Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Ancestors of The Nabob – the Golan Sproules

There are many Sproules, Leckys, Crocketts and others out there who are, like me, descended from the Tyrone family that Jack Elder called ‘The Nabob Sproules’.  It is not really a very good name for this family tree for many reasons, and in this post I am going to have the temerity to launch a new, updated name for our line of Sproules!

The Origin of the Name

'Nabob' was a term used at the time for someone who worked for the East India Company and became very wealthy -  usually by corrupt means. Our Nabob, Robert Sproule, was born in 1746 and he was a surgeon with the East India Company. There is no hint that he was corrupt in any way, but he did indeed return from India with a vast fortune, and this earned him the nickname 'the Nabob' Sproule.

Robert the Nabob was an interesting character, but he really should not have had a family tree named after him - as he had no descendants! Well actually, he did have one daughter, Rebecca Jane, but the poor lass died in 1810 at twenty years old, without issue.  

Our tree got its name from the fame of Robert the Nabob, as he was by far the best known member of his generation.  In the late 1800s, when Elder was trying to identify the origins of this line of Sproules, Robert the Nabob was still being talked about in the neighbourhood. The Nabob’s older brother had been long forgotten and he is incorrectly named on Elder's tree as ‘James’. Ironically, it was he who was the father of many Sproule families -  the Bridgehill Sproules, the Inchaney Sproules and the most prolific line of all,  the Ohio Sproules. ( I learnt this through the will of Robert the Nabob himself - more on him in later posts.)

Grennan vs the Nabob Tree

Elder knew that this line of Sproules was important as it was a different line from the others that he had already identified. But he was stuck at this generation of the Nabob – it was his big genealogical roadblock. The family trees that Elder had successfully completed had all led loosely back to the Sproules of Grennan and Curraghamulkin.  These families were all descendants of one man, Cornet Andrew Spreull who was born in Tyrone between 1670 and 1680.  Elder seemed to know that the Nabob family tree would not lead there, but he could not get past the Nabob’s generation.

The Ancestors of The Nabob

The ancestors of the Nabob were indeed different from the other lines, they were the Golan Sproules. I found this out through a tortuous tracing of deeds and inheritances, which I wrote about in a previous post. The father of the Nabob's generation was Samuel, son of  Thomas Spreull of Golan. (Abt 1680 to 1761)1

We even know the father of Thomas Spreull of Golan, as he is named in deed dated 1733 – Samuel Spreull of Golan.2  The Golan lands are to the south and east of Castlederg, and it is obvious from Samuel of Golan’s name that the Golan Sproules were on this land from at least 1680. An area of their land carries their name to this day - Golan Sproul.

Thomas Spreull of Golan

Thomas  Spreull of Golan was an affluent man who had extensive lands in Golan, Drumnabeigh, and Altamullan, County Tyrone. He owned corn mills, a bleach green and was also a distiller. He was a friend of the local gentry, the Edwards of  Castlegore, and his son married into this family. Thomas’ eldest son, Robert, married Martha Edwards daughter of Robert Edwards of Kilcroagh. Thomas' son died young in 1740 and it was his grandson, Oliver, who was heir to the Golan land and mills.3  Oliver’s son Andrew built the house at Spamount, and he was father to the Spamount Sproules.

The Nabob was another grandson of Thomas Spreull of Golan. His father was  Samuel and he is named on a later deed as Samuel of Coolnacruniagh (Coolnacrunaght). It is Samuel's children who are are at the top of Elder's 'Nabob Sproules' family tree. Elder actually did reasonably well naming these children, though we get a much more accurate picture from the Will of Robert Sproule the Nabob. The Nabob’s only brother was actually called Thomas, and he inherited the Coolnacrunaght land. He set up the home at the farm called Bridgehill and it is he who is the father of the Bridgehill Sproules and the Ohio Sproules.

Thomas of Golan and Cornet Andrew

Thomas Spreull of Golan first appears on a deed  dated 1719, where he is the witness for  Cornet Andrew Spreull  who is buying the Grennan land.4 Thomas of Golan also went to Omagh to register these deeds. The two were obviously close, but  I have not yet established the relationship between Cornet Andrew and Thomas Spreull of Golan. It is possible that they were brothers, or that Cornet Andrew was an uncle of Thomas Spreull of Golan, as he seems to be older.

Three Lines of Sproules

This now identifies three distinct lines of Sproules in County Tyrone:

  1. The Golan Sproules
  2. The Grennan Sproules 
  3. Tullymoan Sproules
 As far back as 1680 they are three quite separate lines.

The name ‘the Nabob Sproules’ now fades into history, and I can give an updated version of this family tree with its new name, the THE GOLAN SPROULES.



1 Finding the father of the Nabob - The Big Breakthrough on the Sproule Family Tree
2 Deed dated 5th Nov 1733 between Hugh Edwards of Castlegore to Thomas Spruell of Golan Reg of Deeds,  44 481 52279
3 Deed dated 5th Nov 1764 Edward Loftus of Dublin and Oliver Sprowle of Golan giving Oliver the Golan lands which he already has possession. Reg of Deeds 235  609 155913. Thomas of Golan’s will was proved in 1761.
4 Deed dated between Thomas Edwards of Castlegore & Cornet Andrew Spreull  for the lands of Dressog, Dernaser and Grennan in the Parish of Dromore.  Witnessed by Thomas Spreull of Drumnabeigh. Reg of Deeds 41 289 25944.

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