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Frances Eileen Craig (1896–1974)

by Jan Ryan

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with Leslie Craig

Leslie Craig (1892-1966), soldier, farmer and politician, and Frances Eileen Craig (1896-1974), community worker, were husband and wife. Leslie was born on 23 November 1892 at York, Western Australia, fourth son of Scottish-born parents, Francis Craig, hotel proprietor, and his wife Hannah Elford, née Taylor. Educated at the High (later Hale) School, Perth, and at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, he worked briefly on his father's property, Golden Valley, Balingup. After serving for two years as a second lieutenant in the 25th Light Horse Regiment, Citizen Military Forces, on 28 October 1914 Craig transferred to the Australian Imperial Force. On 7 August 1915 at Gallipoli he was shot in the left ankle. His leg was amputated and he was admitted in October to the 3rd London General Hospital where he met a nurse Frances Eileen Boyd.

Born on 9 July 1896 at Lifford, County Donegal, Ireland, daughter of John Boyd, medical practitioner, and his wife Phyllis Constance, née Sutcliffe, Frances attended Calder Girls School, Seascale, Cumberland, England, before joining a Voluntary Aid Detachment. Leslie married her on 22 September 1917 at the parish church, Clonleigh, Donegal, with the rites of the Church of Ireland. In October 1917 Captain Craig brought his wife to Western Australia where his A.I.F. appointment terminated on 21 January 1918.

Having studied accountancy, he joined the firm of James Paterson, in which he was soon admitted to partnership. Craig also became a member of the State government's Land Purchase Board, which classified and evaluated areas for soldier settlement. In 1923 he acquired Prinsep Park at Dardanup and moved there with his wife and four children next year. Despite his wooden leg, he worked hard on his property and played competitive cricket, using a runner between wickets. He was an agricultural representative at the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley, London, in 1924, and president (1937-38) of the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia. In 1928-51 he served on the Dardanup road board (chairman 1947-51). As a Nationalist and Liberal in turn, Craig represented South-West Province in the Legislative Council in 1934-56 and was a member (1940-41) of the royal commission into the provisions of the companies bill.

Frances had adapted quickly to country life. In 1928 she joined the Western Australian branch of the Country Women's Association, and rose to be president of the southern division (1936-39) and State president (1939-44). In 1938 she was appointed M.B.E. Next year she was a delegate to the fourth triennial conference of the Associated Country Women of the World, held in London; in 1947, in Amsterdam, she was elected a vice-president of the international association.

When their son Frank took over the management of the family property in 1951, the Craigs moved to Perth. Leslie was chairman of the State branch of several companies, among them the Perpetual Executors, Trustees & Agency Co. Ltd (1947-57), the Australian Mutual Provident Society (1960-62) and Goldsbrough Mort & Co. Ltd (1950-62). A councillor of Fairbridge Farm School and of Chandler Farm Boys Settlement, he was also a board-member (from 1940) and chairman (1957-62) of Hale School: he was instrumental in the school's relocation at Wembley Downs and in its return to the Anglican Church. Craig belonged to the Weld, West Australian and South Western clubs. Six feet (183 cm) tall and well proportioned, he carried himself with dignity, in spite of his cane and his uneven gait, and was known for his fairness and for his ability to work with a range of people. In 1966 he was appointed C.M.G. He died on 9 February that year in St John of God Hospital, Subiaco, and was cremated; his estate was sworn for probate at $170,660.

Inspired by the C.W.A.'s sponsorship of refugee children, in 1947 Frances had supported the introduction of the Save the Children Fund to Western Australia. She was its State chairman (1953-57) and national president (1968-69). An attractive, tall and strongly-built woman, she had a flair for leadership and administration, and served on such community bodies as the Travellers' Aid Society, the Friends of Royal Perth Hospital, the State advisory committee of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the board of St Mary's Anglican Girls School which named Craig House after her. She was a member (from 1929) of the Karrakatta Club (president 1952-59 and 1962-64), and played bridge and golf. Survived by her daughter and three sons, she died on 10 October 1974 at Subiaco and was cremated. In 1975 a plaque in her honour was placed at the S.C.F. memorial wishing-well in King's Park, Perth.

Select Bibliography

  • D. Popham, Reflections (Perth, 1978)
  • B. Neary, Irish Lives (Perth, 1987)
  • Old Haleian, May 1962
  • West Australian, 11 Apr 1962, 1 Jan, 10 Feb, 4 Aug 1966, 18 Oct 1967
  • Craig papers (State Library of Western Australia)
  • family papers (privately held)
  • private information.

Citation details

Jan Ryan, 'Craig, Frances Eileen (1896–1974)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Boyd, Frances

9 July, 1896
Lifford, Donegal, Ireland


10 October, 1974 (aged 78)
Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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