George Crawford and Family
Wife’s name unknown and children Samuel, Joseph, Susanna and Walter)
Grantown on Spey 1770 to 1799
The story of our Crawford family begins in the province of Moray, Scotland, in the late 1700’s. Between 1553 and 1845, records of births, deaths and marriages were recorded in parish church registers. Church ministers prepared reports on every parish in the 1790’s and 1830’s, and they claim that the recording of births, deaths, and marriages in these books was very thorough from 1780 onward. Some entries were more detailed than others.
There aren’t many records for Crawfords in the parish of Cromedale and Inverallen. A historian in Grantown believes that our family possibly came to Grantown around the 1780’s or 90’s to work in the linen factory.
Around two miles from Cromedale, a military road and new stone bridge was built across the Spey in 1754. The Grants also had their castle just a mile from the bridge, and in 1766, Lord Grant built a new town “Grantown on Spey” beside the river. It included mills, factories, a school, hospital and an orphanage.
Sir James Grant, like many highland lords at the time was moving the farmers off his land and decided to build a town and linen mill to employ them. He turned the land over to grazing sheep, tripling his herds, and also planted fir plantations. Other landowners in the parish also consolidated farms into grazing so that there were some 12,000 sheep and 5,000 black cattle in the parish and the remaining farmers were replacing teams of four draft horses with either just two, or replacing them with oxen as less horses were bred.
Most of the new settlers came from within a 20 mile radius of the new village as most were reluctant to move too far from their family and friends, although those more experienced in the manufacturing trades tended to be recruited from further afield. Like the majority of the new settlements established in the late 1700’s, Grantown grew to house several hundred inhabitants within 20 years and attracted a large amount of migration. As well as relocating displaced people from the old estates, many of whom it must be remembered did not have any choice in the matter, settlers were recruited through adverts in the local press. The adverts provided details of the new site, and highlighted any amenities such as new wide access roads, market squares, employment opportunities, housing etc. and the cost of purchasing or leasing land. Some of the new villagers continued to lease houses, whilst others were able to secure tenure of land and build their own. Village plots were often auctioned off to settlers and to manufacturers at the nearest local inn or on the site of the new village. The establishment of these new villages certainly helped to improve the standard of rural housing.
There was only the one Crawford family in the parish, and they may have come from one of the towns in or close to Elgin, 36 miles away. It is more likely that George Crawford was recruited from either Lanarkshire/Glasgow or Antrim (Ireland). Both had well established linen industries. Unfortunately the records prior to the 1800’s are scarce. Traditionally, Scottish families named their children to a pattern. The first born son was named after his grandfather on his father’s side. The first born daughter named after her grandmother on her mothers side. The second son was named after his grandfather on his mother’s side and second daughter after her grandmother on her fathers side. If a first born male died, later males were often given the same name. This explains why our Crawfords used Robert, James and John so often down through the generations. Unfortunately we have had no success in tracing a George, Samuel or Walter Crawford in the area back around 1750, nor a marriage of George Crawford around the 1770’s. Perhaps George was recruited as a “bleacher” from Glasgow, which had a longer history of linen manufacturing.
It seems that the ministers could elect as to how much detail they wanted to record for each event. For our Crawfords, the ministers at Cromedale recorded:
Charles Rose, Shoemaker in Forres and Susanna Crawford in Kirktown of
Inverallan, daughter to George Crawford, Bleacher there married on the 22nd day of May by the Rev. Grigor Grant, Minister of Cromdale.
17 April 1800 George Walter, son to Mr. Joseph Crawford residing at
Kirktown of Inverallan and his spouse Anna Fraser born 11th and bapt 17th April 1800.
In most cases, a wedding took place close to the brides family home, so when Samuel Crawford married, he did so in his wife’s church at Elgin.
8th February 1798
Were married here by the Rev Mr William Gordon one of the Ministers of Elgin Samuel Crawford in the parish of Inverallen & Mary Anderson in this parish before a competent number of witnesses.
