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1 ' Herald and Genealogist,' vii. 423- 2 A mistake for 1744.


be found among the materials solicited and contributed for the correction and
continuation of the ' Baronage ' to which we have already referred.

In the eighth volume of Playfair's ' British Family Antiquity,' embrac-
ing the Baronetage of Scotland, and published in the year i Si i, there is an
elaborate notice of the Moncrieff family under the head of " Moncreiff
Wellwood," which is said to be "given on the authority of a manuscript
account of the family of Moncreiff, written upwards of a hundred years a«-o
{i.e., before 1711], in the possession of Sir Henry Moncreiff Wellwood. It
was written by one whose certain knowledge reached back to about the
middle of the seventeenth century. In all essential particulars it agrees
with the documents on record, and supplies chasms with regard to facts
of less importance." We shall afterwards have occasion to make some
remarks on this extraordinary statement. The same volume contains a
short account of Sir Robert Moncreiffe's family, at the commencement of
which it is correctly stated that although designated "of that Ilk," "they
are but a younger branch of the original stock already delineated in the
article of Wellwood-Moncreiff " above referred to. In the Introduction to
the ' Baronetage,' the author says with reference to the records of private
families : " Precision of circumstance is, in certain cases, a good cause for
suspicion of fabrication, though in others it is the test of truth and reality.
In recent and ordinary transactions, such as come to trial in courts of
justice, precision is deemed highly important towards ascertaining truth :
it is therefore the common, though clumsy, expedient of those who wish
to impose on the world to deck out their fictions with circumstantial and
minute detail ; but this expedient has very seldom succeeded." Again, in
the "concluding address" to "a generous and enlightened public," at the
end of the same volume, the laborious investigation and strict impartiality
of the proprietors of ' British Family Antiquity ' are circumstantially set
forth in the following grandiloquent terms : —

" With respect to the work in question, it would be going too far to say that it
is free from error, particularly when it is considered that the information derived
from upwards of thirteen hundred families must, in many instances, have been of a
nature which it was impossible for the proprietors to correct by any other authori-
ties to which they could possibly have access ; at the same time, they pledge them-



selves that all information thus derived has been collated as far as possible with
other existing authorities, and that whenever any discordance has appeared, it has
either been corrected when that could be done, or so expressly noted that those
particularly interested in its authenticity may always examine the various facts as
stated, and exercise their own judgment in their arrangement. . . . Throughout
the whole body of the work, it has been their constant study, both in public and in
private detail, to avoid everything which might look like an undue partiality, either
to families or parties. In the Scottish department this has been more particularly
attended to, from a conviction that the family and clannish feuds which, from cir-
cumstances unavoidable, had so long distracted that country, must in many in-
stances have given a tinge to family details, even in the most unprejudiced breasts.
As far as was consistent with historical truth, they have avoided all such observa-
tions : not that even in a single instance they have met with observations which
could justly be termed invidious ; but from a just fear that particular claims of supe-
riority, though insignificant in themselves, and unnecessary in this work, might, if
mentioned on slight authority, have excited an unnecessary rivalship. At the same
time, wherever such claims required notice, as illustrative of public affairs or of
private rights, they have invariably been inserted. Still, however, it is not impos-
sible that some of their numerous readers may object to particular passages. In
such cases, then, they must premise that they are no further accountable for the
sentiments expressed than in having done justice to the various claimants by stat-
ing their different pretensions, but without unnecessarily hazarding opinions as
coming from themselves — opinions which they, as general biographers, cannot have
been supposed qualified to decide on. In such cases, ' truth regulated by candour '
has always been their motto."

