Tuesday, 28 June 2022

John Sproule of Grennan and the Mullaghabane Sproule

The traditional story is that the father of Armour Curry Lowery Sproule of Mullaghabane is John Sproule of Grennan. This John of Grennan lived in the 1700s, so do we know anything about him? Yes we do, but only a little. We knew even less about him until the last few years when Jamie Reid and I did a trawl through the Registry of Deeds on Familysearch.org. The deeds that we found concerning John of Grennan gave us some key information about his family history, and some snippets of interesting insight into his life. I can definitely tell you now that this John Sproule of Grennan seems to have been a bit of a character.

We first see this when we meet John Sproule on Jack Elder’s family tree of the 'Upper Grennan' branch, where Elder asks;

"Is this the John Sproule whom John Inch calls, Long Jack of Dullaghan’, who was a Lieutenant in the Irish volunteers of 1782, and an expert swordsman who fought a duel at Strabane with a military officer and cut off the latter’s right hand? Long Jack had a son Oliver and a daughter?”

No, Jack Elder, you have the wrong one. That John Sproule that you have on that Upper Grennan tree wasn’t Long Jack of Dullaghan’, but we have the right one!  We have the John Sproule who John Inch says was in the 1782 Irish Volunteers, and who cut off the military officer’s right hand in a duel. We are certain that we have the right one because the deeds that we found connect him tightly to Dullaghan, and to being, therefore, the person who warrants the nickname, ‘Long Jack of Dullaghan’. The deeds actually connect  John Sproule to three different townlands, to Grennan, to Dullaghan and to the townland of our current story, to Mullaghabane, where Armour Sproule lived.

Elder did not know where to place John Sproule of Grennan on the family tree, but Jamie Reid came to the rescue only recently. Jamie uncovered a key deed for this Grennan family that actually tells us when John Sproule was born and who his father is. (1747 Deed)

Grennan, Dullaghan and Mullaghabane in the Parish of Dromore

This deed is dated 11 June 1747, and in it, James Sproule of Grennan is leasing a farm in Dullaghan, from an Andrew Crawford. The date of this deed suggests that this James Sproule of Grennan is likely to be James, the son of Cornet Andrew Spreull,although he could also be a grandson.  On the deed, as is usual in those days, James Sproule names two ‘lives’, and these are two of his two sons:*

“Charles Sproul aged then five years and John Sproul aged then three yrs both sons to ye said James Sproul”

 So we know that Charles Sproule, son of James of Grennan, was born in 1742 and that John Sproule of Grennan, son of James, was born in 1744.

What else did we discover in the deeds? Well, another significant one was the marriage Mary Sproule, daughter of John Sproule of Grennan, to Chadwaladar Blayney of Oughterard in 1792, a deed that was also in the Registry of Deeds on Familysearch.org. I found this deed fascinating. It was a marriage settlement deed, a normal procedure at those times. The idea of the settlement was financial, to create a fund, or a trust, in case the husband should die. This, then, would provide for the wife and any children.

Normally it names the couple, like Chadwaladar Blayney and Mary Sproule. It also typically names the father of each of the couple, John Sproule and Ambrose Blayney in this case. Sometimes there are trustees, who will look after the trust for the wife, usually two people, one from each side. This isn’t done this time, the money was small. Then there are witnesses to the settlement, again usually one from each side.  

When I transcribed this marriage settlement, I wrote a note at the bottom,in bold red;

It was very striking. There were 3 witnesses, none of them are Sproules. I have never seen that before or since. Only later did I realise, there were no Blayneys either! There is something very odd going on here. There is no brother of either of the couple standing as a witness, nor anyone else baring either of their names.  Did Mary Sproule, daughter of John Sproule, have no brothers old enough to be witnesses in 1792? What about her father's brothers or other Grennan Sproules– were there no male Sproules there who would be witnesses? There are plenty of Blayneys in the neighbourhood, Chadwaladar Blayney definitely had a brother Ambrose, if not others. But no Blayney witnesses. Odd.

We’ll move on to see what the other deeds reveal about John Sproule of Grennan. I'll give you a very quick summary which I have arranged to give you a timeline. The year of each deed is on the left, and the note on each on the right shows something that stands out a mile!


John Sproule of Grennan is born.


John Sproule is a Lieutenant the Irish Volunteers (From Elder)


John Sproule of Grennan is borrowing money from Oliver Sproule the Apothecary in Omagh. For this he mortgages land in Grennan, Dullaghan and Mullaghbane


John of Grennan is borrowing money from Oliver Sproule the Apothecary mortgaging just the Dullaghan land.


Marriage of Chadwallader Blayney, son of Ambrose Blayney and Mary Sproule, daughter of John Sproule of Grennan


John of Grennan is borrowing money from William Stephenson  - mortgaging the land in Dullaghan.


John is now called John Sproule of Dullaghan. He is borrowing money this time from his son-in-law, Chadwalader Blayney. He is mortgaging land in Mullaghabane and Dullaghan ‘formerly held by James Sproule father of the said John’  

There is a lot of money borrowing going on there! Between the money and the duel we learnt about earlier, this John Sproule comes across as what my mother would call ‘a profligate’. (She loved regency novels!) We will never know why John Sproule borrows money or what he does with his money. What we do know is that this man does need money.

Now, we have looked at Lord Belmore, Armar Lowry-Corry, and we have looked at John Sproule of Grennan. What, if anything, connects the two? Why would this John Sproule of Grennan call one of his sons after one of the highest Lords in Ireland? Why would he call him Armour Curry Lowery Sproule?  

The Deeds

1747 James Sproule of Grennan leases Dullaghan farm from Andrew Crawford, 1 June 1747, 148 198 99167, Registry of Deeds Dublin, Familysearch.org 

1784 John Sproule of Grennan borrowing  from Oliver Sproule the Apothecary in Omagh Grenan, mortgaging Dullaghan and Mullaghbane. 354 540 240500, Registry of DeedsDublin, Familysearch.org

1790 John Sproule of Grennan mortgaging Dullaghan to Oliver Sproule the Apothecary, 1 January 1790, 451 218 289682, Registry of Deeds Dublin, Familysearch.org

1792 Marriage of Chadwallader Blayney, son of Ambrose Blayney and Mary Sproule, daughter of John Sproule of Grennan, 11 Apr 1792, 478 553 311812, Registry of Deeds Dublin, Familysearch.org

1798 John Sproule borrowing from Chadwalader Blayney, his son-in-law.  10 Feb 1798, Registryof Deeds Dublin, Familysearch.org

** The ‘lives’  in a deed provided a measure of time. Some deeds last for a period of years, e.g. 40 years. Other deeds last for the length of time someone lives, a named person on the deed. When that person dies the deed expires. Usually, the names on the deeds were the youngest possible people, for obvious reasons. Two or three names were usually given and the deed expired when the last one died. A third type of deed were ‘perpetual’ deeds. These had named ‘lives’ in the same way, but the names could be replaced. So when the last one dies, 2 or three new names go on to the deed. This can go on forever.

