Select Crichton/Creighton Surname Genealogy

Scottish and English surnames Crichton and Creighton seem related, with both coming from place-names.  The old barony of Crichton in Midlothian (initially Kreiton) gave rise to the better-known Crichton name; while the Creighton name looks to have originated from a place of that name near Uttoxeter in Staffordshire.

The root of these names is either the Gaelic crioch meaning “boundary” or the Celtic creic meaning “rock” plus in each case tun meaning “settlement.” 
The Crichton base was Midlothian; while Creighton has been found in Cumbria, Dumfries and later in Ulster.

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Select Crichton/Creighton Ancestry

ScotlandThe Crichtons, based in Crichton near Edinburgh, were an important medieval Scottish family.  They first appeared in records in the 12th century.  Thomas de Crichton was recorded in the Ragman Roll swearing allegiance to Edward I in 1296.  The Crichtons held castles at Crichton and also at Sanquhar in Dumfriesshire through a subsidiary line.   

.  Sir William Crichton of Crichton rose to prominence as the Chancellor of Scotland in 1439 during the minority of James II.  But he then earned the enmity of the powerful Douglas clan.

“Crichton organized the infamous black dinner at Edinburgh Castle when the Earl of Douglas and his brother were invited as guests of honor to a royal banquet there.  After the dinner the two Douglases were dragged from the boy king's presence and executed on Castle Hill.”

His grandson William, the third Lord Crichton, backed a rival claimant to the Scottish throne, lost out, and in 1483 was dispossessed of all his lands, including Crichton castle. 
It is from a related line, the Crichtons of Frendraught, that the present line descends.  Their seat since 1850 has been at Monzie castle in Perthshire.

Another possibly related line was that of Patrick Crichton, a saddler and ironmonger in Edinburgh.  He prospered enough to set himself up at Woodhouselee House in the 1740’s.  His son Alexander was a coachbuilder; and his grandson Alexander and great grandson Archibald both physicians to Russian Tsars in the early 1800’s.

Sir Robert Crichton became sheriff of Dumfries in 1464 and Robert his eldest son was made Lord Crichton of Sanquhar in 1487. 

Unfortunately the title brought nothing but bad luck to the Crichtons.  William the third Lord was murdered by Lord Semple around 1552; while Robert the sixth Lord, accused of being involved in the murder of his fencing master, was executed in 1612.  The title eventually passed to the family of Crichton-Stuart, the present Marquesses of Bute. 

One line led to Robert Crichton of Nithsdale, the Lord Advocate of Scotland, who moved to Perthshire.  His son James, born in Perthshire in 1560,
was the Scottish prodigy acclaimed as the Admirable Crichton.  Other Crichtons in Perthshire held the position of Bishop of Dunkeld in the mid-1500’s. 

The spelling in Dumfries often became Creighton, mirroring the spelling across the border in England.

Carlisle in Cumbria boasted a number of Creightons.

Jonathan Creighton was a surgeon there in the 1770’s.  Fortunatus Creighton was the proprietor of the Captain Cook Inn from the 1770’s until his death in 1828.  James Creighton, a joiner by trade, arrived in Carlisle from the Scottish borders in the 1820’s.  His son Robert had two remarkable sons:
  • Mandell Creighton who became Bishop of London and a prominent British historian.  His life was covered in James Covert’s 2000 book A Victorian Marriage – Mandell and Louise Creighton. 
  • and James Robert Creighton who was twice mayor of Carlisle.  He died at an early age in 1896 and the town erected the Creighton Memorial to him in what became the Creighton Memorial Gardens. 
Charles and Sarah Creighton lived in Gosforth, Cumberland in the late 1700’s.  Their son Thomas was a schoolmaster at Uldale.

  The Creighton name prevailed in Ireland, although most probably came from Scotland.  Many Scottish Creightons had moved to Ulster in the early 17th century at the time of the Scottish plantations.  The principal counties for settlement were Fermanagh and Tyrone.  The Irish O’Criochain in Tyrone sometimes got anglicized as Creighton. 