So much for the opinions and professions of the author and proprietors
of 'British Family Antiquity.' It unfortunately happens, however, that
Mr William Playfair's reputation as a genealogist is not of the highest
order. An accomplished legal antiquary (the late Mr James Maidment)
makes the following observations regarding him in his preface to the
' Liber Conventus S. Catherine Senensis prope Edinburgum,' printed by
the Abbotsford Club in 1S41 : —

" The fair lady who became proprietor of the estates of Grange and Sciennes
is said by Playfair, a wholesale manufacturer of pedigrees, to have been a daughter of

' Macmath, an opulent merchant in Edinburgh, descended of the ancient

family of the Macmaths of that Ilk,' and to have married, in 1637, William, third
son of William Dick of Braid, from whom he got in patrimony Saint Giles' Grange
and the lands of Schenes, by charter dated 6th January 1645. If this be true,
the husband must have given the lands to his wife, otherwise William Dick the


younger would not have had occasion to serve heir to her instead of his father.
But be this as it may, we should have been much gratified if Mr Playfair had
informed us of the precise degree of connection of this gentleman, without a
Christian name, with the ' ancient ' Macmath, or where the estate of ' Macmath '
was situated. Such minute facts were, it is presumed, beneath the notice of so
magnificent a genealogist. Where, too, did he ascertain that this person was an
opulent merchant in Edinburgh, according to the proper meaning of the term?
These assertions are supported by no authorities ; and in the absence of anything
like proof, we may be forgiven in distrusting the mere assertion of one so notoriously
inaccurate as the author, or rather compiler, of the nine dull and ponderous tomes
going under the denomination of ' British Family Antiquity.' "

At a very early age the author of ' British Family Antiquity' evinced
a strong predilection for mechanical science ; and even after he had turned
his attention to literary pursuits, he obtained a series of patents for various
useful inventions. Like his more distinguished brother John, professor of
mathematics in the University of Edinburgh, he was the author of a vast
number of works — probably not fewer than a hundred — on a great vari-
ety of topics, including finance, reform, commerce, history, statistics, and
political economy. The earliest of these was published in the year 1785,
when Playfair was about twenty-six years of age ; and it was hardly to be
expected that the ingenious mechanic and prolific miscellaneous writer
would prove much of an adept in the mysteries of genealogy, when he
resolved to add that very special subject to his catalogue of studies in the
evening of his life. We have no desire to magnify either the importance
or the difficulty of genealogical investigations ; but few men of fifty could
reasonably hope to prosecute such inquiries with satisfactory results unless
they had previously attained some experience in the same field.

The ' Fasti Ecclesiee Scoticanae ' of the late Rev. Dr Hew Scott of
Anstruther-Wester contains several genealogical particulars relative to some
of the numerous Moncrieffs who have held benefices in the Church of
Scotland ; and in reply to a communication which we addressed to the
author soliciting information as to his authority for these particulars, he
distinctly states, in a letter dated 20th August 1870, that they were " taken
from Playfair." He also says: "The family of Moncreiff-Wellwood I
have been told and have always understood to have been drawn up in Play-


fair's ' Baronetage' by the late Sir Henry Moncreiff-Wellwood, minister of
St Cuthbert's. As to Playfair's own work, I have never considered it
more than very poor authority, yet confided in it when supported by such
authority as my old venerated and respected pastor, Sir Henry." l

The statements of Mr Maidment and Dr Scott may be regarded as
professional opinions of Playfair's genealogical reputation. The estimate
formed by the highest section of a " generous and enlightened public," of
the first five of his " ponderous tomes," may be gathered from the following
excerpt from a letter addressed by Lord Webb Seymour to Miss Berry in
July 1809 : —

" I hope you will congratulate Play fair for me and for yourself upon his late
grand publication — a ' Peerage,' in five volumes, at ten guineas a volume. Lord
Galloway, whom I met at Brighthelmstone, makes it a rule never to subscribe to
any book, but an application some time ago from a person of the name of Playfair —
a name, too, followed by sundry scientific titles and dignities — induced him to relax
his rule in favour of the celebrated Edinburgh Professor, who declared that he was
going to enlighten the world by his speculations on gules, argent, and lions rampant,
and addressed himself to different peers for their patronage, as well as for private
sources of information. At length the work appeared, and I found Lord Galloway
grievously disappointed by the trifling stuff and fulsome flattery with which the pro-
duction of this profound man abounded. His brother, Edward Stewart, had indeed
ventured to raise a doubt whether it was the Edinburgh Professor who was the
author of the work, and I was appealed to for the decision of the question. The
book, it seemed, was a bad one, so I denied that our friend had any concern in it ;
but had peers and pedigrees been properly treated, of course I should have felt it
a point of delicacy to refer to better authority before I stripped off at a blow the
reputation to be derived from five ten-guinea volumes." 2