Other Posts in this Series;

2. Armar Lowry-Corry and the Mullaghabane Sproule 

Monday, 27 June 2022

Armar Lowry-Corry and the Mullaghabane Sproule

 We have been looking at the Sproule with the odd name, Armour Curry Lowery Sproule. In this post we will look at one of the characters who are of interest in the telling of Armour’s story, the man in the title above.

Some of you folk may think that the name in the title is that of our Armour Sproule.  Observant folk, especially those who know me well, might just assume that Kate has again misspelt something, on this occasion our Sproule man’s name in the title. But that’s not him - that's not our Sproule man.  Armar Lowry-Corry is an astoundingly similar name, but that’s not our Armour Curry Lowery Sproule of  Mullaghabane. This man is a very, very far cry from the life of a small farmer living on 11 acres of leased land in Mullaghabane.  This man owned Mullaghabane, he owned Grennan, he owned much, much more.

Armar Lowry, for that is the name that he was born with, was the son of Galbraith Lowry and Sarah Corry, born on 07 April 1740 in Aghenis, County Tyrone. By a series of early deaths and lack of male heirs,  Armar Lowry inherited 3 different, very large estates, the Lowry, Corry and Armar estates. By 1779, Armar Lowry had become an extraordinarily affluent man, probably the richest in Ireland, owning over 70,000 acres of land in 6 different counties, including large tracts of land in Fermanagh and Tyrone.  

Armar Lowry-Corry (1740–1802), 1st Earl Belmore, by Robert Hunter (c.1715/1720–c.1803), National Trust, Castle Coole

When his mother’s family estate, that of the Corrys of Castle Coole, County Fermanagh, came to Armar in 1774, he added the name ‘Corry’ to his own ‘Lowry’ name. (It was part of the Will of John Corry that the heir should do this) His home estate remained there at Castle Coole, where, in the late 1700s, Armar built a new house, the most elaborate house in Ireland.

Castle Coole, near Enniskillen, Fermanagh, National Trust

Armar Lowry-Corry was not only rich, he was a Member of Parliament and he was very well connected. This helped him to also marry well, as they say. His first wife, Margaret Butler, was the daughter of an Earl, the Earl of Carrick, and the granddaughter of another, the Earl of Shannon, one of the most powerful men in Ireland at that time.

But Margaret died in 1772 and later Armar married an even higher ranking lady, Lady Henrietta Hobart, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire.  That marriage, by the way, was a disaster! It was an arranged marriage, and the 17 year old Lady Henrietta hadn’t set eyes on Armar before the wedding. She stayed only a short time in Ireland, just long enough to produce a daughter, and then headed off to sow her wild oats.

On 6 January 1781 Armar Lowry-Corry was raised to the peerage. The story goes that he wanted to take the name ‘Fermanagh’ – Baron Fermanagh. However, this name was already used by an English peer. Apparently, it was his wife, Henrietta, who chose the name Belmore, after a hill in County Fermanagh,  and he took that name. He later became Viscount Belmore and then Earl Belmore.

Armar Lowry-Corry was Lord Belmore. The ‘Belmore’ part of the name was introduced in 1780 – no earlier.

So now you see the dramatic similarity in these names, and equally just how incongruous this similarity is! Armar Lowry-Corry, the affluent, high ranking Lord Belmore, and Armour Curry Lowery Belmore Sproule, the lowly, small farmer from Mullaghabane.

How could Armour Sproule possibly have acquired this name? Well, the first possibility was that this name was an ‘Ancestry myth’, but we’ve have established that the name was known long before this. It was on a document in written about 1900.

The second obvious possibility that hit me was, could Armour’s name long name have been a nickname? Our Armour Sproule is believed to be the son of John Sproule of Grennan, and he has to have been born somewhere round 1780, exactly the time when Armar  Lowry had just acquired all of his estates and was about to become a Baron.  Armar Lowry-Corry was the landlord of the Grennan Sproules, and his rise to fame would have been well known to those local families of Grennan.  It would be a natural thing to give young Armour Sproule that nickname, adding Curry Lowery Belmore to his own name.

That is a definite possibility. However, when I saw the letter to Mrs Hugh Keys, which contained information that I believe only the Rev Edward Edwards could have known, the nickname theory became less likely. If the Rev Edward Edwards had known this long name to be a nickname, and he definitely would have known that, he would have said so – they always did. John ‘Jack Roe’ Sproule of Curraghamulkin was never called Jack Roe Sproule in documents of any kind. He was John Sproule, or as it is written above with the ‘Jack Roe’ in quotes. The writers of the 1900 letter, Charles Cooper and Edward Edwards, would definitely have said in the letter something like, “Armour Sproule, known locally as …” They didn’t do that.

The nickname is still a possibility, but I believe there is a also strong possibility that it actually was Armour Sproule’s real name.

In the next post we’ll look at the other character in this story, the father of Armour Sproule, John Sproule of Grennan.

Other Posts in this Series;

The information on Armar Lowry-Corry came from the following:

  1. Introduction to the Belmore Papers, PRONI D3007, Nov 2007
  2. The History of Castle Coole from the National Trust
  3. Ulster Archaeological Society Castle Coole,  Derryvullan, Co.Fermanagh, author  Ian Gillespie, in association with the National Trust
  4. The History of theTwo Ulster Manors of Finagh, in the County of Tyrone, and Coole, Somerset Richard Lowry-Corry Earl of Belmor, Longmans, Green & Company, 1881
  5. Armar Lowry-Corry (1740–1802), 1st Earl Belmore, Robert Hunter (c.1715/1720–c.1803), National Trust, Castle Coole

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Armour Curry Lowery Sproule

I came across this extraordinary name in about 2013, not long after  I began researching on Ancestry. There it was on a couple of Sproule Family trees. It was a ridiculous name, Armour Curry Lowery Sproule. It was too ridiculous to be true. Over the years I have dipped in and out of this story, hoping to bring a definite conclusion to the mystery of the Armour Sproule name. I haven’t quite got there yet, but now I feel it is time to give you what we know so far… and what I suspect!

Armour Sproule - Did he exist? Was he real?

By about 2014, I began to ask, could there really have been an Armour Sproule? Did he exist at all? Although Armour isn’t a Sproule name, it was a name of those times, that is, the late 1700s. I began to look at those Ancestry family trees, and I also had a search round the records, and it quickly became very clear that the name Armour Sproule did indeed exist.

The earliest document that I found was an immigration entry into New York in 1816, for one ‘Armour Spraule’, who was the 'primary passenger'. This looks like the family of an Armour Sproule had entered the US in 1816, we assume from Ireland.

1816 Arrival in New York
Name: Armour Spraule
Arrival Year: 1816
Arrival Place: New York, New York
Source Publication Code: 1742
Primary Immigrant: Spraule, Armour
U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s Ancestry.com

 We then have the Armour name occurring in a family in Prescott, Ontario. This is the family of a John Sproule who married a Mary Ann Barton, and they called their first born, Armour Sproule. The two married on 3 Nov 1840 in Middlesex, Ontario, and interestingly, two Blayney boys are witnesses at that wedding.

The wedding of John Sproule and Mary Ann Barton, Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1826-1938

So we know that Armour and his family arrived in the US in 1816, and almost certainly went on to Prescott, Ontario.  But were did Armour live before he left home?

