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Variant(s): Cringind
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Alex's essayEdit

(with an insert or two from Cheryl)


I began working on this essay many years ago. This version was last edited on August 4, 1998. It requires much further work, and likely will never be finished. Alex Cringan, November 15, 2008.

CRINGAN is an uncommon surname in North America. There probably are fewer than 100 families of CRINGANS in Canada and the USA. A number of different family lines can be recognized. I hope that by summarizing my knowledge of these different lines, I may help others interested in CRINGAN family history to work things out a little more easily. Little information about CRINGAN families living in Scotland is included in this note.


Descendants of Alexander Thom Cringan (1860-1931) and Lillias Rennie WAUGH

These are descendants of Alexander Thorn CRINGAN (1860-1931) and Lillias Rennie WAUGH (1861-1932), who emigrated from Carluke, Lanarkshire, Scotland to Toronto, Ontario, Canada in the 1880s. Thirteen families with descendants named Cringan now live in Ontario (8), British Columbia (1), Colorado (2), Idaho (1), and Arizona (1). There have been and are numerous families through female descendants, with surnames including ATKINSON, CAMPBELL, CARLISLE, GARDNER, MacDONALD, MacINTYRE, MORROW, TAYLOR, and TRIMBLE, along with many others.


Descendants of Robert CRINGAN ( 1852-1935)  and Mary (nee Russell) Cringan (1856-1943)

Robert CRINGAN (1851-?), an older brother of Alexander Thorn CRINGAN named above in (1), emigrated from Carluke to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada at about the same time. Descendants of his named CRINGAN now live in Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, and California. (N .B. There are many Cringans in California; as far as I know, at present all are descended either from the Manitoba CRINGANS or the Missouri CRINGANS.) My name is Cheryl (nee Cringan) Wong. I grew up in Winnipeg and now, live in Alberta. I have a bible that Robert Cringan had. In the inner cover, there is a stamp stating: Robert Cringan, Cabinet Maker & Co., Carluke,Scotland. My granfather, Alexander Cringan, a son of Robert and Mary (nee Russell) Cringan married Margaret "Peggy" Moore in Winnipeg and had 3 children, Robert Russell, my father, Dorothy, and Arthur "Leslie" Cringan. I have a newspaper clipping of Alexander's obituary and it stated he was 64 years of age at his death. As I know the cemetary in which Alexander is buried, I found the date of death to be Dec. 9, 1948. Therefore, Alexander would have been born in 1884. He had been a cashier with Dominion Bridge company for 35 years and that he had come to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1902. Furthermore, it mentions that he was active in sports, particularly in soccer and was a member of the Britannia Football association. He was a life member of the Assiniboine Masonic Lodge, no 114, G.R.M. During the first World War, Alexander served with the Queens' Own Cameron Highlanders. The obituary lists surviving relatives as: 3 brothers Fred and Robert Cringan of Vancouver and Ronald of Los Angeles, California and 4 sisters Mrs. J. Atiken and Mrs. R. Bonar of Vancouver, Mrs A. Lloyd of Oakland, California and Mrs. A. MacPherson of Winnipeg. Alexander is interned in the St. Vital Cementary, Winnipeg, Manitoba. His wife, Margaret, died in 1972 and buried in San Diego, California.

Children of Alexander and Margaret:

Robert Russell Cringan (04/07/1915 - 28/10/2003) ( Resembled the Russell family)

Married Irene Dakin on Sept.12,1942 and had 1 daughter, Cheryl (nee Cringan) Wong.

Dorothy (nee Cringan) Blake and later, Dorothy Ramsey (Resembled the Russell family)

Dorothy married Keith Blake from New Zealand about the time of WW2 and had no children. Dorothy,Keith and Alexander's wife , Margaret Cringan moved to Vancouver about 1955 and later, moved to San Diego, California. Dorothy and Keith were divorced about 1972 or 1973. She, later, remarried Mike Ramsey.

