Friday, 7 March 2014

The Lost Sproule Boys

I had a blog block. It wasn't a roadblock, of the genealogy type, where I came to a dead end. My block was a conflict. It was the inability to resolve conflicting information about one generation of the family.  It stopped this blog dead.  Somehow it became very important that I resolve this before moving on. And now at last I have the missing piece of evidence, that will allow me to complete this stepping stone and move on to the next.

The Conflict

I had gathered evidence of six children in the family of my great, great grandfather, Andrew Sproule of Tullymoan. Four of those six children had died in the 1830s as young adults, and I written of this in a previous blog post.1

However, Jack Elder, in his hand-written tree of this family drawn up in the 1890s, had recorded eight children, not six. Elder had said that there were two older boys. The eldest, Andrew, had died young in Jamaica, and the second, Samuel, had also died young but this time in Bombay.2

Jamaica 1820
I trust Elder enough to know that there was a good chance he was right. Also, it would make sense for these boys to go overseas as they had Uncles in both Jamaica and Bombay at that time. Andrew and Samuel would have been born round 1800, and, presumably, would have been in their early twenties when they left home. I hunted for any trace of my two Sproule boys - in India, Jamaica, England and Ireland.

There is an awful lot of information on-line now, including the recently added East India records. I still could not find them, no records and no deaths of either Andrew or Samuel, sons of Andrew Sproule of Tullymoan.

The Block

I needed to put up this family on my blog to complete this generation and to move on to the next. It somehow seemed irreverent to put up Andrew and Rebecca’s family without the two oldest boys, but I wasn’t going to put the names up there if I could not validate Elder’s information. What if Elder was wrong and they didn't exist at all? Or, worse still, perhaps they belonged to a completely different family. And equally, I couldn’t just skip them, and move on to other generation's trees. I know it's only a blog, but somehow putting the entire family group up together had become very important.

The Letter From America

This week, through the magic of genealogy web contacts, I got a wonderful present. It was a series of letters written between 1800 and 1840 from Sproules in Tyrone to the family of Robert Sproule of Ohio. Members of the Bridgehill Sproules wrote the letters from their home just south of Castlederg, County Tyrone, to their cousins in America, and the Tullymoan Sproules are also cousins of both families.

In a letter written on 28th March 1827, Robert Sproule of Bridgehill gives his Uncle in America news of the Tullymoan Sproules:

The Tullymoan family have been in low spirits of late, having heard of the death of Andy, the eldest son. He died in November last at his Uncles in Jamaica. Sam, the next, is preparing for a surgeon by his uncle who has lately returned from India and is living in the neighbourhood of London with his wife and one child, a girl”

Elder was quite correct, the two oldest boys did, indeed, exist!

This was proof positive of Andrew, the eldest son of Andrew Sproule of Tullymoan. Andy died in November 1826 at the home of his uncle James Sproule in the Rosemount Plantation in Jamaica. Sam, the second son, was alive at the time this letter was written in 1827 and he was studying to be a surgeon with his Uncle Samuel Sproule in Cheltenham in England.3 But just one year later, when his Uncle Samuel was writing his will, young Sam, son of Andrew of Tullymoan, was no more.

The Family of Andrew and Rebecca of Tullymoan

The family is complete at last! But this also now proves that Andrew and Rebecca, the parents of this generation, had indeed  suffered great tragedy in their lives. In 1826 they had 8 healthy adult children, and twelve years later, there were only two remaining alive.  Of the six who had died as young adults, only one had lived to marry and have children. William John, who became a Doctor in Dunfanaghy, managed to father two babies before his death in 1838. Happily, one of these, Andrew of Fernhill, lived to have many children and a descendant was in touch just this week!

Of the two children who lived to rear families:
1.       Jane Sproule, the eldest girl, was born in 1802 and lived to 1864. She married another Sproule,  Andrew Sproule of Glenfin, and they bought the Broomfield house, in Donegal,  from her Uncle Robert Sproule. The Broomfield Sproules had at least four children:
·         Andrew Sproule of St Louis who married Florinda Jane Spoule d. 1865
·         Samuel Sproule who died in St Louis 1866
·         Elizabeth Sproule
·         Rebecca Sproule
·         Charlotte Sproule

2.       James Sproule of Tullymoan, my great grandfather, married Mary McGlinchy. He was the youngest child of the family, born in 1816, but with the death of the other three boys, James inherited the Tullymoan farm. James and Mary had nine children, and his descendants are there to this day.4 

Now I can move on!

The completed Family Tree - Andrew Sproule and Rebecca MacKay of Tullymoan.


1 Other Children in this family -  The Mystery of the Children
2 Elder’s Tree of The Nabob Sproules
3 The story of Uncle Samuel - Samuel Sproule of the Medical Board in Bombay
4 James Sproule and Mary McGlinchy    The Family TreeMatriarch of Tullymoan

Thanks to Tim Hayes for providing the Spoule of Ohio Letters.

No comments:

Post a Comment