which he continued the surveying work in the Mediterranean. During the Crimean war the Spitfire was attached to the fleet in the Black Sea, and Spratt's trained ability as a surveyor was frequently utilised in lay-