There, the minister didn’t bother to record the parents of either the bride or groom, but did record that Samuel Crawford was “in the parish of Inverallen, That places him as being a brother to Walter, Joseph and Susanna. As a member of a family of two parents and four children, that was the typical number in the 1700’s. They all married between 1798 and 1805, so seem to have been around the right ages to be siblings. The fact that there were no other Crawford families in the area also supports this.
Margaret daughter to Walter Crawford by Margaret Fraser in Fornication, born 12 February 1805.”
Walter Crawford had a daughter by his sister in law Margaret Fraser, and the entry “in fornication” wasn’t unusual. On average, of the 60 or so births a year in the parish, seven were illegitimate. In Scotland a marriage, ‘irregular’ but legal, could be constituted simply by the couple consenting to marry, or by a promise to marry followed by sex.
Hardwicke’s Marriage Act, which abolished all forms of irregular marriage in England and Wales after 1753, did not apply to Scotland, and Scottish law continued to recognize irregular marriages. If a man denied that he had promised marriage to the woman before she ‘yielded to his embraces’ or ‘granted him all the privileges of a husband’ (the two phrases most commonly used in the records), she could raise a legal action for declarator of marriage and bring evidence that she was his lawful wife. If she feared that the man would lie under oath in court, and she did not have enough evidence to prove a marriage, she could ask for an alternative conclusion of damages for seduction.
Walter Crawford was a bleacher (Elgin) like his father. He married Ann Black in 1809, and later lived in Fordyce where they had 12 children.
So, we have records of these four Crawford children of George Crawford but no record of his wife or parents and grandparents. Maybe future generations will take up the search.
George Crawford was a bleacher, and it was at a time when linen manufacturing in Scotland was expanding and relatively profitable. Technical innovations in spinning and weaving made Scottish linen very competitive with German and Irish linen, particularly in selling to England and her colonies. The technical innovation in bleaching was the use of sulphuric acid and chlorine and in other parts of Scotland, they employed young Irish immigrant girls, but only for six or so years at a time. To increase the market for linen and make it sustainable, the government decreed that all bodies be wrapped in linen for burial.
In George and Walter’s case, they appear to have bleached in the traditional way. This consisted of soaking the linen in lye and rinsing two or three times and then laying out in the fields for the sun to bleach. The fields were called crofts and hence the origin of the Scottish word “Crofters” for the people eventually cleared from the land for grazing of sheep and cattle that became more profitable for the lords in the 19th century. Both George and Walter (who also worked a bleachfield near Elgin), refer to the “mill” and this would have been a building or structure beside the river from which they would draw the water. It would have driven machines to move the large sheets of linen around in tubs of lye and other tubs of fresh water to rinse and a windlass to move the materials and to roll it up for moving to the “croft”.
In 1756, scientists found that dilute sulfuric acid would work better than buttermilk and the time required for the bleaching process was greatly reduced. An even more dramatic improvement in bleaching technology resulted from the discovery of chlorine in 1774 by Swedish chemist Karl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786). French chemist Claude Louis Berthollet (1748-1822) discovered that this gas is a very effective bleaching agent. Berthollet, who was director of a French tapestry factory, developed a method of using chlorine to bleach textiles. In 1785, he introduced a bleaching liquid called lye de Javelle and publicized his technique without patenting it. When James Watt learned of the method, he passed the information on to Scottish chemist and manufacturer Charles Tennant, who began using the bleaching liquid in Glasgow. But the chlorine gas needed for the liquid bleaching process was not readily available, so Tennant invented a more convenient bleaching powder and introduced it in 1799. The solid powder, which was made by combining chlorine with slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), was much easier to handle and ship to other fabric manufacturers. When added to a little dilute acid, the powder released the chlorine gas which bleached the cloth very quickly. By the 1830s, factories were churning out huge quantities of bleaching powder for textile use. This abundant supply of chlorine bleach helped stimulate the cotton industry.
The linen was woven in very long lengths and hence the need for large fields in which to bleach. It was then rolled up and officially inspected and stamped to verify the length and that it was all of the same quality. There was an official inspector who visited all bleach fields to verify that the linen hadn’t been just rolled together in shorter lengths. He would measure the cloth and check the quality before attaching a stamp. In both of his letters to Sir James Grant, George Crawford refers to problems in getting the linen stamped.
