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Crerar Compendium

Crerar Compendium

by David Anthony Crerar

with Jackie Crerar, Peter D. Crerar, Pete van Royen, Peter L. Crerar, Arthur S. Crerar, Ivy Hudson, Allan Thorn, Thomas Crerar, J. H. Crerar, Robert Crerar, and the late Harry and Robert D. Crerar

Second Edition

1996

All corrections, comments and additions are most welcome. I hope to record all branches of the lost tribe of Crerars, their persons and their histories:

 

David Crerar
jeldac@shaw.ca 

 This Second Edition is dedicated to the world’s best Nana, Kathleen J. Crerar (Burke)

October 1996

The First Edition was dedicated to my parents, Anthony and Maureen Crerar

August 1995

I would like to thank the following people and institutions for their help with this second edition:

In Canada: Bill and Sue Crerar and family, of Toronto and Craig Ellachie; Peter L. Crerar of Stratford and Vancouver; Shirley McCormick of Middleton, Nova Scotia; Louise Koleyak of LaCombe, Alberta; the late Mrs. Margaret (MacKenzie) Evans of Vancouver; Derrick Chow of Mississauga; Gavin Marshall of Vancouver; R.G.Moir of Weston, Ontario; Peter Crerar Palmer; Don Crerar of Brooks, Alberta; Marlene Henry of Ottawa, Cynthia Henry of Squamish; Bruce K. Patterson of Thornhill, Ontario; Peter D.B. Mérey of Pro Familia Publishing; Kelly Fowler of Edmonton; W.Craig Burtch of Stratford; Carolynn Bart-Riedstra, Brandi Borman and Rowena McLaughlin of the Stratford-Perth Archives; Jackie E.M. Crerar of Hamilton, Ontario; Evangeline Way of the Pictou County Genealogical Society; Stewart Renfrew of Queen’s University Archives; Lester J. Wilker of Perth County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society; Dr. James Crerar Reaney of London, Ontario; Scott Crerar of Barrie; Norman D. Crerar of Vernon, B.C.; Ivy (Crerar) Hudson of Calgary; the late Peter D. Crerar of Waterloo, Ontario; Duff Crerar of Grande Prairie, Alberta; Jack Bailey; Linda Landymore of King’s-Edgehill School, Windsor, Nova Scotia; J.R. McKenzie and S. Pepin of the Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston, Ontario; Sister Anselm Hammerling of St.Benedict’s Monastery, Winnipeg; Bill Wood of the National Archives of Canada; Orlee Crerar of Saskatoon; Lois Klaasen of Victoria, B.C.; Doreen Hadsall of Etobicoke; Tim and Judy Rodenbush of North Vancouver; my parents Anthony and Maureen Crerar, my sisters Suzanne and Carolyn Crerar of Vancouver, and my wife Julia Lawn, who proofread this whole document but didn’t really want to or have to.

 

In the United States of America: John H. ‘Scot’ Crerar of Vienna, Virginia; Prof. Frances Bedford of Racine, Wisconsin; Terry Howard of Seattle; Michèle V. Cloonan of Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts; Pete and Ann van Royen of Vermont; Emily Clark of the Chicago Historical Society; John Bye of North Dakota State University; James A. Davis of The State Historical Society of North Dakota; Dorothy Bevan of Larimore, N.D.; Jane A. Mikelic’ of the John Crerar Library, University of Chicago; the New York Public Library, the Newberry Library; David G. Crerar of Missoula, Montana; Suzette Raney of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library; Ellen Jones and Andrea Mark of the Chicago Public Library.

 

In the United Kingdom: Arthur and Margaret Crerar of Kelso; the late Chief Lachlan Mackintosh of Mackintosh; Chief John L. Mackintosh of Mackintosh; Peter Moreira of Halifax, N.S. and England; Ian S. Crerar of Edinburgh; Lorne D. Crerar of Glasgow; Margot Calder of Dundee; Elizabeth Lancaster of Carlisle, Cumbria; Alma Topen of the University of Glasgow Scottish Brewing Archives; J. Arrol Crerar of Glasgow; Robert Crerar of Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire; Eileen Cox of the Dunkeld and Birnam Historical Society; William Crerar Christie of Newcastle upon Tyne; Andrew Campbell of Buckhaven, Fife; Sheila Campbell of the Kirkcaldy Central Library; Mrs. Airley of the Ewart Library, Dumfries and Galloway; Tim Armitage of the British Library; Robert Crerar of Fife; Robin H. Rodger of the Perth & Kinross Art Gallery; Richard McGregor, Chair of the Clan Gregor Society; Elizabeth S. Arkieson of Southwold, Sussex; A. Bruce Crerar of Edinburgh; Rachel Chisholm of the Highland Folk Museum, Kingussie; and Dr. M. Alison Crerar of Edinburgh.

