It comes from a combination of two Old English words ‘crawa’ meaning ‘crow’ and ‘ford’ meaning ‘river crossing.’ The name is a toponymic one as well, referring to someone from any of the several places called Crawford in Scotland and England.
The surname Crawford is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, a person who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came. The name Crawford is derived from the Old English words "crawa," (“crow”) and "ford" (“river crossing”) and indicates that the original bearer lived near a ford where crows nested.
The surname Crawford was first found in Lanarkshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Lannraig) a former county in the central Strathclyde region of Scotland, now divided into the Council Areas of North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, and the City of Glasgow, where the family resided in this area as early as the 11th century when Alan, the youngest son of the 4th Earl of Richmond, received a large grant of lands from King William the Conqueror. When King David of Scotland moved north to assume the throne in 1130, some Crawfords accompanied him on his journey. Galfredus Crawford would gain lands in Clydesdale and his son, Sir Reginald, acquired the barony of Loudoun, from which a significant branch of the Campbells would develop.
Later, Reginald de Crauford, John de Crauford and William de Crauford are all recorded as paying homage to Edward I in 1296.