Lieutenant Griffin Craft

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Lieutenant Griffin Craft

Also Known As: "Griffin Crofts", "Griffin Crofte", "Griffin Crafts"
Birthdate: (89)
Birthplace: Probably Yorkshire, England
Death: October 4, 1689 (89)
Roxbury (within present Boston), Suffolk County, Dominion of New England (Present Massachusetts), Colonial America
Immediate Family:

Son of George Craft/Crofte and Marye Craft
Husband of Alice Craft; Ursula Craft and Dorcas Craft
Father of Hannah Wilson; John Crafts, Sr.; Mary Griggs; Lt. Samuel Craft; Moses Craft and 1 other

Occupation: Lt. for 21 yrs. Freeman 18., lieutenant
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Lieutenant Griffin Craft

1630 sailing with Winthrop's party of Colonists. Settled in Roxbury. Located on west bank of muddy river in limits of the town of Roxbury. On "Arbella" Wife Alice and dau. Hannah with him. (and son John born aboard ship)

From "The Crafts Family. A genealogical and biographical history of the descendants of Griffin and Alice Craft of Roxbury, Massachusetts, 1630-1890":

We have no distinct account of the original of this family, only the tradition of the country refers to the building of Croft Castle, which has always been the seat of it, to the Saxon times, which is more probable, since from the earliest accounts we have, at least with any tolerable degree of certainty, this appears to have been a family of eminence in Herefordshire, and to have been even then reputed of great antiquity.


It will be noted that in all of the foregoing families the letter "o" is used in spelling the name, and that the Saxham families add the terminal "s". The name in Great Britain in all times, both ancient and modern, has been almost invariably spelled with the letter o, the names Craft and Crafts being comparatively rare. (An exception was Capt. Henry Crafts, son of the Duke of Monmouth and Commander of her Majesty's ship "Gosport" in 1702).

Griffin Craft wrote his name both Croft and Craft, his signature thus appearing as grantor in deeds and as a witness to wills, etc., yet extant. In the Colonial and Town records, his name is spelled Craift, Crofte, Craft, and Crafts. It is noteworthy that prior to 1650 it was always spelled Crofte, being so spelled when he took the oath of a Freeman in 1631; when a Deputie to the General Court in 1638, and when he served as a juror in 1640. It is therefore evident that in his younger days, he used the letter "o" changing to "a" later in life.

It is a fact perhaps not generally known, that in ancient times the letter "o" and the letters "ai" were used interchangeably. Thus the name Croft and the name Craift were synonymous. Hence from Croft, the name became Craift, and Craft by omitting the letter i. The origin of the name is of much interest. Croft is an ancient Anglo-Saxon word, signifying "an enclosed field," and the Crofters of Scotland today are yeomen or farmers, thus showing that in Scotland at least, the word has been retained in its original purity. It is a significant fact that probably 80 percent of the family in this country from 1630 to 1890 have been engaged in tilling the meadows. Note also that the Arms and Crests of the Crofts Families of Saxham and West Stow of Velvetstown and Churchtown, consist of a Bull's head on a field of gold; bestowed probably in keeping with the derivation of the same.

One significant fact shown by a reference to the Crest of Croft Castle is that it is the same borne by our earliest ancestor in this country, Griffin Craft. It has been for generation after generation a tradition in the old Roxbury branch of the family that Griffin Craft received his name from his ancestors in England bearing a Griffin as their family crest.


Referring again to the method of spelling the name, we would add, most of the descendants of Griffin Craft wrote it Craft, until about the beginning of the present century, when the terminal "s" was very generally added.


As has been already stated in these pages, it is believed that the greater portion of the Craft family in this country are descended from Lieut. Griffin Craft, who settled in Roxbury, Mass., in 1630, sailing from England with Winthrop's party of colonists. Many of the company came from Boston in Lincolnshire, England, and ultimately gave the name of their former place of abode to their place of settlement here. All the colonists, however, did not settle at Boston, some choosing their famrs and clearing their land in the neighboring country. Among these was Griffon Craft, who located on the west bank of what was called at the time Muddy River, within what wer the limits of the town of Roxbury, but somewhat over a mile from what afterward became the village center. But probably all the early settlers in that section were somewhat scattered, and we soon find him taking an active interest in town affairs and being chosen to many positions of trust and responsibility.

