Papers of Sir Thomas Craig (1538-1608)

Archive Collection

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in 1538, Thomas Craig was educated at St. Leonard's College, St. Andrews, studying Latin, logic, rhetoric, ethics, and physics. In 1555 he went to Paris to study civil and canon law. In 1561, he returned to Scotland to complete his education. In 1563, Craig became an Advocate, and in 1564 he was appointed Justice-Depute. One of the duties of this office was to preside over criminal cases, and in this capacity, in April 1566, he held the courts which sentenced Thomas Scott and Henry Yaire to death for their subordinate parts in the murder of David Rizzio and in the treasonable seizure of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. In 1568, he again presided over the court which sentenced Stephen Dalgleish, Hay and Powrie for their parts in the murder of Henry, Lord Darnley. In 1573, Craig was appointed Sheriff-Depute of Edinburgh, and by 1592 he was acting as Counsel and Advocate for King James VI. His publications and treatises include  Jus Feudale (1603),  Treatise on the right of James VI to the succession to the English crown,  Treatise on the union (1603-1605), and  De Hominio (1605). His verse includes  Paraeneticon of James VI leaving Scotland, the  Propempticon to Prince Henry, and the  Stefanoforia on the coronation which were published in 1603. In 1603, Craig travelled to London with King James VI and was present at his coronation as James I of England. In 1604, he was knighted. Sir Thomas Craig died on 26 February 1608.

Conditions Governing Access

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.).  Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 4. Chamber-Craigie. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

The local Indexes show a further reference to Craig material (check the Indexes for more details): a letter about Craig's  Epithalamion from D. Irving to D. Laing, 29 April 1831.