Person:William Sproul (1)

Find records: death
William Sproul, of North Fork of James River and Rockbridge County, Virginia
b.ABT 1740 Ireland
  • HWilliam Sproul, of North Fork of James River and Rockbridge County, VirginiaABT 1740 - 1798
  • WElizabeth LuskABT 1755 -
m. ABT 1774
  1. John Sproul1774 -
  2. William Sproul, Jr.1775 - 1872
  3. Rosannah Sproul1776 - 1833
  4. Elizabeth "Betsy" Sproul1778 - 1855
  5. Joseph M. Sproul1780 - 1858
  6. Anna W. Sproul1782 -
  7. Sarah L. Sproul1785 -
  8. Samuel Sproul1787 - BEF 1815
  9. Robert Sproul1788 - AFT 1860
  10. Polly Sproul1791 -
Facts and Events
Name[1] William Sproul, of North Fork of James River and Rockbridge County, Virginia
Gender Male
Birth[2][1] ABT 1740 Ireland
Marriage ABT 1774 to Elizabeth Lusk
Death? 1798 Rockbridge County, Virginia

William Sproul was one of the Early Settlers of Augusta County, Virginia


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Will of William Sproul

THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF WILLIAM SPROWL (transcript) In the name of God Amen I William Sprowell being in a weak state of body but of perfect mind and memory blessed be god for the same and calling to mind that it is appointed once for all men to die I do hereby constitute and appoint this my last will and testament and first I recommend my soul to almighty god who gave it and my body to be buried in a christian manner in hope of the resurrection from the dead by the almighty power of god whereby he is able to income all things to himself and as touching such things as god in his good providence has bestowed upon me I bequeath in manner following. To this first I bequeath that all my lawful debts be discharged punctually. I bequeath my land and movable estate to my well beloved wife Elizabeth to be solely at her disposal. During the minority of the Children provided she remains in widowhood if not she shall inherit twenty five pounds at such times as the Dividend of the estate shall take place. If after the dividend she should still remain a widow she shall inherit the movable estate and one hundred pounds in cash. I likewise bequeath to each of my daughters twenty five pounds. If any of them should die during non-age the remaining girls shall have her part equally. I will and bequeath to each of my sons an equal dividend of the remainder at such times as – dividend shall take place. If any of the male heirs deceas during minority the other male heirs shall have the dividend of the deceased. Lastly I constitute and appoint William Walker and John Davidson with Elizabeth my wife conjointly to execute this my last will. Done January the eighth Day in the year of our lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety eight Signed in the presence of his Peter Lowery William C? Sproull Robert Telford mark John McKee At the court held for Rockbridge County the 4th Day of December 1798 This writing imparting the last will and testament of William Sproul Decd was produced in court by William Walker John Davidson Executors and Elizabeth Sproul Executrix and proved by the oath of Peter Lowery Robert Telford and John McKee submitting witnesses and ordered to be recorded. And on the motion of said witnesses who made oath according to law certificate is granted them for obtaining probate thereof in due form they having with James Gilmore and Robert Telford their securities entered into and acknowledged bond in the sum of two thousand Dollars Conditioned according to law. Teste A Reids Ct.

Records of William Sproul in Augusta County, VA

From Chalkley's Augusta County Records:

  • Vol. 2 - Fee Books of Augusta Court - 1777 - Wm. Sprowl, Providence. (Note: Providence was in Rockbridge County).

Information on William Sproul

William Sproul, sometimes referred to as "Rockbridge William", has been identified as one of the 9-10 distinct Sproul families that migrated to the Virginia frontier as listed on the "Sproul Family website", which is an excellent source of information on this family (

William Sprowl of Rockbridge, an Irishman and former British soldier is first noted in Western Virginia purchasing 323 acres of land in 1771 on a bend of the North Fork of the James, now called the Maury River, about 6 miles north of Lexington. He had about ten children, most of whom moved to on Preble County, Ohio in the early 1800’s. One son, William, remained in Rockbridge County until about 1840 before joining the others.

There is a great deal of information on William Sprowl, not all of which has source documentation and much of the documented data has not been fully compiled into a family genealogy. William settled on a bend of the North Fork of the James (now the Maury River) in 1771, about 12 miles south of where William Sproul of the Cowpasture and Moffatts Creek settled at approximately the same time. The records of these two are particularly confusing since many of the early William Sproul records were recorded as William Sprowl and vice versa. Both also had sons and grandsons named William. These families still vie for claim to the June 23, 1773 Augusta County marriage license which can only really belong to one of them. Jackson River John Sprowl lived slightly east of halfway between these two William’s but moved 50 miles away to the Jackson River area about the time they arrived.