Our records begin with his arrival in this country, accompanied by his wife Alice, and daughter Hannah. No special attempt has been made to ascertain his ancestry or connections in England, researchers having been directed toward ascertaining all that could be learned relating to his descendants. There are, however, reasons for believing that he was a native of Yorkshire, England. His birth must have occurred about the year 1600. (From extracts of) the "record Series of the Yorkshire Archeological Association," which show that many families of Croftes dwelt there between the years 1600 and 1700, to some of whom Griffin is believed to have been related. A family tradition states that he came to this country on the "Arabella".

By his wife Alice he had five more children: John, Mary, Abigail, Samuel, and Moses, all of them (as well as Hannah) being married and leaving descendants. The birth of the eldest son John is the first recorded on the town records, July 10, 1630, and a family tradition states that the birth took place on board ship before landing.

Under the first charter of the Mass. Colony, none were regarded as Freemen, or members of the Body Politic, except such as were admitted by the General Court, and took the oath of allegiance to the established Government. The first General Court in Mass. Bay was held Oct. 19, 1630. The next General Court was the Court of Election for 1631.

Lieut. Griffin Craft's name appears in the second installment of those who were made Freemen, viz.: May 18, 1631.

From the work entitled "The Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England," we find that Griffin Croft was a Deputy to the General Court holden at Boston, March 13, 1638. He was again a Deputy to the Courts of Election holden May 27, 1663, and May 18, 1664, at which Jno. Endicott was chosen Governor and to the Courts of Election holden May 3, 1665, May 23, 1666, and May 15, 1667, at which Richard Bellingham, Esq., was chosen Governor. He was also Deputy to the special meetings of the General Courts called August 31, 1664, and September 11, 1666.

From the same work, we learn that he was one of the jury of 12 men at the trial of Hugh Buets December 1, 1640. Hugh Buets (probably Burt) was tried "for publicly holding, and maintaining that he was free from original sin, and from actual sin also for a half a year before, and that all true Christians are enabled to live without committing actual sin." The jury found said Hugh Buets to "bee guilty of heresy, and that his person and errors are dangerous for infection of others." The sentence passed reads as follows: "Ordered that the said Hugh Buets should bee gone out of our jurisdiction by the 24th present, upon pain of death, and not return upon pain of being hanged." The Court granted the jury 12 shillings for their services.

The two following extracts from the same source are of special interest.

"September 10, 1653, at the request of the military company of the town of Roxbury, this court doth confirm Ensign Johnson to be their Captayne, Sergeante Craft for their Lieut. and Sergeante Boles for their Ensign."

"February 21, 1675/76, Lieut. Griffin Craft's of Roxbury, request to lay downe his commission is granted, and Sergeante Samuel Ruggles is appointed to be Lieut. to the Company in Roxbury in his place."

Thus we see that for over 21 years, he held the position of Lieut., a position at that time of much trust and no little responsibility, and was finally relieved of his commission at his own request, when at upwards of 70 years of age, he doubtless felt the cares too much for him, Indian hostilities commencing at that time, the year of the Deerfield massacre.

In the records of the Town of Roxbury, which have been carefully preserved, frequent mention is made of Lieut. Griffin Craft, which shows him to have been a man respected by the community in which he lived, looked up to by his fellow colonists, and one whose judgment was referred to during a long period of his life. There are no records prior to 1648 excepting those of births, marriages, and deaths, owing to their destruction by fire, and in the first volume of the Town records, is found the following "Town order for making new transcript."

"The town boock wherein most mens lands being recorded [by] gods providence being burned, thereby much dammedg may [be done?] to seviriall men, to prevent dammedg as aforesayd [it is or]dered by the town of Roxbury that ther shall be fife [men] chosen to doe there best indever to set down etch mans land given them by the town or that may belonged to them after other ways, and make return unto the town within three months soe as this may be accomplished for the pshon of dammedg as afore sayd, and allsoe to record hieaways and other town previlidges."

