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The History of the Craig Name
The surname Craig is one of
great antiquity. It originated in the area of the Picts, the eastern portion of
Scotland, where they (Picts) were allowed to settle on condition that all their
Kings agree to marry an Irish Princess. The Picts are considered to be among the
most ancient of the founding races of Scotland. Bede, a respected historian
(born 673), estimated that they came to
Scotland some fifteen centuries
BC, from France. From some early documents researched such as the Inquisito,
1120 AD., the Black Book of the Exchequer, and others, records of the name Craig
were produced in Aberdeenshire where they were seated from very ancient times,
some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at
Hastings in 1066.
The surname Craig was found in many different forms and spellings, From time to
time it was spelt Craig, Craigh, Creag, Creagh, some of these are still used
today. The name Craig emerged as a Clan and developed in their original
territories of Aberdeen where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity,
seated at Craigfintray Castle in Kildrumie in that Shire. This Northern Clan is
frequently associated with the Gordons, but their first records appear in
Ayershire and Lanarkshire to the south about 1180. There were two other
branches, one of which is listed separately, the other was closely associated
with the Huntly clan. Several of the Clan rendered homage to King Edward I of
England on his brief conquest of Scotland in 1296. By 1300 they had moved to
Aberdeen and Forfar, John Craig brought out his whole Clan (est. 1,000 warriors)
at the battle of Culblean in 1335. They were granted Estircrag in 1440, where
this important branch developed in Berwick. Several of the Clan were elected to
Scottish Parliament. The Clan seat is at Riccarton, the last known Craig Chief
was Thomas Craig of Riccarton who died March 13, 1823. He left no known male
Among the oldest Chiefs of Clan Craig researched is William Craig of
Craigfintray, Co. Aberdeen who would have been born sometime in the latter half
of the fifteenth century. Next in succession came Alexander Craig of
Craigfintray; next came William Craig of Craigfintray, afterwards Craigston, Co.
Aberdeen; next was Sir Thomas Craig, b. 1538, d. 1608; married Helen Heriot. Sir
Thomas was a great institutional writer on Scottish feudal law, his work Jus
Feudale is still referred to by lawyers today.
Thomas' son, Sir James Craig of Craig Castle and Craigston of Co. Aberdeen,
became one of the Scottish undertakers of the Ulster
Plantation (N. Ireland) in 1610.
It has been determined that if a person's Craig forefathers came to America from
N. Ireland, there is a good chance that he was a descendant of this James. This
would be especially true if he or she emigrated before the Revolutionary War and
a few years thereafter. His descendant, James Craig, became the first Prime
Minister of Ireland in 1921, having been an organizer of the Ulster Volunteer
Force in the struggle against Home Rule. He was then elevated to the Peerage,
taking the title 'Viscount Craigavon'. The new town of Craigavon in County Armagh was named after him.
The Craig Coat of Arms needs three ingredients to constitute it; metal, colors
and fur: silver (or the color white) signifies serenity and nobility; the fur,
ermine, depicts dignity and nobility; and the dark band across the middle
represents repentance or vengeance. The most ancient version has been found in
the Armorer's Book.
The Craig crest, which includes a chevalier on horseback grasping a broken lance
in bend Proper, is representative of a group of 'broken men' from other clans
who had sought, and were granted, the protection of the clan. There are two Clan
mottoes, the most common being in French - "J'ai Bonne Esperance" - 'I have Good
Hope', the other in Latin "Vive Deo et Vives" - 'Live in God and You Shall
The Craig tartan, of which there are also two, developed from two different
sources. One as the result of the Earl of Mar allowing the Craigs to add the
color red to his own black and white tartan. The other traditional one, reported
to have been designed circa 1957 by Dgn. MacGregor-Hastie, was formulated from
the colors of rocks, (Crag) from which the name Craig originated, hence the
colors gray, green, black, yellow, and orange on the tartan.
Information, images and contacts provided by Michael A. Craig, President, Clan
Craig of America.
Coat of Arms: An ermine shield with three
silver crescents on a black fess.
Crest: A rider with a broken spear.
Motto: Vive ut vivas
Motto Translated: Live that you may live forever