Select Craig Miscellany

Here are some Craig stories and accounts over the years:

The Craigs of Craigfintray and Riccarton

The forebear of the Craigs in Aberdeenshire was probably William Craig of Craigfintray who was born sometime in the late 1400’s.  His line ran as follows:
  • William Craig who was killed fighting the English at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513
  • his son, the Rev. John Craig, who was imprisoned during the early stages of the Reformation for adopting Protestantism.  He was sentenced to death but escaped and joined John Knox.
  • and, following Alexander and William Craig, Sir Thomas Craig, the great institutional writer on Scottish institutional law through his Jus Feudale.
Sir Thomas was so admired by James VI of Scotland that he was one of the Scots invited to attend his coronation as King of England at Westminster Abbey in 1603.  Shortly before his death in 1608, he became the possessor of Riccarton, the Edinburgh estate once owned by Robert the Bruce. 

s brother John, who was the King’s physician, and son James followed him to London in 1603.   James, through these royal connections, became one of the Scottish undertakers of the Ulster plantation.

The Craig line at Riccarton continued until the death of Robert Craig there in 1823.  The estate passed to James Gibson who assumed the name and arms of Craig, changing his name to James Gibson-Craig.   Another line from these Craigs via the Ulster plantation was said to have led to
James Craig, the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in 1921.

Sir James Craig in Ulster

Sir James Craig had followed King James VI to England in 1603 and, due to his royal connections, was granted lands in county Armagh.  These he exchanged for lands in the barony of Tullyhunco in county Cavan and he settled many of his kinsmen there.

The following year he completed the building of a walled house at Croghan near Killeshandra in Cavan.  This castle was 35 feet in height and surrounded by a wall some 240 feet in circumference.  He had four horses and mares and a supply of arms for defense and was in the process of raising stones to build a mill.   His neighbor was Sir Alexander Hamilton, a Scottish undertaker from the Hamilton family of East Lothian.

Things went generally well until the 1641 rising and civil war.  This was a particularly difficult period for the Scots in Killeshandra as the Craig and Hamilton families were both forced out of their settled lands by the O'Reillys.  The 1641 Ulster Muster recorded Sir James Craig with 54 men, 16 swords, 15 pikes, and 6 muskets.  But they were simply outnumbered and many of the Scots settlers at the time were killed.

In April 1642 Sir James himself died.  His castle had been wasted by disease.  One hundred and sixty men and women had died of hunger and disease and the remainder were too weak to defend the castle any longer. Consequently Sir James’s family and his Hamilton neighbors were rousted from their plantations and driven to the seaport of Drogheda.

To counter these attacks, Oliver Cromwell arrived with his English army and the resulting wars ended with the defeat of the Catholic Confederates.  Sir James Craig’s brother John returned to lay claim to the lands owned by his brother.

The Rev. John Craig of Augusta County, Virginia

The following marker appeared at Fort Defiance in 2015 in commemoration of the Rev. John Craig:

“John Craig, born in Antrim, Ireland, and educated in Edinburgh, Scotland, immigrated to America in 1734.  Ordained pastor in 1740 of the two churches known as Augusta Stone and Tinkling Sprint, Craig was Virginia's first settled Presbyterian minister west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  He led the construction of Augusta Stone Church and its defensive reinforcement.

Craig, an Old Side minister who resisted the Great Awakening, traveled the backcountry to preach, baptize settlers, and organize congregations.  With his wife, Isabella, he established a farm and raised six children. The Craigs are buried in the cemetery to the east."

Samuel Craig and the Indians

Samuel Craig served as a commissary in Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary War.  In 1777 he was called to Fort Ligonier, but never made it.  On the way he was captured by Indians on Chestnut Ridge and all efforts to ascertain his fate were without avail.  His horse was found dead, perforated by eight bullets.  Fragments of paper strewn along the path indicated the route taken by the Indians.  But that was all that could be found. 

His son Samuel was also captured by Indians at the time of this conflict.  They attempted to drown him while he was crossing the Miami river.  He struggled valiantly against their repeated efforts until one of the Indians put him back on his canoe and claimed him as his prisoner. 

He and five other captives were made to sit on a log and have their faces painted black to indicate their doom.  The five other captives were chopped down with tomahawks.  But Samuel who had started to sing lustily and surprised the Indians was spared.  He was eventually sold to an Englishman for a gallon of whiskey.

The second son Alexander had no such mishaps.  He served his country well in the Revolutionary War and was a Brigadier General in the War of 1812.

Craig House in South Carolina

The current Craig House outside of Lancaster in South Carolina dates from the early 1830s, being originally a federal-style farmhouse.  In 1901 it was significantly enlarged with a Victorian front addition by John Edgar and Amanda Drennan Craig who had married in 1883.  Craig House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.  

The fields and woods surrounding Craig House are all part of the pre-Civil War Craig Farm which included more than a thousand acres of farmland.  

Craig Farm today consists of close to 400 acres, owned by the five siblings of the current Craig generation.  It is operated as a cattle farm by Bill Craig, the twin brother of his Kilburnie partner John Craig.  Bill is also a skilled cabinet maker and fine examples of his workmanship are scattered throughout Kilburnie and Craig House.  

Judy Sanwald-Craig and her husband Roger Sanwald also contributed to the home by handcrafting a period gilded picture frame for a portrait of Benjamin Franklin which now hangs in the drawing room of Craig House.

Craigs from Ireland to Canada in 1834 and 1840

The Craigs were apparently from Fermanagh, but had migrated to a rented farm near Monesk in the parish of Killinagh in county Cavan.  Thomas Craig and his wife were the parents of nine children.  The eldest son Robert emigrated to Pennsylvania and nothing more was known of him.  Two other sons Hugh and William departed for Canada in 1834, to be joined by a younger son Thomas in 1840.

The first Craig party set sail for Canada on the Richardson.  Hugh left with his wife and seven of his nine children, William with his wife and all seven of his children.  They landed at Brockville and made their way inland through the forest by wagons and oxen, finally arriving at their destination of Goulbourn township in Carleton county, Ontario.  Hugh subsequently bought land in the adjoining North Gower township where he established Echo Farm.

The early years were not without their mishaps.  During the voyage William's daughter Mary Anne had drowned in the St. Lawrence river while trying to draw water to cook breakfast.  She was pulled over the side and never seen again.  William himself died two years later when he was hit by a tree that he was cutting down and the impact killed him.

The second wave came over six years later, leaving Ireland in 1840 on the Industry. This party consisted of Thomas, his wife and their ten children.  No tragedy struck this party.  But Thomas's daughter Charlotte was apparently romanced by the ship's captain.

The family history was chronicled in James Beverley Craig’s 1929 book The Craigs of Goulbourn and North Gower. One picture in the book, taken in 1907, depicted the Craig family outside Craig House in Craig Street in North Gower.  The Craigs had gathered to celebrate James Craig’s 91st birthday.

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