  • 17 of 11, 1652 - John Johnson, Willima Parke, Isak Morill, Ed. Denyson, Griffen Craft.

In this connection, the following description of Griffin Craft's estate from what is known as the "Book of Possessions," is of special interest.

"Griffon Craft. His house and lot, three acres with six acres more or lesse at the end theirof. Add six acres more or lesse at the great hill against the house of Nathaniell Willson, lying next to John Ruggles upon the North. And three acres of salt marsh more or lesse at muddy river beyond the bridg, butting upon Peter Olliver east. And 20 acres joyning to it upon Isaack Morrill south, and upon part of a highway. And in the first and third allottments of the last division being the eight and 20 lott betweene Daniell Brewer and Robert Seaver 42 acres one quarter and 20 rodds. The nearest halfe of the 42 acres is sold by Griffen Crafts to John Johnson. And in the thousand acres near Deddam 30 acres. And halfe a quarter of the Band of Marsh that was Mr. Hugh Prichards bounded upon Robert Pepper north, upon Edward Bridg south and east, and upon Muddy River west. And 16 acres more or lesse called Squirrills Delight bounded by his owne land on the north, upon the way leading to Mr. Hibbins farme west, upon Mr. John Gores land southwest and upon William Lewis, Pelegg Heath, and Robert Seaver southeast. And two acres of swamp more or lesse lying at the west end of Edward Morris, his lott being part of Edward Morris, his lott being part of Edward Morris, his lot lying upon the east of Griffen Craft, Robert Seavers land lying north and south of it. And three roodes of swamp more or lesse bought of Pelegg Heath neare muddy river, upon Robert Seaver north, upon his owne land east, and upon the land lately belonging to William Lewis south.

Griffin Craft is also thought to have been part owner of a grist mill situated on "Muddy River Brooke," and perhaps also in a "fulling leather miln," as will be seen in the following copy of a ded from the Suffolk Deeds. The deed is dated in 1698, 9 years after his decease, and although given by his grandson, an extract from it here given, on account of the reference therein made. The deed runs as follows:

Samuel Crafts of Roxbury, Suffolk County, Province of Massachusetts Bay in New England, husbandman, and Elizabeth, his wife, in consideration of 56 pounds paid them by Joseph Belknap, Jr. of Boston, Suffolk County aforesaid, Glover, sold him "Three full eighth parts of all that water, grist, or corn mill situate, standing and lying upon a certain Brooke, commonly called or known by the name of Muddy River Brooke, in the township of Roxbury aforesaid, also three full Eighth parts of 20 rodds of land appertaining to said mill (formerly the land of one Griffin Craft, and by him since conveyed unto Samuel Craft, the father of the above-named Samuel Craft, and others) being bounded and surrounded with the lands of the heirs of the said Griffin Craft and Samuel Craft, both deceased, also three full Eighth parts of a certain highway of 20 foot wide appertaining to the said mill leading from the Towne Highway to the said mill, and also three full Eighth parts of all and singular the houses, edifices, buildings, mill pond, mill dam, banks, streams, waters, water courses, ways, easements, profits, privileges advantages, rights, commodities, hereditants, belonging or in any wise appertaining, or with the same now or at any time heretofore used, occupied, or enjoyed. Likewise one full third part of a certain fulling leather miln standing upon the aforesaid 20 rodds of land, with one full third part of all the utensils, geeing, greases, and appurtenances thereof, and also full and free liberty and priviledge of ingress, egress, and regress, into upon and from the land of the said Samuel Crafts for mending and repairing the trenches of the said mills, from time to time, and at all times forever, hereafter, as the occasion shall require" unto the said Joseph Belknap, Jr., and his heirs and assigns forever, "all and they yielding and paying only unto Jacob Newell of Roxbury, aforesaid, husbandman, his heirs and assigns annually forever, halfe a bushel and two quarts of Indian corn if it shall be lawfully demanded. In witness whereof, the said Samueel Crafts and Elizabeth his said wife have hereunto set their hands and seales the 9th day of December A.D. 1000 698 in the 10th year of the reigne of our soveraign lord King William the Third.

  • (Signed) Samuel Crafts, the mark of S.C. Eliza Crafts.