 

In Australia: Valda J. Pearce of Melbourne; Reginald Crerar of Indented Head; Ellen B. Gray of Alexander Headlands, Queensland; Dorothy Waddell of Berry; Norm Chandler of Kardinya; Kevin Crerar of Traralgon, Victoria; Valerie Garton of the Society of Australian Genealogists

 

In New Zealand: Donald and Hazel Crerar of Christchurch; David Lawrence Crerar of Auckland; Chris Parker of Auckland; Allan Thorn of Christchurch.

 

In South Africa: Mrs. N.A.M. da Silva of the Genealogical Society of South Africa; Matthew and Andrew Le Crerar.

In Germany: Thomas Crerar of Hamburg

© David Anthony Crerar 1996

all rights reserved

 

  • •          •          •          •

How to read this book

A five-generation numbering and lettering system seeks to clarify the genealogies herein:

 

I. Eldest child (first generation)

II. Middle child (first generation)

A. child

1. grandchild

a. great grandchild

i. great-great grandchild

I. great-great-great grandchild

A. great-great-great-great grandchild

a. great-great-great-great-great grandchild

ii. great-great grandchild

2. grandchild

B. child

III. Youngest child (first generation)

Occasionally, for the sake of aesthetics, brevity, and clarity, genealogies will recommence along the left margin under the heading of the relevant child/head of family. Occasionally, letters beside the name of family members will not reflect actual order of birth, but are presented with a number/letter for consistency.

 

A note on the system used in the book. All names are in bold. THOSE WITH THE CRERAR SURNAME AT BIRTH ARE IN CAPITALS. Those whose status is unknown (i.e. those miscellaneous persons whose gender is unknown, and who could have come by the surname Crerar at birth or through marriage), are in regular small case. Names in italics indicate that a full genealogy of the individual’s family is to found below the first entry. [Square brackets indicate a cited source, or editorial interjection]. In this, please pardon my less-than-academically perfect citations, some of which were not recorded in the early part of my research. The frequent citation [IGI] indicates the International Genealogical Index of Old Parish Records, administered by the Church of Latter-Day Saints. Where I have gone beyond the I.G.I., and actually checked the Old Parish Register, it is noted.

 

I have been very conservative in linking up families, and drawing hypotheses about links between families and generations. In some places, there are obvious contradictions and inconsistencies. In general, I have noted these and left them to stand as is (see, for example, the ancestry of Senator Thomas Alexander Crerar, of Molesworth, Ontario). With further research, or the unearthing of new facts, these will, it is hoped, eventually be clarified and remedied.

This book was produced on a Macintosh computer (of course) using Reunion Software (Leister) for the Family Trees, and Microsoft Word for the word processing.

Libraries holding copies of the Crerar Compendium first and second editions

Canada

Vancouver, B.C.:                        Vancouver Public Library (2)

Stratford, Ontario:            The Stratford-Perth Archives (1&2)

The Stratford Library (1)

Toronto:                        The University of Toronto, Robarts Library (2)

North York:                    The Library of the Ontario Genealogical Society (2)

Ottawa:                          The National Archives of Canada (2)

Halifax, Nova Scotia:       The Public Archives of Nova Scotia (1)

Pictou, Nova Scotia:        The Hector Centre (2)

 

United States

Salt Lake City, Utah:       The Family History Library (1 & 2)

Washington, D.C.:          The Library of Congress (1 & 2)

Chicago, Illinois:                        The University of Chicago, The John Crerar Library (1)

The Chicago Public Library (2)

New York, N.Y.:             The New York Public Library (2)

 

England

Oxford:                          The Bodleian Library (2)

London:                         The British Library (1)

The Library of the Genealogists’ Guild (2)

 

Scotland

Perth:                            The A.K. Bell Library (1)

The Perth Museum and Art Gallery (2)

Blair Atholl:                   The Library of Castle Atholl (1)

Dundee:                         The Tay Valley Family History Society (1 & 2)

Edinburgh:                     The National Library of Scotland (1 & 2)

Glasgow:                       The University of Glasgow Library (2)

Inverness:                       The Library of Moy Castle, Seat of the Clan Mackintosh (2)

 

Australia

Canberra:                       The National Library of Australia (2)

