PortCities London
UK Bristol Hartlepool Liverpool London Southampton
You are here:  PortCities London home > People and places
Text Only About this Site Feedback
Explore this site
About maritime London
Early port
Tudor and Stuart port
18th-century port
19th-century port
20th-century port
People and places
Crime and punishment
Leisure, health and housing
Art and architecture
The working river
Docks and shipping
Trades, industries and institutions
Science and discovery
Historical events
Death and disaster
War and conflict
Fun and games
Matching games
Timeline games
Send an e-card
Sir Thomas Spert (died 1541)

Send this story to a friend Send this story to a friend
Printer-friendly version Printer-friendly version
View this story in pictures View this story in pictures
First and longest serving Master of Trinity House
Known for

The Great Harry.
View full size imageHenri Grace a Dieu. © NMM

Thomas Spert was instrumental in the founding of Trinity House. In 1514 he became the first and longest serving Master of Trinity House.

Prior to this he had worked as Sailing Master on two prestigious Tudor ships the Mary Rose and the Henri Grace a Dieu (the Great Harry).

Port connection
Trinity House.
View full size imageTrinity House on Tower Hill. © NMM

Thomas Spert was Clerk Controller of the Navy at a time when Henry VIII was becoming increasingly involved in shipbuilding in London.

He founded Trinity House, which to this day retains the same prime objective – the safety of shipping and the welfare of seafarers.

Interesting facts

Sir Thomas Spert was Master of Trinity House for 27 years. After his death the constitution was changed, with all Elders or Masters holding their positions for only three years. After this time they had to stand down or be re-elected by the Trinity Court of Brethren.

He is said to have lived in a 14th-century wooden manor house at Coldharbour in Blackwall. The house was still standing in 1881 when it was 152 East India Dock Road.

Life story
1511-1513 Sailing Master of the 'Mary Rose'.
1514-1524 Sailing Master of the 'Henri Grace a Dieu' (the 'Great Harry').
1514-1541 Master of Trinity House.
1524-1540 Clerk Controller of the King’s Ships.
1529 Knighted by Henry VIII at York Place.
1541 Died and buried in St Dunstan's Church, Stepney.

Find out more
StoriesTrinity House
Showing the way
StoriesThe Tudor and Stuart port
London becomes a gateway to the markets and products of the world
National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory Greenwich New Opportunities Fund  
Legal & Copyright Partner sites: Bristol Hartlepool Liverpool Southampton About this Site Feedback Text Only