William Sprowl came to America from Ireland as a soldier in the British army, and took part in the Battle of Quebec during the French and Indian war. After this battle he was left to do guard duty in that city, where he continued until the expiration of his period of enlistment. Instead of returning to his native country he re-main in America, and some time after receiving his discharge he went to Norfolk, Virginia, thence a little later to the town of Lexington in the same state. There he purchased a tract of 323 acres on the North Fork of the James River in 1771 and entered upon the duties of farm life. He married Elizabeth Lusk in 1773.

William and Elizabeth had ten children. After William died in 1798 in Rockbridge County, the family began their westward move, to Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. The land on the Maury River was sold in 1806 and most of the family moved to Preble County, Ohio. Son William and his family were the last of the children to have relocated in Ohio in 1841.

First Augusta County Records of William Sprowl:

1771 – purchased 323 acres of land on Maury River

Location – Near Lexington, on a bend of the Maury River, just below intersection of today’s Rt 39 and Rt 252. This is the Jacob Anderson land on the Bordon Manor map.7

William Sprowl Birth: ABT 1740 in Ireland Death: 1798 in Va, Rockbridge Sex: M

Elizabeth Lusk (Wife) b. ABT 1755 in Va, Augusta Marriage: 23 JUN 1773 in Va, Rockbridge, Lexington


John Sprowl b. 1774 in Va, Rockbridge
William (Jr) Sprowl b. 8 JAN 1775 in Va, Rockbridge
Rosannah Sprowl b. 5 MAY 1776 in Va, Rockbridge
Elizabeth (Betsy) Sprowl b. 8 FEB 1778 in Va, Rockbridge
Joseph M Sprowl b. 17 FEB 1780 in Va, Rockbridge
Anna W Sprowl b. 25 AUG 1782 in Va, Rockbridge
Sarah L Sprowl b. 1785 in Va, Rockbridge
Samuel Sprowl b. 1787
Robert Sprowl b. 1788
Polly Sprowl b. 1791 in Va, Rockbridge

Text: William is said to have been born in Ireland about 1740 (some genealogists have said 1732 in County Tyrone), coming to North America with the British army of General Jeffrey Amherst, and participating in the Battle of Quebec (1759) under General James Wolfe. When his enlistment was up, he did not return to Britain, instead making his way, first to Norfolk, then to Lexington, the principal city of Augusta County, VA. He is first recorded in adjacent Rockbridge County as the purchaser of some 300 acres of land in 1771. William was almost certainly a Presbyterian.

CHRONICLES OF THE Scotch-Irish Settlement IN VIRGINIA EXTRACTED FROM THE ORIGINAL COURT RECORDS OF AUGUSTA COUNTY 1745-1800 DEED BOOK NO. XVII. ADDITIONAL MEMBERS OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE. page 511 Page 297.--20th August, 1771. Robert ( ) Allison and Ann ( ) to William Sprowl, £104, part of Borden's tract conveyed to Robert by Borden's executors in two deeds: A, containing 108 acres of which 25 acres have been conveyed by Robert to Jacob Anderson; B, containing 240 acres; corner Jacob Anderson, North Fork of James River. Teste: John Thompson, Daniel Lile, John McKee, William Sprowl. Delivered: William Sprowl, August Court, 1774.

A RECURRING LEGEND FROM SPROWL FAMILY LORE. John S. Sprowl, M.D. From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 546-549 Back to stanch old Scotch-Irish stock does Dr. Sprowl trace his lineage, and that in his character abide the sterling qualities which have ever marked the true types of those two invincible races will be manifest when we come to consider the more salient points in his career. William Sprowl, the doctor's grandfather, came to America from Ireland as a soldier in the British army, and took part in the battle of Quebec during the French and Indian war. After this battle he was left to do guard duty in that city, where he continued until the expiration of his period of enlistment. Instead of returning to his native country he concluded to remain in America, and some time after receiving his discharge he went to Norfolk, Virginia, thence a little later to the town of Lexington in the same state. There he met and married Elizabeth Lusk, and within a few years became a large land owner, purchasing a tract of three hundred acres in the bend of the James river, and entered upon the duties of farm life. William is recorded as purchasing land near Lexington, Virginia in 1771.

He married Elizabeth Lusk on June 21, 1773. Her grandfather was William Lusk, Sr born in County Antrim, Ulster about 1696. William died in 1798 in Rockbridge County, Virginia.

Following is a list of the British regiments which participated in the Battle of Quebec, the battle of St Foy, and by presumption the garrison of Quebec.

