William Spry

William Spry (January 11, 1864 – April 21, 1929) was an American politician who was the third Governor of the State of Utah. He is the namesake of the William Spry Agriculture Building that houses the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

William Spry
34th Commissioner of the General Land Office
In office
March 22, 1921  April 21, 1929
PresidentWarren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Preceded byClay Tallman
Succeeded byCharles C. Moore
Chair of the National Governors Association
In office
August 24, 1915  December 14, 1916
Preceded byDavid I. Walsh
Succeeded byArthur Capper
3rd Governor of Utah
In office
January 4, 1909  January 1, 1917
Preceded byJohn Christopher Cutler
Succeeded bySimon Bamberger
Personal details
Born(1864-01-11)January 11, 1864
Windsor, England, UK
DiedApril 21, 1929(1929-04-21) (aged 65)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyRepublican
SpouseMary Wrathall

Life and career

Spry was born at Windsor, Berkshire, England. He emigrated to Utah Territory with his parents at the age of eleven.

In 1885, Spry was called as an LDS Church missionary and went to serve in the Southern States Mission. From 1888 to 1891 (continuing his time from being a regular missionary), Spry served as president of the Southern States Mission.[1] In 1890, during his mission, Spry received permission from the leaders of the church to return briefly to Salt Lake City where he married Mary Alice Wrathall.[2]

In 1894, Spry was elected county collector in Tooele County, Utah. In 1902 Spry was elected to the Utah House of Representatives[3] and in 1905 he was appointed one of the members of the Utah state board of land commissioners.[2] From 1906 to 1908, Spry served as United States Marshal for the District of Utah.

He served as governor of Utah from 1909 to 1917. He was a Republican. Spry was a strong opponent of Prohibition, and vetoed two bills that would have implemented this.[4] In 1915, Spry refused President Woodrow Wilson's request to reconsider the impending execution of Joe Hill and allowed the execution to take place on November 19.[5]

From 1921 to 1929 Spry served as commissioner of Public Lands.[6] Spry died in Washington, D.C., in 1929 when he was still serving as the Federal Commissioner of Public Lands. He was buried at Salt Lake City Cemetery.

See also

  • List of U.S. state governors born outside the United States
  • Mount Spry, a mountain named in his honor


  1. Jenson, Andrew. Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Press, 1941) p. 822
  2. Jenson, Andrew. LDS Biographical Encyclopedia. Vol. 4, p. 381
  3. Utah Legislators roster
  4. Ludlow, Daniel H., ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism. p. 1158
  5. Rosemont, Franklin (2002). Joe Hill: The IWW & the Making of a Revolutionary Workingclass Counterculture. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr. p. 139. ISBN 088286-264-2.
  6. Ludlow, Daniel H., ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism. p. 634
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