Extracted from one of our Publications:
and the Early Days on the Clarence"
- see Publications Page.
Craig arrived free with his
mother and family on the “Prince
Regent” in 1821 and settled in Windsor. The father was
transported on the same ship having been sentenced in Ireland.
He was apprenticed to a stonemason on September 15th, 1828
Some time later he was convicted on purely circumstantial evidence
of stealing five head of cattle belonging to Richard Jones,
He was sentenced to death - that being the penalty in those
days for stealing anything over a certain value. His father,
William Craig, was convicted at the same time for receiving
them - the father was sent to Norfolk Island for 14 years.
The government considered Richard’s youth and comuted
the sentence of death to 7 years hard labour in chains at Moreton
Bay, and was taken there in the ship “City
of Edinburgh” on
Craig escaped from Moreton Bay, as prisoners
were doing since 1825. He reached Port Macquarie in 1831
after negotiating the rivers in between. While there he was
fortunate to recover some straying stock and received commendation.
He was assigned to private service there instead of being
returned to complete his sentence. We next hear of him in
Sydney where he engaged a man to act as intermediary between
himself and the Government, this was to say that for his
pardon and One Hundred pounds he would take a party up to
the “Big River” (the
Clarence) where there were big stands of cedar. This he did
and bought the party up to Shoal Bay (the
entrance) on the
revenue cutter “Prince George”
Craig was a superb bushman and brought
some stock overland on a route from Ebor to “The
South Grafton) known as Craig’s Line. At Guy Fawkes they met
two men, Edward and Frederick Ogilvie, who were exploring for
the rich pastures watered by the “Big
asked if they could join the party and Craig refused.
They pushed on and eventually came to the upper reaches of
the Clarence and established Yulgilbar which reached for fifty
miles along the river.
In 1840 he bought 8,000 sheep down for
J. R. Grose’s
run at Copmanhurst. These were rafted across the river a few
miles above Grafton. This was a wonderful achievement in those
On May 26th 1848 the Deputy Surveyor General, Samuel Perry,
wrote to the Colonial Secretary saying he favoured laying out
allotments on the north side of the river. This was approved
and resulted in the survey of blocks on both sides of the river
- the new Town of Grafton thus came into being. Some settlers
who were already in residence are mentioned on the plan.
The first sale of Town blocks in Grafton and South Grafton
took place on January 22, 1851 at the Police Station. At this
sale Richard Craig purchased a block at South Grafton in Wharf
Richard Craig married Ann Baker and had eight children, three
sons born on the Clarence. William was born in 1843. In the
baptismal entry, Craig is described as superintendent at Eatonsville,
a position of trust and responsibility almost equal to that
of station manager. Son, John, born May 1846 and Richard, August
1847 who died in Brisbane in 1928. He later became a storekeeper
and butcher in South Grafton.
Richard Craig died in July 1855 and
was buried in the Old Vere Street Cemetery (now
South Grafton Public School). No stone was erected to mark the spot. During
his residence and lifetime in South Grafton he was known
as an upright honest and respectable man. The Clarence Valley
owes him a great debt. His descendants still live in the
Clarence district. Richard Craig’s wife later married Richard Lott, an Englishman
who had been formerly married to Bridget Sullivan, sister of
the Sullivan murdered by blacks on Coutt’s Station in