Where was Armour Sproule from?

The answer to this was revealed in the Dromore Presbyterian Church records in PRONI, for these records led me  to the townland where Armour Spoule and his family had lived.

In about 2015 I visited PRONI and recorded some records from the Dromore church. First there is the marriage on the 2nd February 1838, of a James Sproule who we learn is the son of Armour Sproule and Ann Sproule alias Given. James married Anne Blayney daughter of Ambrose Blayney and Elizabeth Blayney alias Smith of Dullaghan, Parish of Dromore. (Dromore Presbyterian Church records, PRONI)

The place where James and Armour Sproule lived is not there on the Church marriage record, but we find it on the birth records of the couple's children in the same church.  Ann Blayney and James Sproule lived in the townland of Mullaghabane, Dromore,  County Tyrone, and they had had 3 children baptised Sarah, Elizabeth and Charles. So Armour Sproule and his wife Ann Given were resident  in Mullaghabane.

Now we have established that there was indeed an Armour Sproule and that he lived in Mullaghane. We know that he left Ireland in 1816 and that he had at least two sons. His son John probably left Ireland with the father and mother and went to live in Prescott Ontario.  If we look at the 1851 Census in Prescott at the family of John and his wife Mary Ann, we see that there is a visitor, Ann Sproule, and that she is aged 68. This is very likely to be his mother Ann Given. 

Visitor Ann Sproul with John Sproul in 1851 Census Canada East, Ancestry.com

The other son James Sproule, who married Ann Blayney had stayed in Mullaghabane, and James died there in 1842.

Could he REALLY have had that name?

What about all the other names this Armour Sproule of Mullaghabane is supposed to have? The whole 'Armour Curry Lowery', thing?  

So far I had found no trace of a document showing anything other than the name 'Armour'. No sign at all of all of the rest of this elaborate name. It doesn’t take a genius to look at this name and to make the connection between this name and the name of  a very important person at that time, a peer of the realm, no less. Hold that thought, more to follow. But first, was this name real?

In 2017, I was sent a document by a gentleman named David Walters, a very important document. I am very grateful to David for sending it to me.  The document was a typewritten page, a transcription of a letter that had been written to Mrs Hugh Keys, Bundaberg Region, Queensland, Australia, and it was sending her the family history! Mrs Hugh Keys was Sarah Sproule, born 18 Nov 1838, daughter of James Sproule of Mullaghabane and Ann Blayney, and granddaughter of Armour Sproule.

This letter with her family history was sent to Sarah Sproule in Australia in about 1900 and it had two different names as 'sender', the Rev Edwards and Charles Cooper in Ireland.

The family history begins:

And there we have it. There is the name Armour Curry Lowery Sproule, in a document was written about 1900. Quite amazing. Who were the writers of this letter? Did they have any knowledge of this family? Or maybe they just composed this elaborate name?

Charles Cooper, one of the writers, is the brother-in-law of the recipient of the letter, Sarah Sproule. Charles Cooper was married to Elizabeth Sproule, her sister.

But it is the Rev Edwards who caught my eye, and it is he who is particularly interesting. First of all, he was a Reverend, and they tend to know family things. But also, he is related to this family, as it happens doubly so! 

There is only one Rev. Edwards that I know of in this neighbourhood, and I checked again this week with local folk to make sure. There was only definitely only one Rev. Edwards in the area, but he was not alive in 1900 when this letter was sent. Rev. Edward Edwards had died in 1881. He was one of the Edwards of Kilcroagh and Castle Gore, born in 1802, the son of Nehemiah Edwards and Elizabeth Sproule.

Edward Edwards is related to both Armour Sproule and to his wife, Ann Given. He is distantly related to Armour through his mother, Elizabeth Sproule and he is the second cousin of Ann Given through his father, for she was also from this Edwards family.

What makes me doubly certain that Rev. Edward Edwards who died in 1881 actually wrote this family history, and passed it on to the Mullaghabane family, is that there is information in the letter that only he could possibly have known. More on that in a later post.

The Rev. Edward Edwards should certainly know the full name of Armour Sproule. 

That would lead us to believe most, if not all, of what is contained in this letter to Mrs Hugh Keys. This letter written in 1900 says this man's name is Armour Curry Lowry Belmore Sproule.

It also says that John Sproule is the father of Armour Curry Lowery Belmore Sproule. John Sproule of Grennan, that is.

That leaves us with the BIG question. 

Why in god’s name would John Sproule of Grennan call his son Armour Curry Lowery Sproule???

If his father was John Sproule of Grennan, why would he possibly give is son that name? But before we can even consider the BIG question, we need to look at two more players in this story...

Monday, 6 June 2022

Captain Andrew Sproule of the Solebay

I was looking through Findmypast newspapers to see if there is anything new for me – the newspapers  are free access here this week. A little random entry caught my eye in Saunders' News-Letter, Dublin, of 31 December 1807. It looked like a small advertisement, but it was, in fact, a letter that had been written on a ship called the Solebay and the ship was at sea at the time the letter was written;

Saunder's News-Letter, Dublin, 31 Dec 1807, Findmypast

Now if that were an Irish reference, it would be years before I would locate this A. Sproule. But this letter was all about the English navy and A. Sproule was from an English family, and two hours later I had A. Sproule’s entire Navy record, and his family history back to the 1600s! (With a little help from a friend!)

This letter of 1807 tells us that A. Sproule was on the ship, the Solebay, when he chased and captured the privateer lugger, the Estrella del Noste, of Vigo. So this was a good place to start, with the names of these two ships. Up it popped straight away. Captain Andrew Sproule, for that was his name, had taken over command of the Solebay in 1807. The Estrella del Noste was a Spanish ship, which puzzled me a bit since the British were at war with the French at the time, not the Spanish. However, then I saw a nice little entry that explains all. Captain Sproule's frigate, the Solebay, met the Elstrella del Noste off the Leeward Islands, in the Caribbean. Here the Spanish and the British always had difficulty. 

The Naval Gazetter, Biographer and Chronologist, J.W. Norie, 1842
Anyway, back to our Captain Andrew Sproule. There are fabulous navy records online now, and on a site called The Three Decks Forum we have a whole history of Captain Sproule and the ships he was on from his first appointment as a Lieutenant in 1782;

From the excellent site Three Decks Forum

Both of Captain Sproule's last two ships, the Dorset and the William and Mary, were Royal Yachts, and Captain Sproule seems to have spent most of his time on these Yachts sailing between Ireland and England.

Who, then, was this Captain Andrew Sproule?  His Will was in the UK National Archives, written on 5 Jun 1820, and proved in 1822. (PROB 11/1664/131) The Will gives us everything that we need to begin tracing his family. We learn that Andrew was married to Harriet Letitia, and that his eldest daughter had the same name,  Harriet Letitia Sproule. The Will tells us that the next daughter, Catherine Elizabeth, was married to a Rev. George Bisshopp, and that there was another daughter, Anna.