Arthur "Leslie" Cringan

Married Lillian Milne and had 6 children: Gary, Colleen, Ronald, Allen John, Debra and Eleanor. Eleanor was the only child born in the United States. Leslie and Lillian moved to Los Angelos about 1955 and later to Chula Vista, California. When Leslie retired, he and Lillian moved to Murrieta, California. Leslie died about 2008 or 2009. Lillian is still living at the time of writing (2012/03/18). Lelsie resembled closely his grandfather Robert Russell Cringan and Alexander Thom Cringan.

I also remember my father, Robert, mentioning that his uncle Ronald Cringan and Aunt Mona lived somewhere within the San Francisco area so they may have moved later from Los Angeles.

My father did not relate much about his side of the family. When I went to university, I knew that he had a cousin working at the university and one day met Nettie McPherson, who never married. I am only now making the connection to my father's side of the family. Much later we visited his cousin, Robert Cringan who had moved from Vancouver to work in Winnipeg. This Robert Cringan adopted 3 children: Robert, Barbara and Drew. I think Drew still may be in Winnipeg. Robert, the son, was living in Calgary a number of years ago and I met him with my father. I only got to know my father's other cousin, Mary (nee McPherson) King, who was the sister of Nettie, and also lived in Winnipeg. Mary had one son, Robert, who was very intelligent and did a doctorate degree in a reowned university in the United States. He worked on satellites after his degree.

I found an obituary for Nettie McPherson stating her death on 13/10/2000. There is a listing in the St. Vital Cemetary for the death of Mary King on 11/22/2004. Mary lived in St. Vital so I am assuming this death is accurate. Below her is the death of Maurice King, who would have been Mary's husband on 1/3/1997.

I found some of the information on this page did link some of the information my father, Robert, did share with me. He did tell me our family was linked to the King of Sweden. I also lived with lady from Norway while doing another Bachelor's degree in Edmonton. She stated that she knew my last name since she had lived in High Prairie, Alberta in which there were people with the last name of Kringan. Myfather also did mention his uncle Ronald and aunt Mona but stated Oakland not Los Angeles. He also mentioned that a great grandfather was Irish. Now I realize that there is a possibility there is some Irish in me, too.

I remember times when Uncle Jack, who actually was my great uncle or my father's uncle, come to dinner and play crib with the family. He was from Vancouver. I am not certain whether this uncle is from my father's paternal or maternal side of the family. I think his last name was Atiken, which would mean he married, my grandfather's sister mentioned above as J. Atiken .

I also know that one of my father's aunts, who was named "Bella", which may be short for Isobel or Isabella, lived to 100 yr. as my father and my mother went to her celebration in British Columbia. I am uncertain as to which side of my father's family she was related.


Descendants of Elizabeth CRINGAN and John RUSSELL

A sister of the Alexander Thorn CRINGAN named above in (1), Elizabeth CRINGAN (1849- ) married John RUSSELL (1848- ). A few of their descendants, including some RUSSELLS and DONALDSONS, live in Ontario.


Descendants of Janet CRINGAN and Robert HENDRIE

Another of Alexander Thorn CRINGAN's sisters, Janet CRINGAN (1842-1911), married Robert HENDRIE (1835- ) and then emigrated to South Africa.


Descendants of Isobel CRINGEN and Robert WILLIAMSON

Robert WILLIAMSON (Feb 16, 1796-1847 ) and his wife Isobel CRINGEN (ca 1798-1882 ), both born in Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, emigrated to Canada in 1831. Along with four children, Ann (1821-1904 ), William (1823-1909), Marion (1825- ), and James (1828- 1831), they settled in Lot 21, Con. 3, Eldon Twp., Victoria County, Ontario Canada.; this is west and slightly north of Lindsay. James was only 3 years old,when he was killed by a falling tree. Ann married William Galloway and they farmed in Thorah Twp Ontario. William Williamson married Janet (Jessie) Galloway (1821-1876).

I do not know whether Isobel CRINGEN was related to any of the CRINGANS of North America.


