James Sprent (1808 - 1863)

Sprent had arrive in Van Diemen’s Land in May 1830 and opened a school for boys that year, offering classes in Latin, Mathematics and French. After being refused a free land grant in 1833, Sprent applied for the temporary position of assistant surveyor. He closed his academy and began work on a trigonometrical survey. He and Calder located and cleared 50 mountaintop stations across the east of the state, leaving markers visible from a distance, before work was suspended due to budget cuts in 1837. He was subsequently appointed permanent assistant surveyor. In 1847 he was appointed first-class assistant surveyor and in the same year lieutenant-governor William Denison re-established the trigonometrical survey.

He then began working in the previously unexplored south west Tasmania, becoming the first European to view Federation Peak, which he dubbed “the Obelisk”. In 1855 he was appointed deputy Surveyor General, and the following year, chief surveyor and acting Surveyor General, replacing Robert Power. At this time he had surveyed 206 high points which he considered necessary to produce an accurate map.

He retired from fieldwork and began to reside in Hobart. In early 1859 his health deteriorated, and he was replaced by James Erskine Calder on the 1st of September 1859.

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