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We have a copy of an old letter sent from Pennsylvania to a James Sprott of Lisburn, N. Ireland.  The letter was sent to the cousins of our ancestor, James Somerville, who migrated to Pennsylvania in 1792 to be followed by his father Samuel Simmeral.  The letter indicates the family's concern over what was happening in France at that time (ie. French Revolution)

Firstly, I would like to find out if we have any distant 'cousins' from our line of the family still living in Liburn and area so that we may re-establish contact and

Secondaly, I would be interested to find out why the family in Pennsylvania was so concerned with what was happening to their Sprott family connection and the connection to the French Revolution.

This spelling of our last name is of another concern.  Which is it to be: Simmeral or Somerville or Summerville?  I couldn't find any Simmerals  nor Summervilles living in the Lisburn area.  Did they all change their sur names to Somerville?

We had the same problem trying to trace the roots of our family.  Members of the same family had their names spelled four different ways on county(USA) records and on tombstones.  I would hope our progeny don't have the same problems whenever they try and find 'us'.

Friday 30th Nov 2012, 02:17AM

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  • Hi thanks for your message and interest in Ireland Reaching Out.


    The Irishtimes website is a great resource for those that are researching their family history. you can use the "surname search" function to see how many households with either the surname Sprott were in Ireland in the 19th Century. Having done a search myself for Simmeral, I got no results for Simmeral. Somerville, however, did yield some results. These can be seen here:


    In order to find out if there are any living descendants of James Sprott in Lisburn, it may be best to try and trace the family tree through the 19th and 20th centuries. Do you have any other information on the Sprotts? Any other first names or contacts will greatly help. There are a number of resources available to help you trace the family history.


    Some good sources of information include the National Library and the National Archives of Ireland. Their websites are and respectively.


    It may be in your interest to look at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland at

    and the UK National Archives at



    You have given a date of 1792 in your message. The next set of records after this date that may be of use to you are from 1823-38. These are the Tithe Applotment Books, which are land records. You can search these here:

    You can also check the Griffith's Valuation (Land records dating from 1848-64) and the Census Records of 1901 and 1911.


    Griffith's Valuation:

    Census Records:


    The Spinning Wheel Premium Entitlement Lists could possibly help. This was  was part of a government scheme to encourage the linen trade, free spinning wheels or looms were granted to individuals planting a certain area of land with flax. The lists of those entitled to the awards, covering almost 60,000 individuals, were published in 1796, and record only the names of the individuals and the civil parish in which they lived. The majority, were in Ulster. . A microfiche index to the lists is available in the National Archives, and in PRONI.


    I hope these resources help you to trace the Sprott family. Remember to post as much information as you can with regard to the people you are researching. The more information you post, the more likely it is that one of our volunteers will be able to advise or assist you. Also include information concerning which sources you may have already used so others may further your search.

    Please be patient - as our programme has only begun to rollout across the island of Ireland and volunteers in some areas may not yet be organized.

    Kind regards,                    

    Genealogy Support 



    Wednesday 30th Jan 2013, 04:08PM

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