Descendants of David CRINGAN and Agnes STEWART

A number of families of CRINGANS living in Missouri, Kansas, and California, and perhaps also in Arizona and Colorado, are descended from David CRINGAN (c.1806- ) and Agnes STEWART (c.1806- ) who lived in Muirkirk, Ayrshire, Scotland in the early 1800s. I do not know how these CRINGANS are related to either the Carluke CRINGANS or the Kilmarnock CRINGANS. (N.B. There are many Cringans in California; as far as I know, at present all are descended from either the Manitoba CRINGANS or the Missouri CRINGANS.) (N.B. One person has suggested that some of the Missouri CRINGANS may have had Irish ancestors; this is presently unverified.)


About a dozen families of CRINGANS live in and around Fitchburg, Massachusetts. They are all descended from John Lawrie Cringan (1878-1954) and Mary ORR (1879- ), both of whom were born in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland, and emigrated to Massachusetts between 1910 and 1915. John Lawrie CRINGAN's paternal grandparents were [[William CRINGAN]] and Jean LAWRIE of Kilmarnock, who were married in 1837.


There were CRINGANS in Virginia at various times between the late 1700s and 1895. I have no record of where they may have come from, and their relation to other CRINGAN lines is not known.


Scottish Cringans with no Known Connection to Modern Lines

The Old Parish Records for Scotland show two 17th century lines of CRINGANS (CRINGIND) with known connections neither to each other nor to any of the modern lines outlined above.

Robert CRINGIND married Jonat BLACKWOOD in the High Church, Glasgow, on June 19, 1664. I have found no record of their parents or their children.

James CRINGAN and Marion LITTLEJOHN, both with implied birth years around 1680, had at least two children Robert CRINGAN, born November 24, 1697 in Glasgow, and James CRINGAN, born August 27, 1699 in Glasgow.

John CRINGAN and Janet McMOTH, both with implied birth years around 1748, had a daughter, Isabel CRINGAN, who was born in Crawford, Lanarkshire, on January 29, 1768.


At least two families of KRINGENS live in and near Northfield, Minnesota. At least O&le family is of Norwegian extraction, from the village of Kringen, situated in the Gudbrandsdalen to the north of Lillehamer.

2. Descendants of Robert Cringan and Elizabeth Ellis of LanarkshireEdit

1 Robert Cringan (1800-) + Elizabeth ELLIS (1800-)

2 Robert Cringan (1821-) + Janet THOM (1826-)

Janet Cringan and Robert Hendrie are the progenitors of the Hendries, the South African branch of the family.

3 Janet Cringan (1842-1911) + Robert HENDRIE (1835-1888)
4 Jessie Thom Hendrie (1860-1953)+ Robert DRINNAN (1860-)
4 Maggie Martin HENDRIE 1862 - 1951
4 Elizabeth Cringan Hendrie (1864-1951)
+John BAILLIE 1864 -
4 John HENDRIE 1865 - 1949
+Notknown NOTKNOWN 1865 -
4 Jeanie Cringan HENDRIE 1867 - 1957
4 Robert Cringan HENDRIE 1869 - 1921
4 William Alexander HENDRIE 1871 - 1872
4 George Thom HENDRIE 1873 - 1920
+Notknown NOTKNOWN 1873 -
4 Alfred James Corbett HENDRIE 1876 - 1951
+Notknown NOTKNOWN 1876 -
4 Alexander Cringan HENDRIE 1878 - 1909
4 Violet Russell HENDRIE 1883 - 1950
3 Elizabeth Cringan (1849-1906)
+John RUSSELL 1848 - 1919
4 Robert RUSSELL 1865 - 1865

William Anderson Russell and Annie Ethel Clark are the progenitors of the Russell Family

