Craven, John





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Person Biography

John Hough Craven was born to Thomas and Eleanor Craven on 19 March 1774 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His older sister, Edith Craven Sinclair, and her husband Samuel, also appear in the Mason family manuscript account book. John’s first marriage, to Elizabeth Noland, ended with her death in 1819. He married Mary Lewis Clarkson, a widow, the following year. John and his first wife, Elizabeth, had nine children: Llewellyn (1801-1825), John Dorrel (1802-1861), Jefferson (1805-1808), William Lewellen (1807-1868), Amanda Melvina (1808-1863), Elizabeth (1811-1873), Sarah Ann (1813-1874), George Washington (1815-1852), and Mary Maria (1816-1817). His second wife, Mary, had a daughter from her first marriage, Elizabeth A. Clarkson, (1806-1833), whom John adopted.

John Craven spent most of his adult life as a planter in Albemarle County. In 1800, John Craven moved from Loudoun to Albemarle County, where he lived first at Tufton and then at Pen Park. In all, Craven acquired more than fifteen hundred acres, as well as a grist mill, a sawmill, and a sandstone quarry. In 1820, his Albemarle household included forty-four enslaved laborers, including ten boys and eleven girls under the age of fourteen; six free persons of color were also part of his household. In 1840, John again reported owning forty-four people, including eleven enslaved workers under the age of ten. He also owned a boat for transporting his produce, which he sold to the likes of Thomas Jefferson. After the former president’s death, Craven was one of the appraisers of Jefferson’s Albemarle estate.

Craven was active in the Albemarle County community. He was a member of the Albemarle Agricultural Society and was recognized as one of the best farmers in the county.

He also saw limited military service. During the War of 1812, Craven served as a first lieutenant in a cavalry detachment of the First Corps d’Elite Brigade of the Virginia militia. The corps was commanded by Jefferson's son-in-law, Colonel Thomas Mann Randolph, and mustered into federal service in 1813. In May of that year, Craven was ordered to Norfolk, although it is unclear whether he left Albemarle. The brigade mustered out of federal service in 1814. Craven’s military service continued when, in 1824, he served as captain of the Lafayette Guards, the unit that escorted the Marquis de Lafayette to Monticello during his tour of America.

John Craven died on 7 February 1845 at the age of seventy and is buried at Pen Park, where his first wife, Elizabeth Noland Craven, is also interred.

By Adam Nubbe