William Crabbie

Biographical information

Full nameWilliam Monteith•Crabbie
Used nameWilliam•Crabbie
Born1 February 1893 in Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh, Scotland (GBR)
Died27 November 1970 in Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh, Scotland (GBR)
NOC Great Britain


William Monteith Crabbie came from a wealthy family. His grandfather John Crabbie was the founder of the Edinburgh drinks company that bears his name, and Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer is one of the best-known drink brands in Britain and worldwide. When he died in 1891, John Crabbie left the 2020 equivalent of £43 million. William, like his father before him, would go on to work for the family company.

William Crabbie was the youngest of three sons of George Crabbie, and attended Edinburgh Academy. He was a fine rugby player but, unlike his two older siblings, John and George, he did not go on to play for Scotland. He was, however, vice-captain of the Edinburgh Academy XV that won the Scottish Schools Rugby Championship in 1911, and went on to play senior rugby for Edinburgh Academicals. His preferred sport, however, was athletics and he won the 880 yards and mile at the Edinburgh Academy Championship in 1910 to carry off the Burma Cup. He retained it in 1911 and the follow year was selected for the 1,500 metres at the Stockholm Olympics. Crabbie surprisingly never won the Scottish One Mile Championship, but was third in 1913 and second the following year.

During World War I, Crabbie served as a lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery and then, after its formation, the Royal Air Force (RAF). He won British and Victory Medals, and the 1915 Star, before retiring from service in 1923. Crabbie was attached to the Military Flying Service in the early part of the War and in July 1915 was reported missing in France. A month later, his family received notification that he was a prisoner-of-war in Germany. He returned to Scotland in November 1918.

Crabbie, who obtained his Aviator’s Certificate from the Royal Aero Club in 1929, was to serve the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association (SAAA) as an honorary president, and in 1953, donated the Coronation Cup to the SAAA in honour of the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II. It was to become an annual award to the outstanding Scottish athlete of the year, and notable winners included Jim Alder, Ian Stewart, Liz McColgan, Yvonne Murray, and Allan Wells, who won it six times in succession between 1978-83.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1912 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR William Crabbie
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) DNS