So with that information over to Ancestry.com and there we can find Harriet Letitia, the eldest daughter, who was baptised on 3 Dec 1788  in Clifton, near Bristol, in England. (Bristol Church of England Parish Register, Reference: P/AL/R/3/a Ancestry.com)

Baptism of Harriet Letitia Sproule

 I found the daughter Anna in the same Bristol Parish Records,  but she was not christened in Clifton. Anna was baptised in Abbots Leigh, Holy Trinity, Somerset, and this Somerset reference became important.[1] We find in total 5 children in this family, all girls. They were Harriet, Anna, Catherine Elizabeth, Louisa and Mary. Only 3 of the girls are in the Will of Andrew Sproule, the last two, Louisa and Mary, are not there.

There are a couple of  family trees on Ancestry for this family, which makes life easier. However, two had linked our Captain Andrew Sproule to an Andrew Sproule born in Somerset in 1763. I was very sceptical about this until I saw Anna's baptism record above, perhaps Andrew is also linked to Somerset. His death record clinched it - no ambiguity or mysteries in England! [2]

There is our Captain Andrew Sproule, who died on 8 Nov 1822 in Clifton, near Bristol, However, Andrew was buried in Bathford, Somerset. So Captain Sproule had lived round Bristol, but he had kept his family home in Bathford, Somerset. The 1763 baptism record that was on Ancestry.com was also from Bathford, Somerset, so this was definitely the baptism of our Captain Andrew Sproule.

Baptism of Andrew Sproule of Bathford, Somerset,
Church of England Baptisms, Marriages, Ancestry.com

We now know that Andrew Sproule was christened on 15 Jan 1763, in Bathford, his father was Andrew Sproule and his mother was Catharine Sproule.

A quick search on Ancestry and this was the first up;

Marriage Andrew Sproule Esq. and Catharine Mocher 12 Apr 1753

This is a marriage on 12 Apr 1753 in St George's Chapel, Mayfair, London, of an Andrew Sproule Esq. and a lady called Catharine Mocher. [3] Could this be the father and mother of our Captain Andrew Sproule? Possibly, there aren’t that many Andrew Sproule’s about in southern England.

Another entry for the same marriage, on the same date, was from ‘London, England, Clandestine Marriage and Baptism Registers’! [4] A ‘clandestine marriage’? That sounded like a bit of scandal, but no, this is England! According to the UK National Archives, clandestine marriages in this case were;

Marriages by a form of ceremony conducted by an ordained clergyman, but without banns or licence, and generally not in a church or chapel, usually away from the parish of the bride or groom were termed clandestine marriages. The main appeal of clandestine marriages was seemingly for reasons of cost.[5]

But here is something rather strange! There was another marriage for the same couple – they got married a second time, one month after the ‘clandestine marriage’. On 15 May 1753 in St Giles, Camberwell, Southwark, Surrey, England, we have the second marriage. [6]  And would you look here...

2nd Marriage of Andrew Sproue Esq and Catharine Mocher 15 May 1753
This Andrew Sproule who married Catharine Mocher in 1753 came from Dollingstown, County Meath, Ireland. We have him - and he was an Irish Sproule after all! I know exactly where to go now to find out more about Andrew Sproule Esq. father of our Captain Andrew Sproule - to James Sproule’s book, "Eight Centuries of the Spreull and Sproule Families". For Andrew Sproule from Dollingstown, County Meath has to be an Athlone Sproule, and James’ book will tell us who he is.

And of course it did!

Andrew Sproule esq. was the son of Joseph Sproule, who was the second son of Captain John Sproule of Longfield, Westmeath, who died in 1730. Joseph Sproule’s line of this Athlone Sproule family are Quakers, so I wonder if that had something to do with the ‘clandestine’ first marriage of Joseph’s son Andrew and his wife Catharine Mocher? Or was it simply money after all.

James Sproule tells us in his book that the brother of Catharine Mocher is Flower Mocher. Well nobody’s going to forget that name, and I certainly didn’t! A few months ago I came across a Major General Flower M. Sproule, Colonel in the British Royal Artillery.

This officer was appointed 1st Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery 21st July 1779 and rose to Major General the 1st of January 1812. So Major General Flower Mocher Sproule was a younger brother of our Captain Andrew Sproule of the Solebay. Flower Sproule had no children, so this interesting name died out!

So now we know that our Captain Andrew Sproule of the Solebay was born in January 1763, probably in Bathford House, Bathford, Somerset. He died 8 Nov 1822 in Clifton, near Bristol. He married Harriet Letitia, who was born about 1761 and who died in Cheltenham, on 30 Aug 1832.

The father of Captain Andrew Sproule was Andrew Sproule Esq. of Bathford, who died on the 13 June 1794 in Kemerton, Wychavon District, Worcestershire. His grave inscription reads:

Sacred to the Memory of
Andrew Sproule Esq.
of Bath in the County of Somerset,
who departed this Life
to the inexpressible regret of his family
and friends at his House in this Parish
June 13, 1794 Aged 74 [7]

Andrew Sproule Esq. was born 1720 in Athlone, Ireland. He married Catharine Mocher in 1753 and they had 3 sons and 3 daughters. [8]

Andrew Sproule Esq. was the son of Joseph Sproule of Athlone, the second son of Capt. John Sproule of Longfield. For further information on this family see Eight Centuries of the Spreull and Sproule Families by James R. Sproule.


James Sproule, from Eight Centuries of the Spreull and Sproule Families, has very kindly forwarded a picture of a real treasure that James has been given. This spoon belonged to Captain Andrew Sproule. It has his initials, the date 1790 and RN engraved on it. Thank you James!



[1] Bristol Archives; Bristol, England; Bristol Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: P/AL/R/3/a, Ancestry.com

[2] Somerset, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1914, Ancestry.com. 

[3] City of Westminster Archives Centre; London, England; Westminster Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: SGCM/PR/1/3 Ancestry.com

[4] London, England, Clandestine Marriage and Baptism Registers, 1667-1754, Ancestry.com

[5] General Register Office: Registers of Clandestine Marriages and of Baptisms in the Fleet Prison, King's Bench Prison, the Mint and the May Fair Chapel, National Archives. 

[6] London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: P73/GIS/001, Ancestry.com

[7] St. Nicholas Churchyard, Kemerton, Wychavon District, Worcestershire, England, Findagrave.com

[8] Eight Centuries of the Spreull and Sproule Families by James R. Sproule.

Saturday, 28 May 2022

Finding the Family of Robert Sproule of Upper Grennan

I was putting together the Key Points from Robert Sproule the Nabob’s Will when a huge penny went ‘clang’ as it dropped.  It was so obvious too… right in front of my eyes!

Robert Sproule, the Nabob died in 1807. In his Will, he leaves money to his sister Rebecca Sproule and to her sons. We know that his sister Rebecca had married another Sproule, Robert Sproule of Grennan, son of the man who Jack Elder had called ‘Charles Sproule of Upper Grennan’. That marriage would have taken place some time in 1770s. 

We know lots about the Grennan Sproules, but nothing at all about this family.  Robert is the eldest son, according to Elder, and he should have inherrited a part of Grennan.  Yet there is no trace of Robert Sproule of Upper Grennan and of his wife Rebecca Sproule in the records of Grennan. There is no trace of his 4 sons. Where did they go? And then 'clang'!