4 William Anderson RUSSELL 1870 - 1945
+Annie Ethel CLARK 1869 - 1947

Robert Cringan and Mary Russell are the progenitors of the Winnipeg Cringans

3 Robert CRINGAN 1851 - 1930
+Mary RUSSELL 1856 - 1943
4 son of Robert CRINGAN 1876 -
4 Frederick Charles CRINGAN 1878 - 1963
+Jean MILLAR 1891 - 1981
4 Nettie CRINGAN 1879 - 1963
+Robert BONNER 1879 - 1958
4 Robert CRINGAN 1881 - 1962
+Isabelle Mary SCOTT 1880 - 1987
4 Maggie CRINGAN 1883 -
4 Child8 CRINGAN 1888 -
4 Lizzie CRINGAN 1890 -
+Gwylm JONES 1890 - 1916
4 Fred CRINGAN 1892 -
4 Mona CRINGAN 1894 -
4 Child11 CRINGAN 1896 -
4 Ronald McDonald CRINGAN 1901 - 1984
+Hortense MARBLE 1906 - 2002
3 Margaret CRINGAN 1854 -

Alexander Thom Cringan and Lillias Rennie Waugh are the progenitors of the Toronto Cringans


3 Alexander Thom CRINGAN 1860 - 1931
+Lillias Rennie WAUGH 1861 - 1929
4 Robert Ellis CRINGAN 1883 - 1907
4 John Waugh CRINGAN 1885 - 1949
+Evelyn May CRAIG 1890 - 1959
4 Rennie (Agnes Rennie) CRINGAN 1887 - 1968
+William Burbage Smyth TRIMBLE - 1921
4 Janet Thom CRINGAN 1889 - 1972
+E. Lloyd MORROW 1884 - 1951
4 Lillias Waugh CRINGAN 1890 - 1967
+William Cameron MacINTYRE 1875 - 1945
4 Elizabeth Russell CRINGAN 1893 - 1983
4 Isobel Margaret CRINGAN 1895 - 1966
+Roderick MacDONALD 1890 - 1973
4 Anne (Annie Clark) CRINGAN 1897 - 1977
+Pete (Ewen Sutherland) CAMPBELL - 1948
4 Helen Macdonald CRINGAN 1899 - 1924
4 Marie Alexander CRINGAN 1901 - 1992
+Walter Stanley TAYLOR
4 Catherine Gartshore CRINGAN 1907 - 1960
+Joseph Story ATKINSON 1904 - 1968
3 Jane CRINGAN 1858 -


(An essay that has been under development since 1983.)

N.B. This essay incorporates in part the content of earlier separate essays on “The Name Cringan”, “Cringans of the World”, and “Prella Gury: Heroine and Rightly So”.

Names similar to Cringan



Cringen, Crinnion, etc.

Crinan Place Names

Etymology of Cringan and similar words

Cringans in the Early 19th Century

The name “Cringan" was used by our ancestors in southern Scotland early in the 19th Century. I have reached this conclusion on the bases of two separate pieces of evidence. First, the late John Clark Russell, who lived in Pollokshields, Glasgow, until his death in 1987 (?), a grandson of Elizabeth Cringan RUSSELL (1849-?), who was an older sister of Alexander Thom CRINGAN (1861-1931), has traced his ancestry to his great- grandfather Robert Ellis CRINGAN (1821-?). The second piece of evidence was given to me by Harold Grieg CRINGAN (of 3786 37th Street, San Diego, CA 92105), in the spring of 1981. His grandfather was John Grieg CRINGAN (1836-1892), who emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1888. John Grieg CRINGAN's parents were David CRINGAN and Agnes STEWART Cringan. It seems likely that this particular David CRINGAN would have been born either shortly before or shortly after 1800.

So far (to 1989) I have been unable to establish a linkage between Robert Ellis CRINGAN and David CRINGAN -but it would appear that they were contemporaries in Scotland in the early 1800s.

Variations of the Name "Cringan"

Several years prior to 1983, Wynn CRINGAN of 6311 Rodolph Road, Victoria, BC, sent me a copy of a page from Sir Bernard Burke's “The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales", published in 1884. Burke had given CRINAN and CRINZIAN as alternative spellings of CRINGAN. I have not yet corroborated that any of out ancestors spelled their surnames either CRINAN or CRINZIAN. Still, we should be alert for such variations. Other possible variations, inferred from a document obtained by my brother John Craig CRINGAN, from the Mormon Church Genealogical Library in Salt Lake City, are CRINGIAN, CRINGON, CRINON, and CRININ. Black (1946) considered the old Gaelic name Crinan to be the diminutive of Crin, who was a Pictish king. His name may have been derived from the Irish word crin, meaning dry or withered.

