Tunis Augustus Macdonough Craven was born in Portsmouth, N. H., January 11, 1813. He was the youngest son of Tunis Craven, a Naval Storekeeper, stationed at the Portsmouth Yard, and his wife, Hannah Tingey, daughter of Commodore Thomas Tingey, a longtime commandant of the Washington Navy Yard. His brother, Thomas Tingey Craven would also join the navy, rising to the rank of rear admiral, while another brother, Alfred Wingate Craven (1810–1879), became a noted civil engineer.
In his youth he attended the Columbia College Grammar School in New York, his father having removed his family to Brooklyn, when ordered to duty in the New York Yard. February 2, 1829, Craven was appointed an acting midshipman from New York (warranted November 18, 1831), and was attached to the Boston and St. Louis.
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