Francis Sprague arrived in Plymouth in July 1623 on the ship Anne with his wife Lydia and daughter Anna. Francis was a man of influence and property for those times, paying his own way across the sea. In 1623 he shared in the division of lands given to those who came on the Anne, and in 1637 was admitted as a Freeman of the colony. Scholars are undecided, because of inconclusive records, but it appears that being elected Freeman allowed him the right to vote in Plymouth Colony affairs.
In 1632 he was licensed to sell liquor and opened a tavern, possibly the first in the Colony to do so. His license was suspended briefly in 1638 for imbibing too many of the spirits he sold. It was reported that he was unrepentant.
In Sprague Families in America, 1915 supplement by Frank H. Sprague, it is written:
"Mr. Sprague did not adhere strictly to the enactments of the civil
code of the Puritan Fathers and was several times brought before the
Court for what they considered departures from the strict line of duty.
His ardent temperament and great independence of mind did not fully
accord with the principlesof the Puritans, but considered from the present
standards of estimating the characters of men, he must have been a person
of worth and great respectability. We know that he was the head of a most
honorable and respected family of descendants."
And thus began what some of us consider to be a long line of quiet renegades.
The second and third Sprague generations saw John and his son Samuel in the roles of barkeep and constable, only occasionally getting into skirmishes over socially acceptable behavior.
In generation four, Abiel had had quite enough of city life and moved his family to the wilds of Maine. There, along with a few other hardy families, they began to build lumber businesses, farm the land, and raise families. To say that they were a self sufficient group is a gross understatement.
In the fifth generation of the Sprague family, the renegade streak came to the fore again in the form of Abiel Sprague and his brother James.
Sunday morning, June 11, 1775. The British sloop Margaretta lay at anchor in the harbor of Machias, Maine, filled with illegally seized lumber the King's Men intended to take back to England. Abiel and his brother James were part of a band of ill-armed lumbermen and farmers who chased and captured the sloop Margaretta, retrieving their hard-earned lumber and a pair of schooners to boot. This incident was possibly the first sea battle of the American Revolution.
My direct ancestor line:
Abiel Sprague, Jr.
Eli Thornton Sprague
Asa Bonney Sprague
Herman W. Sprague, Sr.
Herman W. Sprague, Jr.
My detailed data base
For your own research:
Passenger List for the ship Anne
Sprague Genealogy Database compiled by Richard Weber
New England Historical and Genealogical Society
The Genealogy Toolbox
Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites -- 28,000 sites