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Sprint, John (DNB00)

SPRINT, JOHN (d. 1623), theologian, grandson of John Sprint, an apothecary in Gloucestershire, and son of John Sprint (d. 1590), a scholar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, who was admitted in 1560, took the degree of D.D. from Christ Church on 23 July 4, and was appointed dean of Bristol in 1571, canon of Winchester in 1572, canon of Sarum in 1574, archdeacon of Wiltshire 1578, and treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral in 1584. He was the author of an extremely rare oration 'Ad Illustrissimos Comites Warwicsensem et Leicestrensem Oratio Gratulatoria Bristolliae habita Aprili anna 1587. Oxoniae, ex Officina Typographica Josephi Barnesii,' one sheet, 12mo (Strype, Life of Whitgift, ed. 1822, i 245, 616; Lansdowne MS. 982, f. 141).

John Sprint the younger was born in or near Bristol, and was elected a student of Christ Church in 1592. He graduated B.A. on 6 March 1595-6, and proceeded M.A. on 21 May 1599. Having been ordained, he attached himself to the puritan party, and took occasion, when preaching at the university church, to inveigh strongly against the ceremonies and discipline of the English church. On being called to account by John Howson [q. v.], the vice-chancellor, he defied his authority, and was sent to prison. This occasioned a great ferment among the puritans, and the matter was referred to the queen and council. A commission was appointed, and Sprint was compelled to read his submission in convocation.

In 1610 Sprint was appointed vicar of Thornbury in Gloucestershire, where he continued for some time to hold views adverse to the Anglican ritual; but he was finally induced to conform by the persuasion of Samuel Burton, archdeacon of Gloucestershire. He afterwards published a book entitled 'Cassander Anglicanus: shewing the necessity of conformitie to the prescribed Ceremonies of our Church in Case of Deprivation' (London, 1618, 4to), which had considerable effect on beneficed clergy of puritan tendencies. It provoked an anonymous reply entitled 'A brief and plain Answer to Master Sprints discourse,' to which Sprint made a rejoinder entitled 'A Reply to the answer of my first Reason.' Both the latter are printed with the 1618 edition of 'Cassander Anglicanus.' In his defence of conformity Sprint does not attempt to justify the Anglican position, but rather argues that the rites are non-essential, and that no minister of the gospel is justified in abandoning his ministry because they are enjoined upon him.

Sprint died in 1623, and was buried in St. Anne's, Blackfriars, leaving two sons, John (d. 1692) and Samuel. Both took holy orders, and were among the ejected ministers of 1662, John being ejected from the living of Hampstead, Middlesex, and Samuel from that of South Tidworth, Hampshire.

He was the author of; 1. Propositions tending to prove the necessary Use of the Christian Sabbath or Lord's Day,' London, 1607, 4to. 2. 'The Practice of that Sacred Day, framed after the Rules of God's Word,' printed with the former. These two works supported the strict Sabbatarian views which had gained ground in England towards the end of Elizabeth's reign, though not prevalent among the earlier reformers. 3. 'The Summe of Christian Religion by way of Question and Answer,' London, 1613, 8vo. 4. 'The Christian's Sword and Buckler; or a Letter sent to a Man grievously afflicted in Conscience and fearfully troubled in Mind,' London, 1638, 8vo; 10th ed. 1650. To Sprint is also ascribed 'A true, modest, and just Defence of the Petition for Reformation exhibited to the King's Majestie. Containing an Answere to the Confutation published under the Names of some of the Universitie of Oxford,' 1618, 8vo. Some early verses of his are prefixed to Storer's 'Life and Death of Wolsey,' 1599, 4to.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 331, 517; Wood's Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 59, 197; Wood's History and Antiquities of Oxford, ed. Gutch, ii. 272-9; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500-1714; Corser's Collectanea Anglo-Poetica, v. 277; Gloucestershire Notes and Queries, ii. 327-9; Calamy's Nonconformist's Memorial, ed. Palmer, ii. 282-4; Stratford's Good and Great Men of Gloucestershire, pp. 154-5.]

E. I. C.