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The Craig Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: VIVE DEO ET VIVES (live for God and you shall have life)

Let me share with you the historical background of your family name, Craig. Your family name is derived from the Scots Gaelic word for rock. Throughout the country, many forts and defensible positions were built on rock outcrops, and the word ‘craig’ is frequently found as a prefix to place names. In 1335, a certain John of the Craig played a significant role in the Battle of Culblean in Aberdeenshire during the Second War of Scottish Independence. This battle took place between the forces of Sir Andrew Murray, loyal to King David II, and those of David of Strathbogie, the titular Earl of Atholl and a supporter of Edward Balliol. John of Craig served as the governor of the nearby Castle of Kildrummy, and his intervention with a band of 300 ‘fresh men’ helped turn the tide of the battle. Although Craig’s own castle is believed to have been situated at Auchindoir, it had passed from the family by 1414. In the sixteenth century, the Gordon family constructed a new stone castle, Castle Craig, on the same site, which still stands today.

William Craig of Craigfintry is likely to have been a descendant of John of the Craig. In 1450, he held an estate near Fintry in Aberdeenshire, later known as Craigfintry. One of his sons perished at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, while another son, Dr. John Craig, narrowly escaped execution for heresy while imprisoned in Rome by the Pope. Sir Thomas Craig of Riccarton, a renowned jurist, was the son of William Craig of Craigfintry. He served as an advisor to James IV during the Union of the Crowns and authored a celebrated treatise on feudal law. In 1604, he acquired the estate of Riccarton near Edinburgh, and this main branch of the Craig family severed their ties with Aberdeenshire. His younger brother, John, was appointed as the king’s physician. The line of the Craigs of Riccarton came to an end in 1823 with the passing of Robert Craig. The estate then passed to a distant relative, James Gibson, who subsequently became known as Sir James Gibson Craig.

Sir James Craig, along with his family and followers, departed Scotland for Ireland in 1610 as part of the Plantation of Ulster. Descended from Sir James, James Craig of County Down was the son of a self-made whiskey millionaire and played a key role in organizing the Ulster Volunteer Force during the struggle against Home Rule in Northern Ireland in the early 1920s. He became the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in 1921 and was elevated to the peerage as ‘Viscount Craigavon’.

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Family Crest Motto: VIVE DEO ET VIVES (live for God and you shall have life)

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