David Cragg’s Greenbank


Cragg Homestead circa 1700's

Cragg Homestead circa 1700’s

What’s New?

For those who have been looking to read David Cragg’s amazing diaries, here they are! David Cragg’s Diaries. 


David Cragg would claim no spectacular accomplishment in his life. Just an ordinary man, he carried out his life in England’s countryside, like the humanity around him. He took a wife, had eight children, and worked to feed his family. He experienced profound joy and suffered great sorrow – things that all mankind encounters and endures.

What makes David Cragg’s story so incredible lays in three simple, yet jaw-dropping facts. Firstly, David was born in April 1769, four months before Napoleon Bonaparte made his entrance into the world. Secondly, David, well-schooled in the Quaker faith, faithfully wrote about his daily life from the tender age of eighteen until just before his death forty years later. Thirdly, I have a copy of his diaries.

From the minutiae that made up daily life to sweeping world events, David recorded it all. He chronicled day-to-day weather reports, and his growing displeasure in the pettiness of his church. He wrote about the impact of the Napoleonic Wars to the tragic consequences of the Industrial Revolution. He recounted the devastation in his family borne by a grand consumption, scarlet fever, and the dreaded lake fever.

Widowed and penniless, David sailed from his beloved England with his children, enduring a harrowing trip across the Atlantic, and emigrating to Upper Canada in 1833.

David’s humble diary entries offer an unbelievable opportunity, to not only read about his life, but to sneak an intimate glimpse into the world as it was over 230 years ago.

I started out stating David was an ordinary man.

I take it back.

David Cragg was extraordinary.

David Cragg Memorial - Greenbank, Ontario

David Cragg Memorial – Greenbank, Ontario

The Life of David Cragg: His Diaries

Read about David Cragg’s life as told through his descendant Georgina Fandrey who transcribed his diaries, adding her own reflections.

Read more…

Rapids West of Montreal, Quebec

Rapids West of Montreal, Quebec

David Cragg’s Harrowing Adventure up the St. Lawrence Rapids, 1833

David Cragg climbed aboard a decrepit Durham boat at Montreal with his exhausted family in June, 1833. While they already had survived the perilous journey across the North Atlantic in a storm-battered sailing ship, their trip was far from over. The treacherous La Chine and Cascade Rapids west of Montreal awaited…

Read more…

Toronto in the 1800's

Toronto in the 1800’s

A Rare Snapshot in Time: Toronto in 1833

David Cragg landed at the docks of York (Toronto) at ten o’clock in the evening of June 17, 1833. He piled their meagre but treasured belongings on the wharf, and his oldest son, Isaac guarded the boxes while David and his younger children sought shelter at a public house for the night. David was about to discover if leaving England for the New World had been a wise decision. Did the streets of Muddy York offer hope for the Cragg family, or more despair?

Read more…

Stone Inscription on Timothy Cragg's Homestead, Wyersdale, England

Stone Inscription on the Cragg’s Homestead, Wyersdale, England

David’s Great Grandfather, Timothy Cragg (1657 – 1724) Speaks Up

Timothy Cragg was born the second day of the tenth month, 1657 in Wyersdale, England. Remarkably, he was not only literate but he took the time to write his life story before he died. He wrote about his conscription into the military and being forced to fight for a King and Monarch he didn’t believe in. He wrote about his personal joys and sorrows including the birth of his 11 children. Three little ones died.

Sadly, infant mortality and war were not uncommon during the era in which he lived…

Read more…

17 comments for “David Cragg’s Greenbank

  1. Deanna Smythe
    November 25, 2016 at 1:37 am

    I too am searching for a copy of The Craggs of Greenbank – and now I learn there is a Craggs of Gerald which I would like as well. Are you able to give me contact information where I may purchase those?

    My father was Leslie Cragg.

    Thank you…. Deanna Cragg Smythe

    • November 29, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Hi Deanna, thanks for your post. Due to great interest shown in David Cragg’s diary, I have now added a link to his diary on this page. Also, note that “The Craggs of Gerald” is included. As well, if you live in the GTA, the Toronto Reference Library has a printed copy. You can’t take it out of the library but you can enjoy it there. Hope this helps! Enjoy! Barbara

  2. Doris M. Grant
    June 26, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    I too would like a copy of The Craggs of Greenbank…David Cragg is my 3X Great Grandfather as is Robert Wells the two families that travelled from England to Canada in 1833 on the ship Six Sisters……I have parts of a copy of the Diary that David Cragg wrote during their crossing……powerful and interesting, to say the least!!!
    What courage too it must have taken
    Doris M. (CORBMAN) Grant

  3. Katherine Charles
    January 19, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Another descendant here (via his granddaughter Frances Claretta). Our family book is currently with my mother and is starting to fall apart at the seams (we’ve passed it around so much). I’ve been in contact with some of his descendants of in both England and Australia.
    Having been to England this past year I have some a couple of recent photo’s you might be interested in.
    Can speak to one typo, as we ended up having a pint in Skipton at the “Cock & Bottle” – which we were amazed to find still in operation (believe this was incorrectly listed in the published portions of his diary as the Cock & Barrel).

