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The Crichton Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: GOD SEND GRACE

Let me share with you the historical background of your family name, Crichton. The lands of Kreitton, which formed one of the earliest baronies near Edinburgh, have been mentioned in charters since the early twelfth century. The name itself has Gaelic and Old Scots origins, with ‘Crioch’ meaning ‘boundary’ and ‘toun’ representing ‘homestead’. Your family history dates back to Thomas de Crichton, who is recorded in the Ragman Roll of 1296, having pledged loyalty to Edward I of England. Thomas had three sons, each of whom played a role in expanding the family’s holdings.

One of Thomas’s sons, William, married Isabel de Ross, who was the heiress to the barony of Sanquhar in Dumfriesshire. Descending from this line, Sir Robert Crichton of Sanquhar became the sheriff of Dumfries County in 1464. His eldest son, Robert, was granted a peerage by James III and became known as ‘Lord Crichton of Sanquhar’. However, the title did not bring the family great happiness. The third Lord of Sanquhar, William, was killed in the house of Regent Arran around 1552 by Lord Sempill. The sixth Lord Sanquhar died in disgrace, facing accusations of complicity in the murder of a fencing master who had unintentionally blinded Crichton in one eye years earlier. The title eventually passed to the family of Crichton-Stuart, who are the current Marquesses of Bute.

Sir William Crichton, another descendant of Thomas de Crichton, held the position of Chancellor of Scotland in 1439 during the minority of James II. He was later granted the title of Lord Crichton. Notably, Sir William organized the infamous ‘black dinner’ at Edinburgh Castle, where he served as the governor. This event occurred following the death of his rival, the Earl of Douglas. The Douglases made unsuccessful attempts to assassinate the chancellor, indicating the political tensions of the time. In 1448, he was sent to arrange the marriage of the king to Mary, daughter of the Duke of Gueldres, and was elevated to the peerage as ‘Lord Crichton’. Among the renowned members of the Crichton family was James Crichton, son of the Lord Advocate of Scotland during the reigns of Queen Mary and her son, James VI. He earned the epithet ‘the Admirable Crichton’ due to his remarkable mental and physical abilities.

Another notable figure, James Crichton, was granted the peerage of Scotland as Viscount Frendraught in 1642. He accompanied the esteemed Marquess of Montrose on his ill-fated expedition in March 1650. The present chief line of the family descends from the Crichtons of Frendraught, and they currently reside at the Castle of Monzie near Crieff, continuing the proud heritage of your family name.

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Family Crest Motto: GOD SEND GRACE

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