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Craig family

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 Part 3: Andrew Craig (1805 - 1872)


Army career

Andrew Craig was the youngest child of Robert Craig Jr and Bethia Donald. He was born 05 November 1805 in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, and like his parents became a weaver. He travelled to North America in 1821, when he would have been only 15, possibly in the company of his second oldest brother, Robert. However he returned to Scotland that same year. Like his father before him, he enlisted in the British Army (with the 2nd Royal North British Regiment of Dragoons) in Glasgow, 14 December 1825, aged 18. ('North British' was a name used to denote Scotland. The regiment has since amalgamated and been renamed the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards [Carabiniers and Greys]). 

He served in the army as a private for ten years and 57 days and remained in the British Isles for the duration as it was a time of relative peace. In early 1826, Andrew and his regiment went to Ireland. It is known that they were at Ballincollig Barracks, very near Cork City, from June 1829 to April 1830. Ballincollig was the site of the Gunpowder Mills and regiments stationed there were generally involved in security for the gunpowder, either its storage or transport. In May they embarked for Bristol and marched to Dorchester, Weymouth and Trowbridge where they were quartered. In November of that year they moved on to Windsor and Princess Adelaide (wife of the future King William IV) inspected some of the troops at Pimlico (which might have included Andrew).

The regiment continued to move frequently throughout the United Kingdom. In 1831 they were in Brighton, Chichester and Warley, the following year Birmingham, then York in 1833, Piershill Barracks in Edinburgh 1834, and then Leeds in 1835. As a result of these constant moves, Andrew's children were all born in different locations!


Marriage to Helen Reid

Andrew married three times during his life. His first wife was Helen Reid (1806 - 1846), born in Paisley 07 June 1806 and baptised 22 days later. Her parents were James Reid, a soldier, and Katharine Paisley and she had an older sister, Ann. Nothing else is known of the family. Helen was a weaver and it would be very likely her whole family weaved, too. It is not certain when Andrew and Helen married but one suggestion (though there is no evidence as yet) is March 1830 in Paisley. However, as their eldest child was born only a month later in Ireland, this does not seem so likely. Together Andrew and Helen had seven children: Helen, James, Robert, Elizabeth Catherine, Andrew William, Peter Alexander and Margaret Ann.


Coastguard career

Andrew's character was described as 'good' by his commanding officer, Major C. Wyndham, and he was discharged 09 February 1836 as he had volunteered to serve in the Mounted Coast Guards [sic]. The coastguard, as we know it, had been formed in 1822 from an amalgamation of different entities which had over the centuries been responsible for collecting duty on imported goods, preventing smuggling and giving assistance to wrecked ships. Most members would come from the Royal Navy, unlike Andrew. He was nominated 04 February 1836 and appointed to Lydd, Kent, 16 February as a 'private'. It seemed important for the authorities to know the weight of every man and Andrew was duly noted as 11 stone 2! He had two examinations in his first year, in May and August, and was then regarded as qualified.

Coastguards were not supposed to become well acquainted with the locals (perhaps for fear they might turn a blind eye to nefarious activities by their relatives or neighbours!) so they would only spend a couple of years at each station. Andrew was removed to Fort Moncrief (just south of Hythe, Kent) 03 March 1937 and then to Ryde on the Isle of Wight 26 January 1839. However, within a few days he was removed to St Lawrence on the other side of the island. It was here that he was described as a 'riding officer', meaning he would ride on his horse around his designated part of the coast, on the lookout for smuggling activities. Andrew stayed there until 10 March 1840 when he was removed to Bridlington, Yorkshire. On Boxing Day that year he went to Sand-le-Mere, further south along the coastline.

Unusually, Andrew spent seven years in this area of Yorkshire between the River Humber and the North Sea, known as Holderness. He was described as 'good of service' so perhaps he was regarded as an asset and not likely to become corrupted. Certainly, this period in his career coincided with a reduction in traditional smuggling thanks to the major fall in import duties and the government's free trade policy. The coastguard was now finding itself more and more helping people in distress at sea rather than chasing down smugglers.

