(2-3 minutes read) The surname Moncrieffe or Moncreiffe is one of the oldest Perthshire family surnames. I had the honour to present at the Moncreiffe family virtual reunion in August. I discovered many interesting facts about this old Perthshire family.
Is your family from Perthshire? Do you have a Moncreiffe in your family? Did your Moncreiffe ancestor emigrate to America, such as Jacksonville? Here are some interesting facts about the origins and meaning of the Moncreiffe family surname.
Spelling and Meaning
There are a variety of ways to spell the Perthshire family surname: Moncreiff, Moncreiffe, Moncrieff , Moncrieffe, Moncrife or Moncrief to name a few.
The surname Moncreiffe comes from the Gaelic word ‘monadh-craoibble’ which means wooded hill- a fitting name for Moncreiffe Hill which dominates the Southeast Perth valley near Bridge of Earn. As a general rule, the names of places are older than the names of persons ; and where a family and an estate share the same name it is safe to say that the place gave the name to the owner, and not the owner to the place.
Nevertheless, all the surnames have a joint origin – Sir Matthew de Moncreiffe, who had a charter for the land of Moncreiffe, including Moncreiffe Hill, south of Perth in 1248. Sir Matthew’s descendants possibly adopted the land’s name as their surname.
The Moncreiffes are one of the oldest families in Perthshire with a family tree tracing back to the 13th century and one of the few families to have kept the original land.
Since the introduction of heraldry, the Moncreiffe family at Bridge of Earn have always born the red lion rampant of the Scottish kings in the arms and the badge is a wreath of oak leaves and acorn. The oak tree was a sacred tree and revered by the Picts who lived on or near Moncreiffe Hill.
The Moncreiffe family at Bridge of Earn near Perth
The current Moncreiffe family residing near Bridge of Earn originated from Sir Thomas Moncrieffe who was the Scottish Clerk of the Exchequer and Treasurer of State in the late 1600s. He was a very wealthy man and purchased the estate from his kinsman, Sir John Moncreiffe, who was childless and broke at the time. As a friend and employee of King Charles II, he became the first baronet of the current family line. He was responsible for commissioning Sir William Bruce, architect to Kings Charles II and designer of Holyrood Palace, to build Moncreiffe House in 1679. The house burnt down in 1957 killing the 10th Baronet, Sir David Moncreiffe. Sir Thomas’ descendants had military careers and were keen sportsmen. Some enjoyed horseracing, curling and cricket while most were excellent golfers. The 7th Baronet, Sir Thomas, and his wife had 16 children. They had endured a national scandal when their daughter, Harriet married to Sir Charles Mordaunt, had an illegitimate child after allegedly having affairs with three different men, including the Prince of Wales. The 11th Baronet, Sir Rupert Iain Kay Moncreiffe of that Ilk was a great genealogical historian and writer. He claimed to be related to Countess Dracula who is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the woman who committed the most murders, murdering 610 young virgins.
Sir Ian’s younger son, Sir Peregrine is the chief clan of the Moncreiffe family. If you are a Moncreiffe and want to be part of his clan, then visit the clan’s website here. The Moncreiffe clan exists to collect genealogical records, cultivate kinship spirit, and provide a gathering place at the various Highland Gatherings.
The Moncreiff family at Tullibole Castle near Kinross
South of Bridge of Earn and Perth is the Moncreiff family who live in Tullibole Castle. They come from a long and established line of ministers, lawyers and judges. The family married into the Halliday family in the 1740s who used to own the Castle and they have lived there ever since.
The castle is alleged to be haunted by the witches once executed at the nearby church, now in ruin. Tullibole Castle was once the home of William Halliday who, with his son John and three others, presided over a court responsible for what is often described as one of the worst cases of witchcraft persecution that Scotland has ever seen. In 1662 the court sat five times, resulting in 11 people being sentenced to death, by hanging and their bodies thrown on a fire, for supposedly striking pacts with Satan.
The current Lord Moncreiff has created a witches’ maze with the names of the 11 victims etched on an elaborate pillar at its heart. Tullibole Castle is now a wedding and B&B venue. Go to www.tullibolecastle.com for more information about Tullibole Castle.
A famous Scottish Moncrieff
Born in Stirlingshire, C. K. Scott Moncrieff, became famous for his translations of Proust’s ‘A la recherche du temps perdu’, renamed in English as ‘Remembrance of Things Past’. Proust himself questioned the accuracy of the translation although he was apparently pleased with the work.
After finishing his studies at Winchester College in the early 1900s, he went to the University of Edinburgh where he first studied Law, followed by English Literature. George Saintsbury, who was the professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at Edinburgh, mentored Scott Moncrieff. Saintsbury was a well-regarded and respected writer, literary historian, critic and wine connoisseur,
During WW1, Scott Moncrieff served with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers from 1914 until 1917. Before the war ended, he was seriously wounded leaving him permanently lame in his left leg.
After the war, he worked in Whitehall War Office in Whitehall while continuing to write until about 1923 when he moved to Italy for health reasons. Scott Moncrieff died of cancer in 1930, aged only 40, leaving the translation of the final volume of the Proust translations to others.
Here are some contemporary American people with the Scottish surname
- Brianne Moncrief (born 1983), American actress
- Donte Moncrief (born 1993), American football player
- Sidney Moncrief (born 1957), American basketball player
- Zac Moncrief (born 1971), American animator
- Karen Moncrieff (born 1963), American film director
Do you have a Moncreiffe in your family tree? I would be happy to look into the family for you. Are you considering a virtual family reunion? Then get in touch here and find out what discoveries I can find for you.
Or take a minute to browse our growing resource on Scottish last names.
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