Sydney:                         The Library of the Society of Australian Genealogists (2)

 

New Zealand

Auckland:                      The National Library of New Zealand (2)

 

South Africa

Cape Town:                   The South African Library (2)

Houston:                        The Library of the Genealogical Society of South Africa (2)

Crerar Compendium Contents

Acknowledgements and dedications…………………………………………………………………………………… 3

How to read this book……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 4

Libraries holding copies of the Crerar Compendium……………………………………………………………. 5

Table of Contents……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 7

Introduction, First Edition………………………………………………………………………………………………. 10

Introduction, Second Edition…………………………………………………………………………………………… 11

The Crerar Name…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 12

Most popular Crerar Christian names………………………………………………………………………………. 14

Regional-chronological spread of Crerar name……………………………………………………………………. 15

 

A. North American Crerars

 

Lawers / Pictou / Vancouver Crerars (1808/1817) ……………………………………………………………… 16

MacKenzies of Pictou…………………………………………………………………………………………. 85

Glenquaich / North Easthope Crerars (1832/1833/1844)…………………………………………………….. 89

John Crerar of Chicago (1827)…………………………………………………………………………….. 156

Crerars of Struan and Newdale, Manitoba (1861)………………………………………………….. 161

Duncan MacGregor Crerar…………………………………………………………………………………. 163

Kirkcaldy / Montreal / Rochester Crerars (1840’s)…………………………………………………………… 170

Claggan / Osgoode / Grande Prairie Crerars (1852) ………………………………………………………….. 175

Elderslie, Bruce County, Ontario Crerars (1855)……………………………………………………………… 197

Crieff / Hamilton Crerars (1857)……………………………………………………………………………………. 200

Wisconsin Crerars (ca.1860)………………………………………………………………………………………….. 212

Glasgow / Prince Rupert, B.C. Crerars (1912)…………………………………………………………………. 213

Kinloch Rannoch / South Africa / Canada Crerars (ca.1910)………………………………………………. 214

London, England / Toronto Crerars (1920’s)…………………………………………………………………… 221

Dundee – New York – California Crerars……………………………………………………………………………….

Comrie – Sudbury, England – Okanagan, Canada Crerars…………………………………………………………

Miscellaneous North American Crerars………………………………………………………………………….. 226

 

B. International Crerars

 

Kirkmichael – Hawkes Bay, New Zealand Crerars and Crarers………………………………………….. 424

Govan – Christchurch Crerars………………………………………………………………………………………… 428

Australia…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 430

New Zealand……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 435

South Africa………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 436

Miscellaneous International…………………………………………………………………………………………… 436

 

C. Old Country Crerars

 

Blair Atholl and Dunkeld Crerars (John Crerar of Atholl)…………………………………………………. 251

Kenmore / Edinburgh Crerars………………………………………………………………………………………… 281

Kenmore / Crieff / Edinburgh Crerars……………………………………………………………………………… 292

Salmon-Arrol-Crerar Line……………………………………………………………………………………………… 293

Greyfriars Crerars………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 297

Renfrewshire Crerars……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 301

Methven-Kingussie-Invergowrie Crerars………………………………………………………………………… 302

Ayrshire Linen Crerars……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Blair Atholl – England Crarers……………………………………………………………………………………………..

Miscellaneous Old Country Crerars (unlocalized)……………………………………………………………. 303

Miscellaneous Old Country Crerars (by region)………………………………………………………………. 307

D. Appendix

Index   ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 437

Table of Maps

Loch Tay……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2

Scotland in the Seventeenth Century………………………………………………………………………………….. 6

Cuiltrannich in 1769………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 18

Pictou in 1793……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 20

Speyside, Invernesshire………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 30

Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick……………………………………………………………………………… 36

North Easthope and Area Concessions Map…………………………………………………………………….. 92

Glenquaich……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 96

Perth County………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 129

The Prairie Provinces of Canada…………………………………………………………………………………….. 224

Lake Crerar, Ontario…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 247

Mount Crerar, British Columbia……………………………………………………………………………………. 248

Crerar, Ontario…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 249

Dunkeld, Perthshire……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 261

Scotland and its Counties……………………………………………………………………………………………… 306

Dundee……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 310

Perth – Fife – Forfar……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 311

Argyll to Perth…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 312

Edinburgh……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 319

Glasgow and Environs………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 328

Glasgow – Stirling – Dunbarton – Renfrew – Lanark – Ayr…………………………………………………. 329

Counties of the British Isles………………………………………………………………………………………….. 338

Perthshire and Adjoining Counties…………………………………………………………………………………. 339

Perth Town…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 340

North East Perthshire: Blair Atholl, Pitlochry and Loch Tummel………………………………………. 363

