Category Archives: Crawford Family

The social history of the Crawford family. Beginning with George Crawford in Grantown, Scotland and tracing his family in Australia, Scotland, Ireland, the U.S.A. and South Africa.

George Crawford and Family Grantown on Spey 1770 to 1799

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.



Sir James


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

Sir James

Your most obedient servant

Geo Crawford

Grantown Bleachfield

September 15   1795



Elgin Bleachfield    September 12th 1801



Sir James


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

                                           Sir James

Your Most Humble Servant

Geo Crawford


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

James Grant of Grant, John Mytton, the Hon. Thomas Robinson, and Thomas Wynne by Nathaniel Dance-Holland, ca. 1760.


Sir James Grant of Grant, 8th Baronet FRSE FSA(Scot) (19 May 1738, Moray – 18 February 1811, Castle Grant), was a Scottish landowner and politician.[1]

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-seventhorStrathspey Regiment1794

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”

A Crawford Family

Preface to 1st edition

On Anzac Day in 2007, I knew of no living Crawford relatives. I knew of cousins; the children of my fathers sisters, but no Crawford cousins.

I had begun researching my Crawford family history after a holiday in Scotland in 2004.  While there, we visited Elgin.  My mother had visited Elgin in 1979; a sort of pilgrimage after my father died.  He had always wanted to visit the town from which his family had emigrated to Australia.

My father died in 1977 at the age of 56, when I was 30.  He had left me with many wonderful memories, a little knowledge of our heritage, a collection of books (the fly leaves or inside covers inscribed with the name of his father, Percival Crawford, at various addresses), a collection of brass miners scales, binoculars and telescope, old board games from the 1900’s, education certificates and a box of photographs and newspaper clippings.

Every few years or so, I would read the newspaper clipping from The Maryborough Standard of May 1875 in which there was a lengthy report of the marriage of my Great Grandfather Robert Crawford to Ann Elizabeth Neale.  There was also the clipping from an unknown paper about the opening of the St Andrews War memorial Hospital in Brisbane by Harold Crawford.

In 2005, all enthused after our Elgin visit, I used the Maryborough Standard clipping to locate their wedding certificate.  It listed Robert’s parents as being James and Mary Crawford.  That led me back to their wedding in Geelong in March 1854.  Their wedding certificate recorded James as having been born in Belfast in 1830 and his father as being Robert Crawford.  Now that was a hell of a shock.  What was the family lore about Elgin?  Irish not Scottish?  There had to be a mistake.

If you know anything about genealogical research, you will appreciate that the Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) lead the way in recording births deaths and marriages internationally.  From their website, I located James as having been born in Elgin.  It seems that he left home in his early 20’s and settled in Belfast; listed as a “marine” or “mariner” on his son’s wedding certificate.

By now, you will be having trouble with the repetition of James and Robert as the Christian names of the first born into each generation. Hopefully it won’t be as confusing when you come to read the rest of this family history.  You will also have to cope with the name John Hamilton Crawford, passed down in Australia, Ireland, Scotland and the U.S.

Further research lead me back to Robert’s parents, brothers and sister in Elgin and to his grandfather in Inverallan.  That took me back to around 1780 and try as I might, I can’t prove the birth or marriage details of Samuel prior to moving to Grantown in the 1780.  There are several possibilities and I will outline them in the 1st Chapter.

Returning to the Australian family, the Mitchell Libraries genealogical resources allowed me to locate the births of most of the children of Robert and Ann Crawford’s children, including my grandfather Percival Crawford.  Unfortunately, there were no recorded marriages or deaths for any of them, nor for Robert and Ann.  All but my grandfather and father seemed to have vanished.

I spent fruitless hours googling.  I must have spent 40 hours or more, every month for six months or more just googling and trolling through genealogical records without finding any thread to tease out.  In the end, I joined “Genes Reunited” where I posted my family “pine” tree.  I then put it all aside.

Then came Anzac Day 2007.  I had heard that a large number of military records had been scanned and collected by the National Archive.  Previous searches had simply recorded names, place where they had enlisted and next of kin.  Now there were full records.  I started with my father and grandfather.  Pages took forever to download.  The day was dragging on.  I decided to see if any of my grandfather’s brothers had also enlisted in WW1.  Amazing, there was Robert Crawford (the 3rd?)  and Harold Crawford.  What about 2nd World War?  There were Robert’s sons and my father and his brother, Brian.