In his Will of 1805, the Nabob names the sons of Rebecca and Robert Sproule of Grennan;


Jack Elder gives us a tree of ‘Upper Grennan’ based on the work of John Inch in the early 1800s. 

Jack Elder's tree of Upper Grennan Sproules

Elder tells us that Robert Sproule, eldest son of Charles Sproule of Upper Grennan, married Rebecca Sproule and had the following children;


Both of these two sources, Elder and the Nabob, are in agreement that the sons of this family are called, Robert, John, Charles and Samuel.

So these boys left Grennan – they disappeared, as did their father. 

Now we are going to look at a family who are in a place that it is perfectly logical to find Sproules of Upper Grennan! 

Charles of Upper Grennan was involved in leases in Drumkeeran, County Fermanagh in 1778. They are for Crillan, Feddans East, and Rabbet Island.

Reports from theCommissioners of the Board of Education Volume 5 1809-1812 p.302

We know for certain that George Sproule, the lessee in Crillan, is definitely the son of Charles of Upper Grennan. We can see on this record of the lease that it was taken out by Charles and Samuel. The Charles mentioned there is Charles of Upper Grennan, I thought that Samuel must be a brother of Charles. I assumed that Robert,  named as the lessee in the Feddans lease, must be also be a brother of Charles of Upper Grennan. I wasn't right - let's look at this Robert again.

The one line that we have on this lease tells us that Robert Sproule is in Feddans East, and his sons are Robert and Charles. I didn't find this lease, but there is a lovely reference to it in one of the deeds of Robert Sproule the Nabob. In a deed in 1790 The Nabob is lending money to the very same Robert Sproule of East Feddans. The money is mortgaged on 67 acres of land in East Feddans. This deed quotes the original deed in which Robert Sproule leased the land and it gives the date as 20 Jan 1778.  It also tells us that the 'lives' on the deed are:

“The said Robert Sproule (of Feddans) the life of Robert Sproule the Younger, his eldest son then aged 7 years, and Charles Sproule, his second son then aged 5 years.” (438 449 285213 Registry of Deeds)

So we know that in 1778, this Robert Sproule of Feddans has an oldest son, Robert, born in 1770, and a son Charles born 1773.

Now, why would Robert Sproule the Nabob be lending money to Robert Sproule of Feddans? The Nabob was affluent, and he did lend money. But the only deeds I have found with him lending money, are to his family members. That should have been a clue when I first saw this!

We have more information on the Feddans family in the Freehold list of 1796. Buying a small piece of land freehold was a way of people buying the right to vote as, at that time, only people owning freehold land could vote.  

So in Feddans we now have 3 names of people who can vote. We have Robert and Charles, who we had before, and now we have John Sproule. John Sproule was also named in the Tithe Applotment book of 1832, with 66 acres in Feddans. Now we are just missing a Samuel.

And here he is.

In the births recorded in Tubrid Church, Kesh, Co Fermanagh, we find a baby born to Samuel Sproule of Feddans and his wife Margaret. The baby was born on 11 Nov 1819. But we actually also have a birth record for this Samuel Sproule of Feddans. (Igp Archives)

Also in Igp Archives, this time St Mary's Church, Ardess, Fermanagh, we find a birth record for Samuel Sproule, who's father is Robert Sproule of Feddans. Samuel Sproue was born on 2 Jul 1781. So now we have the four.

We have matched Robert Sproule of Upper Grennan and his four sons as told by Elder and Robert the Nabob in his Will, with Robert Sproule of Feddans and his 4 sons. They are the same family. Robert and Rebecca Sproule of Upper Grennan went to live in Feddans, Drumkeeran, Fermanagh in 1778 with their two children. They had two more boys in Feddans.
But Robert the Nabob and Jack Elder both tell us that Robert and Rebecca of Upper Grennan had two girls - what of them? Well on the same page as the birth of Samuel Sproule recorded in St Mary's Church, Ardess, we have another birth with Robert Sproule of Feddans as the father. This is a baby girl called Elizabeth, born on 21 Nov 1778. Again this matches Elder's Tree above, which records a 'Bessie' who died unmarried.

Just to put the final cap on it, we find the Bratton family also in Feddans. Elder tells us that Jennie Sproule, daughter of Robert Sproule of Upper Grennan married Wallace Bratton. She did indeed, and they had a son Robert Bratton who married Anne Sproule of Coole on 10 Mar 1848.(Irishgenealogy.ie) And where were this Bratton family living? Yes,  you've guessed it, in Feddans.   This suggests that  Jennie Sproule, daughter of Robert Sproule of Upper Grennan was also living in Feddans.

From Irishgenealogy.ie

So the Feddans connection is tight as a drum, except for one tiny thing that I won’t go into now.

But we have proved conclusively that Robert Sproule of Upper Grennan married Rebecca Sproule of Golan, and went to live in Feddans in 1778. Their family of 4 boys and 2 girls, mentioned in the Will of Robert Sproule the Nabob and in Tree of Jack Elder are all found in Feddans, and at least two of them were born there.

They were:

  • Robert Sproule b. 1778 in Upper Grennan
  • Charles Sproule b. 1773 in Upper Grennan
  • John Sproule - in Tithe Applotment on same 67 acres of East Feddans
  • Jennie Sproule m. Wallace Bratton 
  • Elizabeth Sproule b. 11 Nov 1778 in Feddans
  • Samuel Sproule b. 2 Jul 1781 Feddans
One last question. Why did the oldest son of Robert Sproule of Upper Grennan end up in Feddans instead of Grennan?  That's a good question!

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Key Points from the Will of Robert Sproule the Nabob

We have learnt a huge amount from this Will of Robert Sproule the Nabob written in 1805. Most importantly, it helped me to discover the parentage of Robert Sproule some years ago, and also to learn more about the brothers and sisters of the Nabob.

These are the key bequests from the Will of Robert Sproule the Nabob, with my own notes added. (Kate Tammemagi) They are in the order in which they appear in the Will, if you would like to cross reference. The Will is here -  The Will in full

  • To sister-in-law Mrs Catherine Porter of Strabane in Ireland £200
This is Catherine Sproule, daughter of John Sproull the Apothecary, she married Frederick Porter on 16 May 1785. This entry from 16 May 1785 Strabane Journal;
“MARRIED Wednesday last, MR FREDERICK PORTER to MISS CATHERINE SPROULL, both of this place.” Extracted from Directory of Irish Family History Research 1992
These two are first cousins – so common in this family! Frederick Porter was the son of Robert Porter, who was a merchant, post master and politician in Strabane. Robert Porter had married the sister of John Sproull the Apothecary, Rebecca Sproule of Golan, who is also the aunt of the Nabob.
Their daughter Mary Porter married Edward Sproule of Burrell's Folly - see previous post. Their daughter Rebecca Porter married her cousin, Oliver Lecky, son of Ann Sproule and Oliver Lecky.

  • To Mrs Mary Gamble of the same place (Strabane)  £100

Mary Gamble is the mother of John Gamble who wrote ‘Society and Manners in Early Nineteenth Century Ireland’ . She is a cousin of Robert Sproule the Nabob - more on Mary Gamble and her relationship to Robert Sproule the Nabob in a later post. 