By 1841, the family was living in the hamlet of Dimlington, just north of Easington. Sadly Dimlington no longer exists: like other nearby villages, coastal erosion has seen it lost to the sea. The family would not have been living in a designated coastguard house as Andrew's successors would in the future, but in a local house. It is possible that when they lived near Hythe, they might have been accommodated in hulks (like prisoners had been!).


Marriage to Martha Carrick

Helen died 26 April 1846, aged 39, and was buried at All Saints' Church, Easington. [1] The cause of death was listed as 'decay of the womb' (though what this means in modern terminology is unclear). Andrew remarried Martha Carrick (c1808 - 1854) 06 November 1846. Martha had been born in Easington c1808, one of the eight children of agricultural labourer, Thomas Carrick and Charlotte Harrison. She was a servant at the time of her marriage and became a first-time mother four years later, aged 42, to Thomas Harrison.

Andrew was removed to Priory Station, Hastings, Kent, 11 November 1847. However in December he apparently became unwell and went on sick pay in January 1848 (two-thirds of his full pay). He was discharged because of heath problems 20 May 1848 and had applied for a superannuation allowance - a retirement pension. Early retirement in the coastguard was the norm and the British navy had a long history of providing pensions, which the coastguard seemingly adopted. However, for most other working people there would be no pension until the Old Age Pension Act 1908 which gave people over 70 a weekly pension of 5 shillings a week (about £14 in today’s money). Previously, the elderly and infirm had to rely on the generosity of their family to support them or face the ignominy of going to the workhouse, where conditions were deliberately awful to discourage all but the most desperate.

While waiting for his allowance, Andrew had no means to support his family and in June 1848 had had to apply to the Board of Guardians for parish relief. The family was lucky to be allowed to continue living in coastguard quarters despite Andrew no longer performing any duties. On June 16 he applied for leave of absence to go visit a friend (possibly to ask for some money) but the lieutenant in charge of their station needed to forward on the request and refused to let Andrew go. When Andrew said he meant to go, the lieutenant ordered him to his room and told the other men to load their muskets. Andrew managed to get out and went to the Mayor to ask for help. However, when he returned in the company of a police inspector, Andrew was forcibly locked in a room. He was let out later that day and he bought a civil case of assault and illegal imprisonment against the lieutenant and one of his men. 'The Sussex Advertiser' of 18 July reported the case in great detail and the bench found for Andrew and imposed a fine against the lieutenant and the other man involved.

The allowance of £18 (£1000) for one year came through but that was not the end of Andrew's troubles. He had made several trips across the Atlantic but as he never settled anywhere until 1854/5, the purpose for these trips is unclear. On 13 August 1848, he left London on board the 'John Bull' for Quebec. There is no record of who accompanied him but certainly his youngest daughter, Margaret, did. Tragically she died during the voyage and was buried at sea. The following year, Andrew returned to England but then made another round-trip in 1851. [2]

When a coastguard retired, they tended to settle at their last posting. Andrew and his family returned to Yorkshire, however, and the family was living at 2 Vallance Place, Blanket Row, Kingston-Upon-Hull by December 1850. The area was located very near the Humber Docks and is now industrial land (the house where the Craigs lived was almost certainly destroyed by bombing raids during WWII). Andrew described himself as a 'labourer' but he might also still have received some sort of pension. The family had a maidservant and had room to take in a number of lodgers. However, financial troubles still preyed on Andrew. In February 1852, he appeared as one of two defendants in Hull County Court in an action to recover rent. 'The Hull Packet and East Riding Times' of 06 February reported that the verdict went against Andrew and he was obliged to pay the amount. More troubling for the family were the accounts of domestic abuse, reported in the same newspaper 14 May 1852:

Hull Police Court, Saturday, before Messrs, J.L Smith, JG Egginton, T Newmarch, and G Cookman.

AN UNHAPPY WIFE – Andrew Craig was charged by his wife, a pallid emaciated looking creature, with having treated her in a violent and brutal manner. Some months back he had been before the court on a similar charge, and, at the recommendation of the magistrates, they had arranged to separate, as the only means of securing comfort, or at least safety, to the miserable wife. Since then he had persuaded her to go back, but speedily renewed his former series of unkindnesses. He had beaten her and drenched her with water, he had turned her out of doors when the weather was inclement, and had consummated his cruelty by setting fire to her bed and selling the furniture of the house. Some of the neighbours bore testimony to the truth of the poor woman’s statement. The man, who it appears, has a pension of 7s. [approx. £20 today] a week and sometimes earns 15s. [£45] a week at his trade, attempted to excuse his conduct by declaiming on his wife’s extravagance. There did not appear, however, to be any grounds for his assertions on this head, and he was ordered to find two sureties in five pounds each, and to enter into his own recognizance of ten pounds to keep the peace for six months.


