Craven Surname Genealogy

Craven surname in England derives from the district of Craven around
Skipton in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The place name was
recorded as Crave in the Domesday Book of 1086 and is thought to have
come from the Welsh word craf
meaning garlic (in the Middle Ages the Craven area was known for its
wild garlic). Other origins for the Craven name
have been suggested.
Craven can also be Irish. It has its roots from the O’Crabhadain sept in county
Galway. In English this name would be pronounced Cravane (and anglicized to Creavan
or Craven).

Resources on

Craven Ancestry

The first mention of Craven as a surname in Yorkshire appears to be a
Thomas de Craven, son of Ragnald de Rawdon, in the early 13th

Yorkshire William Craven
was born in the village of Appletreewick near Skipton in the year
1548. He came to London as an apprentice at the age of fourteen
and it was there that he made his fortune. He died one of the
richest men of his time.

With the money his widow Elizabeth
acquired the estates of Coombe Abbey near Coventry and Uffington in
Berkshire. These were to remain the family seats for
generations. His son William, a soldier, used the family wealth
in support of
Charles I. Although the estates were sequestered in 1652, he and
the family returned
to favor and privilege with the Restoration. William died
unmarried in 1664. The estate passed to his cousin William from
whose brother John the Craven title is descended.

These Cravens were rich and powerful for many centuries. They
left their name to Craven county in North Carolina (in 1712), Craven
Cottage in London (in 1780), and Craven A cigarettes (in 1860),
as well as to many Craven-named pubs around the country.

There were other
Cravens from Yorkshire of course:

  • one Craven
    family history traces back to the Dewsbury area in the early
  • another Craven family were weavers in Keithley.
    John Craven of this family started a cotton spinning business at Walk
    Mill in the 1780’s. These Cravens lived in Steeton.
  • other
    Cravens from Colne on the Yorkshire/Lancashire moved to Keithley in the
    early 1800’s and prospered in the building trade. John Henry Craven
    built his country home Beeches
    in 1913. He was a renowned orchid grower. His wife Nan in
    1906 was one of Keithley’s first women drivers.

Ireland. The
Craven numbers are relatively small in
Ireland. The name has tended to be Creavan or Creavans rather
than Craven in
Galway. As one descendant described their circumstance:

“They remained poor, Gaelic-speaking,
Catholic, subsistence farmers, and mainly living in the vicinity of
Corrandulla on the east bank of Lough Corrib.”

There were some Cravens in county Offaly and elsewhere. These
Cravens may represent English implants.

The noble Craven family of England
generally stayed at home (although Lord Craven was one of the lords
proprietors of North Carolina). There does not appear to be any
confirmed connection between this family and the Cravens who came to
America. These Cravens have been of various origins – English,
Irish and even possibly Dutch (this being the Jacobus Craven from
upstate New York who built himself Craven Hall in Warminster,
Pennsylvania in the 1720’s).

The widowed Ann Craven and her two sons Thomas and Peter had arrived
from London in 1677 and settled in John
Fenwick’s Quaker colony in Salem, New Jersey:

  • fifty years later
    Thomas Craven, also from London, came to Monmouth county. He was
    an early professor at Princeton University.
  • his son Gershom
    practiced as a doctor and was the war surgeon to George
  • from Gershom came the naval Cravens of Maine (after
    whom several US warships have been named).

Robert Cravens (of possible Irish stock) had been born in 1696 in that
part of Pennsylvania which became Delaware. He later moved to
Augusta county, Virginia and his descendants to Kentucky and
Missouri. In the 1830’s Jeremiah Cravens of this family was one
of the first settlers in what was then still Arkansas territory; while Mary Cravens
headed south to Texas
a decade later with her

Another Craven family, originally from Leeds in
Yorkshire, came to Texas in 1854 and settled in Bagdad and Leander
(where they still remain).

Peter Craven, often referred to by his descendants as the Patriarch,
come to
Randolph county, North Carolina in the mid 1700’s and there followed
from him a
long line of
Craven potters
in that area. Two books have been
written to recount this family history:

  • Mary Craven Purvis’s Craven
    in 1985
  • and Quincy Scarborough’s The
    Craven Family of Southern Folk Potters
    in 2005.

There has been a reunion of the
descendants of Peter Craven each year.

From Preston in Lancashire in 1865 came a young
Richard Craven in search of his fortune. He went gold prospecting
in Queensland and struck lucky in 1872. He became wealthy, moved
to Sydney, and became well-known in Australia’s horse-racing
circles. From county Galway in Ireland two years later came
Timothy Creaven and his wife Sabina. They became Cravens in
Australia and settled in Geelong, Victoria.

South Africa. Danie
Craven, the country’s rugby supremo until 1993, was the grandson of a
Yorkshire farmer from Steeton who had come to farm in Lindley, Orange
Free State in the 1890’s. He grew up on the family farm
Noorspoort that lay just outside Steytlerville.

Craven Miscellany

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

Select Craven Names

William Craven, born near Skipton,
was a London merchant who became Lord Mayor of London in 1610 and
founded the Craven family fortunes.
was a 19th century US naval officer who rose to
prominence during the Civil War.
Danie Craven was the formidable
head of South African rugby, as coach and administrator, from the
1950’s to the 1990’s.

Select Cravens

  • 9,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 6,000 in America (most numerous
    in Pennsylvania)
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).




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