Australia…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 430

New Zealand……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 435

Perthshire West…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 470

Perthshire East…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 472

 


Table of Family Trees

Pictou Crerars: first two generations………………………………………………………………………………… 32

Pictou Crerars: second and third generations……………………………………………………………………… 60

Pictou Crerars: descendants of Henry Hatton Crerar of Antigonish……………………………………… 64

MacKenzies of Pictou……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 74

1832 Alexander Crerar “The Elder” (Easthope)…………………………………………………………………. 82

1832 Peter Crerar (Easthope)………………………………………………………………………………………….. 94

1833 John Crerar (Easthope)…………………………………………………………………………………………. 100

William Crerar and Marjorie Rankin (John Crerar)…………………………………………………………… 106

1834 William Crerar……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 112

Alexander Crerar “The Younger” (Easthope)…………………………………………………………………… 116

Binscarth Crerars (Alexander ‘The Younger”)

Duncan Crerar and Pearl Feduik (Alexander Crerar the Younger)……………………………………….. 130

John Crerar of Chicago…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 144

Kirkcaldy / Montreal / Rochester Crerars……………………………………………………………………….. 156

Osgoode County Crerars(1852) ……………………………………………………………………………………. 158

Descendants of Catherine Crerar and Alexander McDougall (Osgoode)…………………………………….

Crerar’s Honey Branch (Osgoode)…………………………………………………………………………………. 162

Grande Prairie Crerars (Osgoode)…………………………………………………………………………………… 165

Crieff / Hamilton Crerars (1857)……………………………………………………………………………………. 170

Kinloch Rannoch – South Africa – Canada Crerars ((1960s)…………………………………………………….

Blair Atholl and Dunkeld Crerars (John Crerar of Atholl)…………………………………………………. 200

Robert Crerar and Jean Forbes (New Zealand Crerars) (John Crerar of Atholl)………………………….

Robert Crerar and Jean Forbes (U.K. Crerars) (John Crerar of Atholl)……………………………………..

Kenmore / Edinburgh Crerars………………………………………………………………………………………… 222

Salmon – Arrol – Crerar Line (Crieff and Kirkintilloch)……………………………………………………………

Greyfriars Crerars………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Kirkmichael – Hawkes Bay, New Zealand Crerars and Crarers………………………………………………..

Govan – Christchurch Crerars………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

 

Introduction to the First Edition

Crerar – that’s a funny name — is it East Indian ?”

-substitute teacher, Seymour Heights Elementary School, 1978

 

            Edinburgh Innkeeper: Your last name ?

            Author: “Crerar”. That’s “ C, R, E…”

            Innkeeper: Tha’s a good Scots name, ma’ ! I know how to spell tha’

I don’t really know why I wrote this book. It started out as a primary school project many years ago, to trace my family tree. Reaching a dead end with my earliest relative in Scotland, I sought to trace other Crerar families to discover his origins laterally. I also tried to link the various branches of the Crerar family. In both of these objectives I have failed. But I still have managed to trace some fifteen branches of the clan. It is estimated that there are about 1500 Crerars around the world. The majority are still in the United Kingdom (about 700), with another 300 or so in Canada, 200 in the United States, 100 in Australia, and others scattered internationally by the Scottish diaspora. All of these individuals have their roots in the area around Loch Tay, in Breadalbane, Perthshire, Scotland. It seems likely that whatever genetic or genealogical ties are missing, we are united in our heritage and the possession of an odd name with an interesting history.

Obviously this book is merely a rudimentary exercise, and replete, as are all genealogies, with errors. One should be cautious in taking the dates and relationships within at their word. What the author himself hasn’t botched, the vagaries of time, wobbly handwriting, and dubious memory have skewed. At law school we are encouraged to write such disclaimers, and here is mine.

A further disclaimer: the history of my own family has greedily gobbled up many of these pages. This is not motivated by swollen pride, but rather that I, of course, have more information on my own kinsfolk. Furthermore I have given minimal information on those Crerars still living, in the interests of privacy and conciseness. The dead are also easier to keep track of than the quick.

The next edition of this book will come out in the summer of 2000. I would encourage other Crerars to submit dates, anecdotes and ancestry in time for that edition, and to correct those errors existing herein.