Emigration to Canada

A new life in Canada seemed to be the solution for the Craig family's many problems. Andrew's final journey was in 1854 and again it was marred by tragedy: Martha died of cholera in Montreal, 11 July 1854, aged 46. 'The New York Times' published an extract from a letter written two days after Martha's death by an unknown correspondent in Montreal:

The deaths from cholera on Tuesday [11 July] were 60, of whom 38 were Catholics and 22 Protestants... The weather has been very favourable, but the unusually long passages of the emigrant ships have caused a great deal of sickness amongst that class, the deaths being confined to them entirely.

The Montreal newspapers did not widely report these deaths from cholera (perhaps so as not to cause panic) and to date no official record has been found confirming Martha's death or burial. Any ships arriving on the east coast of Canada had to declare if they had certain infectious diseases on board. Passengers then had to spend time on the quarantine station of Grosse Île, just east of Quebec City. The previous year, thousands of Irish fleeing the potato famine died en route to Canada or on the island from typhus. Those passengers who looked healthy (checks were not very thorough) were allowed to continue into Canada. As Martha died in Montreal, it is assumed she contracted cholera towards the end of the voyage but showed no signs, dying soon after disembarking in Montreal.


Marriage to Frances Ackland and later life

Widowed once again and with a young son, Andrew settled permanently in Galt (now part of Cambridge), Ontario, in 1855 (then known as 'Canada West'). He then appeared to have married Frances Ackland (c1811 - 1893), possibly soon after arriving, though no marriage record has been found to prove this (and indeed Andrew's son James never acknowledged her existence in his family history notes). However, she appeared on subsequent Canadian census records as Andrew's wife or as living with his son, Robert. Frances was born in Ireland c1810.

The family lived in a single storey log house and Andrew farmed and/or was a labourer.  Living with the family was Susannah Willis, born 1836 in Ontario. It is not clear why she lived with them as she was not a relation and not known to be a servant (she was a dressmaker at one point). However, she lived with them for more than a decade and when she married, Thomas Harrison Craig was one of the witnesses.

Andrew died 05 December 1872, aged 67, in Sandy Knowe, Galt, from chronic liver disease. He was buried in grave 21-19, Trinity Anglican Cemetery, Galt. The headstone for him is no longer legible but fortunately it was transcribed many years ago: "Andrew Craig died 6th Dec. 1872 in the 68th year of his age He was a native of Paisley, Scotland and served his country for 23 years in the Scots Grey's Cavalry, and British Mounted Coast Guard Services".

Frances lived with stepson Robert in nearby Hamilton and then sometime before 1891 she moved back to Galt to live with Susannah and her husband James Scott. She died there aged 83, 19 July 1893 after suffering from chronic bronchitis for two years and was buried next to Andrew in grave 21-18. Her headstone is also illegible but a transcription also exists: "Aunt, In memory of Frances Ackland wife of Andrew Craig died July 19, 1893 aged 83 years". [3]


Children of Andrew and Helen

Helen (or Ellen) (1830 - ?) was born 04 April 1830 in Ballincollig, County Cork, Ireland. Within a month of her birth, her father's regiment embarked for England. After the 1841 England Census, in which she appears aged eleven with her family in Yorkshire, there is no record of her. It is possible she emigrated to Canada (maybe with her father in 1854) and married William Gordon, a shoemaker, but there is no proof it is the same person.


More information about James (1832 - 1910) appears in Part 4.