The Place Name "CRINAN"

Crinan is a small community on the west coast of Scotland, well to the west of and slightly north of Glasgow. It is on the Sound of Jura, opposite the northern end of the island of Jura (which island is the home of the MacLean Clan). Crinan is close to the territories of the MacCallums, Campbells, MacColls, and MacMillans.

The Crinan Canal links Crinan, on the Sound of Jura, with Ardrishaig which is situated on Loch Fyne. According to William Ferguson, in his "Scotland: 1869 to the Present", published in 1968, this was a canal of limited national importance. It was first projected by Trustees of the Forfeited Estates, to give the fisherfolk of the northwest easier access to the markets in Glasgow. The Crinan Canal route was surveyed by James Watt. The canal was constructed under the supervision of John Rennie between 1793 and 1801. Financial troubles led to cost-cutting and sub-standard work. The state assumed administration of the Crinan Canal in 1848. The rise of the large steamships further reduced its usefulness.

Alastair Ingles Danaid, in his "Scotland in Color" (1970), gives a lovely photograph of the basin at the Crinan end of the Crinan Canal, together with a charming account of the trip by sea from Ardrishaig to the Coast of Arran, in the Clyde estuary.

In a biological aside, the Crinan Canal is the type locality of the Crinan ear moth, Amphipoea crinanensis (Knowlton 1974). Knowlton wrote of moths which feed on the marshy vegetation of loch margins: " ...A few species are more particularly associated with Scotland. The Crinan ear moth Amphipoea crinanensis was first discovered in 1899 at the Crinan Canal and subsequently determined as a species in its own right, distinct from the ear moth A. oculeaj the larvae feed on the flag iris [Iris pseudocorus -name added by ATC] and have been found in various places in Scotland and northern England. .."

The Crinan area also is noted for its richness of Neolithic (later part of the Stone Age, during which humans made polished stone weapons, and began to raise cattle) archaeological sites. James H. Ottaway Jr., president of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc., wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Nov. 17th, 1983:"This gave me three days to recover from our golf marathon at my favorite Scottish resting place, the Crinan Hotel on the west coast of the Argyll district at the north end of the Crinan Canal, which brings yachts across the Kintyre Peninsula to the Sound of Jura.

Nicholas and Frances Ryan are the cheerful innkeepers of Crinan. and he is the gourmet genius who has made his seafood restaurant the only one in the British Isles to win a star of excellence in Egon Ronay's guidebook. The Kilmartin valley behind the Crinan Hotel harbor is a treasure trove of interesting Neolithic sites. I spent my last day in Scotland. dressed against the rain. revisiting the beautiful Temple Wood stone circles, with a strange triple spiral carved around the edge of one standing stone; six tall standing stones in a field near Ballymeanoch. and many flat stones with the undeciphered cup and ring rock writing of Neolithic men. Perhaps they were putting round stones into prehistoric golf cups."

