The family of Crawford is believed to be of Norman origin, taking their name from the barony of the same name in Lanarkshire. The early names of the principal families are all Norman, although some scholars have asserted an Anglo–Danish ancestry. According to tradition, Reginald, son of the powerful Earl of Richmond, was one of the Norman knights established by David I. The Crawfords feature in the legendary incident which led to the foundation of the Abbey of Holyrood when the king’s life was saved from a stag in 1127: Sir Gregan Crawford, together with divine intervention, was instrumental in saving his royal master’s life. In 1296, Sir Reginald Crawford was appointed sheriff of Ayr. His sister, Margaret, married Wallace of Elderslie, and was the mother of Sir William Wallace, the great Scottish patriot. The Crawfords rallied to their cousin in his struggle against English domination. The family of the sheriff of Ayr also produced the main branches of this family, who were styled ‘of Auchinames’ and ‘of Craufurdland’. The chiefly family is generally reckoned to be that of Auchinames in Renfrewshire, who received a grant of their lands from Robert the Bruce in 1320. Sir William Crawfurd of Craufurdland was one of the bravest men of his time and was knighted by James I. He fought with the Scots forces in the service of King Charles VII of France and was wounded at the siege of Creyult in Burgundy in 1423. John of Craufurdland followed James IV to the sorry field of Flodden where, in company with much of the flower of Scottish chivalry, he died. The Lairds of Auchinames, too, fell at Flodden and, a generation later, at Pinkie in 1547. Sir Thomas Craufurd of Jordanhill also fought at the Battle of Pinkie but was luckier than his cousin, being captured and later ransomed. He became a member of Lord Darnley’s household when he married Mary, Queen of Scots. In 1569 he denounced Maitland of Lethington and Sir James Balfour as being the true conspirators in the murder of Lord Darnley. He did not, however, sympathise with the plight of the deposed queen, and in 1570 captured Dumbarton Castle from her forces with just one hundred and fifty men. The splendid Castle of Craufurdland was much extended by the sixteenth Laird in the seventeenth century. John Walkinshaw Craufurd, the twentieth Laird, was a distinguished soldier who, after entering the army at an early age, rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and was present at the victory of Dettingen in 1743, also distinguishing himself at Fontenoy two years later. Despite his faithful service to the house of Hanover, he was an intimate and faithful friend of the Jacobite Earl of Kilmarnock, and he accompanied his ill-fated friend to the scaffold as a last act of comradeship. He received the earl’s severed head and attended to the solemnities of his funeral. This act of charity resulted in his name’s being placed at the bottom of the army list. However, he restored his fortunes and in 1761 he was appointed falconer to the king. Despite his devotion to his friends, he did not seem to share a similar affinity for his family. He died in 1793 and in his will left his entire estates to Sir Thomas Coutts, the eminent banker. The deed was, however, contested by Elizabeth Craufurd, who eventually won her case in the House of Lords in 1806, and the ancient estates passed back to the rightful heir. This branch of the family thereafter united the houses of Houison and Craufurd, and they still live at Craufurdland. Sir Alexander Craufurd of Kilbirnie was created a baronet in June 1781. His son, Robert, commanded the Light Division in the Peninsular War (1808–14) and died in 1812, leading his troops on an assault on the fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo. A grateful nation erected a monument to him in St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Hugh Crawfurd, twenty-first Laird of Auchinames, emigrated this century to Canada, having sold the ancient family lands.

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