Crawford, David (DNB00)

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CRAWFORD, DAVID (1665–1726), of Drumsoy, historiographer for Scotland, born in 1665, was the son of David Crawford of Drumsoy, and a daughter of James Crawford of Baidland, afterwards Ardmillan, a prominent supporter of the anti-covenanting persecution in Scotland. He was educated at the university of Glasgow and called to the bar, but having devoted himself to the study of history and antiquities was appointed historiographer for Scotland by Queen Anne. In 1706 he published ‘Memoirs of the Affairs of Scotland, containing a full and impartial account of the Revolution in that Kingdom begun in 1567. Faithfully published from an authentic manuscript.’ The manuscript was, he said, presented him by Sir James Baird of Saughton Hall, who purchased it from the widow of an episcopal clergyman. The ‘Memoirs’ were dedicated to the Earl of Glasgow, and the editor stated that his aim in publishing them was to furnish an antidote to what he regarded as the pernicious tendency of Buchanan's ‘History.’ For more than a century the work was, on the testimony of Crawford, received as the genuine composition of a contemporaneous writer, and implicitly relied upon by Hume, Robertson, and other historians, until Malcolm Laing in 1804 published ‘The Historie and Life of King James the Sext’ as contained in the Belhaven MS., the avowed prototype of Crawford's ‘Memoirs.’ Laing asserted the ‘Memoirs’ of Crawford to be an impudent forgery, and showed that the narrative had been garbled throughout, by the omission of every passage unfavourable to Mary, and the insertion of statements from Camden, Spottiswood, Melville, and others, these writers being at the same time quoted in the margin as collateral authorities. The Newbattle MS. of the same ‘Historie,’ in the possession of the Marquis of Lothian, was published by the Bannatyne Club in 1825. Crawford was the author of: 1. ‘Courtship-a-la-mode, a comedy,’ 1700. 2. ‘Ovidius Britannicus, or Love Epistles in imitation of Ovid,’ 1703. 3. ‘Love at First Sight, a comedy,’ 1704. He died in 1726, leaving an only daughter and heiress, Emilia, who died unmarried in 1731.

[Chalmers's Biog. Dict. x. 489–90; Chambers's Dict. of Eminent Scotsmen (Thomson), i. 395–396; Burke's Landed Gentry, ii. 385; Baker's Biog. Dram. (ed. 1812), i. 155; Laing's Preface to Historie of James Sext; Catalogue of Advocates' Library, Edinburgh.]

T. F. H.