This list is excerpted from a list of British Regiments in America 1755 - 1763. 15th Regiment of Foot (Amherst's) (1758-1761) capture of Louisbourg and Gaspe, siege of Quebec including Plains of Abraham, Battle of Ste. Foy, surrender of Montreal 28th Regiment of Foot (Bragg's) (1758-1762) capture of Louisbourg, siege of Quebec including the Plains of Abraham, battle of Ste Foy 35th Regiment of Foot (Otway's) (1756-1760) surrender of Fort William Henry and subsequent attack by Indians, capture of Louisbourg and Gaspe, siege of Quebec including Plains of Abraham, battle of Ste Foy, surrender of Montreal 43rd Regiment of Foot (Kennedy's) (1757-1760)siege of Quebec including the Plains of Abraham, battle of Ste Foy, surrender of Montreal 47th Regiment of Foot (Lacelles') (1750-1763) capture of Fort Beausejour, capture of Louisbourg, siege of Quebec including Plains of Abraham, battle of Ste Foy, surrender of Montreal 48th Regiment of Foot (Webb's) (1758-1761) failed attack on Fort Duquene, capture of Louisbourg, siege of Quebec including Plains of Abraham, battle of Ste Foy 58th Regiment of Foot (Anstruther's) (1757-1762) capture of Louisbourg, seige of Quebec including the Plains of Abraham, battle of Ste Foy

I have attempted to learn something about the date and the Irish place of birth of William. I have so far been unsuccessful. I do have a list of the British regiments which participated in the Battle of Quebec, but I have encountered some references which lead me to question whether that list is quite complete. In any case, the British seem to have begun keeping comprehensive records of their troop in 1760; The Battle of Quebec ended in 1759. William was almost certainly of Scotch-Irish stock, i.e. folks who immigrated from the Scottish lowlands to Ireland during the course of the seventeen century (1601-1700) under a program initiated by King James I of England (who was also King James VI of Scotland) commonly referred to as the Irish Plantation. The Scotch-Irish were primarily Presbyterians, whereas the native Irish were Catholic. The friction generated by that program continues to this day. I have been able to determine that the present-day center of the Sprowl name (Sproule in Ireland) is County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. County Tyrone is listed as one of the areas settled by the Scotch-Irish (or, as the British call them, the Ulster Scots). I have been in discussion with Alan Foster, a self-styled amateur historian who lives in England (Durham, I believe), and whom (per our DNA samples) shares with me a common paternal ancestor. His research indicates that we, he and I, are probably descended from Danes who invaded England in the ninth century AD. His arguments sound plausible. He believes that our common ancestor lived sometime between 100 AD and 800 AD. 9/23/2004.

I visited the Lancaster Cemetery, the property of which I believe abuts the north half of the western 80 acre tract purchased by Joseph M. from the United States in 1835. Some of the grave markers which I sought were probably among several which were discolored and eroded, rendering the original inscriptions unreadable. I did find a total of five legible markers which belonged to some of the persons listed in this genealogy. 9/24/2004. I talked by telephone with Steve Fulton, who is currently responsible for the records of Lancaster Cemetery. He proved to be an interesting gentleman. He had the complete cemetery records, updated to 1999. Those records did show some, but not all, of the the antecedents which I sought. I was surprised to learn that, although his records,which were updated in 1999, showed the burial of Joseph M. in lot 1101, he didn't show the burial of either Jennie (Jane Armstrong) Sprowl or of Elizabeth (Waggoner) Sprowl. I have since learned that Jennie is buried in the Masonic Cemetery at Warren, IN. Steve Collins of Marion, IN tells me that the obituary of Elizabeth gives her place of burial as Six Mile Cemetery in Wells County, IN, the burial place of record of her husband, James A Sprowl.

I also learned from Steve Fulton that when the Salamonie Reservoir was built, the property of the Lancaster Church of the Brethren, which was across the road from the cemetery and which I attended for a few years of my childhood, was purchased by the government. The new church building, which replaced the old, was built on 10 acres of land from the Fickle farm ( one of my ggggrandfather Joseph M Sprowl's original purchases). Excerpts from William's will from the research of William Sproul III. William Sproull - 1798 Rockbridge Co, Will Book 2, p.108, recorded Dec 4, 1798. Will signed Jan 8, 1798 bequeath land and movable estate to wife Elizabeth during the minority of the children... bequeath to each of my daughters... and to each of my sons... At Court held for Rockbridge Co 4th of December 1798 Witnesses: Peter Lowery, Robert Telford, John McKee Executors: William Walker, John Davidson, and Elizabeth Sproul Clerk of Court recorded name as Sproul. The origin of the name Sprowl. As of this writing, I have few clues as to the origin of the name Sprowl, nor have I encountered many who claim to know any more than I do. I do have some observations, however, which must be considered when speculating on the roots of the name. 1. The name is uncommon worldwide.