The Name "CRINAN" in the History of Scotland

We have seen that Crinan is accepted as a variant of the name Cringan, and that there is a small community called Crinan in western Scotland, together with a canal named after this community. We do not know whether there is any connection between our ancestors and the community of Crinan. The name Crinan also appears in the history of Scotland. As serious students of Shakespeare's MacBeth will recall, Crinan "the Thane", lay Abbot of Dunkeld, was a figure in that story. I shall try to synthesize the story of Crinan the Thane (a person of rank equivalent to that of an earl's son, who held lands belonging to the King, or alternately, chief of a clan, who might have become one of the King's barons) from accounts in Caroline Bingham's "The Kings and Queens of Scotland" (1976), Anthony Wagner's "'Pedigree and Progress" (1975), and William Croft Dickinson's "A New History of Scotland" (1961). 1Bethoc, the elder daughter of Malcolm II (King of Scots, 1005-1034), married Crinan the Thane, the lay Abbot of Dunkeld. Bingham concluded that Crinan was a great nobleman, and had the added advantage of belonging to the kindred of St. Columba, an Irish missionary serving in Scotland, who lived from 521-597 CE. Crinan and Bethoc were the parents of Duncan I, King of Scotland (1001-1040), who was named for the abbacy of Dunkeld. Duncan was murdered by his first cousin MacBeth in 1040. MacBeth slew Crinan in a battle at Dunkeld in 1045. Malcolm III, Duncan's son, had been a small child at the time of Duncan's death. After taking refuge in England and growing up, Malcolm, aided by Siward, defeated MacBeth at Scone in 1054, then slew MacBeth at Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire in 1057. Malcolm III was King of the Scots from 1058 until 1093. He was the grandson of Bethoc and Crinan the Thane. Wagner (1975) reported that George S. H. L. Washington, in n argument accepted by Sir Charles Clay, contended that George Washington, first President of the U. S. A., had a clear male line descent from Maldred, brother of Duncan I, and son of Crinan the Thane. It is further possible that both Washington and Crinan the Thane were descended directly along male lines from the oldest western European dynasty, that of the High Kings of Ireland, according to Wagner.

Derivation of the Name "CRINGAN"

It is not possible to determine unequivocally the origin and meaning of the name "Cringan' at this time. If it is of Norwegian origin, Norwegian being one of the North Germanic Family of languages, it has one meaning. If it is a word from the Scots Gaelic, a language of the Celtic family, it may have a quite different meaning. There are Greek-based words which are very similar, carrying still different implications. The nautical term "cringle" refers to an eye or grommet formed on the bolt rope of a sail to permit the attachment of lines, usually consisting of a thimble surrounded by a strop of rope or wire, or to the thimble itself (Random House Dictionary 1966). The word has rots in low German, kring for circle, plus the diminutive suffix, e1, in the dead Middle English language, in which Cring1e was a place name, and in Icelandic (one of the North Germanic languages closely related to Norwegian), in which kring1a is a circle. The commonly used English word cringe means to shrink, bend, or crouch, among other things. It is derived from the Middle English word cringe(n), in turn from the Old English Cringan, causative of cringan which meant to yield or to fall (in battle). The Oxford English Dictionary traces cringe as a causal derivative of the strong verb found in Old English with the double form cringan~ CRINAN~ which meant to draw oneself together spasmodically, to shrink together into a bent or crooked position. A number of seldom-used English words such as crined have been derived from the Old French word cried, meaning hair, itself a derivative of the Latin word crisis. Crinkle, a common word in everyday use, is akin to the Old English word CRINAN, to bend or to yield, and the Dutch word krinke1en, to crinkle. Crinanthropy is a Greek-based word suggesting the name Cringan. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this word, meaning judgment of men, was coined by E. A. Abbott in 1891. It can be compared to the more familiar word misanthropy, the hating of men. Abbott wrote: "For one misanthropist there are a thousand or ten thousand crinanthropists. "

What does all this Mean?

There is a large gap between the 11th Century, with Malcolm II, Bethoc, Crinan, Duncan, Malcolm III and Maldred, and the early 19th Century, when we encounter David Cringan and Robert Ellis Cringan as contemporaries in southern Scotland. Indeed, I do not yet know whether these latter two were even related to each other. Hopefully, we may ultimately be able to reach back and determine our ancestry through this past millennium.

Literature Cited

ANONYMOUS. 1980. The times concise atlas of the world. Revised edition. Times Books Ltd., London. ISBN 0 8129-0057-7 BLACK, George F. 1946. The surnames of Scotland: Their origin meaning, and history. The New York Public Library. 838 pp. (Reprinted in 1962.) KNOWLTON, Derrick. 1974. The naturalist in Scotland. David & Charles. Newton Abbot, Devon. 228 pp ISBN 0 7153 6627 0 OTTAWAY, James H., Jr. 1983. LEISURE AND ARTS: Links to the past: golf amid Scotland's stone circles. The Wall Street Journal November 17, 1983, p. 28.

Written at Fort Collins~ Colorado Revised Aug. 31st, 1989; subsequently revised a little.

See alsoEdit

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