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Some Sproul Genealogy Mysteries and Potential Research Goals for 2022


Welcome to 2022 - here is the best wishes for good health and good spirits in this new year!


The COVID-19 situation has made the past two years difficult for all. I have certainly found it a challenge to maintain professional and personal life. Hopefully 2022 will provide a bit more time for the exciting genetic and genealogical work of the Sproul Project and this website. Joe Sprowl has been very busy refining the genetic history of the Sproul lineages and had obtaining exciting results for the Irish families. Ditto for Kate Tammemagi and her genealogical work - particularly for Irish families and their overseas descendants. Hopefully they will be able to share a few snippets on the Blog soon.


In the meantime - I though it would be fun to list a few of the outstanding mysteries that surround the family. Many of these would benefit from additional genetics testers from Scotland - lets hope we can welcome some onboard the project in 2022.


  1. What are the origins of the surname at the root of all the modern spellings (Sproul, Sproule, Sprowl, Spruill etc)? There are a number of theories, but noting that is truly definitive. Identifying genetic linkages that predate surnames would help here and for the next mystery.

  2. When did the ancestral Spreulls first arrive in Scotland? The Y DNA evidence is indisputable that the family is of 'Germanic' rather than 'Celtic' origin. Germanic peoples such as Saxons reached Britain as early as the late Roman period, and there were large influxes in the earliest Medieval period, and prior to and after the Norman Conquest of England. When and how did our ancestors make their way to Scotland?

  3. The earliest written mention of variations of the 'Spreull' surname appears in Charters from the Earl of Lennox. One is estimated to date from around 1260. We find the Latin version of the name written as Waltero Sprewl in various charters. In 1283 there is also the mention of a Nicholo dicto Sprowll. He is listed as a burgess (urban citizen) who purchased burgage plot in the burgh of Glasgow on Rottenrow.

  4. The descendants of Walter held the estate of Cowden from an unknown period (possibly as early as the 1300's) until 1621. They were known as the Lairds of Cowden and so named in many documents. The descendants of Nicholo appear to have held the property in Glasgow on Rotten Row for hundreds of years. Members of the Spreull family were important citizens in Glasgow. What were the relationships between the Cowden and Glasgow 'Spreulls' and how does it play out in the modern genetics?

  5. What drove the sale of the ancestral estates of Cowden, Dalquhern and Dalmuir and the relinquishing of the Lairdship of these properties by the Spreulls? There are theories, but I think this warrants further investigation to understand the historical context that drove the sale and migration.

  6. Oral history suggests that three sons of the last Laird emigrated to Ulster during the Plantation period of the 1620's-40's. However, historical documents are sparse for this period. Can we find any direct evidence? Did all the close family emigrate? What do the genetics of the current Scots members of the family and those from the Irish branch tell us about this all?

These are just a few mysteries that come to mind. Perhaps you have information or theories. Please do share on the Forum!

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