Introduction to the Second Edition

Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch-hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs, changed naturally into pity and contempt, as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century — and there, if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history with an interest which never failed…

Jane Austen, Persuasion

 

The pale Usher — threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain; I see him now. He was ever dusting his old lexicons and grammars, with a queer handkerchief, mockingly embellished with all the gay flags of all the known nations of the world. He loved to dust his old grammars; it somehow mildly reminded him of his mortality.

 

Hermann Melville, Moby Dick

As for the first excerpt, let it be taken with irony: a Crerar, in a phrase, is a dour, Presbyterian farmer. Ten thousand such characters populate this village of a book. Whereas the first edition chronicled a few unearthed lines scattered around the world, this second edition targets a greater folly: to trace every bearer of this surname who has lived since time immemorial. Just as Melville’s sub-sub-librarian, this mere painstaking burrower and grubworm of a poor devil of a Sub-Sub appears to have gone through the long Vaticans and street-stalls of the earth, picking up whatever random allusions…he could anyways find in any book whatsoever, sacred or profane, this edition represents a near-exhaustive and near-exhausting Compendium of Crerars. I have scoured books, and plucked references from the new tsunami of interelectronic databases available to the modern researcher. Yet I am no closer to success in tracing my own ancestors than I was before I embarked on this project. Just as the sub-sub librarian’s compendium represents obsessive triviality in the face of the whale of human knowledge, this compendium pales and fails in the face of human experience. Nonetheless, despite the frailties of the truths herein, and despite the inadequate chroniclings of the brass tacks of life and death to follow, I here present the Second Edition of the Compendium for general perusal and amusement.

 

The Name of Crerar

from D.A. Crerar, The Crerar Compendium (1996)

Be it due to a change in dynasties, a poached deer, poverty, or eviction, many good Scots have had to flee from adverse conditions. It is rare, however, that an entire family owes its very name to such a flight. The Venerable Black of surname fame tells the tale of one such family: the Lobans of Drumderfit. Running from pursuers, one MacLennan took refuge under a peat cart — in Gaelic, loban — thereby saving himself and creating a new surname in thanks for his timely hiding-place.

The tale of the Crerar name is more ornate and whimsical. A member of the Mackintosh clan from Monzievaird near Crieff fled over the hills towards Loch Tay. With his pursuers close at his heels, he took refuge in the mill at Acharn on the northeast shore. The sympathetic miller waved his sieve, disguising Mackintosh with a coat of flour. The ruse was sufficient to fool his pursuers and ensure his salvation. The grateful Mackintosh settled in the neighbourhood, adopting for safety and commemoration the name An Criathrar — the riddler, or sifter, or sievewright.

Several more peculiarities spring from this legend. The first is clan affiliation. Although the Crerars were found almost exclusively in Campbell country in Perthshire, they remain a sept of the Clan Mackintosh, the seat of which is over one hundred kilometres away at Loch Moy. In a situation perhaps unique, the new family was separated from its mother Clan from the time of its very inception. Kinsman Allan Thorne of New Zealand has provided an explanation for this geographical dislocation of Clan and Sept. He points out that the oldest sept of the Mackintosh clan were the Toshes of Monzievaird, who descended from Edward, third son of Shaw and Mary Sandilands, the second Laird of McIntosh who died in 1210. Monzievaird is located on the south side of the mountains cradling Loch Tay, and thus it is not odd that Acharn would be a sensible refuge for a fleeing Mackintosh.

In another clan twist, Crerar is also occasionally listed as a sept of the MacGregor Clan. Attempts by the author, and by the Clan Gregor Society, to ascertain the source of this link, have been so far fruitless. The inclusion of Crerars among the Gregors perhaps reflects more of that Clan’s necessary fondness for aliases than a true historical affiliation between the families. Probably some Gregor from the Loch Tay area adopted the Crerar name during the infamous proscription period during which the use of the name was banned.

It is not entirely clear to whom Crerar loyalties swayed in times of conflict. The Atholl Chronicles tell of Alexander Crerar delivering a deer to the Young Pretender, although this was while in the service of his Jacobite master, the Duke of Atholl. There is an intriguing record of a 1712 birth of a Joseph Crerar to Pierre Crerar and Catherine Macreans in Meure-et-Moselle, which hints of a romantically Jacobite link. Despite these indications, there is not, as of yet, evidence of for whom most Crerars fought, let alone whether they were mustered into Campbell or Mackintosh armies.

