Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Rev. Thomas Craighead

Male Abt 1670 - 1739  (~ 69 years)


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  • Name Rev. Thomas Craighead 
    Born Abt 1670  Donoughmore, Donegal, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender Male 
    Died Apr 1739  Newville, Cumberland, Pennsyvania Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 3, 4
    Person ID I20500  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of BJS, Ancestor of JTS, Ancestor of TWK
    Last Modified 28 Mar 2020 

    Father Rev. Robert Craighead,   b. Abt 1633,   d. 22 Aug 1711, Londonderry, Londonderry, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 78 years) 
    Mother Agnes Heart,   b. Bef 17 Dec 1648 
    Married Abt 1668  [1
    Family ID F12324  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Margaret Wallace,   b. Abt 1664,   d. 1738, White Clay Creek, New Castle, Delaware Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 74 years) 
    Children 
    +1. Thomas Craighead,   b. 1702, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aug 1735, White Clay Creek, New Castle, Delaware Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 33 years)
    Last Modified 21 Dec 2018 
    Family ID F12326  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • One of TWK's eleven "gateway ancestors."

      M.A., University of Edinburgh, 28 Jul 1691.

      From The Craighead Family, citation details below:

      Thomas was educated in Scotland as a physician, and married the daughter of a Scotch laird. After practicing medicine for a time, he became much depressed in spirits, and his wife inquiring the cause, he informed her that his conscience upbraided him for not preaching the Gospel. She at once assured him, that she would not stand in the way of what he considered his duty. Accordingly, he soon after abandoned the practice of medicine, studied divinity, and was a pastor for several years in Ireland, principally at Donegal. In consequence, however, of the oppressions endured by the Presbyterians of that countiy from the government and from the Established Church, and their past experience giving them but little hope of any permanent relief, large numbers of the people determined to emigrate to America.

      Among these emigrants was Thomas Craighead, who came to New England in 1715, accompanied by Rev. William Homes, who was married to Mr. Craighead's sister Catharine. Mr. Homes settled at Martha's Vineyard, and is buried with his wife, at Chilmark. Their eldest son Robert was a sea-captain, resided in Boston, and married Mary, a sister of Benjamin Franklin.

      The first public mention made of Thomas Craighead in this country is by Cotton Mather, who speaks of him as preaching at Freetown, which was about forty miles south of Boston, and urges the people to do all in their power to have him settle among them. He appears to have been a relative of Mr. Hathaway, of that town, and probably had gone there in the first instance at that gentleman's invitation. Mather writing to a friend entreats the people "to give a demonstration of the wisdom that is from above," by encouraging Mr. Craighead in his work, and says, "That he was a man of an excellent spirit, and a great blessing to the plantation; a man of singular piety, meekness, humility, and industry in the work of God. All that are acquainted with him have a precious esteem of him, and if he should be driven from among you, it would be such a damage, yea, such a ruin, as is not without horror to be thought of."

      The efforts made for his settlement in Freetown were unsuccessful, for we find a notice in President Stiles's papers of his coming "to the Jerseys" in the spring of 1723. Whether he came direct from this town, or preached in other places in New England previous to his removal, we cannot now determine. On page one hundred and ninety-five of the New England Historical Register we have an extract from the diary of Jeremiah Bumstead, which refers to a meeting held in the Old South Church, Boston, June 19th, 1722, at which Mr. Craighead officiated. In the year 1724 (January 28th) he became a member of New Castle Presbytery, which at that period included portions of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, and is spoken of in the minutes as having "lately come from New England." He received a call from White Clay Creek, Delaware, in February of the same year, and accepted it on the condition that he should have the privilege of preaching every third Sabbath at Brandywine. He was installed September 22d, 1724, and continued his ministry with this people for a period of seven years. According to the Records of the Presbyterian Church, 1706-1788, he was Moderator of the Synod in 1726, and was present at the formal adoption of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, as also of the Explanation of the Adopting Act.

