Sunday, June 3, 2007
As a common portion of an armiger's Arms, the protocol governing the crest is not as formal as for the shield. The crest generally identifies members of a lineage within the Clan in a manner similar to the tartan. The generally observed Crawford crest is the roe buck set upon a wreath and topped with a cross of various styles. The Cross of Lorraine replacing the original styles is a modern alteration. Another recent addition is the crest when standing alone encircled with a buckled belt with the motto around the belt.
Tradition states that in 1127 Gregan Crawford, son of the Laird of Crawfordjohn, saved King David from the charge of a roe buck. In gratitude the King knighted him and built Holyrood Abbey. The result of this incident is that the roe buck is placed in the crest commemorating this event, and the cross is placed atop the roe buck to commemorate the construction of Holyrood Abbey. The motto is placed in the belt declaring most literally, "Our Strength in Exchange for Your Trust" in acknowledgement of King David's trust exchanged for protection.
But a closer examination shows that the observed crest was actually adopted by Patrick Crawford of Drumsoy from the Dalmagregan Branch when he married into the Chief's line of the Crawfordjohn Branch to become Clan Chief about 1700. The roe buck is the crest of the Dalmagregan Branch. The original Crawfordjohn Branch crest is a phoenix rising from flames with the motto "God schaw ye right." At present we can only speculate on the symbolic representation, but it is likely to represent the trial of the Wars of Independence for which the Crawfordjohn Branch sacrificed most dearly. As supporting evidence that the phoenix crest is from the Crawfordjohn Branch, this Crawfordjohn motto is also on a memorial in Kilbirnie Kirk for Thomas Crawford placed in 1594. Apparently Thomas was a loyal Clansman. The Crawfordjohn motto also appears in the Arms of the City of Ayr as a result of the First Sheriff of Ayrshire being Craufurdjohn Chieftain.