Robert (1834 - 1897) was born 06 July 1834 at Piershill, Edinburgh, Scotland where his father's regiment was quartered. At age 17 he was a messenger and living at home in Hull. It is assumed he emigrated to Canada in 1854 with his father (and possibly some other siblings). On 12 August 1858, Robert married Jane McConnell in Hamilton, Ontario. [4] Jane was born in Ontario (exact whereabouts unknown) in 1835. Their house on the western city limits of Hamilton was a two-storey frame house with some land attached, amounting to about 40m². The 1861 census return which revealed this information, appeared to have been completed by Robert himself and provided an interesting insight into his religious beliefs! In the column marked 'Religion', Robert wrote: 'I don't Believe in cant. I Believe there is a God but no Hell. But There is a reward for Venture. [sic]' The enumerator then crossed this proclamation out and wrote 'C of E'! (In subsequent records, Robert was listed simply as 'Church of England'.)

The family lived in the vicinity of Queen St, Hamilton, until the mid to late 1880s. Robert was a labourer, then a toolkeeper working for Great Western Railway. Robert and Jane had four girls: Ellen (born 1859), Jessie Elizabeth (born 1869), Amelia Jane (born 1874) and Agnes Anna (born 1878). It is quite possible they had other children between Ellen and Jessie and they died in infancy. Ellen married merchant John Sandes McDonnell and had three children. They stayed in Hamilton but the rest of her family moved by 1891. Robert was now farming at Lot 31, Concession 5, Enniskillen Township, near Lake Huron. Jessie married farmer Archibald Lowrie and they had three children. Amelia married moulder-turned-farmer George Scull and they had two children. Agnes married tinsmith William Malcolm Morrison. They settled in Regina, Saskatchewan, and had three known sons.

Robert died 10 February 1897 of sudden heart failure, aged 62. Jane continued to live in and around Enniskillen and probably died between 1901 and 1911.


Elizabeth Catherine (1837 - 1881) was born 06 March 1837 in Hythe, Kent, England where her father was stationed as a coastguard. It is not known where she was when the 1851 England Census was taken. Like her siblings she emigrated to Canada and married John Deans 01 January 1858 in Waterloo County, Ontario. John was a weaver and hosier (retailer of stockings, socks, gloves etc...) and they lived in Galt, Ontario. They had one daughter, Elizabeth, who was born in 1868 but nothing else is known about her. Elizabeth senior died 22 July 1881 aged 44 after suffering for two years with cancer of the liver. John remarried Maggie Fairgrieve in 1884 and died himself in 1900.


Andrew William (1839 - 1909) was born in St Lawrence on the Isle of Wight, England, 27 March 1839. He married Elizabeth Staveley in Kingston-upon-Hull in 1860. Andrew was a fisherman but unlike his siblings, he did not emigrate to Canada until 1865. He took up farming in Plympton, then Enniskillen Township where he lived for the rest of his life. Andrew and Elizabeth were Church of England and had four children: James A (1868 - ?), Charles (1869 - 1949), Rebecca (1871 - 1931) and Eleanor (1874 - 1927). James worked as a clerk but it is not known what happened to him after 1901. Charles ('Charlie') married Jean Clark and they had thirteen children. They farmed in Euphemia Township and in 1947 celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary, which was reported in great detail in a local newspaper. Rebecca married farmer Henry Samuel Groff and they stayed in the Enniskillen area. It is not certain if they had any children but they might have had a son, John. Eleanor never married and was working as a hospital housekeeper when she died.

Elizabeth died in 1901 after suffering cancer for a year. Andrew died 26 August 1909, aged 70, having suffered from nephritis (inflammation of the kidney) for three years. It is not known where they were buried, but it was probably at Alvinston Cemetery where Charles, Rebecca and Eleanor were buried.


Peter Alexander (1841 - 1902) was born 10 April 1841 at Dimlington, Yorkshire, England. It is assumed he emigrated with the rest of his family to Canada though he was working in Toronto in 1861 (the rest of his family had settled in Hamilton or south-western Ontario near the border with Michigan). Peter moved to Windsor, across the border from Detroit, and married Christina Grant 06 June 1866. They had five children: Elsie (born c1868 and probably died as a teenager), Mary A (1870 - ?), Alexander James (1872 - 1934), Charles Reid (1875 - 1887) and Ernest Dean (1878 - ?). Mary married clerk Joseph Alexander Yolande Pepin. They had one daughter and later moved to Detroit. Alexander lived the rest of his life in Windsor and worked his way up from being a book-keeper to a salesman. He married Lottie Jarmin and they had three sons. Lottie died in 1918 and Alexander married Eleanor Carter two years later. Charles sadly died of peritonitis when he was only 11. Ernest worked as a reporter then in 1906 he moved to Detroit where he married Bertha Stegmeyer. He worked as an advertising manager for a newspaper then as a financial stock salesman.

