Sir James Craig (1924 - 2017)

The College is saddened to note the death of Honorary Fellow Sir James Craig

5 October 2017

It is with regret that Queen's notes the death of Sir James Craig GCMG, Honorary Fellow and Old Member of the College. Sir James came up to Queen's to read Classics in 1942. He went on to be Lecturer in Arabic at Durham University (1948-55) before joining the Diplomatic Service (1955-84). He held various directorships, including Director of the General Middle East Association (from 1985-93). He returned to academia as Visiting Professor in Arabic at Oxford University from 1985-91 and subsequently published Shemlan: A History of the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies (MacMillan, 1998).

Sir James died peacefully at home on 26 September 2017. There will be a funeral service at St Giles' Church, Standlake, OX29 7SN, on Tuesday 17 October at noon. All are welcome. Flowers and/or donations to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), c/o Greens of Eynsham, 21 High Street, Eynsham, OX29 4HE.

Sir James Craig Obituary from The Times - 7th October 2017.

Sir James Craig Obituary from The Independent - 19th October 2017.

David (Dix) Miller (L.I. 1954-1961) writes:

"Along with fellow Liobe John Wainwright (55 - 62) I duly attended Sir James' funeral yesterday at St. Giles' Church, Standlake which was predictably full to capacity with a congregation I estimated at over 150. Moving tributes to James as a devoted family man and someone who showed a genuine interest in everyone he met were given by each of his two sons, Tom and Jamie. The tribute given by Paddy de Courcy-Ireland CVO who had clearly known James both professionally and seemingly as a neighbour in Standlake spoke at length of his life long love of language and his contribution to our better understanding of Middle Eastern affairs and of his strong but uncompromising affection for Saudi Arabia in particular. Paddy, who subsequent research suggests is Patrick G. de Courcy-Ireland, Consul General in Jerusalem between 1984 and 1987 was not the only speaker to refer to James' pride at being born a 'scouser' possibly only surpassed by the pride he maintained throughout his life in his Scottish ancestry. He remembered James, for it was in this way that everyone who spoke at the service referred to him, as someone always more interested in learning more about those he met whatever their background than in talking about himself.

The address was given by the Rector of St. Giles, the Reverend Drew Speedy who paid tribute to James' active involvement in all aspects of Standlake village life including the life of the church where despite being a declared agnostic he greatly valued the blessings bestowed at its weekly services.

The mourners were led by James' widow Bernadette as he was laid to rest in the graveyard of St. Giles' Church in a simple wicker coffin to the lament of a lone Scottish piper."

and also:

"Not aware of any other Liobians present Iain apart from John Wainwright and myself. Only mention of James' schooling was during Rector Tweedy's address when he referred to James' somewhat hapless assignment to carry out a fire drill on the unnamed school roof - unclear therefore whether this would have been at Bangor or Mount St. I have subsequently written to Rev. Tweedy inviting him to draw the family's attention to James' contributions to the wartime meetings of the Lit & Deb as reported in the School Mags via the Liobians website, something of which neither they nor Jameshimself might have been aware. Fascinating to read incidentally via the Feb 1939 Mag. (p.41) that at a Lit. & Deb. meeting held on Oct 4 1938 A.J.M. Craig was elected to the office of Minister of the Atmosphere. Me neither! I recall from my own attendances at the Lit. & Deb. that the arcane position of Lord High Poker in Chief had continued to exist but I'm unaware of any previous or subsequent reference to the high and clearly responsible office to which the 14 year old James was elected in October 1938.

John Wainwright has just informed me that James' son Andrew has now corrected his grand-father's profession as originally reported in Sir James' obituary on The Independent website. John, who graduated from Exeter College, Oxford also tells me that where Classics, Maths and possibly Law are concerned Mods (Moderations) are the equivalent of first year Preliminaries in other subjects the difference being that you can gain a 1st. in Mods. whereas in Preliminaries the options are Distinction, Pass or Fail."

Peter Holmes (L.I. 1949-1956) writes:

"We were staying with friends in Bath over last weekend. Our hosts take the Torygraph, so I did not see the Times obituary and was not aware of this sad event until it popped up on Liobians.

I first met James when I was hosting a Heads of Mission meeting in Bahrain in the mid 80s,for which he came over from Saudi Arabia. We quickly discovered the Innie connection, and we had long talks about the old days, relaxing from our intense political discussions (this was the time of the Iran-Iraq war). Subsequently, after his retirement we sat together on an FCO board concerned with licensing English language schools for overseas students in this country. (Not too demanding an intellectual exercise, so much opportunity for chat).

James was a lovely man, one of nature's gentlemen, and his passing is a sad moment for us all. But he did achieve a great age and plenty of renown in his lifetime. Could any of us ask for more? He was always modest about his achievements, not really understanding why he alone of his family was so intellectually brilliant, while his brother was a hospital porter. He gave much credit to Edwards for spotting his potential so early."