On the 11th of January 1650, Griffin Craft was chosen a Selectman, or as the town records express it, he was chosen with four others "to order Towne Affairs." These selectmen were five in number, and are generally mentioned in the records as Fivemen. Their term of service was for two years, and for their services, they were paid about 10 shillings. Lieut. Craft continued to serve as Selectman until 1673, with the exception of two years from 1665 to 1667, during which period he was one of a committee of three men chosen by the Town "to give the Selectmen orders that may be thought for the Selectmen to consider of, and establish for the good of the town."

In addition to the Fivemen and Selectmen were the "Commissioners." These were three in number and were chosen annually. Their duties were to end small causes in the "severall townes, to solemnize marriage, and also to give oathes to persons in all civill cases." (Colonial records 19 May 1658, Vol 4, P. 322.) Griffin Craft was chosen annually to this position from 1659 to 1670 inclusive.

Griffin Craft was many times chosen to run the town bounds and to lay out highways, and his judgment was frequently referred to in disputed cases, notably the case of the dispute with Dedham as to the boundary line in 1658.

From the first settlement of the Town, Griffin Craft was identified with the church, and throughout the 250 years that have intervened, some of his descendants have connected with the "First Religious Society of Roxbury." Its first pastor was the Rev. John Eliot, and from the venerable MSS. of the church records, much valuable information has been obtained for this work. In this volume called "A recorde of such as adjoyned themselves unto the fellowship of this Church of Christ at Roxborough," are the entries of "Griffith Crofts" and of "Alice Crofts, the wife of Griffith Crofts." A new meeting-house was built in 1658-1659, and Lieut. Griffin Craft was one of those appointed ot superintend its erection. This was superseded in 1673 by another building, and the men chosen to oversee its building were: Deacon William Parke, Capt. Johnson, Leift Crafts, John White, Tho. Gardner, Samuell Ruggles, William Gery.

The following extract from the Roxbury records of 1655 is of interest as showing the manner of satisfying claims for damages at a time when coin was a scarcity. (It is believed that the mill and dame were built near where the road crossed Muddy River at the Brookline line.)

"Att a meeting in Bro Johnsons Hall, ye 17:10:1655, there was liberty (on a voat propounded by ye Constable) grannted to John Johnson, John Gore, John Pearepoint, William Parke, William Cheney, and Thomas Mekins, to set down a Brest Mill or undershott in or neere ye place where ye old mill stood neere Hugh Clerkes Barne provided that satisfaction be made unto those that shall receive dammage by damming of ye water in drowning of Ground, and that for ye Cart bridge given them they make and maintain a Cart bridge sufficient for ye use of Town and Country. As for ye dammages that Lieutenant Crafts and John Ruggles shall suteine, they have received satisfaciton of Bro. Pearepoint in Ewes, each of them on, promising that in case no dammage be don them they will pay backe to Bro. Pearepoint fforty shillings a piece for ye Ewes. As for ye Dammages, it is to be understoode that they must be shewed and arbitrated within a Twelve monthe time after ye damig of ye water."

Another entry at about the same time reads:

"On the 12th of the 11th month 1658, it was granted that upon the approbabtion of John Johnson, Ed. Denison, Isaack Morrell, and Peleg Heath, that Griffin Craft should set up a gate upon Muddy River Lane to keep off the press of cattle."

Griffin Craft was frequently called upon to take Inventories of Estates, and the returns of many estates show him to have been a creditor to them. (He signed off on) the Inventory taken February 26, 1660, of the estate of John Ruggles, who married Griffin's daughter. (He signed off) as a witness to the will of Philip Elliot, October 21, 1657. As stated earlier in the sketch, Griffin Craft brought with him from England his wife Alice and daughter Hannah. Alice died in Roxbury, March 25, 1673. The Church records of Roxbury record her death as follows: "1673, 24, 1st month, Alice Craft smitten with apoplexy and died next day, age 73." Lieut. Griffin Craft took a second wife, being married July 15, 1673, to Ursula, widow of William Robinson of Dorchester, and who had been the widow of Samuel Hosier, as of Stephen Streeter at an earlier day. She was a daughter of Henry Adams of Braintree, Mass. Griffin Craft was her fourth husband. He buried her, but consoled himself for his loss by marrying as third wife Dorcas, daughter of John and Barbara Ruggles, of Roxbury, formerly of Sudbury, Suffolk, England, where she was probably born. She died December 30, 1697. Lieut. Griffin Craft lived to an advanced age, and the last few years of his life were passed in blindness. He died October 4, 1689. He left a will which is to be found in the Probate record and which is as follows:


