Dromgole & Co

It only took me 8 years of digging, year after year, but I’ve begun to piece together some of that mysterious families roots – Dromgole, while rare here in North America, is a very common surname around Lancashire, and especially Liverpool.

Apparently the name hails from Dromgooland… which is a Catholic outpost in the wilds of Protestant Northern Ireland. And I would imagine emigrated as a group over to England during the 1700s – probably for work. Which seems rather odd, given their religion – which of course is a whole other story I’ll have to someday uncover.

Drumgooland is a parish in the union of Banbridge, barony of Upper Iveagh, county of Down, province of Ulster.The parish is in the diocese of Dromore: the rectory is partly appropriate to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and partly consolidated with the vicarage, which is in the patronage of the bishop. [WIKIPEDIA]

In the beginning, sometime in the late 1850’s, one James Dromgole (born in Scotland) at 49 years of age, immigrated to Canada with his 3 sons … Martin was 20,  James Jr. 18,  and our ancestor John was a mere 14. All the children were born in Leighton Buzzard, Lancashire.

This knotted lineage began to reveal itself when I found Grandpa D’s Great Grandfather’s death certificate from 1929. I am often struck at how death for me has brought forward so many hidden gifts, both inside and out. Well, there I found the names of his parents – James Dromgole & Janette Anderson, and they were married in Childwall,  Lancashire, England, July 28th, 1832.

trio[image: Grandma, Mom & Grandpa, mid 50s]

Janette died in 1845, she was only 35. She was born I believe in Castle Douglas, Scotland, and her father’s name was Allen, and that’s all I know of her so far.

James and she had 5 children (that I know of): Janet (1835), Jane (1837), Martin (1839), James (1841) and John (1843).

John was merely two when his Mom died, and two years before (1843) his older sister Janet died, and she was only 8. As far as I can tell, James then raised his family on his own for fourteen years, until he and the 3 boys immigrated to Canada in 1859.

I have no idea exactly what happened to Jane, but there are a couple Jane Dromgole’s who married just a couple of years before James and his sons left for Canada. Also, James had been employed by the London and Birmingham Railway (as per a wedding announcement I found in Wigtownshire Newspaper archives online). That railway line was bought by another line around 1848, and then that amalgamated line was joined up, and thus the line joined Lancashire to London around the late 1850s.

It stands to reason that James left England when the work was through, and so he had good reason to come to the new frontiers of Canada. I was in the Canadian Census of 1861 that I found them living in Brock Township, which I believe is somewhere North of Toronto – in that Census, he’s listed as a Carpenter.

There are a lot of stories I could tell you about these Dromgole ancestors, like James Sr died in London, Ontario and is in fact buried with all the other Dromgoles. AND, James Jr. is there, as well as John, and all the O’Donnell’s with them. John had married one Catherine O’Donnell from Norval, Ontario. Her parents were married in York County, Ontario in 1823. I don’t know where exactly they come from, but I recently began to wonder if they were maybe Loyalists, and I should perhaps start looking in that direction.

Anywho, that’s my current mystery.

Out of all these Dromgoles though, my favourite story is one I found told of poor Martin and this fascinating little tangle he apparently had got himself into just 6 years after arriving in Canada. He was the firstborn son of James and Janette.

The Bell Tavern was where 26-year-old Martin Dromgole boarded before he was murdered in 1865 on the back yard of a home where Braida & Henry’s law offices now stand. Accused of being the father of a child out of wedlock whose birth caused the death of the young mother, Dromgole was shot by the girl’s uncle when he attended the funeral. The uncle, according to Acton’s Early Days, has warned Dromgole to stay away from the funeral and if he attended “would suffer for it.” The book continues: “Noth- ing daunted, young Dromgole, who was boarding at Wm. Bell’s tavern, where the Station Hotel now stands, came down Mill Street in “his blacks,” with a band of crepe on his hat. When he was crossing the lawn at the house of mourning, Mr. Lightheart, who was standing at the back door, raised his pistol and shot him. He fell, was carried to his room and lived a few hours. “Tilly was buried in the burying ground in the rear of the old Presbyterian Church, on Main Street. Dromgole sleeps in the Dublin Cemetery, on the first line, where St. Joseph’s Church was formerly located. A marble headstone bears this inscription: “Martin Dromgole, died June 26th, 1865, aged 26 years.” [excerpt from The New Tanner]

What a scoundrel dear Martin was, and what a lovely scandal. Shot by the Uncle of some lass he got preggers, and then having the audacity to actually attempt to go to her funeral – AFTER he was warned not to!

Oh, those Dromgoles are a rather strange lot. James Sr. lived his last days in some fancy hotel here in London, listed as a gentleman – dying at the ripe ol’age of 86 in 1897. James Jr actually, well, now that is a tale for another day… and one I still need to do some research on. But, no worries, I’ll get to that one day soon.

grandpa-and-the-auntsAnd I’ve yet to discover where GrandpaD inherited his Spanish looks from… another delightful mystery to unravel. I guess that’s what I love so much about digging through the dusty annals, the wonderful mysteries that one uncovers, and finding out who these ancestors were, and maybe in the process discover how I became the person I am today. Which aspects of these individuals runs in my blood? Which traits, what sins, what parts of our nature were not provided by our nurturing?

2 thoughts on “Dromgole & Co

  1. Hello Paula. My name is Martin Douglas. This interesting to us as my partner is a Dromgole. Her name is Barbara MacKenzie. If you have other information of this kind, it would be great to read it. I have dug up much myself. Also, Barbara’s brother John is very into this too at his home and we share it between us. He has many old family photos. I have photos and marriage licenses but I am still missing alot. John says you and he are cousins.


    1. Wow, yes. I’ve not seen John in ages. I think I connected with Barbara a couple years ago maybe…she did say she had some Dromgole info. I plan on posting more…these Dromgoles have always intrigued me. I really want to know more about James Dromgoles life in England, and where exactly they come from…etc. The usual. ;-)


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