SPROTT (Sproat), JOHN, Presbyterian clergyman; b. 3 Feb. 1780 at Caldon Park, Stoneykirk, Wigtownshire, Scotland, the son of James Sproat, a farmer, and Margaret Hannay; d. 15 Sept. 1869 at Middle Musquodoboit, N.S.
John Sprott began studies for the ministry at age 18 with two years of preparatory work followed by four years at the University of Edinburgh. Connecting himself with the Relief Presbyterians, he studied at their Divinity Hall and was licensed as a preacher in 1809. He then did some pastoral work in Scotland before emigrating in 1818. Landing at Saint John, N.B., he later moved to Nova Scotia where he was associated with the Synod of Nova Scotia. His first years were spent ministering to the people around Windsor, Newport, and Rawdon; in 1825 he was admitted to the pastoral charge of the Musquodoboit Valley where he remained until 1849 when he resigned over some differences of opinion with his congregation. After that date he retired to his farm at Middle Musquodoboit, though he often preached where his services were needed, usually in the more remote rural areas of Nova Scotia. He claimed that “his horse had been in every stable in the province.” He paid a short visit to the United States in 1850 and served as pastor of St Andrew’s Church in St John’s, Nfld, in 1854.
Possessing a good mind and a powerful imagination, Sprott read widely and carried on an extensive correspondence with newspapers in Nova Scotia and Scotland and with local figures of prominence such as Thomas McCulloch*, as well as with the bereaved and afflicted. Not much concerned with ecclesiastical differences, he wished for more unity among Christians. Respected by all, his frankness about matters occasionally annoyed people for he spoke out boldly, and his well-prepared sermons were “noted for short, pithy, sententious, and in some cases, eccentric remarks. . . .”
Sprott was married three times. His first two wives, Sarah Clarke and Charlotte Leslie, died at an early age. John Sprott had five children by his third wife, Jane Neilson of Wigtownshire, Scotland.
PANS, RG 14, 25 (Halifax County), 1846. Presbyterian Church of the Lower Provinces of British North America, Synod minutes (Halifax), 1870. [John Sprott], Memorials of the Rev. John Sprott, ed. G. W. Sprott (Edinburgh, 1906). Halifax Evening Reporter, 21 Sept. 1869. Novascotian, 28 Sept. 1825. Presbyterian Witness, 25 Sept., 2 Oct. 1869. M. G. Burns, My pioneer ancestors: an account of the Burris and Dean families of Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia, their origins, experiences, and surroinings . . . (n.p., [1950?]). J. E. Rutledge, Sheet Harbour, a local history (Halifax, 1954). Truro Daily News (Truro, N.S.), 2 May 1916.