A "craig" in Scots is a cliff or an outcrop of rock (Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde being a prime example). It followed that someone with the name Craig came from a place with that name or perhaps just a well-known crag of rock. The name is thus found across Scotland and was never identified with one specific area.
Landowners whose name was the same as the area they came from, were sometimes described as being "of that Ilk" - of the same name. Usually that title is applicable to only one person but in the 15th century were three "Craigs of that Ilk" in different parts of Scotland.
Johannes de Crag, a burgess of Aberdeen, held land at Rubislaw and his family and heirs occupied Craigston Castle at Kildrummy for over 250 years.
Richarde de Crag was the vicar at St Mary's in Dundee in the 1550s and John Craig at St Andrews University was imprisoned during the early stages of the Reformation for adopting Protestantism. He was sentenced to death but escaped and joined John Knox and survived to see the Reformation triumph.
Sir Thomas Craig of Riccarton was a renowned writer on feudal law and his work "Jus Feudale" published in 1655 is still used by Scottish lawyers. Sir Thomas was admired by King James VI> and was one of the Scots invited to attend the coronation of King James as king of England in Westminster Abbey in 1603.
The winner of the design for Edinburgh's New Town in 1766 was James Craig. Although his plans were modified, it is thanks to him that Edinburgh's 18th century Georgian architecture can be seen in all its splendour.
Sir James Craig took his family and followers to Ulster in 1610 during what was known as the "Plantations". A descendant, another James Craig, was a millionaire Irish whiskey distiller who organised the Ulster Volunteer Force against Home Rule for Ireland in the 1920s. He then became the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. He later became Viscount Craigavaon and the new town of Craigavon in County Armagh was named after him.
The Craig clan motto is "Vive Deo et Vives" which means "Live for God and you shall have life".
Craig was the 55th most frequent surname at the General Register Office> in 1995 but apart from descendants of those who emigrated from Scotland, is relatively unknown elsewhere.
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