The Will of Griffin Craft

The last will and testament of Griffin Craft of Roxbury in the County of Suffolk in New England made this 18th of May in the year of our lord 1689 is as followeth.

I the said Grffin Craft, being through God's goodness in competent health and of perfect memory and understanding, yet being sensible of the decay of nature the Lord having this several years past deprived me of my natural sight and being also alarmed by other infirmities attending my old age to prepare for the dissolution of this, my earthly tabernacle, it is in order to thereunto, it is my desire to make and constitute this my last will and testament in manner and form following. I do heartily and freely commit and bequeath my soul into the hands of my gracious and merciful Father who gave it me and my body after my decease to my executor hereafter mentioned to be by him honorably and decently buried being fully assured that though death shall make a separation between my soul and body for a season, and the grave shall reduce my flesh and bones into rottenness, yet by the all mighty power of God, they shall be raised and united again at the last day, hoping through God's mercy in the merits of Christ I shall then behold my Redeemer with everlasting Joy and Comfort, concerning that temporal estate that hath pleased God to bless me withall in the world my will and desire is that my just debts if any be together with my sickness and funeral charges be defrayed and discharged and the remainder of my estate disposed as is hereafter expressed.

  • Item. I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Dorcas, 7 pound 10 shillings a year for three years beginning at my decease in such pay following 20 in money and 30 in provisions while the three years be out, if she live so long, and if she doth not liveth and further, I do give to my beloved wife my book of my yivkens works and then to be returned to my executor.
  • Item. I give to my beloved son Moses Craft 10 pounds in money or in English goods at money price besides what he oweth me already and all my wearing clothes and all to be paid and delivered within half a year after my decease by my executor hereafter mentioned.
  • Item. I give to my son-in-law Nathaniel Wilson besides 15 pounds in money that he oweth me already 5 pounds more 20 shillings in money and 4 pounds in country commodities to be paid by my executor one year after my decease.
  • Item. I give to my son-in-law Edward Adams 5 pounds 20 shillings money and 4 pounds in country commodities to be paid by my executor within one year after my decease.
  • Item. I do give to my daughter Hannah Wilson that is to say if she outlive her husband and be left a widow 10 pounds in country commodities to be paid by my executor in three years equally beginning at the decease of her husband Nathaniel Wilson provided that she be not married again.
  • Item. I give to my daughter Abegal Adams 10 pounds in country commodities according to the tenor of my daughter Wilson as above expressed.
  • Item. I give to my grandchild Ephraem Craft a cow if he lives to the age of 21 years, to be paid by my executor heareafter expressed the cown ot to exceed 8 years of age.
  • Item. I do make my son Samuel Craft my soul executor and do give unto him all my housing and lands and estate of what kind and nature soever whether in my hands or due unto me always excepting the movables in my home and this my will I do order to stand forever if I make not another, and in acknowledgment of all and singular the promised articles I the said Griffin Craft have herunto set to my hand fixed my seal the day and year above written.

Joseph Griggs - the mark of Griffin Craft. Witness, William Garey.



An Inventory of the Estate of Griffin Craft late of Roxbury who died upon the 4th day of October in the Year of Our Lord 1689, as it was taken 27th November 1689 by us whose names are underwritten with the appraisal thereof.

  • A dwelling house with out-housing: about 7 acres of meadow before the dore, together with the orchard. 120-00-00
  • About 33 acres of land adjoining to said orchard and meadow 130-00-00
  • One old cow 02-00-00
  • Bedding and bedsteads, a pair of old striped curtains and valanse 06-00-00
  • A coat cupboard, a table, 2 chests, 4 chairs 03-00-00
  • A small matter of worn table linen 00-10-00
  • Pewter brass and iron vessels and utensils for housekeeping 03-10-00
  • One old plow, chains, an old handsaw, and a musket 01-00-00
  • A parcel of books 01-06-00
  • Money in the house 14-04-00
  • All his wearing apparel woolen and linen 07-00-00
  • Total 288-10-00

Samuel Ruggles, Sr.; Joseph Grigs; Samuel Gore.