  • To my cousin James Kerr of the parish of Ardstraw, £50

I have not been able to discover how exactly James Kerr of Ardstraw is a cousin of the Nabob, however, I do know who James Kerr is. He married Isabella Sproule, the daughter of Thomas Sproule, the brother of Robert the Nabob. They are talked of in the letters to and from Robert Sproule of Ohio. James Kerr and Isabella went to live in Philadelphia, and died there.  James and Isabella had only one child, Sallie, who did not marry.

  • To Jackson Goldring of the Central post office City of Dublin £200

I believe this is a friend rather than a relative. Jackson is one of the Trustees of the Nabob's estate

  • To John Smyley Barrister at law in Dublin £200 

John Smyley was a friend and is a Trustee of Robert Sproule the Nabob's estate

  • To Brother Thomas Sproule – £100 

Thomas is the eldest son of Samuel Sproule of Golan and Coolnacrunaght, son of Thomas Spreull of Golan. Brother Thomas Sproule  was living at Clarebridge at this time, the family eventually moved to Bridgehill. Thomas was married to a lady called Sarah.

  • To my Sister Rebecca Sproule  £100

Rebecca Sproule married Robert Sproule of Grennan who, according to Elder, is the son of Charles Sproule of Upper Grennan. Robert Sproule of Grennan is a bit of a mystery. He was the eldest son of Charles of Upper Grennan, and yet we know nothing of him or his children – we don’t know what happened to them. (P.S I know exactly who he is - it was right in front of me all the time!)

  • To my sister Elizabeth Rankin - £100

We do not know who Mr Rankin was or where Elizabeth and her family lived.

  • To each of the Sons and daughters of my brother Thomas – £100

Thomas had at least 7 children and we know quite a bit about them because of a series of letters between two of his sons, Robert in Ohio and the other in Bridgehill. They are also one of these special families where we have the family bible front page.

  • My sister Martha Sproule  - sister Martha recieves nothing - I have not thought it necessary to bequeath anything to my sister Martha, as she has been provided for by the late Mr Robert Sproule."

This is rather a sad tale. Martha is the third of the Nabob’s 3 surviving sisters. She married Andrew Sproule of Tullymoan, but he had died before 1801, so she was a widow at this time. Her brother Robert Sproule the Nabob had left her no money because she was to receive a large inheritance from Jamaica. This inheritance was to come not from Robert Sproule, as Robert the Nabob says in his Will, but from Robert’s son, Andrew Sproule of Arnotto Bay, Jamaica. Andrew Sproule was a Tullymoan Sproule who had died in Jamaica in 1801 and he too had left a large fortune. He left money to his aunt Martha in Tullymoan, the widow of his father’s only brother, and also money to all of her sons. However, Andrew’s fortune was stolen by his executors in Jamaica and Martha Sproule, sister of the Nabob, got nothing. The Nabob had also left her nothing, so poor Martha Sproule of Tullymoan had lost out two inheritances!

  • To each of the sons of my deceased sister Jane Lecky £100
  • To each of the daughters of my deceased sister Jane Lecky £50

We know that the husband of Jane Lecky was ‘Mr Lecky of Altamullan’, but no first name. We don’t know what became of the sons of this marriage, but we know quite a bit about the daughters. The eldest daughter, Ann Lecky, married her first cousin, Robert Sproule of Broomfield, see  below.  The three remaining daughters of Jane Lecky all lived in Altamullan. Miss Isabel and Miss Mary Lecky were the two spinster ladies that John Gamble went to visit in Termonamongan in his book “Society and Manners”. They had their own land there, and they also managed the Nabob’s land when he was in India. They lived with their other sister, who’s name I don’t know, but she married a Mr Swanston. 

  • To each of the sons and each of the daughters of my deceased sister Mary Johnston £50

I have not been able to even get a hint of a lead on this family of Nabob’s second deceased sister. The Nabob does not give the name of her husband Mr Johnston, nor does he give us the names of any of the children. He doesn’t give us a hint as to where the family lived. The fact that these children got less than other families suggests that they were less in need – perhaps a more affluent family.

  • To Oliver Lecky, son of my deceased sister Ann Lecky £100
  • To each of the daughters of my deceased sister  Ann Lecky, £100 each

Ann Sproule was the 3rd sister of Robert the Nabob who had died before his Will was signed in 1805. Ann married Oliver Lecky, who's parentage we don't yet know, but Oliver was an affluent man.  Their son, also called Oliver Lecky, owned and lived in Mellmount house outside Strabane, which was a home used often by this Sproule Clan. This son Oliver Lecky married cousin Rebeccca Porter, daughter of Frederick Porter and Catherine Sproule.

  • To each of the sons of my sister Martha Sproule £50 each.

This is interesting for Tullymoan researchers. The Nabob’s sister Martha Sproule had married Andrew Sproule of Tullymoan, but she was a widow by the year 1801. I know that she had 5 sons, but there is no record of any daughters. In this Will dated 1805, Robert the Nabob does not leave money to any daughters in this Tullymoan family, which confirms that were none alive at this time.

  • To  Robert Sproule, John Sproule and Samuel Sproule all sons of my sister Rebecca Sproule £100 each 
  • To Charles Sproule and to each of two daughters of my sister Rebecca Sproule £50

Robert, John and Samuel are sons of Robert Sproule of Upper Grennan and Rebecca Sproule, the Nabob’s sister. According to Elder’s tree of this family of Upper Grennan, Robert and John died unmarried. He has Samuel on the tree, but that’s it – no information on him. Again, this Grennan Sproule line is a real puzzle, and it is hard to make sense of it. These 3 boys, or maybe the 4th brother Charles, should have inherited this Grennan land, but there is no sign of them after this Will in 1805. The 4th brother Charles is always separated from the other 3 boys in this Will, and he is always with the two daughters. There could be a number of reasons for that. (I've found these now)

  • To the two daughters of my sister Elizabeth Rankin £50

There is no hint as to who this family is – we have no first name for Mr Rankin, none for the two daughters of Mr Rankin and Elizabeth Sproule, and no hint as to where they lived

  • To Samuel Sproule eldest son of my brother Thomas £200 in addition to the legacy to which he will be entitled in common with his brothers and sisters (above)

This is Samuel Sproule of Bridgehill, and he is obviously favoured by the Nabob. We know this as Robert the Nabob leaves Samuel his gold watch, chain and seals later in this Will.

The  two sons of Samuel Sproule of Bridgehill  become residual legatees in the event of the Nabob’s daughter’s death – they share the remainder of the estate with a third cousin, Robert of Inchenny. We know a great deal about this family because of the Ohio-Bridgehill letters – more in later posts.

  • To Robert Sproule, the son of Samuel Sproule above, £100

Robert Sproule of Bridgehill, eldest son of Samuel Sproule of Bridgehill inherited vaste fortunes from several different sources – the Nabob was only one of them.When he was a young man, he travelled across America, doing what we would call a ‘grand tour’. Robert of Bridgehill  eventually became Robert Sproule of Kildevin, and came to a sticky end!  Herein lies another story!