The inherently pseudonymous nature of the Crerar family makes genealogical researching rather frustrating. Not content to switch from Mackintosh to Crerar and leave well enough alone, Crerars would often use Mackintosh and Crerar interchangeably. The 1826 grave of John Crerar of Dalkillin trumpets “alias Mackintosh” while the back of the stone bears the Clan badge. In addition, a great number of Crerars, presumably tired of continually having to spell the name out over the telephone, switched back to Mackintosh permanently, especially upon emigration. A 19th century North American correspondent to Celtic Monthly confirms that many emigré Crerars thus reverted to the original name of their original ancestors [vol. V, p.279].

The original family myth poses some chronological problems. Acharn did not grow as a village until the early nineteenth century, when it was developed to house workers on the estate of the Lord of Breadalbane. A mill, still standing, was built at this time. Yet the first reference to a Crerar, a John MacAchrerar possessing half of Balinlagan[1] in 1541 predates the settlement by over 250 years. The second earliest reference, also predating the mill, is more nasty: in 1554 the Lyoun King of Arms ordered that the arms of William Crarar be taken from him for the oppressions inflicted by him upon “the porr tenants and workmen of the Abbay of Couper and the country adjacent”. [2] Several obvious explanations spring to mind, however, for this seeming anachronism. While the settlement of Acharn was only developed in the last century, farms in the area are ancient. The falls and streams at Acharn would have been an ideal location for a mill in any century. It is thus likely that there was a mill at Acharn when the first Crerar stumbled over the hills in the fifteenth or sixteenth century. Certainly by 1736 there existed a mill at Acharn [Kenmore Kirk Records].

It is also possible that Acharn was not the cradle of all Crerars, and that the name could have developed in several geographical areas. It would not be surprising to witness independent historical developments of an occupational name such as Crerar (although “Sifter” or “Riddler” is hardly common as an English surname. The rare surname Sievewright, a literal translation of Criathrar, is however listed as a Macintosh sept). This theory is reinforced by some early references to Crerars in Aberdeen, far away from Loch Tay (although Crerars are overwhelmingly from the Loch Tay area). Thus neither of these inconveniences necessarily stifle the romantic legend.

A geographical analysis of early parish records would seem to support the legend.[3] Records of Crerar baptisms and marriages occur earliest and most frequently in Kenmore, in which Acharn is located, and then emanate out to Perth (1666), Killin (1669), Dull (1698), Dunkeld (1700), Methven (1710), Crieff (1712), and Monzie (1726) and in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Such an analysis is, of course, hardly a scientific measurement of family migration and perhaps more reflects the accuracy and survival of the records of each of these parishes. It also reflects that surviving Kenmore parish records do, in fact, start earlier. But this pattern of name frequency continues through to the early eighteenth century, a period from which records from all of these parishes still exist.

Another confusing point remains: it is not clear to what extent generations of emigré Crerars have amplified and augmented this original legend to develop their individual family legend of flight and survival. My own family, emigrating from Lawers, Loch Tay to Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1817 told a tale of a hurried departure from Scotland, involving an ancestor of Jacobite persuasion hiding, Treasure Island-style, in a barrel. For obvious reasons of chronology, this must be taken with a grain of flour. Glaswegian Crerars tell of outlawed Mackintoshes caught by English soldiers, while sifting flour. When asked their name, they took as their alias the Gaelic word for the implement they were using. A Prince Rupert, British Columbia, family of Crerars tells the story that their original ancestor adopted the name of Crerar while fleeing from Cumberland’s troops after Culloden. Another group of Crerars emigrated from Glenquaich to North Easthope, Ontario, in the 1830’s. According to a 1920 account all three Crerar family heads — Peter, Alexander and John — were in various degrees of difficulty with the law in their native Perthshire: “One…had ventured into the woods of the neighbouring laird and cut a walking stick. Another of which had been guilty of the more serious offence of killing a deer, the remains of which had been found stewing in a pot in his kitchen.”[4] While the 1832 pioneers Peter and Alexander had been born Crerars in Glenquaich, the 1833 pioneer John was unrelated to the other two and had, in fact, been born a Mackintosh. This John Mackintosh/Crerar, a factor on the Shian estate in Breadalbane, had apparently incurred the wrath of the Excisemen by his whiskey smuggling activities, prompting both his name change and his speedy emigration to Canada. Again, this legend must be tempered by reality, as a parish record lists his 1820 marriage, and the birth of his two children. A group of Crieff Crerars tells a sharply different story. Army deserters from the Highlanders were only able to get work carrying peat for fuel, in a Scottish basket called a creel. “Creel-carrier” became over time, “Crerar.”[5] A family of Crerars who emigrated from Dundee to California tell a more racy version of the legend: the first Crerar was a Mackintosh banished from the clan for exhibiting excessive fondness for the daughter of a prominent clansman. In the end, however, we should adopt a guarded approach, but not a dismissive attitude to these legends. While a cynic may dismiss these tales as embellishments on a probably apocryphal legend, the seeming propensity of Crerars to change names when the need arises leaves such tales possible, if not probable.

