English poet Thomas Sprat died on May 20, 1713 in Bromley, Kent, England. He was born in 1635 in Beaminster, Dorset. England and educated at Oxford, where he held a fellowship from 1657 to 1670. Having taken orders and became the canon of Lincoln Cathedral in 1660. In the preceding year he had gained a reputation by his poem To the Happie Memory of the most Renowned Prince Oliver, Lord Protector (1659), and he was afterwards well known as a wit, preacher and man of letters.
His chief prose works are the Observations upon Monsieur de Sorbier's Voyage into England (1665), Relation d’un voyage en Angleterre (1664), and a History of the Royal Society of London (1667), which Sprat had helped to found. The History of the Royal Society elaborates the scientific purposes of the academy and outlines some of the strictures of scientific writing that set the modern standards for clarity and conciseness. In 1669 he became canon of Westminster Abbey, and in 1670 rector of Uffington, Lincolnshire. He was appointed chaplain to King Charles II in 1676, curate at St. Margaret’s, Westminster in 1679, canon of Windsor in 1681, dean of Westminster in 1683 and Bishop of Rochester in 1684. He was a member of King James II’s ecclesiastical commission, and in 1688 he read the Declaration of Indulgence to empty benches in Westminster Abbey. Although he opposed the motion of 1689 declaring the throne vacant, he assisted at the coronation of William and Mary. As dean of Westminster he directed Christopher Wren’s restoration of the abbey.
In 1692 a bizarre attempt was made to implicate him in a plot to restore the deposed king James II. This became known as the "flowerpot plot" because it involved a conspirator - a man named Robert Young - forging Sprat's signature on a document, smuggling it into the Bishop’s manor and hiding the paper under a flowerpot. The authorities were contacted about the document, which led to the Bishop's arrest for high treason and the searching of his house - the forged document was eventually found where Young had said it would be. However, Sprat was soon freed when it became clear that there was no case to answer. Sprat died on May 20, 1713 and was interred at Westminster Abbey in St. Nicholas’ Chapel.
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