John Cringan (bef1768-1808)
Birth: bef 1768
Death: Nov. 8, 1808
Spouse/Partner: Jane Stewart (abt 1768-1789)
Marriage: Feb. 20, 1788
2nd Spouse: Mary Ann Notknown


Name Birth Death

Robert B. Cringan (1801-1866) 1801

This is the story of the Cringans of Virginia. It is based largely on a manuscript that I wrote on Aug. 3, 1994. I shall attempt to revise and improve the account as time goes on. ATC, Jan.18, 2009.



It is a scant 12 years after the American Revolution. It is a year after the purchase of the site that was to become Toronto from Mississauga Indians, by Sir Guy Charleton. It would be 99 years before my ancestors, Alexander Thom Cringan and his wife Lillias Rennie Waugh, along with their two young sons, Robert Ellis and John Waugh Cringan would emigrate from Carluke, Lanarkshire, Scotland to Toronto on 1887. But were Alex and Lily Cringan the first Cringans in North America? We now (=2009) know that they were not. Thomas Cringan was in Montreal at an earlier date, and still earlier, there were Cringans in Virginia. We also now know that Cringan has been a plastic name, changing at the will of persons claiming the Cringan name. This is the story of these Cringans (= Cringers = Cringhans) of Virginia, commencing in 1788.


There was a personal note in the Virgiia Independent Chronicler of Feb. 20, 1778, that Dr. John Cringer of Richmond had married Mis Jane Stewart, daughter of Charles Stewart,c Esq., of London.

It was reported in the Virginia Gazette, that Mrs. Jane Cringhan, wife of Dr. John Cringhan, had died on April 30, 1789.

It seems highly improbable that there could have been two couples with such similar names as Dr. John and Jane Cringer, and Dr. John and Jane Cringhan in Richmond at about the same time. I assume that they are the same couples.

As to Jane Stewart Cringer, narried in February, 1778 - if she was the same woman as Jane Cringhan, who died April, 1789, then she lived for only 14 months after her marriage.

John Cringan was one of 128 memorialists from Richmond, Manchester, and places adjacent in the state of Virginia to petirion in (1791?) to the Bank of the United States to establish a Branch of the National Bank at Richmond.

Once again, I assume that this John Cringan, Dr. John Cringer, and Dr. John Cringhan are the same person.

"The Bank of the United States was incorporated by Act of Congress, approved by President Washington, February 25, 1781. The bill was the subject of long debate and the cabinet was divided on the question of its constitutionality; Jefferson and Randilph giving opinions against it, and Hamilton in its favor. The legal existence of the bank terminated in 1811, and Congress refused to renew the charter." (Source of quotation not recorded.)

Among arguments favoring Richmond that were used by these memorialists was that " . . . From Richmond and Manchester . . . about 20,000 hhds. of Tobacco are annually exported . . . estimated at 35 Dollars per hhd. on an avergae, above 300,000 Bushels of Wheat worth least 3/4th of a dollar per Bushel, considerable quantity of Flour, Indian Corn, Hemp and Coal, . . .".(I wonder, was an hhd. a hogshead, being the equivalent of 100-140 gallons? If so, how much the cost of tobacco has increased and how little the cost of wheat in 200 years!)

Fellow memorialists of John Cringan's included Geo. Nicholson, C. Copland, and Andr. Nicholson. Their surnames occur elsewhere in this story.

In 1802, a Jno. Cringan was Secretary to the wedding of Carter Braxton Page and Rebecca Nucholson.

I wonder, what was a Secretary at a marriage?

A court case in 1807 (1 H&M 454, 1807) involved Cringan and Atcheson vs. Nicolson's Executors.

"GEORGE NICOLSON, dec'd. Will dated 12 March 1802. He, in partnership with John Cringan and William Atcheson has bought of William Mayo some sixteen acres at Rockets, Richmond, where they operated a rope-walk company, with Nicolson as suoerintendent and agent, who went to Maderia in 1802 whence he never returned. Richardson Taylor had been his clerk. Andrew and Thomas Nicolson his executors, the latter is stated to have been the brother of the testator."

According to Webster's, a rope-walk is a long, covered walk, or a long building, where ropes are manufactured.

The Virginia Gazette reported the death of Dr. Jno. Cringanon Nov. 8, 1808.

From these events recorded between 1778 and 1808, it seems likely that Dr. John Cringan (Cringer, Cringhan), a prominent businessman of Richmond, Virginia in the early post-revolutionary years, was born before 1755. I do not know where he was born, or when and where he earned his medical degree. He married Jane Stewart in 1788, and she died in 1789. I havefound no record of Jane Cringan having had a child before she died.

John Cringan's business associates included George Nicolson (Nicholson), Andrew Nicolson and C. Copland, all co-memorialists. It is likely that Dr. Cringan also associated socially with these people, as he served as secrtary at the marriage of Rebecca Nicholson.


In 1816, Charles Copland, an attorney and presumably the same person as memorialist C. Copland referenced earlier, wrote in his diary:

"November 6th. (1816) I set out on a trip to Norfolk with my wife and Mary Ann Cringan and Elizabeth Nicolson. We went on the steamboat Powhatan. The second day after our arrival in Norfolk we were joined by my son Alexander, who came on horse back. We staid at Norfolk 12 days, and thence came to Jamestown in the steamboat; from there to Wiliamsburg in a hack (the ladies) for Richmond. I rode on horseback. Alexander went to Jamestown and took the steamboat. We arrived in Richmond on the 23rd, and excursion of 17 days only.

Our traveling expenses were . . . . $349.88 Of which my share was . . . . . . . $29.82 Mary Cringan's sgare was . . . . . $60.00 Elizabeth Nicolson's share was . . $60.00 _______ $349.88 The most expensive trip I ever made for the time."

It seems likely to me that Ann Cringan of the 1810 Census, and Mary Ann Cringan, the Coplands' traveling companion, were the saem person. I would not be surprised if their other traveling companion Elizabeth Nicolson was the widow of George Nicolson, John Cringan's business partner who died between 1802 and 1807.This would appear to have ben a trip taken by a couple and two of their widow friends.

The 1820 Census for Virginia shows an Ann Cringan in Henrico County, RTichmond. This is the county extending to the southeast of Richmond.

The Richmond Light Infantry Blues were regarded as one of the oldest volunteer companies in the United States in 1841. Officers of the company were very sympathetic to the Greeks of 1824, in their struggle to acvhieve democratic independence. A committee chairded by W,. Murphy, with Robert B. Cringan as Secretary, speedily collected more than $300.00 in support of the Greek cause, for transmittal to the Greek fund in the city of New York.

It would not surpise me if Robert B. Cringan had been the juvenile male in Ann Cringan's household in 1810. bY 1824 this man would have been between 24 and 30 years of age, a reasonable age for an officer in a volunteer unit. Also, the spelling of the surname is correct.

The 1830 Virginia Census shows a Mary Ann Harding Cringen, with no township listed, and an Ann Cringham in MOnroe West Twp., Richmond.

I think that Ann Cringan of 1820 and the Ann Cringham of 1830 are both Mary Ann Cringan, Dr. John Cringan's presumed widow, and that Mary Ann Harding Cringen is a different person.

The 1840 Census for Virginia shows a John Crinan in Frederick County, with no township of residence listed.

I have no idea who this was.

I shall end this account of John Cringan's life story here. The account of the Virginia Cringans will resume with John W. Cringan (1833- ), whose story we find at the time of the Civil War.