Given its gurgling sound and multiplicity of r’s, the Crerar name has been savaged more than most names by misspellings and variations. These include Crearer, Crearar, Crerare, Crarar, Crereir, Creriar, Creror, Crerrar, Crerrir, Criaror, Crearair, Creurer, Creerer and Creary. [6] In South Africa a branch of the family uses the name Le Crerar. The Hawkes Bay branch of the family in New Zealand has some members spelling the name Crerar while their cousins spell it Crarer. Creer is the most common variant. The existence of the Creer name in its own right confuses matters: some Creers are really lapsed Crerars, while others have been Creers for generations. It is not uncommon in Scotland, being found often in the Orkney Islands in the 19th century. It has also been common in the Isle of Man, being probably derived from MacFreer, itself related to the French “frére.”[7] Another Caithness-Orkney branch of the Crears derives its name from the Creach.[8]

As with most Scottish families, international branches now outnumber those in the old country. Crerars emigrated from the Loch Tay area in great numbers even before political and economic difficulties beset the area. The first record of Crerars in Edinburgh is in 1647, in Glasgow 1753, and in London 1770. The first American Crerar arrived in Pennsylvania in 1800, the first Canadian Crerar in Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1808, the first New Zealand Crerars in Hawkes Bay in 1864. A Crerar died destitute in Cape Town, South Africa in 1880. Crerars were sentenced to be transported to Australia in 1825, 1833 and 1850 but it is not clear if they ever arrived. There are or have been large branches of the family in Canada located in Osgoode, Hamilton, Elderslie, North Easthope, and Toronto in Ontario, as well as Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Moose Jaw, Grande Prairie, and Vancouver. In the United States Crerars have flourished in New York, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Texas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, California, and Rhode Island, among many other locations. In New Zealand the families are concentrated in Hawkes Bay, Nelson and Christchurch. In Australia, the main branch settled in Brunswick, Victoria, but there are Crerars everywhere.

Crerars have been humble folk throughout the ages: the clan has produced no presidents, primates or peers. Yet there have been a few Crerars of various degrees of celebrity. From 1776 to 1840 John Crerar served as chief gamekeeper to the Duke of Atholl, while composing strathspeys and having his portrait painted by Landseer. Sir James Crerar of Maryport, Cumberland was prominent in the government of India in the 1920’s. General H.D.G. Crerar of Hamilton, Ontario led Canadian Forces in the Second World War. His unrelated contemporary T.A. Crerar was leader of the opposition in the Canadian Parliament in the early 1920’s, served in two war cabinets, and finished his days as a senator. In the late 19th century two of the richest men in Chicago were named, confusingly enough, John Crerar. The bequest of two million dollars by the elder of these two survived a protracted court challenge by disgruntled Canadian Crerars of tenuous relationship, to finance the founding of the John Crerar Library at the University of Chicago. In the late 19th century Alexander and George Crerar served as Provosts of Kingussie, Speyside.

Other Crerars had less prominent but interesting roles to play in history. In 1834 Peter Crerar designed one of the first railways in North America, at Pictou, Nova Scotia. John and Donald Crerar ran the Crieff Brewery in the 1870’s, apparently guiding it to bankruptcy. From 1901 Alexander Crerar produced the best ginger beer in South Africa from his factory in Pietermaritzburg. George Crerar of Edinburgh manufactured the “Crerar Sewing machine” in the early 20th century. Four generations of apiarist Crerars have produced the finest honey in Ontario, Canada. In the 1840’s Alexander Crerar was master of the unfortunately-named Dull Academy, located in the Perthshire parish of that name. Currently there are two Crerars, James and Andrew, who golf professionally. The Ayrshire firm of Haddow, Aird and Crerar has produced lace of great repute since 1881. Crerar Hotels is operates beautiful hotels in beautiful Scottish places. Last but not least, Robert Crerar of Fife currently is the official maker of sporrans for the Queen and the Prince of Wales.

 

 

Frequency of Crerar Christian Names, pre-1880:

Scotland and England

(percentages are based on total births, not on births per sex.)