It is also interesting to note that George refers to farming as well as bleaching. Like most people of this time, he would have grown as much of the family’s food as possible.
The letters transcribed below are as written, line for line, as spelt.
I could not procure a man servant this summer
which has rendered it difficult to carry on the farm and bleaching with so little help as I have at present. I had a letter from my son Joseph last post in which he lamented the distress I was in for want of help to carry on the different businesses I was ingaged in & wished me to write to you to see if it would be possible to grant him a furlo for a few months and he would return and assist me untill the businesses of this year would be complete.
was it a thing you could grant with convenience it would
be a singular …dgement and if not would be sorry to ask such
a favour and he might have a chance of getting some results the time he would stay.
I am still labouring under the dificulty of
the want of a stamp. Mr Arthbutnot wrote me this summer unless it was made appear that there was a considerable quant-
ity of cloth made for sale about Grantown he would give
out no stamp and my sons letter was from Hillsea barrack.
I am respectfully
Your most obedient servant
September 15 1795
Elgin Bleachfield September 12th 1801
I record difrant letters lately from the Intaker
Xxxxx from xxxx annexed to the Grantown Bleachfield
Complaining that He had got no return of white cloth the
Owners being out of all patance supposing the Cause to be my
Being at the field , , as soon as possible I went to the Kirktown on Saturday last ,,
I planely Saw that no person could have done
more than Walker has done in the present situation of the place
having to labour under the difficulty that would try the most experien
=ced person of advanced age ,, I saw twelve cupples bound for the
house which in my humble opinion is on a wrong Construction
for allmost any use ,, I remember to have often said that the House
at the field was exceedingly —-full ,, if that is to be the case now
would be the time for reparing it accordingly ,, the lower Mill??
is only about sixteen inches from the tower end ,, and to have room
for the Machinry below ,, from the loft to the Serting to my
view would only be about five feet Six inches ,, the most convenient
time for fixing the Windaser would be the present ,, from the num
=xxx xxx and adverse dispensations of providenceI have not the least
view of your Honours further indulgence. I will remember that you
hoped I would not give it up easily The reply was that would be
ingratitude and that I would not until it would do no longer
with me ,, that time looks to be come as I am well persuaded every xx
of Industry posable was tried to accomplish the end. I’ll
I am verily persuaded there is nothing that I can see at present
to enable the family to do Justice to you and help full to xxxxxx
than asending mill I observe it here that it’s beneficial and all
ready money the wool xxx would be helpful to the Bleaching
the Bleaching account Can hardly be got in often until the new
year and through the Sumer cash is too scarce for abusnefs
From the small steme of watter at Craggan it will
Not divide to drive two mill unless the one desapoints the
other for the most part. I likewise see it’s the height of folly to
erect acending mill on any part of the Bleaching Machinry
I feel it here by experience that by it alone I am no longer
Capable to Conduct the business of this field to Govenancy I xxx
and at present is of the mind to leave it but these need not
be any diffulty of that kind at Craggan there is as can
I here for such a mill With Some particular advantages un
= observed as far as I think xxxx xxxx xxx which when there
and fully satisfied myself of its reliability = that and lerning
the Land is most Certainly the Object to be proceeded by
whoever occupies the place the wool mill would not cost
so much as I Generaly thought in Such ,, xxxxxx past
there would be a good prospect of help from the Trustees.
Mr Johnston Got Sterling 50 I have only to xxx that things
Has turned out so little to your Satisfaction ,, Watever is your
Honours del..menation will be fully aqu …. by …..
….. under God to look up to ….. yourself and as I am
advanced in life not fit for much ……. would wish to cast myself
upon your care it would be esteemed a singular favour
could I know the result as it would be … for my future oper
ations and perhaps in my staying or leaving this place
I am Respectfully
Your Most Humble Servant
In the above two letters, George refers to his son Joseph who was in the military. At the time of the 1895 letter Joseph was with a military unit that Sir James Grant had raised, and they were at “Hillsea Barracks” (near Porstmouth). He was with the 97th (Strathspey Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, 1794-1796. Detachments of this short-lived, rather sickly regiment (ill health seeming to feature heavily in their history) had to serve as marines, some to the West Indies. When the regiment was disbanded, many men transferred permanently to the Marines, others to the Black Watch. In Josephs case, he was either discharged or served his term or deserted (there is a record of a Joseph Crawford deserting around this time). In either case, by 1799 there are records of his children being born.