At days end, I started to actually read some of the documents.  My grandfather Percy listed his next of kin as “Robert Crawford of Carbine Mine, Kalgoorlie”.  What was that all about?  The family address was Mont Albert, Melbourne.  Then there were his brothers, Harold and Robert.  Both had served in Palestine with Light Horse companies.  Robert’s records listed three different Sydney addresses between his discharge and the mid 1920’s., so dad had had an uncle living in Sydney and possible cousins as well.  Whenever I had asked him about family, he had always responded that they were in Victoria.  He never suggested any family in any other state.

A month later, I was attending a conference on the Gold Coast.  During a break, on the spur of the moment, I telephoned the St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital in Brisbane.  I explained who I was and that I had a newspaper clipping from the 1950’s announcing the opening of the hospital by Dr Harold Crawford who I thought might be my great Uncle.  I explained that I understood that with privacy laws they couldn’t give me any information, however if they knew of any descendants, could they contact them with my name and phone number and ask if they could contact me.

Not 10 minutes later, the hospital called me back with the name Margaret Crawford and her phone number.  Several days later I drove up to Buderim to meet Margaret and Douglas Chapman and then to Coorparoo to meet Halle and Don Moreton.  Harold Crawford’s two daughters provided me with the entire Queensland branch of the family tree.

Both Margaret and Halle also suggested that the family story regarding their grandfather Robert was that he was an alchoholic who had left his family in Victoria and gone off to the goldfields of W.A. where he had another equally large second family.

Halle provided the biggest breakthrough in bringing the entire international family together.  I had told her that I couldn’t find any trace of her grandfather’s parents or brothers either dying or marrying in Australia and that I was beginning to think that they might have returned to Scotland or Ireland.  Suddenly Halle remembered that she had been given a page from the family bible by an Aunt she had visited in Comrie, Scotland in 1950.  She had saved the page in a photo album.  Ten minutes of searching and she produced the page in which a family member had recorded the births and deaths of the Australian Crawfords; and there were James and John Hamilton dying in Hopeman (Scotland) and Bradford (England) respectively.  So Robert’s two brothers had moved to Scotland and England.

Now that I had the entire Queensland branch, I returned to trying to track down Robert Crawford in Western Australia.  Various goldfields websites lead me to the marriage of James Miller Crawford, the birth of his son Robert Crawford and a Dept. of Agriculture report prepared in the 1990’s in which Ken Crawford was quoted about the use of Rowles Lagoon in providing water to the Carbine mine and grazing property.  I decided that if I could track down Ken, then he would fill me in on the rest of the W.A. family.  I spent months searching for Ken.

In the meantime, I received an email via. Genes Reunited from Suzanne Matzelburg.  She had posted her family tree and it had matched my tree for a number of Crawfords.  We exchanged emails and a phone call and established that she was a member of the Robert Crawford family; my grandfather’s brother.  So, now we had the entire New South Wales families accounted for.

At the same time, an Elgin Library website produced a link to the local newspapers archived obituaries, and there was a record for a John Hamilton Crawford, son of James Crawford of Hopeman.  Amazingly it was a 1970 obituary and it recorded that John Hamilton Crawford had lived in New York from 1932 till his death in 1970, so we now had an American branch of the family to track down.

Again I was googling “John Hamilton Crawford’s” and “James Crawford’s”, and I came across obituaries for John Hamilton Crawford II and wedding notices for John Hamilton Crawford III.  Pursuing John Hamilton Crawford III lead me to his email address at a bank in New York, but no response.  James Crawford repeatedly led to an obituary for James Leslie Crawford killed in the attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001.  I realized that his father was the same Jim Crawford as the brother of John Hamilton Crawford II, so began googling for him.  Eventually I tracked him down and phoned him to confirm that we were cousins.  I wasn’t sure if he realized that his grandfather had been born in Australia and that he had a growing number of relatives here.  Not only was he aware, but he had travelled to Maryborough, Victoria, and had tried to locate his Australian relatives.  He also told me of his cousin John Hamilton Crawford in Edinburgh.  John was the son of James Archibald Crawford, John Hamilton Crawford’s brother.

Jim gave me John’s phone number and I surprised them one Sunday morning.  John and Ann had lived briefly in Perth in the 1970’s and had also made the pilgrimage to Maryborough in search of us Australian Crawfords.  John sent me a number of letters, telegrams and photographs which filled in many gaps and a death certificate from Deniliquin Hospital that revealed that James brother (another Robert) had followed him to Australia but unfortunately died in his early 30’s.