Peter was a blacksmith, working for the railway and then owning his own business which made carriages. At one point he had a dozen employees. During Peter's life there, Windsor grew from a town to a city. Peter died 21 July 1902, aged 61, after suffering a malignant disease of the rectum for five years. If he had lived longer, Peter would have seen the decline of the carriage-building industry and the rise of the automobile. Christina died some time after 1911, possibly 1917.


Margaret Ann (1843 - 1848) was born in Dimlington, Yorkshire, 01 September 1843. In August 1848, she and her father were on a voyage to Quebec on board the 'John Bull'. Tragically she died during the voyage (perhaps around 19 August) and was buried at sea. No official document has been found so far to list the cause and actual date of death.



Children of Andrew and Martha

Thomas Harrison (1850 - 1929) was born in Kingston-upon-Hull, 29 December 1850. He emigrated with his family to Canada in 1854 and later became a machinist, creating metal parts, in Galt, Ontario. He married Annie Alison 09 September 1874 and they had two children: Annie Elizabeth (born 1875) and Andrew William (born 1877). Sometime in the early 1890s, the family migrated west to Manitoba. The province had been created in 1870 and the federal government was keen to populate the area and make it an agricultural colony growing wheat and grain to feed the country and export to Europe. Thomas and his family settled in Odanah, west of Lake Manitoba, and took up farming. Annie Elizabeth married farmer Charles Albert Wark and they had ten children. Andrew took up farming and either lived with or next to his parents. He married Anna Mildred Black and they had at least one known child. Thomas died 18 December 1929 in Odanah and Annie 06 July 1932.


Next: James Craig


[1] The memorial stone for Helen Craig also lists the fates of her youngest daughter, her husband Andrew, and his second wife Martha. It is the only evidence of Martha's death as no burial document has been found - possibly because she died of cholera and could have been buried in haste in a mass grave.

[2] Andrew does not feature on the Canada Census 1851 (or more accurately, the 'Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia') as it was actually conducted in early 1852 because the authorities were not sufficiently prepared!

[3] Parish registers for Abbey, Paisley 1676-1855 (International Genealogical Index [IGI]); England Census 1841, 1851, 1861, Canada Census 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta Census 1906 and 1916, various family trees,; British Newspapers 1710-1950,; British Coastguards 1841 - 1901 personnel provided by Genuki (; the National Archives' catalogue research guide  (; Skeals: Spurn, Kilnsea and Easington Area Local Studies Group (; 'The Montreal Witness', Bibliothèque et Archives nationales Québec (BANC); extracts from Immigration Report 1848 (; Libraries and Archives Canada (LAC); Trinity Anglican (Galt) Cemetery tombstones, Waterloo Regional Branch Ontario Genealogical Society; Illustrated historical atlas of the county of Waterloo, Ont. 1881 (McGill University Rare Books Division; 'The History of the Second Dragoons Royal Scots Greys' by Edward Almack (1908); Ballincollig Heritage website (; Project website (; Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid database (; Canada GenWeb Cemetery project (; England Coastguard Nominations 1833-1841 (ADM 175/78), Coastguard Establishment England 1833-1844 (ADM 175/6) and 1845-1863 (ADM 175/7) [the National Archives]; Hastings Coastguards and Smugglers (; notes made by James Craig, Toronto 1909; Wikipedia

[4] There is only a transcribed  marriage record for Robert Craig and Jane McConnell and it actually lists Robert's parents as Alexander and Frances Craig, which is incorrect. There is no scan of the original register so it cannot be proved this was a transcription error. 'Frances' was actually his stepmother and 'Andrew' and 'Alexander' similar enough perhaps to lead to a mistake. There is some evidence in other official records to be reasonably confident that the Robert Craig in the marriage record is the same one who was the son of Andrew Craig and Helen Reid.