Britain was at war with France from 1793 to 1815, ending with the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. The records of the 97th show that a large number of men whose nationality is recorded as being a European country including many Swiss. In the following document, reference is made to the difficulty in raising the 97th immediately after raising his “fencible” regiment. The “fencible” regiment was made up of volunteers to train to defend Scotland against a potential invasion by the French. Most of the healthy farming youth from the Strathspey area joined, and that meant that there weren’t many left to join the 97th.
Sir James Grant, 8th Baronet
Grant was the son of Sir Ludovick Grant, 7th Baronet, and Lady Margaret Ogilvy, daughter of the statesman James Ogilvy, 1st Earl of Seafield. Born in Moray, Scotland, he was educated at Westminster School and Christ’s College, Cambridge. Grant succeeded his father as Member of Parliament for Elginshire in 1761, a seat he held until 1768. He married Jean Duff, daughter of Alexander Duff, in 1763.
In 1773 Grant succeeded his father as eighth Baronet of Colquhoun. From 1790 to 1795 he was MP for Banffshire. He also served as Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire. He died in February 1811, aged 72, and was succeeded by his son Lewis Alexander Grant, who later that year succeeded his second cousin as fifth Earl of Seafield.
A military historian in the 18th century wrote:
Ninety-seventh or Strathspey Regiment 1794
I shall have occasion to mention an early offer made by the Laird of Grant, in 1793, along with the Duke of Gordon, the Marchioness of Stafford, and the Earl of Breadalbane, to raise Fencible regiments in the Highlands. As soon as Sir James Grant’s Fencible regiment was embodied, he made further proposals to raise a regiment for general service. After the exertions recently made to complete the Grant Fencibles, this was an arduous undertaking.
The difficulty soon appeared. Though the corps was numerically completed to 1000 men within the stipulated time, all of them were not of that class which formed the Fencible corps. The Lieutenant-Colonel, Major, and others of the officers, were not natives of the North, and without local knowledge or influence; their commissions depending on their success in recruiting, their principal object was to procure a sufficient number capable of passing muster, and, as money in manufacturing towns effected what influence did in the North, many men were recruited whose character and constitutions could bear no comparison with men of regular and hardy habits raised in the agricultural districts. However, there was among them a number of very good men: the flank companies were excellent.
The regiment was inspected and embodied at Elgin by Major-General Sir Hector Munro, and numbered the 97th; and thus a private gentleman added 1300 soldiers to the force of the country, besides those raised by the officers in the Southern districts. From this, and several other instances at this period, we may, without going back to the days of chiefs and clansmen, estimate the great importance of family, territorial, and personal influence. When exercised by such men as the late Sir James Grant—honourable, humane, and hospitable in his private character, as well as a kind and generous landlord to a numerous and grateful tenantry—Great Britain may calculate on commanding the willing services of the youth of the mountains.
The 97th was ordered to the south of England in 1794, served a few months as marines on board Lord Howe’s fleet in the Channel. In autumn 1795, the men and officers were drafted into different regiments, and the two flank companies turned over to the 42d, when preparing to embark for the West Indies.
This date coincides with George’s letter to Sir James
Cromedale was celebrated in song as the site of the major battle between King Williams army and the supporters of James 11. That battle had been in 1690, and warfare and banditry was still common up till the final battle on Scottish soil when Bonnie Prince Charlie was defeated by the Duke of Cumberland in 1746 at Culloden (around 30km from Grantown).
The population declined slightly from the 1790’s to the 1830’s, with the total population being around 3,000 and 1,000 of these living in Grantown. So, Samuel Crawford probably lived in Grantown at a time that the town was new. All the buildings and amenities would have been of a good quality and life relatively comfortable. A writer at the time said “no village in the north of Scotland can compare with Grantown in neatness and regularity, and in beauty of situation”
Both Gaelic and English was spoken, however Samuel and his brothers and sister would have spoken English as they attended the local school. The boys studied reading, writing, accounts, Latin and French. Susanna studied writing and “the foundations of the various branches of female education”. All children received an education. Sir James Grant paid the salary of the teacher and provided his accommodation while additional funds came from church collections and the “Society for propagating Christian Knowledge”. Church collections also supported the poor, so that it seems that there were few reduced to begging.
