Friday, 24 May 2013

Mary McGlinchy, Matriarch of the Tullymoan Sproules

One of the few stories that was handed down to us through family lore concerned the religion of the Sproule clan. The Sproules in Tyrone were traditionally Presbyterian. However my family, the Sproules of Tullymoan in the parish of Urney,  are Roman Catholic. As far as I know, we are the only line of Sproules who are Catholic.

The Story of Poor Robert

The story was that one of our ancestors, a Robert Sproule of Tullymoan, married the ‘servin’ girl’ in the house. She was a Catholic, and when they had children together, she reared all of the children as Catholics. She also tried to persuade her husband Robert to convert. Even on his death bed, she was still begging him to see the priest, but he refused. This gave rise to much sad, sympathetic head shaking about the state of ‘Poor Robert’s’ soul!

When I explored this, I found that there was truth in this story, but I was rather surprised to find that the tale had been modified in only one generation. It was my Grandfather’s father who had been the husband in question, however ‘Poor Robert’ was in fact called James Sproule. James was 53 when he married Mary McGlinchy in 1869. Mary was 31 at the time of her wedding and she came from a large family in the nearby parish of Termonamongan, County Tyrone. Mary and James Sproule went on to have eight strapping children, the last of whom were twins Henry and my grandfather Robert.*

Mary McGlinchy, Owner of Tullymoan

As you can guess from all of the children being Catholics, the youthful Mary was a very strong character! My father visited Tullymoan often as a child, and told stories of the Granny ruling the house with a rod of iron! This is supported by the fact that when her husband James Sproule died in 1897, he left the Tullymoan farm and his entire estate to his wife, Mary Sproule. James had five sons, the eldest of whom, Andrew and Samuel, were aged 27 and 25 at the time of James’ death.  Most of the boys were working on the farm, but none of them was mentioned in James’ will.  The only name was Mary Sproule.

Mary McGlinchy, the servin’ girl in the house, had become Mary Sproule, the matriarch of the Tullymoan Sproules, and it is she who is the mother of the Catholic Sproule line.

*Note, Since writing this blog, I have learnt of another child in this family, Richard Sproule, who was born in 1881 and died in 1882. Little Richard was remembered fondly by his older brother Thomas Sproule, and Thomas passed  the story of little Richard to his grandchildren. Richard was the youngest child of Mary and James Sproule.

More information on the McGlinchy Family History

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