John Creighton, from the Frendraught Crichtons, established himself at Crom castle near Lough Erne in Fermanagh in the mid-1600’s.  His descendant John became the first Earl of Erne in 1789.  This family later adopted the Crichton spelling. 

However, most Creightons in Ireland, less proud and not so ennobled, did not do so.  Many emigrated, first to America and later to Canada.

Creightons came to America, many from Scotland, but not too many Crichtons.  

Andrew Creighton had arrived in the Tuscarora valley of Pennsylvania from Edinburgh as a young man in 1768.  His grandsons Abram and Samuel were Methodist ministers in Pennsylvania.

Thomas Creighton and his wife Jenny came to the Lancaster district of South Carolina from county Antrim in 1772.  Their son Thomas moved to Kentucky and then to Illinois and their grandson John to Clarke county, Alabama.

Daniel Creighton came to Perth in upstate New York from Perthshire in Scotland in the early 1800’s.  His son James lived on the Creighton homestead farm in Perth until his death in 1871.

James Creighton, originally McCraren, was an Irish Catholic from Monaghan who had arrived in Canada in 1806 and then moved with his wife Bridget to farm in America – first in Pennsylvania and then in Ohio. 
  • their two sons Edward and John Creighton were prominent early businessmen in Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Edward had initially become involved in the freight shipping/telegraph businesses and by the 1850’s was one of the largest builders of telegraph lines in America.  He and his wife Mary arrived in Omaha in 1856.  
  • Edward relied on Mary to carry out his request to create a college there.  This eventually became Creighton University.
Robert Creighton came to Tennessee from Dumfries in Scotland sometime in the 1820’s and farmed in Sumner county.  His grandson Robert “Pop” Creighton who grew up in Nashville was a builder, notably of the centerpiece of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition held in Nashville in 1898.

James Creighton arrived from Ireland in the 1830’s, became a marine engineer and followed steam-boating for many years before settling in Ohio.  After the death of his wife Maria he took his family west in 1855, going to California via the Isthmus route.  His son David prospered as a farmer in Oregon.

.  It was the same story about Creightons and Crichtons in Canada.  Among the Creighton arrivals were:
  • John Creighton from Somerset who arrived with the British army in Nova Scotia in 1753, stayed, and was one of the founders of the town of Lunenburg.
  • James Creighton who was in Halifax, Nova Scotia by the 1790’s, running a ship chandlering business there.   His grandson James, a lawyer and journalist, is credited with organizing the first indoor ice hockey match in 1875 in Montreal.
  • William Creighton from Tyrone who came with his family in 1846 and settled in Haldimand county, Ontario.  He called the farm he purchased Tyrone.  Descendants have developed prize-winning shorthorn cattle there.
  • William Creighton from Belfast who came around 1850 and established himself as a merchant in Toronto.  One son John became a prominent lawyer there, another son William was a lumber merchant in Winnipeg.
  • and David Creighton from Fermanagh who came in 1869 and settled in Essex county, Ontario.  Later Creightons moved to Yale, British Columbia.
New Zealand.  Francis Creighton, a seaman from Dublin, was an early arrival in New Zealand, first coming in the late 1820’s and then settling there in 1835 and marrying Jane Cook.  He lived on in Auckland to the grand age of 99, dying in 1908.

Select Crichton/Creighton Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Crichton/Creighton Names

Sir William Crichton was appointed Chancellor of Scotland in 1439 during the minority of James II. 
James Crichton
was the 16th century Scottish prodigy known as the Admirable Crichton.
Mandell Creighton
was one of the leading British historians and churchmen in the late 19th century.
Donald Creighton
was a prominent 20th century Canadian historian.
Michael Crichton was an American author in the thriller and science fiction genre.  His best-known work, Jurassic Park, came out in 1990

Select Crichtons/Creightons Today
  • 8,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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