Western Australia remained the missing branch.  After another couple of weeks of retracing all the previous searches, I was desperate.  What else could I do but write to the Gold Fields Historical Society.  Was there any possibility that they might have any knowledge of a Ken Crawford who had lived at the Carbine Mine?  Of course she knew Ken; she had taught him in the 50’s and her mother had taught his father in the 20’s.  Not only could she give me his address at Esperance but she could send me around 20 photographs from 1900 to the 1930’s of the Crawford family, their mine and grazing property. I phoned Ken and he told me that his brother Errol had prepared a family tree and that I should get in touch with him.

I emailed John Crawford in Edinburgh to let him know about the breakthrough.  We had three new cousins, Errol a lawyer (as is John), Ken a grazier and Alan an accountant.  That would be Errol Crawford whom John had met in Perth in the 1970’s and Alan with whom one of his close friends had worked.

When Errol sent across the West Australian tree, I had finally completed the entire tree.  Well, almost.  I am still to trace some of the female lines, although as you can see from the tree, we are making some progress.

The final branch came has a great surprise.  Remember the Queensland cousins had said that they believed that Robert Crawford had another family in W.A.?  They at least had me searching for this family and for some time I had records of a Mary Jane Chenery being a witness at the wedding of James Miller Crawford in W.A.  It was only when I decided to add Robert’s wife Ann Elizabeth Crawford’s family (the Neales) to the tree that the penny dropped.  Robert’s brother in law was William Neale and he had married a Mary Jane Chenery.  When I found the birth records for William and Mary Neale’s children, there was a Stanley Crawford Neale.  William had died and Robert fathered two sons with Mary Chenery in Victoria and a daughter in W.A.

With a largely complete family tree, I decided to write a family history.

Much of the information we can find about out antecedents is limited to birth, marriage and death records.  We know where they lived, when and where they were born, what they did for a living, who they married, who their children were, occasionally what they inherited or what they owned etc. etc.  So far, we don’t have much to tell us about their lives.  In writing this family history, I have tried to reconstruct the place and times in which they lived and imagine their experience of those times and places.  In doing so, I have used just a couple of principles to provide the parameters.  I have always believed that for the most part, mankind hasn’t changed much in 2000 years or so.

Technology or science has changed and our use of it, but we are still much the same in terms of our thought processes, our relationships, our morality or ethics.  We wear different clothes, fashions change, materials change.  We play different games and enjoy different entertainments, but our sense of fun is still much the same.  We engage in business and careers as seriously and with as much commitment and energy as we always have.  We love as passionately and wantonly as always.  We have a sense of history and our place in the modern world.  Every age in which our antecedents lived was modern history to them.  So much was new and exciting for them as it is for us.

I’ve tried to research the life and times in which they lived and imagine their experience of those lives and times.  The other principle I’ve applied, particularly to their early lives, is that most people live in the present and respond to what’s happening and likely to happen in the now.  By this I mean, children and youths don’t tend to have a connection with the past.  Samuel Crawford may have been born only 25 years or so after Culloden, but I can’t help but feel that it would have been ancient history to him.  I don’t think he would have had any real idea what it was like to live in a middle or working class society that was at the constant mercy of the aristocracy or a bandit class, or even a clan that could interrupt the day to day fun of a child or challenges of just getting through life as an adult.  He did live at a time when Scotland was playing a major part in the launching of the industrial revolution, when farming was undergoing major changes, people were moving from farms to towns, villages and cities, when they were coming to terms with rapid change.

Around 1900 when my Great Great Grandfather George Coleman Robinson was in his 70’s, he wrote his memoirs.  He did this at the pleading of his grandchildren.  What he wrote was a wonderfully personal memoir of his life growing up in England, his voyages to Australia (he was shipwrecked on the first voyage), life on the goldfields of Victoria and his later years in Melbourne. I hope to recapture his style of writing and to bring our “Crawfords” back to us.

Preface to 2nd edition, 2017

There have been quite a few changes to the 1st edition.  John Hamilton Crawford in Edinburgh wasn’t sure about a number of things in the 1st edition and emailed me corrections (we also spent some more time together in Ireland where we discussed them).  I had also made a number of assumptions about where and what might have happened to a number of our ancestors.  Hopefully I have corrected all these and there are certainly less assumptions, as recent research has cleared up many of them.  The only speculations remaining are in a new 1st chapter which covers the origins of our Crawfords prior to Grantown in the late 1700’s.

