1857, and settled first at Weinheim, and then at Heidelberg. At Weinheim he drew up a catalogue of the ‘Bibliotheca Orientalis Sprengeriana’ (containing nearly two thousand entries), which was published at Giessen in 1857. He wished to dispose of his books to the Imperial Library at Vienna, but the Austrian authorities were apathetic, and after a keen competition with Dr. Karl Halm, ‘Direktor’ of the Bavarian ‘State Library’ at Munich, the collection was secured by Herr Pinder for the Prussian State Library at Berlin (1858). Shortly afterwards Sprenger was called to be professor of oriental languages at the university of Berne. In this capacity he issued two works of importance in the German language: ‘Leben und Lehre des Mohammed’ (Berlin, 1861–5, 3 vols. 8vo), and ‘Die alte Geographie Arabiens’ (Berne, 1875, 8vo). In 1881 he returned to Heidelberg, where he died on 19 Dec. 1893, in his eighty-first year.
Sprenger married in 1843 Catharine, daughter of John Peter Müller of Frankfurt, and left issue three sons, of whom the eldest, Aloys, entered the public works department in India. Sprenger was not only an ardent and successful book-collector; his knowledge of oriental literature was as deep and discriminating as it was wide. He is said to have acquired a good practical knowledge of no less than twenty-five languages. While in the north of India he was an enthusiastic mountaineer, and, though he did not grapple with the difficult subject of old Arabic geography until he was over sixty, he dealt with it with an insight and acumen that seemed almost instinctive.
[Sprenger's Works in British Museum Library; Wurzbach's Biographisches Lexicon; Schoenherr's Sprenger in Indien; Tiroler Schützen-Zeitung, Innsbruck, 1850 and 1851; Homeward Mail, 29 Jan. 1895; Royal Asiatic Society Journal, 1894, p. 394; Asiatic Soc. of Bengal, Proceedings, 1894, p. 41; private information.]
SPRIGG, JOSHUA (1618–1684), divine, baptised 19 April 1618, was the son of William Sprigg of Banbury, sometime servant to William, lord Say, and afterwards steward of New College, Oxford. William Sprigg [q. v.] was his younger brother. He matriculated at New Inn Hall, Oxford, on 4 July 1634, but did not graduate, and went to Scotland, where he became M.A. of Edinburgh in 1639. A little before the civil war began he returned to England, became a preacher at St. Mary Aldermary, London, took the covenant, and was made rector of St. Pancras, Soper Lane (Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714, p. 1401). According to Wood he became a retainer to Sir Thomas Fairfax, general of the parliamentary army, but his name does not appear in the list of the chaplains of the New Model, and it is difficult to say with certainty whether he actually accompanied Fairfax in the campaigns which he describes. On 22 June 1649 the commissioners for the visitation of the university of Oxford appointed Sprigg to be a fellow of All Souls' College, and on 13 March in the following year made him also senior bursar (Burrows, Register of the Visitors of Oxford, pp. 173, 242, 287, 477). On 18 Jan. 1649–50 he was incorporated as M.A. (Wood, Fasti). ‘While he continued in All Souls' College,’ adds Wood, ‘he was of civil conversation, but far gone in enthusiasm; and blamed much by some of the fellows then there for his zeal of having the history of our Saviour's ascension, curiously carved from stone over that college gate, to be defaced, after it had remained there from the foundation of that house’ (Athenæ, iv. 136). In January 1649 Sprigg printed an address to the members of the high court of justice deprecating the execution of the king, and he is said to have preached a sermon against it at Whitehall on 21 Jan. 1649 (ib. iv. 137; Certain Weighty Considerations, &c., 1648, 4to).
In his religious views Sprigg was an independent of the most advanced type. Baxter defines him as the chief of the ‘more open disciples of Sir Henry Vane,’ and ‘too well known by a book of his sermons’ (Reliquiæ Baxterianæ, i. 175). In 1652 six presbyterian booksellers of London printed an address to parliament, including these sermons in a list of books of whose blasphemous tenets they complained (The Beacon Quenched, 1652, 4to, p. 13; The Beacon Flaming, 1652, p. 20).
Holding extreme views himself, Sprigg was naturally an advocate of toleration, and, in the debates of the army council on the agreement of the people (December 1648), pleaded for refusing the magistrate any power to coerce men in matters of religion. ‘Christ,’ he said, ‘would provide for the maintaining his own truth in the world’ (Clarke Papers, ii. 84, 99). On 23 Dec. 1656, when parliament was discussing what punishment should be inflicted on James Nayler [q. v.], Sprigg headed a deputation which petitioned for his release (Burton, Parliamentary Diary, i. 216).
After the Restoration Sprigg retired to an estate he had purchased at Crayford in Kent. On the death of James, lord Say, in 1673, he married his widow Frances, daughter of Edward Cecil, viscount Wimbledon.