Clan Moncreiffe

Clan Moncreiffe
Crest badge
Clan member crest badge - Clan Moncreiffe.svg
Crest: Issuing from a crest coronet Or, a demi-lion rampant Gules, armed and langued Azure.
Motto: Sur Esperance
Region Highlands
District Perthshire
Gaelic name Monadh Craoibhe

Moncreiffe of that Ilk arms.svg
Peregrine David Euan Malcolm Moncreiffe of that Ilk
Chief of Clan Moncreiffe

Clan Moncreiffe is a Highland Scottish clan.



Origins of the Clan

The Moncreiffes are of great antiquity, and possibly descend through a female stem of the Celtic Royal Dynasty. The name Moncreiffe is derived from the Barony of Moncreiffe in Perthshire. Their lands take their name from the Gaelic name Monadh Croibhe meaning hill of the sacred bough. This is represented on the clan crest which features the sacred tree.

Although the name is certainly older, the first official record appears when Mathew Moncrieff (brother in law of a co-Regent of Scotland during the minority of Alexander III) was granted a charter for the lands in 1248 A.D.

The lands of Moncreiffe then grew with the addition of Culdares and Duneaves in the Highlands and were incorporated into the Barony of Moncreiffe in 1455

According to some accounts the progenitor of the Clan Moncreiffe was of Anglo-Norman lineage and that a man called Mortimer assumed the name of Moncreiffe after obtaining the lands of that name in the parish of Dunbarney, Perthshire. However, this is disputed.

Another theory by other historians are that the origins of the clan are linked to the ancient Royal House of Ireland of the great King Niall of the Nine Hostages. The Clan Moncreiffe crest shows a red lion on a silver shield and the colours of Maldred who was the brother of King Duncan I.

16th Century Clan Conflicts & Anglo-Scottish Wars

During the Anglo-Scottish Wars in the 16th century the Laird of Moncreiffe was Chamberlain to young King James III of Scotland. He led the Clan Moncreiffe against the English when they fought at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513.

Battle with the Clan Charteris 1544, In 1544 the Clan Ruthven who held considerable sway over Perth from their nearby Castle Huntingtower, often disputed the authority of the Clan Charteris, which led to a bitter and bloody feud. In 1544 Patrick, Lord Ruthven, was elected Provost of Perth, but at the instigation of Cardinal Beaton, who suspected Ruthven of Protestant sympathies, he was deprived of the office, and John Charteris of Kinfauns was appointed in his stead. The city declined to acknowledge Charteris, and barred the gates against him. Clan Charteris, along with Lord Gray and Clan Leslie, gathered their forces and attacked the town. They were repulsed by the Clan Ruthven who were assisted by their neighbours the Clan Moncreiffe, and Charterises was forced to flee. The Ruthvens remained Provosts of Perth until William Ruthven, Earl of Gowrie, was executed in 1584. In 1552 John Charteris had been killed by the earl’s heir in the High Street in Edinburgh

In 1547 one branch of the Clan Moncreiffe took part in the attempt to restore the deposed King of Sweden.

Three noble Moncreiffe families were also founded in France. One of these families made up part of the Scots Guard of Archers for the King of France.

In 1586 William Moncreiffe the 11th chief of Clan Moncreiffe enterd into a treaty with the powerful Clan Murray for mutual defense. This bond was established further by frequent intermarrying between the two clans. Five Lairds, chiefs of Clan Moncreiffe were made officers in the Atholl Highlanders which was the Duke of Atholl's (chief of Clan Murray) private army.

17th Century & Civil War

Sir John Moncreiffe the 12th chief of Clan Moncreiffe was promoted from a Baron to a Baronet of Nova Scotia in April 1626. However John was unable to support the King and signed the National Covenant in 1638.

His son also called John personally raised a company of the King's Scots Guards by warrant of King Charles II in 1674. This John was heavily in debt and in 1667 a charter was secured for a family agreement where by the Barony of Moncreiffe was sold to Thomas Moncreiffe who was a direct descendant of the eight Laird of Moncreiffe. Thomas also became chief of the Clan Moncreiffe. He was the 14th chief and was made a Baronett by King James VII.

Other Achievements

Other notable achievements of the family were to produce three renowned Scottish judges and an Episcopal Bishop of Glasgow.

Two brothers, William and Malcom Moncreiffe, emigrated to the United States of America in the 1890s and settled in Big Horn, Wyoming. Using their family's capital from Scotland they established a very successful business raising registered sheep, and played an important role in bringing the sport of polo to the area. Part of the Moncreiffe ranch is now a historic house museum and art gallery called the Bradford Brinton Memorial. On the nearby Big Horn Mountains a ridge of 8,000 feet (2,400 m) elevation is referred to as "Moncreiffe Ridge".

Clan Chief and Seat

A new seat for the Chief at Moncreiffe, the first major country house completed by Sir William Bruce in 1679. It was the family seat until it was destroyed by fire in November 1957, claiming the life of Sir David Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Baronet, the twenty-third Laird. This tragedy led to the chiefship of the great Scottish herald and historian Sir Iain Moncreiffe.

Sir David’s sister, Miss Elizabeth Moncreiffe of Moncreiffe, was his heir, but declared that it was her wish that he be succeeded by her cousin, Sir Iain, the Baron of Easter Moncreiffe, while she retained the feudal barony of Moncreiffe. She built a modern country house on the site of the old seat which incorporates the doorway reclaimed from the ashes of the burned house. Sir Iain died in 1985 and the chiefship reverted to Miss Moncreiffe. On her death, the chiefship passed to Sir Iain’s younger son, the Hon. Peregrine Moncreiffe of Easter Moncreiffe — his elder brother having assumed the name and arms of Hay on succeeding their mother as Earl of Erroll.

Clan Profile

  • Gaelic Name: Monadh Craoibhe.
  • Motto: Sur Esperance (Upon hope).
  • Badge: Oak.
  • Lands: Perthshire.
  • Origin of Name: Gaelic, Monadh Craoibhe (The Hill of the Sacred Bough).

Clan Septs


  • Moncreiffe of Montcreiffe - Chief branch.
  • Moncreiff of Tulliebole - Founded by the Rev. Archibald Moncreiff, who married Catherine Halliday, heiress of Sir John Halliday of Tulliebole Castle, in 1722. Upon her death in 1740, the estate passed to Moncreiff.
  • Moncrieff of Bandirran
    • Scott-Moncreiff
    • Moncreiff of Kinmouth

Spelling variations of the Clan Moncreiffe include: Moncreiffe, Moncrieffe, Moncrieff, Moncreiff, Moncrief, Moncreiff, Montcrieff, and Muncrief.
Scott-Moncrief is a branch of the Moncrieffs of Bandirran.

See also

External links

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