The Spracklings (Spratling, Spracling, Spraklinge, Spracklyn)
This most unusual name is of Old Norse origin, dating to the 8th and 9th Century invasions and the subsequent settlement of the eastern and northern England by Scandinavian people. Sprackling derives from an Old Norse epithet, Sprakaleggr, adopted into the Old English as Spracaling and translated as ‘destroying legs’, or otherwise, arthritis. There are many variations of the name.
Thorgil Sprakaleggr, born around 965, Viking Chieftan from Denmark whose grandsons became kings of Denmark and England, who history records as being descended from bears. He was believed to be the son of Bjorn Styrborn and Tyra Haroldsdottir (daughter of Harold Bluetooth). He married Sigrid of Halland and had a daughter, Gytha, wife of Godwin, Earl of Wessex and a son, Ulf who was the father of King Sweyn II of Denmark. Thus, Thorgils was grandfather of kings Sweyn II of Denmark and Harold Godwinson of England.
Video of a viking village staged on the Pulmahite rocks in the park in 1959.
The surname Sprackling was first found in London where one of the first records of the family name appeared in the Latin form of the name as Sprachelingus in the pipe rolls of 1130. A few years later in Kent, the family was again listed in the pipe rolls there as Sprakelingus in 1200.
Ellington England, Spracklyn Family
‘Ellington, about half a mile westward of the town of Ramsgate, and almost at the eastern boundary of the village of St. Laurence. It was formerly a gentleman’s seat, being for many generations the residence of a family of the same name, several of whom lie buried in St. Laurence church, but the inscriptions on their tomb stones have been weathered away. About the latter end of the reign of King Edward IV, this family was succeeded by that of the Thatcher family. After they were extinct here, the seat passed to the Spracklyn, who bore their arms, Sable, a saltier, ermine, between four leopards faces, several whom lie buried in the chancel of St. Laurence church, where the inscriptions on the monuments remain.
In the Ringslo Hundred Court during the reign of Edward I’s third year (1274-5) there were six names in the parish of St. Laurence, they were the heirs of Martin de Ramsigate, Stephen de Ramisgate, Bartholomeu of Ramisgate, Baldwin de Ramsigate, Johanna daughter of John de Ramsigate and Clement de Ramisgate. Another payer of Romescot here was John son of Adrian de Ellinton, so that more than six centuries ago Ellington was an estate which a family took its name. The Sprackling family was settled in Thanet before the thirteenth century and then took on the Ellington estate.
Guilielmus Spracklyn was the first recorded ancestor through the Adam Sprackling line. It is dated he was born in 1490 in Ramsgate and believed to be the father of Nicholas Spraclinge.
The estate of Ellington was handed down through to Sir Adam Sprackling b.1552, who was knighted on 12th June 1604 at Greenwich by Queen Elizabeth I. Further down the line Robert Sprackling married Margaret Moyle, a descendant of Sir Thomas Moyle who was once owner of the estate at Buckwell, now Eastwell Manor.
Ellington Park is the site of a former Manor House owned by Adam Sprackling, who married Katherine Lewkenor b.1613 in Acrise. Adam was a gambler, drunk and had a violent temper. On previous occasions he had been arrested for shooting someone and getting into altercations. It was on 11 December 1652 when Adam was at home and intoxicated when his wife arrived home, he threatened to beat her. Frightened for her life she hid in a cupboard until he left the room. Adam is said to have smashed the cupboard door open with a pickaxe but was interrupted when Mr Lamming, a neighbour, visited.
Adam somehow forgot his rage and accompanied Mr Lamming to the kitchen and indulged in some more wine. Katherine used the opportunity to escape from the cupboard and went upstairs. Lamming was sent to fetch Martin, who lived nearby, and the servant Ewell also joined them in the kitchen in the drunken excess.
When Katherine came downstairs into the kitchen, Adam started shouting at her again, picked up a knife and stabbed her in the face. She turned and ran but just as she put her hand on the door latch, Adam struck her with an axe and almost severed her hand off. Martin quickly got some cloth to bind up the bleeding hand but Adam pushed him aside. Adam grabbed a meat cleaver and killed his wife. Ewell went to get the police, but Adam tried to put the blame on on Martin, claiming he had suffered a mental health breakdown. Lamming was too drunk to move. Adam killed his six dogs, laid them over his dead wife’s body and smeared Martin with blood. He then made his escape through the trapdoor to the vast network of tunnels beneath. The tunnels are linked to the church at St. Laurence and they were used for smuggling. Adam hid behind a stack of barrels in a small cave, trying to set off gunpowder. He was arrested and taken by boat for trial at Sandwich. He was found guilty and was hung at Gallows Field on 27th April 1653. Adam refused to see the priest before he was executed. He is said to have put on his long black cloak and walked to the scaffold. His body was brought back to St. Laurence by a seaweed wagon by his loyal followers.
Burial: “402. At the north east angle of the north west pier and interred in an angular direction north east and south west, about eighteen inches under the level of the floor, we found the skeleton of a man between 6 and 7 feet in height; who he was and why buried in this manner will probably ever remain a mystery: but it may have been the remains of Mr Adam Sprackling who was buried on Thursday the 28th of April 1653 in St Laurence Church, see “The Bloody Husband” under Ellington, “where in the night he was buried neer his wife”, and as there is no entry in the Burial Register of this Mr Adam Sprackling’s funeral, although that of his wife is duly recorded – “The wife of Adam Sprackling, gen., buryed the fifteen day of Desember, 1652 (Burial Register) – it seems probable that it was he who was thus hastily interred, especially as the burial was in the passage way.”
The estate was taken over by the council for use as a park in 1892 and until the later demolition of Ellington House, there were reports of the ghosts of Katherine and the six dogs being seen in the area. Today it is believed that Katherine’s last cries for mercy can still be heard in the park.
Most of the information has been collected over the years through Ancestry.com® but as my family tree grew, I wanted to confirm my roots even more and decided a DNA test would be the best way. I was astonished at how many matches I had. Since I had so many, I connected with more and more Spratling descendants. It is planned to have a worldwide reunion in the park in the near future. If you are a Spratling descendant, please get in touch, it would be lovely to hear from you.
Charo, Friends of Ellington Park Trustee