As noted in the will, his son Samuel Craft was made sole executor and was the principal beneficiary named, but he dying about a year after his father, administration was granted to Samuel's widow Elizabeth and son Samuel in April 1691. On the 8th of November 1692, Moses Craft presented a paper to the Suffolk County Court, being his objections to Griffin's will, in which he states that the will is not Griffin's own act, that he was blind at the time of this death, and that the will was not presented for probate 'til after his decease, that the handwriting was the Executor's, and that Griffin died intestate, and he therefore prays that administration be granted to others than Samuel and Elizabeth, and that the estate be divided equally among his father's children. William Stoughton, Judge of Probate, dismissed the case, stating that it lay more properly with the Governor and Council, and here the matter seems to have been dropped.

It may prove interesting to follow the estate of Lieut. Griffin Craft through succeeding generations. This has been done to the fourth and fifth generations. As has been seen, the housing and lands descended to his son, Samuel, who died intestate two years later. By comparing the inventories of their estates, it will be seen that in addition to the house and barn were seven acres of meadow, and one acre of orchard, and 33 acres of land adjoining. By carefully reading the account of the distribution of Lieut. Samuel's estate it will be seen that out of this 41 acres of land, Lieut. Samuel's widow Elizabeth received 14 acres, Samuel Craft, Jr., 13-1/2 acres, and Lieut. Samuel's daughters Mary and Abigail, 6-1/4 and 7-1/4 acres, respectively. The 13-1/2 acres held by Samuel Craft, Jr., were settled after his death in 1717 upon his son Lieut. Joseph Craft. Lieut. Joseph sold, April 6, 1722, to "his stepfather James Shed of Roxbury, in consideration of 500 pounds, all his estate in Roxbury, being that formerly his father's, also all his right and title to such part of his grandmother's thirds as shall at her decease acrue to him or his heirs."

His grandmother died December 9, 1731, and on the 9th of February 1732, James Shed and Nathaniel Craft (son of Lieut. Samuel), purchased the 14 acres meadow and upland, which was her thirds, for 197 pounds, of all the heirs then living, 23 in all (Suffolk deeds, lib. 52, fol. 193). Thus we see that nearly all of Griffin's estate became the property of James Shed and Nathaniel Craft. The 14 acres purchased jointly were divided between them, and according to the "articles of agreement," Shed took the upland and Craft the meadow (Suffolk deeds, lib. 52, fol. 194). The position held by Nathaniel Craft, he left by will to his son Jonathan Craft in 1746. James Shed died December 29, 1749, and left all his real estate to his only son, James. The son James died in 1768 and by his will the estate was divided equally among his seven children.

Lieut. Griffin and Alice Craft had six children as follows:

  • Hannah Craft, born in England.
  • John Craft, born in Roxbury, Mass., 10 July 1630.
  • Mary Craft, born in Roxbury, Mass., 10 October 1632.
  • Abigail Craft, born in Roxbury Mass., 28 March 1634.
  • Samuel Craft, born in Roxbury, Mass. 12 December 1637.
  • Moses Craft, born in Roxbury, Mass. 28 April 1641.

Immigration: Apr 1630

Sailed to Roxbury, Mass. from England with Gov. Winthrop

view all 16

Lieutenant Griffin Craft's Timeline

May 21, 1600
Probably Yorkshire, England
Age 27
July 10, 1630
Age 30
of Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts
October 10, 1632
Age 32
Roxbury (within present Boston), (Present Suffolk County), Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)
March 28, 1634
Age 33
Roxbury (within present Boston), (Present Suffolk County), Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)
December 12, 1637
Age 37
Roxbury (within present Boston), (Present Suffolk County), Massachusetts Bay Colony
April 28, 1639
Age 38
Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts
July 1689
Age 89