    • January 19, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      Hello Katherine, thanks for your post. My copy of David’s diary is looking pretty beaten up too! I was reading it just yesterday. I would love to see your photos you took while in England. I’ll check out the typo you mentioned. I believe there’s another typo in Chapter six where David mentions the disaster of a boat out of Iceland that sank; then the rescue boat that picked up the survivors sank. I think the originating country should be Ireland, not Iceland. I will check out your link into the Townson family. Thanks again. Barbara

      • Gwen glover
        October 29, 2017 at 2:08 pm

        Hi… we also have an original diary … my mother was Doris McKinley (parish/cragg)
        Apparently we had more diaries which were lost in a move to Belleville Ontario.

        • October 30, 2017 at 9:05 am

          Hi Gwen, thanks for sharing your David Cragg connection. Isn’t it wonderful to have an ancestor who kept diaries that are so treasured and valuable today? Priceless!

  4. Brenda Tyler formaly Winder
    September 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Hello Barbara

    I am a member of Lancaster and District Family History Group in the UK , today I received their monthly news letter in it was your web site address , which I have checked out and found most interesting

    Timothy Cragg born 1657 was my 6x Great Grandfather David was a descendent of his I have Craggs of Over Wyersdale in my tree they inter married with Winders I know many went to Canada , I would love one day to come and see what you write about

    The book you put extracts of David Craggs Diary on line of , I have got a copy, not an original , a man called John Winder in Canada contacted me after I asked where I could get a copy of Craggs of Greenbank from, he said it was out of print but he put the whole book on e mail for me and I printed it off , I needed a lot of ink and paper but it was worth it , I really treasure it even though its in this sort of type and a bit faint in places I can understand most of it

    I love doing family history and had no idea it would lead me where it has , I have so many interesting ancestors that I am proud to be a descendent of , The farm and hamlet at Over Wyersdale Greenbank is still there today

    I will study what you have to say on your site later Take Care
    Regards Brenda Tyler ( formally Winder )

    • September 16, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Hi Brenda, thanks so much for your post. I hope you’ll be able to come to Canada someday to enjoy all it has to offer, not only in terms of its spectacular scenery and warm hospitality of its people, but to walk where a humble gentleman named David Cragg walked, where he lived, where he was laid to rest. All the best, Barbara

  5. ann richards
    June 3, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Hello Barbara, I have just started researching my family tree and am directly related to Jennet Townson. Do you have any ideas where I can obtain a copy of Georgina’s book, is it still in print? Thank you for the information you have uploaded it is really fascinating and gives an insight into life in those days.

    • June 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      Hello Ann, thanks for your query. I have a copy of Georgina’s “book” but it’s been marked up, beaten up, loved and worn out; unfortunately not fit for reproduction. I will ask around to see if there is any way to get a new copy. It was never really “in print.” Georgina typed up David’s diaries to be enjoyed within the family. I wouldn’t call it a professionally published book. 🙂 The Craggs’ were a hearty bunch, their legacy lying in the vast numbers of descendants spread across Britain and North America. Do you have your family tree? If a tree would help, I can scan and send you your branch of the Cragg tree Georgina placed at the back of the book. Let me know. Thanks again. Barb

    • Katherine Charles
      January 19, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      The link is all I have on the Townson’s so far – it’s a free forum and I’ve made all my page entries open to editing, so add as you like.
      Happy researching!

  6. Sheri Fandrey
    January 6, 2013 at 4:20 am

    Barbara, have you come across my grandmother’s (Georgina Cragg Fandrey) book “The Craggs of Greenbank”? I stumbled upon your website entirely by happy chance, and have been delighted to read more about my family. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Sheri Fandrey

    • admin
      January 7, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      Hello Sheri, thanks for your post. Yes! I have read your grandmother’s book. I have a copy, given to me by one of David’s descendants. I have read it, re-read it, savoured it, and go back time and again to enjoy it. David’s life never ceases to amaze me. He’s such a perfect ‘everyday hero’ of the times in which he lived. It’s lovely that Georgina took the time to type up his diaries. Would you happen to know where the originals are? Does Georgina’s family have them? I would like to see the originals — there are some typos in the transcript which I’d like to clarify. Thanks again for your post.

      • Sheri Fandrey
        May 13, 2016 at 3:16 pm

        I am pretty certain we still have copies of Grandma’s books in my mom & dad’s basement. I would expect the original materials from which she worked would also still be around. I have sent a note to my parents to see what remains.

        Grandma continued her family story in another book titled “The Craggs of Gerald.” As it covers more recent history, much of it is from her early diaries and memories.

        • May 14, 2016 at 5:59 pm

          Hello Sheri, thank you for taking the time to comment about your ancestor David Cragg. David’s life and his honest and accurate account of the world around him has fascinated me for years! I would absolutely LOVE to see the original diary or any of the original materials from which Georgina prepared the diary’s transcription and narrative. Would your parents happen to live in the Southern Ontario area? I would love to meet them and you. You mention “The Craggs of Gerald.” Is there a way for me to obtain a copy? I am honoured to hear from you. David Cragg was an extraordinary man.

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