(drawn from parish baptism listings)

(* = name primary found outside Loch Tay area)

MALE                                                                          FEMALE

 

JOHN 10.0% CATHERINE 8.1%
ALEXANDER 9.9% JANET 6.3%
3. DANIEL/DONALD/ DUNCAN 9.0% MARGARET 6.0%
4. PETER 7.2% ANN(E) 4.0%
5. JAMES 6.0% CHRISTIAN 2.7%
6. FINLAY/EY 1.8% MARY 2.4%
7. GILBERT 1.5% JEAN/JANE 2.1%
WILLIAM * 1.5% ISABELL(A) 1.8%
ROBERT * 1.2% ELIZABETH 1.8%
DAVID 0.9% ELLEN/HELEN 1.5%
GEORGE * 0.6% AGNES 0.6%
ANDREW * 0.6% CHRISTINA / CHRISTY 0.6%
ARCHIBALD 0.6%
THOMAS * 0.6%
MALCOLM 0.6%

 

The Crerar name sweeps across Scotland: Chronological Occurrence of the Crerar Name

The following table indicates the earliest entries for a John or Alexander Crerar in the Old Parish Record, or other reference, by parish. Although it is a very rough measurement of the spread of Crerar families across Perthshire, it does support the theory that the Crerar name originated in Kenmore Parish in the seventeenth or sixteenth centuries, and spread to urban and rural areas from there. The year in brackets indicates the earliest Parish records surviving for that parish. [Kathleen B. Cory, Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry, Appendix III]

  1. Kenmore (1636) 1617, 1636, 1642, 1643, 1650, 1653, 1656, 1657, 1668, 1677, 1679, 1694, 1697,1697, 1702
  2. Edinburgh (1595) 1647, 1707
  3. Perth (1561) 1666, 1669, 1693, 1696, 1699, 1701, 1703, 1717
  4. Moneydie (1655) 1677, 1683, 1696
  5. Killin (1689) 1695, 1712, 1713, 1718, 1719, 1727, 1728, 1732
  6. Dull (1703) 1698, 1699, 1702, 1707, 1708
  7. Little Dunkeld (1759) 1700, 1732
  8. Fowlis Webster (1674) 1703, 1709, 1710, 1713,1717, 1719
  9. Methven (1662) 1710, 1715, 1717
  10. Crieff (1692) 1712, 1759
  11. Madderty (1701) 1714
  12. Gask (Trinity and Findo) (1641) 1717, 1730, 1766
  13. Tinachil, Terrachil 1724
  14. Fortingall (1748) 1727, 1740, 1759
  15. Monzie (1720) 1726, 1728, 1730, 1732, 1733
  16. Comrie (1693) 1727, 1738, 1749
  17. Monzievaird (1729) 1732, 1735, 1737
  18. Logierait (1673) 1738
  19. Muthill (1704) 1742, 1753
  20. Auchtergaven (1741) 1744, 1746, 1747,1750
  21. Fife 1748
  22. Glasgow & Dunbarton (1609) 1753, 1793, 1797
  23. London 1770
  24. Scone (1620) 1782
  25. Errol (1553) 1792
  26. Kinnoul (1618) 1793, 1794
  27. Lancashire 1803

[1] Blarliargin Farm on the northwest shore of Loch Tay ?

[2] Miscellanies of the Spalding Club, II, The Errol Papers, p. 215.

[3] see analysis, below, page 15.

[4] This account, from a 1920 edition of Saturday Night magazine, was based on the account of John Crerar, who as a 13-year-old child, pioneered North Easthope with his father Alexander and family.

[5] letter from Christopher C. Crerar of Montrose, Angus. This tale, of course, only works if the Gaelic word for “carrier” sounds like its English equivalent.

[6] It is also possible that Carraher is a variant, although I have yet to confirm this with the Carraher Society in Crieff.

The surname is also confused, at least typographically, with the relatively rare surnames of Creran and Crerand. These surnames are most prominent in Glasgow. Creran is probably derived from Glen Creran, Argyllshire.

[7] e.g. Crere (1611); Creer (1622); Creere (1652) [Moore, The Surnames and Place Names of the Isle of Man]. It is interesting that according to the family legends of another branch of the family, the Crerars were originally Picts, who came from the Shetlands (although I suspect that this represents a jumble of history, the Picts being centred in Breadalbane. [Nicola Crerar of Edinburgh letter]

[8] The name change occurred after 1804 — researched by Christine Glover of Polmont, Falkirk, Scotland.