  • To Robert Sproule son of my nephew James Sproule of the parish of Ardstraw £100

Nephew James Sproule of Ardstraw is James of Inchany, now spelt Inchenny. It looks from this Will that James was not living in Inchenny in 1805, but was living somewhere in Ardstraw. James was the son of the Nabob’s brother Thomas, one of 3 sons of this family. Robert was the oldest son of James of Inchany, but he died quite young in 1829 aged 27. 

  •  To Robert Sproule son of my nephew Robert Sproule of Broomfield £100

Broomfield house is still there to this day. It is on the road from Clady to Strabane, and is in the townland of Ballylast, land long in the hands of  the Tullymoan Sproules. This Robert of Broomfield was the son of the Nabob’s sister Martha Sproule and Andrew Sproule of Tullymoan. Robert Sproule of Broomfield was married  to his first cousin Ann Lecky, daughter of the Nabob’s sister Jane. Their son  Robert, who is named in the Nabob’s Will, went to Jamaica and made a fortune there. Robert of Broomfield is the ancestor of the Mulvin Sproules

  • To Robert Durham son of Mr Andrew Durham of Bovolcan near Lisburn £100

I believe this to be a friend rather than a relative

  • To Katherine Cowan, John Cowan and Robert Cowan children of Reverend Thomas Connolly Cowan of Rousden, St Eyres County of Devon £100

Executors of the Will and Trustees

  • To my wife I leave and bequeath;

    1. The lease and interest to Parker’s Well House and also all of the contents of the house, including carriages, horses etc.
    2. That the yearly rent on the property shall be paid out of the estate and not my wife’s personal stipend
Robert Sproule the Nabob never names his wife in his Will, she is always 'my wife'. She is, of course, Jane Sproull, eldest daughter of the Nabob's uncle, John Sproull the Apothecary of Strabane, so he married his first cousin. Jane died 18 Jul 1828 in Castletown, just outside Strabane where she had lived with her spinster sister Mary following her husband's death:
"On Friday last, at Castletown, Mrs Sproull, relict of the late Robert Sproull, Esq. of Bombay, at the advanced age of 80 years." (Strabane Morning Post July 22, 1828) see previous posts.

The remainder and residue of the estate is placed in a Trust to be managed by Jackson Golding Esquire,  John Smyley Esquire both before mentioned and to the Reverend Thomas Connolly Cowan now of  Roulston St Eyres in the county of Devon as executors.

Out of this Trust is to come the following:

  • To my Sister-in-Law Mary Sproule the interest on £1000 to be paid annually for life

Mary Sproule is the sister of the Nabob’s wife Jane Sproule, and both are daughters of John Sproull the Apothecary. John Sproull was an affluent man and he left a detailed Will in 1787 that mentions his other 3 daughters, but his oldest daughter Jane, the wife of the Nabob, is not mentioned. Clearly he felt that Jane was well provided for.

 In his Will, John the Apothecary leaves a Trust which provides annual income to his other three daughters, Mary Sproule, Rebecca Barclay and Catherine Porter. He has two sons who he provides for, but the residual legatees are the three daughters.

So Mary Sproule, the only spinster in the family, was well provided for and here she gains an additional annual income from Robert Sproule the Nabob. Mary was an affluent lady. She lived in the house in Castletown that her sister Jane lived in, this from an 1826 deed. In two 1834 deeds we find that Mary Sproule is living with her nephew Oliver Lecky in Mellmount - this is after the death of her sister Jane.  In these two deeds, Mary Sproule is selling land to James Sproule of Stokes Hall Jamaica. James of Jamaics is another nephew, who at this time  was bringing his family home to Ireland, and he leased the house at Mellmount from Oliver Lecky - becoming James Sproule of Mellmount.

*** Note.  Robert Sproule the Nabob provides for his two sisters-in-law in this Will, they are both important to him. The third sister-in-law is not mentioned at all, nor is her family. John Sproull the Apothecary had another daughter Rebecca, who married John Barclay, son of Robert Barclay, in Strabane on 18 Jan 1774. (Londonderry Journal, Fri Jan 21 1774) This daughter, Rebecca Barclay, is named in John the Apothecary's Will dated 5 Mar 1887. But she is not named here, nor is her husband or her children. I have found no trace of this family in Ireland. This Will confirms that the family of Rebecca Barclay were either dead with no children, or that the family had left Ireland. 

  • To my wife during her life an annuity or yearly stipend £500

Jane Sproule had been left the house in Parker's Well, with all that goes with this, and the expenses on the house were to be paid out of the estate. This yearly stipend was simply her 'pin money'. Jane Sproull would also have been provided for by another Trust on her marriage to Robert Sproule the Nabob - this was the custom at that time. The father John Sproull the Apothecary and also the husband-to-be Robert Sproule the Nabob, would have put income from either investments or from land into a Trust to provide money for the widow should the husband die. So Jane would have had that income as well.

  • The Trustees are responsible for providing for the maintenance, clothing and education of my daughter Rebecca Jane Sproule until the age of 21 years or until her marriage

Rebecca Jane had been born in 1790 in Dundalk, Ireland. 

  • Daughter Rebecca Jane Sproule receives the total of the remainder of Robert Sproule the Nabob’s estate – he appoints her residual legatee, and she receives everything when she reaches the age of 21 or on her marriage
An unusual thing here is that the Nabob tells us the birth date of Rebecca Jane, his only child – born on 16 Dec 1790. I have not seen that in any other Will or document. I can only surmise that the her father, the Nabob, wanted to safeguard any challenges to the Will based on her age. He was clearly thinking in the event that Rebecca Jane should die before her 21st birthday, which was must have been on the cards, for the Nabob gives very detailed provisions for that eventuality. He writes what is, in effect, a second Will which is what exactly is to happen if Rebecca Jane should die before the age of 21.
Poor Rebecca Jane did indeed pass away in March 1810 at the age of 19 years. Breand├ín Mac Suibhne, in Society and Manners, tells us that the report of her death in The Exeter Flying Post of 15 March 1810, said that MissRebecca Jane Sproule of Parker’s Well House died ‘of a decline ... she was enabled to bear the gradual decay of her entire frame, with patience and with resignation, from an unfeigned faith in the merits of a Crucified Redeemer’. P.559

 In the event his daughter Rebecca Jane should die before reaching her majority (and this did happen) and after the annuity to his Wife Jane and after the Sister-in-Law recieves her annual interest - all Robert's assetts are to go into a Trust to be managed by the same trustees, and the following additional bequests are made:

  • The Trustees shall apply funds for the maintenance, clothing and education of Robert Sproule and Thomas Sproule, sons of nephew Samuel Sproule and grandsons of brother Thomas

These are the two sons of Samuel Sproule of Bridgehill, and they become the chief heirs with Robert, son of James of Inchenny.

  • Also the maintenance, clothing and education of Robert Sproule, son of nephew James Sproule and grandson of brother Thomas

This is Robert, son of James Sproule of Inchenny, the other cheif heir.

***Robert the Nabob leaves much to these 3 grandsons of his brother Thomas. They are from Thomas Sproule’s two sons, Samuel and James. Thomas Sproule had a 3rd son, also called Robert – Robert Sproule who was living in Ohio at this time. Robert of Ohio or his family, is not mentioned at all in this Will.

