He is credited as the inventor of the jigsaw puzzle. He served as an apprentice to Thomas Jefferys, the Royal Geographer to King George III. Spilsbury created the first puzzle in 1766 as an educational tool to teach geography. He affixed a world map to wood and carved each country out to create the first puzzle.
Sensing a business opportunity, he created puzzles on eight themes - the World, Europe, Asia, Africa, America, England and Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.
Spilsbury married Sarah May of Newmarket, Suffolk in 1761. After his death she ran his business for a period, then marrying Harry Ashby who had been apprentice to Spilsbury, and who continued to sell puzzles.