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Nov 28, 2018

The Australian Connection


Hi extended Cousins :) I'm Australian, as you probably gathered, and descended from my GGGGrandfather Adam who came to Tasmania (admittedly in chains) in 1842 after previously living briefly in Sydney NSW. Adam was from the Paisley region in Scotland.

Happy to chat with anyone with an interest. We've done extensive work on our lineage over here and if we can help anyone out we will.

Nov 28, 2018

Hi Greg! Thank you so much for posting in the forum. We have emailed in the past, 2016 I believe where you shared your genealogy with me, which was greatly appreciated!

Hi Greg - Welcome and I do hope you will share your research on the Australian portion of the Sproule diaspora. As it happens I was contacted by someone in Australia who is trying to trace a Sproul ancestor whose passage to Australia was... let us say provided courtesy of HM Government. I have sent her a link to your post.

Dec 7, 2018

Hi Greg, GGGGrandparents were also convicts arriving VDL Tasmania around 1825. He was James Sproul b Londonderry and she was Ann Crawford or Mary Ann Crawford b Dublin. Their son, Robert was born in Tasmania in 1832 and somehow Robert ended up near Woodford/Port Fairy, Vic marrying an Irish girl, Mary Melican and farming in that area Until his death around 1903. Despite a lot of effort we can’t work out what happened to James Sproul. His wife Ann died in Tasmania 1870 which seems odd when her son was established in Victoria.

James was born in Londonderry and is likely to have moved to Liverpool where he worked as a Stevedore. He was sentenced to 7 years and arrived on ‘The Lady East’. We think his father was Robert Sproul who worked on the Railways in Liverpool after moving from Ireland. Of interest is a report that described tattoos on James’s arms featuring a Thistle/Sickle, maybe he considered himself more Scottish than Irish? Ann Crawford was sentenced to life for stealing a gold pin, she arrived on ship, ‘Provdence 11’. She was often in trouble in the Colony for absconding to find James and drinking. She is named in a book, ‘ Notorious Strumpets and Dangerous Girls, Convict Women in Van Dieman’s Land 1803-1829’. She was often sentenced to time in The Factory and put on bread and water rations...

We wonder if she had never left Tasmania at all and whether James took his son to live in Victoria. It’s also unusual for those days that they only had the one child.

Do you know when and where your Adam Sproul was born? I have across a family headed by an Adam Sproul who was a Policeman in Tasmania and quite a large family. Would that be that your Adam?

The spelling of the surname in our family was changed in the next generation to Sprole and then Sproules, probably to hide the convict past perhaps? If you have any info not mentioned above please feel free to comment? Regards, Lizzy Leahy, Victoria Australia

Dec 17, 2018

Thank you Joe and Glen for your warm welcome. I look forward to swapping information with everyone here where I can :)


Lizzy your note deserves a bit more work and attention from me!

My ancestor Adam was born in 1810 in Paisley, Scotland, and found himself transported to VDL in 1842. He'd been a soldier guard in the NSW militia and got himself arrested for stealing rum. This was not uncommon as prisoners generally had better conditions than the soldiers supposedly guarding them. After receiving his pardon he became a policeman you are quite correct which was also not uncommon. Adam finished his working days as the Gatehouse Keeper at the Female Factory and may well have known your Ann.

The spelling of the family name varies in early documents for a couple of reasons: 1) there was a fair degree of illiteracy back then and 2) a lot of people liked to muddy up their convict origins once they became free settlers by slightly changing things. Adam and his wife Maria had many children and many of them chose their own versions of the the Sproul(e) spelling as well. These days it is quite a thing to have Australian Royalty in your background and some families are spending a fortune get the records amended whereas once upon a time they spent a fortune to blur them.

Ann Crawford is yet just another scandalous woman in our large and colourful Australian tribe Lizzy. It's likely that Ann was abandoned in Tasmania by James due to her employment choices - this was fairly easy to do back then as you really only had to move a couple of towns away and you were able to reinvent and restart your life let alone moving states. You are distantly related to my GG Aunt, the notorious Minnie Costain (Google "High Jinx In Jolimont" for a good laugh), and my own Great Grandmother Harriett, who not only learnt her trade from Minnie but also ran her own quaintly termed "Traveler's Hostel" in Hobart for decades where you could rent rooms by-the-hour.

I have had some contact with our Australian Irish cousins who all descend from the same set of Sproule brothers who left Renfrewshire in Scotland for Ireland sometime in the 18th Century I believe. I have made an attempt to delve into this a bit more, as we also have a strong Irish interest as Maria Sproule was an Orpen by birth and from the Emerald Isles, however the self-proclaimed leader, or "Fuehrer " of the Irish connection apparently believes that the Sproule family consists only of doctors, solicitors (of the legal kind), and academics - not of scallywags, thieves, and scarlet women. I'm more than happy to share what I have with you Lizzy.



New Posts
  • Hi Everyone My branch of the family cone from the town of Paisley in Renfrewshire. The town has a long history of weaving - I’m sure you have all heard of Paisley pattern , the height of fashion in Victorian times and still popular today. Also Coats threads that we all grew up with. My family has been traced back to William Sproul c1730 who married Ann Spier. Their son William 1780 married Margaret Hamilton and they had a son Janes in 1801. James married Janet Chapman and amongst their family was my GGG Grandmother, Margaret Sproul 1829. Margaret married John McLean and had a daughter, Janet. Janet married John Andrew and had my Grandmother, Margaret Sproul Andrew b1876. The Sproul males were all involved in weaving. My Grandparents lived in Pollokshaws on Glasgow’s southside and I live in East Renfrewshire - about 7 miles east of Paisley- so we have not traveled far! I would be really interested if anyone else shares some of these ancestors and I already know that our Australian cousins do! Best wishes to Sprouts worldwide! Marbe
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