      Mr. Craighead removed to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1733, and September 3d of the same year, united with Donegal Presbytery, when a call was placed in his hands from the Church at Pequea. This he accepted, and was installed pastor October 31st, Rev. Mr. Anderson presiding. The Presbytery in its minutes always speaks of him as "Father Craighead," either out of respect and veneration for his years, or from a special affection for him. That he was respected for his talents and learning, and loved for his genial spirit and piety, there are abundant proofs. He was very active in planting and building up churches in the region. "His preaching was remarkably fervent, and often attended with revivals. His theology was strictly conformed to the Westminster Confession, for which he displayed a special attachment, and which he was the first to subscribe, both in New Castle and Donegal Presbyteries."

      While pastor at Pequea, in the spring of 1736, the session of the Church complained to the Presbytery because Mr. Craighead debarred his wife from the communion table. The matter was fully considered during its next session, and as there were no hopes of settling the difficulty, Presbytery in September judged it expedient to dissolve the pastoral relation. At the same meeting Mr. Craighead was appointed by the Presbytery to supply "the people of the Conodoguinet," by which was meant the congregation whose place of worship was at Meeting House Springs, from one to two miles northwest of Carlisle, in Cumberland County. After fulfilling this appointment, and a subsequent one at Hopewell, he received a call from the latter people, which he desired to accept; but as there were difficulties respecting "the boundaries" between this congregation and that of Pennsborough, action in the case was delayed. He, in the meantime, supplied the church at Hopewell, whose place of meeting was at "the Big Spring," now Newville.

      The same difficulty which had interfered with his usefulness in his last charge followed him to Hopewell, and was again fully considered at two successive meetings of Presbytery. Both Mr. Craighead and his wife appeared before that body. The former finally consented that the session should allow his wife to come to the Lord's table; and the latter stated that "she had nothing to complain of against her husband except this single act, and that he had uniformly treated her with kindness." By this means the trouble was amicably settled--a trouble which probably arose from there being two families in the same house; for the Presbytery, in consenting to withdraw all action in the case, instructed him that "his son John and family must no longer continue to live with him."

      Presbytery declaring itself satisfied with this settlement of the domestic
      difficulty, and the boundary between the congregations of Pennsborough and Hopewell being fixed, the latter renewed their call, which was accepted, Nov. 16th, 1737. The installation was ordered to take place "at some convenient time before the next stated meeting," and occurred October, 1738, his son, Rev. Alexander Craighead, conducting the services on the occasion.

      Mr. Craighead's pastorate at Newville, however, was of only a short duration. He was now far advanced in life, though his earnestness and power remained unabated. A descendant of his (Mr. Thomas Craighead, formerly of Whitehill, Pa.) states, that under his impassioned sermons not infrequently his audience would be melted to tears, and the emotions of his hearers became so intense that they were unwilling to disperse at the proper time. On one of these occasions, near the close of April, 1739, he became exhausted, and hastened to pronounce the benediction; and waving his hand he exclaimed, "Farewell! farewell!" and sank down and expired in the pulpit. His remains are said to have been placed under the corner-stone of the present house of worship at Newville.

  • Sources 
    1. [S376] Janet and Robert Wolfe Genealogy.

    2. [S1579] The Royal Descents of 900 Immigrants to the American Colonies, Quebec, or the United States, Who Were Themselves Notable or Left Descendants Notable in American History by Gary Boyd Roberts. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2018., year only.

    3. [S2650] The Craighead Family: A Genealogical Memoir of the Descendants of Rev. Thomas and Margaret Craighead, 1658-1876 by James Geddes Craighead. Philadelphia, 1876.

    4. [S1579] The Royal Descents of 900 Immigrants to the American Colonies, Quebec, or the United States, Who Were Themselves Notable or Left Descendants Notable in American History by Gary Boyd Roberts. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2018., year and colony only.