I don't know how many Sprowls exist today , but a bit of math based on the current popularity in the United States suggests that there are probably fewer than 200,000 worldwide. The other principal areas in which the name is distributed are Canada, Australia, New Zealand, in addition to the United Kingdom. 2. The earliest recorded use of the name appears to have occurred in a very limited area of Scotland; it appears to have been first applied to a man who lived in the 13th century, probably in Dumbartonshire. It later appears centered in Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire, two adjacent Scottish counties which comprise the environs of present-day Glasgow. 3. Of the several identified surnaming conventions, the best fit appears to be that the name was an identifier of a personal characteristic, ala 'short', 'strong', 'lame', etc. In what language it originated, no one seems to know. In the era in which it first appeared, the lingua franca of the Scottish lowlands was Scots. The language of the Scottish highlands was Gaelic, the language of the area immediatly south of the Scottish lowlands was English. Both Scots and Gaelic may well have contained elements of Pictish, which along with the ethnic identity of the people who spoke it, has since disappeared. Some Norman terms had crept into English, and possibly Scots. None of these languages seems to have a surviving word which provides a clue to the original meaning.

According to one source, in middle English (12th to 15th C) the word sproul meant energetic or active. The same source says that in middle Scottish the verb "to spreul" meant "to Sprawl." I assume that, by 'Scottish' he means what I have learned to call 'Scots.' I cannot vouch for the authenticity of either of these definititons. 4. The name first appeared in an era when inherited surnames were not universally used. That practice was first applied mainly to the nobility, decreed by the conquering Normans as a device to track landowners, i.e., taxpayers. Does this imply that the first Sprowls were landowners? 5. There are many spelling variations of the name. The name, in common with many other words, was sometimes spelled differently at various points in the same document. In the days before Noah Webster, and others who eventually standardized spelling, each writer appears to have applied whatever spelling made phonetic sense to him at the time of writing. This was accepted practice, not necessarily error.

Looking at the many variations of 'Sprowl', I suspect that the original pronunciation was better fitted by 'Sprule' than by any other surviving spelling. 6. It seems unlikely that anyone would voluntarily accept as his surname a derogatory term, thus it seems probable that the meaning of the name, as a descriptive term, was socially acceptable. 8. Working backward from the figure estimated in point 1, making some assumptions based on the observed rate of family proliferation in the 750 - 800 years since the name first appeared in recorded history, it appears that the name was first applied to, at most, a handful of persons. Quite possibly it was adopted by only one man; if that is the case, most or all Sprowls (including all variations) are probably closely related. If this is true, genealogical DNA typing should demonstrate the fact. 9. As a point of interest, I have encountered two genealogical records which purport to trace back to Walter Sprowl, Senechal (Major Domo) to the Earl of Lennox, who was seated in Dumbartonshire. That county is adjacent on the north to Lanarkshire. I cannot, at this time, pass judgement on the authenticity of either claim. I have observed that amateur genealogists vary from very thorough and objective to very accepting of any family connection, even sometimes when given dates or locations make that connection improbable.

Sources of data - Sprowl Page General Land Office Records U.S. Bureau of Land Management 1860 United States Federal Census Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County 1901 546-549 Biographical Memoirs of Wells Co., IN B F Bowen, 1903 533 Indiana State Library, Genealogy Records (not online) Online Records of Batson Cemetery, Wells Co., IN Online Records of Six Mile Cemetery, Wells Co., IN Online Records of Masonic Cemetery, Huntington Co., Warren, IN Online Records of Mossburg Cemetery, Wells Co., IN Personal knowledge of my own generation (not online) Walk of Woodlawn Cemetery, Huntington Co., Warren, IN (not online) William W Sprowl III Early Western Virginia "Sproul" Families Lovettsville, VA, July, 2004 All of the above sources as well as other details are available on the World Wide Web, except as noted. Especially useful sites are,


  1. 1.0 1.1 Brøderbund Software, Inc. World Family Tree Vol. 15, Ed. 1. (Release date: November 20, 1997), Tree #1999.

    Date of Import: Aug 7, 1998

  2. .

    Brøderbund WFT Vol. 1, Ed. 1, Tree #3304, Date of Import: Sep 13, 1996