It wasn’t until I made the decision to retire in late 2016 that I returned to some solid research.  I tracked down Karen Williams (ne Crawford) in Sydney.  Her Grandfather was Robert William Crawford, my Grandfathers brother.  She had been researching the family and told me that she had found a record of a court case in Ireland regarding the will and estate of Robert Crawford in the late 1800’s that wasn’t resolved until the early 1900’s.

In researching this court case, I also came across a number of newspaper articles about the family in Ireland.  This has meant that we now know more about some of the individuals, including another John Hamilton Crawford, the earliest with this name, and where and how they lived.

I also spent a lot of time in researching the origin of the name John Hamilton Crawford.  Every John has this middle name and for some strange unknown reason, so did my father and now myself, my sons and my grandson.  In many cases, the middle name is taken from the wife’s maiden name and on some occasions to honour a family respected by your family.  On my mother’s father’s side of the family we have generations of Thomas Colston Coggan.  The “Colston” was adopted in honour of the greatest benefactor, Edward Colston, of Bristol where they lived.

On the assumption that it might be due to the marriage of a Crawford to a Hamilton female, in the 1700’s, I researched all marriage records available and settled on a family in Lanarkshire.  I found that a James Crawford married a Helen Hamilton and had a son George born around the 1750’s.  George’s grandfather was also a James Crawford and was a weaver.  I therefore considered that it was a possible link, assuming that when Sir James Grant established a linen manufacturing business at Grantown, that he would have advertised for experienced people to settle in Grantown, and as the area around Glasgow had an established linen industry, George might have responded.

I was happy with my speculation and ready to move on when I contacted the Grantown Museum again.  I hadn’t been in touch for around 5 years and was surprised when I provided them with details of George Crawford’s letters to Sir James Grant and they responded with the news that they believed he had been recruited from Ireland.

I had wondered how Robert Crawford who died in Ireland in 1869, (having moved from Elgin, Scotland when he was around 20 y.o.) had accumulated so much land around Ballymena and Magherafelt.  I had written to the few Crawfords still living near these towns some months ago.  Non had any knowledge of Robert or his son John Hamilton Crawford who died in 1916 in Magherafelt.

Because there are so few BD&M records for Ireland, I resorted to researching linen manufacturing in and around Magherafelt and Ballymena.  I had already established that the Crawford land at Ballymena was used for growing flax and therefore a connection with the linen industry.  I now discovered a document written in 1916 and digitized in 2010 called “History of Magherafelt”.  In this document it was recorded that in 1760 there were three Crawfords living in Magherafelt Parish; Samuel, James and Robert.  Three names common to our family and therefore the possibility that one of Samuels sons was George who moved to Grantown where he had a son named Samuel who moved to Elgin and in turn had a son called Robert who moved to Ireland around 1820 and eventually lived in Magherafelt where he died in 1869 owning 651 acres of land.

Further research uncovered a book called “The Linen Houses of the Bann Valley: The Story of their Families” by Kathleen Rankin.  In it, there is a chapter about Ballievey House, established by a George Crawford in 1769.  Through marriage the firm of Crawford & Lindsay was created in 1822 and continued till 1919.  Ballydown Weaving Co and bleach works.  Perhaps connected with our Crawfords.

It is still a possibility that the Crawfords originated in Lanarkshire and moved to Ireland in the early 1700’s.  That’s for someone else to research.  For now, I am happy to start our family history with Samuel Crawford in Magherafelt from 1760.

Finally, in 2017 I took my DNA analysis with  While this didn’t result in any direct matches with a “Crawford”, it did lead to me connecting with cousins from the “Comrie” line … the Millers.  Many of them have been in Canada and the U.S. for several generations, and they resolved several questions about James and John Hamilton who were taken from Australia to Scotland in the 1870’s.

The DNA matching also connected me to our cousins, descended from Mary Elizabeth Crawford. She was the eldest of Robert Crawford and Ann Neil, born in Maryborough in 1876.  This leaves only the mysterious younger sister, Catherine Crawford to find.


Some years ago, I wrote a family history about the Crawfords from Grantown and Elgin and their descendants in Australia, Scotland and the U.S.A..  Since then, I have continued my research and also discovered a significant link to Ireland and much more about their lives.  I am therefore revising this history adding all the additional information and including much more about the times in which they lived, the social history of our family.

I will be posting one person at a time, starting with George Crawfords possible origin in Northern Ireland in the mid 1700’s.