Crawford, William (1843–1926), methodist minister and principal of Wesley College, was born 17 April 1843, son of William Crawford, a civil servant in Dublin Castle; no details of his mother are known. Educated at Wesleyan Connexional School (1850–59), he entered TCD in 1863. He was awarded a scholarship in classics, and in 1869 graduated with a moderatorship in classics. In that year he entered the ministry of the methodist church, and was stationed mainly on the Belfast and Dublin circuits. In 1893 he became the first superintendent of the newly formed Dublin central mission; when he left in 1896, the mission was well established, with flourishing saving schemes and social facilities for local people living in poverty.
He was appointed principal of Wesley College (formerly the Wesleyan Connexional School) in 1899, at a difficult stage in the college's history. The number of students was decreasing, the college was in debt, and buildings needed modernisation. Crawford worked hard to improve the situation and to raise funds, and by 1909 a debt of over £4,000 was cleared. A former pupil, Sir Robert Hart (qv), gave £250. Sympathetic to female education, Crawford recruited several women teachers to the staff of Wesley College and allowed the girls attending the nearby Harrington College to be taught science in Wesley's science laboratories. On his retirement (1910) Crawford was praised for his dedication to all aspects of school life, and he continued to play a part in the life of the school as a trustee and member of the board of governors of the college.
Crawford was president of the Irish Methodist Church on two occasions and in 1902 was appointed a representative from Ireland to the general conference of the Methodist Church of Canada at Winnipeg. He was chairman of Dublin district synod. He retired from the ministry in 1913.
Crawford differed from many of his co-religionists in his political views. He believed strongly in home rule for Ireland; in 1912, in an article entitled ‘The Methodist Church in Ireland’, he criticised Ulster unionists for trying to impose their wishes on the majority population of the country. He espoused the need for toleration and conciliation and urged Irish protestants to show goodwill. His public support for Gaelic-revival activities was commented on in the newspaper report of the Fodhla St Patrick's day concert on 17 March 1908, which was attended by Crawford and thirty Wesley College students. The programme was ‘of an entirely Irish character’ with an uilleann piper, a harpist, and songs in the Irish language (Irish Independent, 18 Mar. 1909).
He was a successful preacher, an accomplished scholar, and an efficient administrator. Somewhat unusually for a protestant clergyman, he was a senator of the NUI and a member of the governing body of UCD, and was also a member of other public bodies and of committees dealing with social welfare in Dublin. He died 14 December 1926 in Dublin.
He married (January 1876) Matilda, daughter of James Booth, a Dublin merchant; they had four sons and one daughter. One of Matilda's brothers, Richard Wilson Booth (1841–1930), was a railway company director and engineer. He and another brother, Robert Booth, who had been in the Chinese civil service, each gave 6,000 guineas (£6,300) to a Dublin methodist fund for education and outreach.