The diet of the family would have been primarily potatoes and oates. Fifty percent of their diet would have been potatoes, supplemented with oates (porridge) and turnips. They would also have had barley and bere (a grain like barley), and small quantities of beef, mutton, pork and fowls bought from the town butcher and bread from one of the two bakeries. There was a town brewery and George Crawford could have frequented one or all of the three “public houses”. The brewery was established to try to keep the people from drinking “spiritous liquors” (whisky). The family might also have supplemented their diet with meat or fish, obtained by poaching, which was still fairly common.
Being a fairly substantial town, it is likely that there would have been regular dances and entertainment. Bagpipe and Fiddle (violin) music were extremely popular and widespread in Scotland. Robbie Burns put hundreds of his own and traditional poetry to music and published them, so that it was the most widespread form of entertainment at the time. There would have been performances by traveling musicians as well as locals performing in the “public houses” for their own entertainment.
The earliest printed collection of non-religious music in Scotland was published in 1662 by John Forbes of Aberdeen. His work was followed by Playford’s Original Scotch Tunes in 1700; David Herd’s Ancient and modern Scottish songs, heroic ballads, etc. in 1776; and the most important collection of all, The Scots Musical Museum which was published in six volumes between 1787 and 1803 by James Johnson and Robert Burns. This also included new words by Burns, who has since become known as Scotland’s national bard.
The fiddles themselves generally carry stories and history with them, and where one received one’s fiddle and how is important. Thus, when the gypsy fiddler, James MacPherson, from the North-East, offered his fiddle to the crowd before being hanged in Banff in 1700, and no-one accepted it, whereupon he smashed it, he was doing much more than destroying the fiddle itself. The destruction of the fiddle is sacrilegious as far as fiddlers are concerned and mirrors James MacPherson’s own fate. By his action, MacPherson risked putting an end to all the legends and lore that would be passed on with the instrument.
The 18th century in Moray
Trade with the continent was increasing now, through the ports of Findhorn and Garmouth, with imports of wine and other luxury goods, and the export of grain, salmon, hides and timber from Moray. By 1703 the contracts were being signed for the building of the new harbour of Elgin at Lossiemouth. Many changes to the structures of the local councils and other aspects of administration were also under way at this time, and there was a great deal of new building work going on in the Burghs. Rural life remained little changed, with the “but and ben” still providing the majority of the accommodation for the agricultural workers. A “but and ben” was a two roomed house; an outer room “but’ for the kitchen and an inner room “ben” for sleeping.
At the time of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 the Earl of Mar was in control of the area, but the effects on the local people were small, apart from the inconvenience of the military garrisons in the area.
In the 1720’s new schoolmasters and schoolmistresses were appointed in many parishes, and education became within reach of many of the less advantaged classes. Communications were being improved, with extensive work on roads and bridges throughout the county. The Rebellion of 1745-46 caused considerable disturbance, especially to the landowners whose crops and beasts were requisitioned, and the area was divided between the Government and the Jacobite camps, although in actual terms very few Moray men went to fight on the Jacobite side.
Major disputes occurred between various factions of the councils in the Burghs during the middle part of the 18th century, but eventually things settled down and life returned to normal. The state of the towns continued to raise concern, and various plans were put into action to remove the dung-heaps from the main streets and generally to tidy up the towns and villages.
In general the 18th century was not one of much progress, and it closed with severe food shortages bordering on a famine. The trade in the Burghs had gradually declined following the Act of Union in 1707, and the foreign trade almost ceased due to the punitive fiscal laws of England now having been extended to Scotland as well. A developing contraband trade succeeded this. Many of the more prominent old families had left the towns, and there was a gradual decline in population across Moray. To quote Dr. Robert Young, “In short, it [the 18th century] was a time of inactivity and depression”