  • The land of Altamullan is left to Robert, eldest son of Samuel, eldest son of his brother Thomas, and his male heirs. Then if Robert has no male heirs on his death, the Atlamullan goes to Thomas Sproule, the brother of Robert, and to his male heirs. 

It is the deeds for this piece of Altamullan land that confirmed the parentage of Robert Sproule the Nabob. Prior to me working on this Will some years ago, we did not know who was the father of Robert Sproule the Nabob. John Inch had left Jack Elder with a lovely hand drawn tree which Elder called ‘The Nabob Sproules’. In this he speculates, was the father of The Nabob a man called Thomas, or was it Robert Sproule, who married Martha Edwards?  

The latter was closer, for the father of the Nabob was not Robert Sproule of Golan who married Martha Edwards, but his brother, Samuel Sproule of Golan and Coolnacrunaght. So the Nabob was a Golan Sproule, grandson of Thomas Spreull of Golan.
The clue to this was in this Will. Here Altamullan land is owned by Robert Sproule the Nabob, and he passes it on. Before this in 1793, Robert Sproule who is then in Dundalk adds two 'lives' to the deed for this Altamullan land. (PRONI REF D 1890/25) So the that 1793 deed lists the history of this Deed right back to the original 1733 deed. So we learn that before Robert Sproule the Nabob, this piece of Altamullan land was owned by Samuel Sproule of Golan who left it in his Will dated 1781 to Robert, and before that, Samuel had been left the land by his father, Thomas Spreull of Golan, who had leased it from Hugh Edwards of Castlegore in a deed dated 5 Nov 1733. I have written about this previously, but you will now see this in this Will - see previous post.
The Family of Thomas Spreull of Golan

In this Will the Altamullan land went to Robert Sproule of Bridgehill after the death of the daughter Rebecca Jane and after the death of Robert's wife Jane. Robert of Bridgehill was by that time already involved in the reclaimation project he had engaged in in Westmeath, and where he finally built his large house, Kildevin House. Robert had no interest in Altamullan, and the land was effectively in the hands of his brother Thomas, who farmed the Bridgehill land and the Altamullan land. Robert of Kildevin had no children and the Altamullan  land finally fell to the brother Thomas Sproule, second son of Samuel of Bridgehill. Thomas Sproule left Bridgehill and built a large house in Altamullan, where he died in 1793. He had no children. There are several deeds in which the whole trail is laid out as new names are added to the lease, for those who are interested the 1843 deed is a good one to look through PRONI Reference D847/5/17  

  • To each of the sons of brother Thomas, £200 in addition to that above

  • To each of the daughters of brother Thomas an additional £100

  • To each of the sons of my deceased sister Jane Lecky an additional £100

  • To each of the daughters of sister Jane Lecky an additional £100

  • To Oliver Lecky an additional £200

  • To each of the daughters of sister deceased Ann Lecky an additional £100

  • To sister Martha Sproule £50

  • To William Sproule, son of Martha Sproule an additional £100 
William is a Tullymoan Sproule, son of Martha Sproule, sister of the Nabob. She had 5 sons, but only William is mentioned in this Will. William was the youngest and was, I believe, still living on the Tullymoan farm, where he was running the farm with his older brother Andrew. Their brother James was in Jamaica, he later came back and lived at Mellmount. Brother Samuel was a doctor in Bombay at this time, rising rapidly through the ranks there. Brother Robert was living in Broomfield, not far from the Tullymoan farm, but I do not believe Robert was a farmer.
William Sproule of Tullymoan died in 1827. He had only one son Samuel who was also a doctor in India, and who married his first cousin, Margaret Madden Sproule, daughter of James Sproule of Mellmount.

  • To Robert, John and Samuel Sproule all sons of my sister Rebecca Sproule an additional £200 each

  • To Charles Sproule and the daughters of Rebecca Sproule an additional £100 each

Again that strange linking of Charles with the daughters. It looks like Charles may have had some kind of problem.

  • To Eliza Sproule, daughter of brother-in-law Dr John Sproule of Dublin £100

Eliza is the only child of Dr John Sproule of Dublin, son of John Sproull the Apothecary, who married Eliza Bosquet in 1773. Eliza is their only child. John Sproull the Apothecary had three  sons, as well as the four daughters mentioned above. I believe that two of the sons, James, who was a doctor in Omagh, and Robert, who was mentioned in only one deed, were both deceased by the time of this Will in 1805. 

  • To Robert Porter and to each of the daughters of my sister-in-law Catherine Porter £50

Robert Porter was son of Frederick Porter and Catherine Sproule, and grandson of Robert Porter and Rebecca Sproule of Golan – these Sproules ladies are aunt and niece. Robert Porter lived at Mellmount in the early 1820s, and by the early 1840s, he is in a very large home, called Carricklee, in Strabane. He was very close to his sisters and their husbands, Mary Porter who married Edward Sproule of Burrell’s Folly, and Rebecca Porter who married Oliver Lecky. Robert figures large in the marriage settlement of sister Mary, and Edward Sproule  and their children are  the main  beneficiary of Robert Porter’s Will when he died in 1862.  Robert Porter was married to a lady named Jane and they seem to have had no children.

  • To each of the daughters of my cousin Mrs Mary Gamble £50  

This is the mother of John Gamble who wrote 'Society and Manners'. Robert leaves money to the daughters, but not to John Gamble. John was a doctor himself and living in Canada. More on this in a later post.

The Residual Legatees in the event of the Death of Rebecca Jane

Robert Sproule the Nabob then declares his residual legatees, that is, after all of the bequests have been made, and after the death of his daugher and after the death of his wife, the entire estate goes to 3 people to be divided equally between them:

  • Robert Sproule of Bridgehill eldest of Samuel Sproule, son of Thomas brother of Robert Sproule the Nabob 
Robert of Bridgehill was born on 05 Dec 1798, he died in 1859 and had no children
  • Thomas Sproule, the second eldest son of Samuel Sproule, son of Thomas brother of Robert Sproule the Nabob

Thomas Sproule of Bridgehill and Altamullan was born on 06 Dec 1802 and he died in Altamullan on 09 Jun 1893, he had no children

  • Robert eldest son of James Sproule, so son of Thomas brother of Robert Sproule the Nabob

This Robert is Robert Sproule of Inchenny, son of James Sproule. Robert died on 12 May 1829 at age 27. Robert had no children. He had 3 younger brothers, two of whom died in 1838 without families. The only surviving brother, Moses Sproule and two of his sisters, Rebecca Jane and Elizabeth, inherited the money left to this family. They had no children.

The Siblings of Robert Sproule 


Society and Manners in Early Nineteenth-Century Ireland, by John Gamble — edited and introduced by Breand├ín Mac Suibhne, published by Field Day 1911

 Grateful thanks to Marie Maguire for transcribing this particularly difficult Will - a heroic job! 

Other posts in this series:

2. The Story of Robert Sproule the Nabob 1

4. Robert Sproule becomes - the Nabob 

5 The Will of Robert Sproule the Nabob