Jack Elder, a serious and well respected researcher in Sproul circles, his work is the foundation of much of what we know of our Sproul family today. Below is a query he submitted to Notes and Queries which was published in the January - June 1892 issue.
Sproule Family of County Tyrone
Notes and Queries
'Some of your readers may be interested in the following extract from an old book, found in very few libraries, and entitled, ‘Crawford’s History of Renfrewshire.’ It was published in 1710. I believe that by printing the following in ‘N & Q.’ it will have a better chance of preservation, and be more accessible for reference :--
“In the parish of Nielston lie the lands of Cowden, which give first title of Lord to Sir William Cochran, afterwards Earl of Dundonald. An ancient family of the Spreuls did possess the forementioned lands for many ages; but the first of that name I have found mentioned in charters was Walter Spreul, ‘Senescallus de Dumbartown, i.e., high steward of Dumbarton,’ who obtained from Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, a charter of the lands of Dalquhern, ‘pro homagio et servitio suo, i.e., for his homage and service,’ as the charter testifies and by the witness appears to be in the beginning of the reign of Robert Bruce. As also I have seen a resignation of the lands of Cowden by Walter Spreul, so designed in favour of Thomas Spreul, his son and apparent heir, A.D. 1441, which Thomas was father of John Spreul of Cowden, who had a charter of these lands in A.D. 1481, as Robert Spreul, his son, had a charter for the same lands A.D. 1515, which Robert, last mentioned, was father of John Spreul of Cowden, who was succeeded by a son of the same name, who was father of James Spreul of Cowden, in whose person this family failed. He sold his estate to Alexander Cochran of that ilk, A.D. 1622, which lands became the patrimony of William Cochran, his son, afterwards Lord Cowden and Earl of Dundonald, and is now the property of the Earl of Dundonald. The armorial bearings of Spreul of Cowden were, or chevron chequis azure and argent betwixt three purses gules. Of this family of Spreuls of Cowden are several of good note descended: as John Spreul, now of Milton, and my good friend Mr. John Spreul of Glasgow, merchant, author of the ‘Accompts Current betwixt Scotland and England.’”
There is a tradition that James Spreul, mentioned in the above extract as having sold his estate, crossed over into Ireland and settled at Tullymoan, co Tyrone, and that he was the common ancestor of the various branches of the family in that county and America. The name is now spelt Sproul, Sproull, and Sproulle, but more usually Sproule. Another tradition is that the common ancestor was Robert Spreull, who went from Scotland in 1650, and settled at Golan, co. Tyrone. Can any of your readers give the facts about this ; or can they trace from the original settler to Dr. Robert Sproule (“The Nabob”) and his contemporaries of the name who were the heads of the other branches ? There are several names missing in the genealogical tree, and it is hoped that this notice will lead to the finding of them, either by researches in deed and wills or otherwise. Several of the Sproules were army officers, and I wish to procure dates of their entering and leaving the army, and of promotions ; also the names of the regiments in which they served.'
No. 1, Board of Trade, Indianapolis, India.