SPRINT, Gregory, of Templecombe, Som. and Colaton Raleigh, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

Prob. s. of John Sprint (d. c.1588), apothecary, of Bristol by Joan, da. of Thomas Hobby or Halby of London; bro. or half-bro. of William. m. Christina, da. and h. of Richard Duke, clerk of the augmentations office, wid. of George Brooke alias Cobham*, ?s.p.

Offices Held

Treasurer for maimed soldiers, Devon (with Warwick Hele) by 1600.


Sprint’s mother married four times. Richard Duke, her third husband, who had done well out of the dissolution of the monasteries, had a daughter by a previous wife. At his death in 1572, Sprint’s mother, by ‘subtle drift and device’, arranged her stepdaughter’s marriage with Sprint himself, who, from ‘not being anything worth nor having anything’ then became worth £200 per annum in land and held 1,000 marks’ worth of goods.1

He was a cousin of John Sprint, treasurer of Salisbury cathedral, and of Lord Burghley’s secretary, Michael Hickes, who sat for Shaftesbury in 1589. Shaftesbury was owned by the 2nd Earl of Pembroke, who had links with both Salisbury and Bristol, the Sprints’ family home. A Mr. Sprint was given leave to depart from the Commons on 16 Mar. 1587, but whether this was Gregory or William is unknown. Sprint’s return for Bridport two years later can be attributed to (Sir) Walter Ralegh, whose agent and neighbour he became.2

Contemporaries maintained that the wealth Sprint obtained by his marriage turned his head: he became involved in a number of lawsuits, including some against members of the Duke family, and against his mother’s fourth husband, Roger Gifford. His tenure of the former Sherborne abbey manor of Stalbridge was disputed in 1589, and a riot there led to another Star Chamber case. 1577 saw the beginning of a long series of lawsuits between Sprint and his wife’s sons by her former marriage, Duke and Peter Brooke. The two young men, usually supported by their mother, repeatedly attacked their stepfather, sometimes in court and sometimes in person. In 1583 Sprint seems to have granted the Brookes his seat at Templecombe but refused to give them possession, saying that ‘he built the same for himself and their mother and had no other convenient house to dwell in’. An investigation was ordered by the Privy Council, and the feud dragged on for another ten years. In 1591 Sprint was outlawed and his goods seized, in face of his protest that he was being punished for Duke Brooke’s debts. In 1604, willingly or unwillingly, Sprint sold some land in Otterton to pay these debts, for which he had stood surety. William Martin, whose son Richard. Sprint described as his nephew, also paid some of Duke Brooke’s debts.3

By 1608, possibly much earlier, Sprint moved from Templecombe and retired to Devon. He may still have been alive in 1612, but the dates of his birth and death are as obscure as the rest of his life, with the exception of his lawsuits. His wife was said to be pregnant in 1575, but no children are known.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler


This biography is based on the Roberts thesis.

  • 1. C3/174/42 Eliz.; J. A. Youings, ‘Disposal of Devon Monastic Property’ (London PhD thesis, 1950), 192 et passim; Lond. Mar. Lic. (Harl. Soc. xxv), 16; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 311 is misleading.
  • 2. DNB (Sprint, John; Herbert, Sir William); HMC Foljambe, 25; Stradling Corresp. ed. Traherne, 71, 333 seq.; PCC 9 Noodes, 39 Woodhall; Hutchins, Dorset, iii. 675; Trans. Dev. Assoc. xxi. 319.
  • 3. PRO Lists and Indexes, vii. 130, 353, 362, 388-9; C2/W18/49; Cal. Proc. Chanc. Q. Eliz. i. 245; ii. 60; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 327, 329; HMC Hatfield, xii. 616; Devon RO, Clinton box 96; SP12/189/44; St. Ch. 5/A25/8, 38/37, S5/28, 10/17, 59/39, 77/16, 49/20, 31/18, T14/24.
  • 4. Devon RO, order bk. 1600-7, p. 1; PCC 8 Wingfield; Lansd. 92, ff. 191, 209; St. Ch. 5/S59/39.