Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sprott, Thomas

SPROTT or SPOTT, THOMAS (fl. 1270?), historian, was a monk of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, and wrote a history of that foundation. It is extant in the Cottonian MS. Tib. A. ix, f. 105, and in two late copies, Cottonian Vit. E. xiv. 243, and Harleian 692, f. 75. The first of these three is the more complete; it has a passage which is missing at the beginning of the others, and is continued to the end of the thirteenth century, while the other copies end in 1221; but it contains no ascription to Sprott, and is so badly damaged by fire as to be largely undecipherable. The Cottonian MS. Vit. D. xi., from which Dugdale quotes the opening passage, has been totally destroyed by fire.

Sprott's work was used and acknowledged by Thomas Elmham [q. v.] and William Thorne [q. v.] Thorne (in Twysden, Decem Script.) copies him freely to 1228, where he says Sprott's share ends (ib. col. 1881).

A fine manuscript from the library of St. Augustine's, in hands of the twelfth to fifteenth centuries, at one time belonged to one Thomas Sprott, and a Thomas Sprott is found connected with St. Augustine's in 1356.

Leland (Collectanea, ii. 51) mentions a chronicle by Sprott that extends to 1272, which Oudin (iii. 527) says was among the manuscripts of Walter Cope. A roll, with no title, in the possession of Joseph Mayer, F.S.A., containing brief chronicles from the beginning of the world to 1307, has been printed in facsimile and ascribed to Sprott, but probably on insufficient authority. It consists almost entirely of abstracts from the ‘Flores Historiarum,’ formerly ascribed to Matthew of Westminster [q. v.] A translation of the roll, with the title ‘Sprott's Chronicle of Sacred and Profane History,’ was issued by Dr. W. Bell (Liverpool, 1851). Distinct from the roll is the chronicle of general history from the creation to 1339, printed by Hearne in 1719 as Sprott's, with a number of ‘Fragmenta Sprottiana,’ from a manuscript of Sir Edward Dering. But the originals of these works are not forthcoming, and what was Sprott's share in them is not known.

[Hardy's Descriptive Catalogue, iii. 125, 208; Coxe's Catalogue of Manuscripts at Corpus Christi Coll. Oxford, No. cxxv.; Litt. Cantuar. ii. 342 (Rolls Ser.); information from the Rev. G. W. Sprott.]

M. B.