Reverend Devereux Spratt of Castleisland

Reverend Devereux Spratt ministered in Castleisland in the seventeenth century.1  He was born on 1 May 1620 in Stratton-upon-the-Vosse in Somerset. His father was Rev Thomas Spratt and his mother, Elizabeth, was daughter of Rev Robert Cooke, rector of the ‘Island of Kerry’ (Castleisland).2


Devereux’s father died in 1634 following which Devereux accompanied his mother to Ireland.  Devereux stayed for some time in Castleisland and later gained employment in Tralee, tutoring the three sons of Sir Edward Denny.


Church of Ireland, Castleisland


He was persuaded to enter the ministry, going on to preach in Cork, Limerick and Tipperary.  During this time he married Mary Palgrave Cubett.  Five sons were born, though four did not survive infancy.3  His youngest son, Devereux, born in 1670, reached maturity.4


Devereux resigned in 1663, but was subsequently Vicar of Tipperary until 1687.5  Devereux died in 1688.


The ‘Samuel Pepys’ of Castleisland


Rev Devereux Spratt is more widely known for his autobiography, preserved by his family for centuries, and published in 1886.6


Printed for ‘a limited circulation’ in the nineteenth century


Devereux was in Tralee in 1640 when the rebellion broke out.  He wrote:


In February 1641 it reached us, the whole country being up in rebellion and two companyes besieging us in two small castles.


‘I saw the miserable destruction of 120 men, women and children’ he wrote, ‘including my mother Elizabeth and my youngest brother Joseph, both which lyes interred there’.7


Devereux was given passage to England by Lord Inchiquin.8  There he witnessed the Great Fire of London of 1666.  In a style reminiscent of Samuel Pepys, he recorded how:


In the space of 4 dayes was consumed noe less than 89 parrish churches, 6 chappells, Pauls Church, and Steeple, the Royall Exchange, Guild Hall, the Custome house and many magnificent Pallaces and Gates with 13000 and 500 houses.9


Great Fire of London, 1666


Further reference to English (and world) history is contained in the collection, including extensive notes on the Reformation.10


Illustration of Michael O’Donohoe’s research on the Reformation, Anne of Cleves to Robert Devereux


1 Col Grove White's Historical and Topographical Notes, 'Ballyenahan', pp168-170: 'He possessed church livings in Devonshire and subsequently was rector of the parishes of Mitchelstown, Garbally, Tipperary, and Castle Island'.
2 Rev Robert Cooke was presented to the rectory of Castleisland, Killeentierna and Ballycushlane in 1620.  See J B Leslie's Ardfert & Aghadoe Clergy & Parishes (1940), p75.
3 The couple married in 1660.  A daughter Mary was born in Mitchelstown in 1661 (married John Love); Thomas, who died from Small Pox, was born in 1663 (In his diary, Devereux wrote, Nov 29 1675: 'This was a very sad day, whereon the Lord grievously afflicted me in taking away the delight of mine eyes, with a stroke, my eldest son Thomas Spratt ... I examined my heart, to know the mind of God ... My comfort at the last was that my child was a repenting child, a praying child from his sickening to the very last gasp' (Autobiography, p25);  'Jeames' born in 1666 died of fever; Daniel born 1668 died 1670 of fever; Devereux born 1670.
4 For further reference to Spratt genealogy, see Col Grove White's Historical and Topographical Notes, 'Ballyenahan', pp168-170: 'Ballyenahan House was built by James Spratt Esq, JP, a Deputy Governor of County Cork.  He removed from the old family mansion on the estates of Torbey and Ballybeg near Mitchelstown which ... were in 1641 possessed by Devereux Spratt, son of the Rev Thomas Spratt, who in the reign of Queen Elizabeth was the first of the family settled in Ireland'.
5 In 1685, Devereux collected £7 in Tipperary for the Protestants in France and Hungary.  Further reference, See J B Leslie's Ardfert & Aghadoe Clergy & Parishes (1940) p27.  Rev Devereux Spratt was, in 1641, Chancellor of Ardfert, rector of Kilgobbin, rector of Killiney, Vicar of Stradbally; 1657 ministered in Mitchelstown; 1658-61 instituted in Galbally (Limerick); 1661-63 Prebend Brigowne (Mitchelstown); 1669-87 Vicar of Tipperary; 1676-1687 Prebend Lattin (Emly).
6 Vice Admiral T Spratt of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, published the autobiography for preservation and 'limited circulation' in March 1886.
7 Autobiography of the Rev Devereux Spratt who died at Mitchelstown, Co Cork 1688 (1886) p10.  Joseph was aged eight.  Devereux also saw the surrender of both castles in Tralee and later, 'the enemy burned booth them castle and towne of Tralee'. The castles of Tralee are discussed in Memories of Old Tralee (2016) by Miss A M Rowan, produced to celebrate 'Tralee 800' (1216-2016).
8 During the voyage Devereux was taken by pirates and with other captives taken to Algiers where he was sold.  He was later freed and, back in England, a kinsman, Rev Thomas Spratt of Greenwich, father of Bishop Spratt, of Rochester, took him to Devonshire where he preached in a number of parishes. 
9 Autobiography, p27.
10 IE MOD/46 holds notes on general English and world history which appear as support material for IE MOD/14/14.4 (a chart contextualising world history).  This material was probably prepared by Michael O'Donohoe as a teaching aid. A newspaper supplement, The Queen Mother A Life in the Times, The story of one woman and her century from The Times, April 6 2002 also held in this series.  See also IE MOD/61 which contains notes on the Reformation. A chart in this series (IE MOD-61-61.2) lists (alphabetically) historically relevant figures from Anne of Cleves to Sir Thomas Wyatt. Another (IE MOD-61-61.1) documents dates of religious historical significance from 400 (Vulgate) to 1950 (Feast of the Assumption).