The three accounts of the ' House of Moncrieff' given by Martin,
Douglas, and Playfair, differ in several important particulars, as will be
seen from an examination of the tabular transcripts in the Appendix ; but
from a careful comparison of their contents, and with the aid of documentary

1 "Assertions as to fact are often made in (1S65), ii. 3S6. Miss Berry's high opinion of the
perfectly good faith, but with absolutely no " Edinburgh Professor " will be found at p. 67 of
foundation." — From Lord Coleridge's paper in vol. iii. She does not appear to have been aware
' Principal Shairp and his Friends,' by Pro- that he was the brother of the author of ' British
fessor Knight. Family Antiquity.'

2 ' Journals and Correspondence of Miss Berry'


and other trustworthy evidence, we hope to present, in the following pages,
a tolerably accurate genealogy of the main line of the family, as well as of
most of the principal branches.

The following is a summary of the principal discrepancies in the
pedigrees already referred to : —

1. Playfair, following the Culfargie Tree and Martin's MS., gives four
generations before Matthew, with whom Douglas begins, and who is said
to have flourished about the year 1248. He, however, makes Matthew
the nephew and son-in-law of Roger, instead of the son, as in the Tree
and MS.

2. While the Tree and Martin make Matthew the father of Malcolm,
both Douglas and Playfair interpose four generations — viz., John, William,
Duncan, and John.

3. According to Douglas, George Moncreiff of Tippermalach (or
Tubbermallo), second son of Malcolm Moncreiff of that Ilk, died without
issue, while Playfair continues his descendants to his great-great-grandson,
William Moncreiff of Tippermalach, who is said to have died without
issue about 1655. In the Tree and Martin's MS., George is made second
son of Sir John Moncreiff of that Ilk, and grandson of Sir Malcolm ; but in
both his descendants are substantially the same as in Playfair. In like
manner, the same authorities make Matthew, ancestor of the family of
Easter Moncreiff, the third son of Sir John and grandson of Sir Malcolm,
while both Douglas and Playfair make him Sir Malcolm's son.

4. The earliest specified marriage in all the pedigrees is that of
Malcolm Moncreiff of that Ilk, whose wife was Catharine (Anna ?) Murray,
of the family of Tullibardine. Both Douglas and Playfair agree in the
wives assigned to each of his six direct descendants, of whom the last is
Sir John Moncreiff of that Ilk, created Baronet in 1626. Martin, how-
ever, following the Tree, makes Margaret Levingstoune of Easter Wemyss
the wife of Sir John of that Ilk, who is said by Douglas and Playfair to
have married Beatrix Forman ; and he also interpolates (as in the Tree) a
Sir William, with Beatrix Graham as his wife, between the last-mentioned
Sir John and William of that Ilk, who married Margaret Murray of
Balvaird. (As afterwards stated, a much earlier marriage than that of


Malcolm is ascertained from a charter at Moncreiffe— viz., that of Matthew,
with whom Douglas begins the pedigree.)

5. While Playfair assigns only one younger son to Sir John Mon-
creiff of that Ilk and Beatrix Forman— viz., John Moncreiff of Rapness,
ancestor of Sir Robert Moncreiffe, now of Moncreiffe— Douglas gives
him two — viz. :

(1.) Hugh Moncreiff of Tubbermallo, whose male descendants he
carries down for five generations to Sir Hugh Moncreiff of Tubbermallo, fifth
Baronet of the creation of 1626, who died unmarried in 1742 (or rather
in 1744).

(2.) John Moncreiff of Kinmouth and Rapness, ancestor of Sir
Thomas Moncreiffe, as in Playfair. Only one younger son is assigned in
the Tree and Martin's MS. to Sir John of that Ilk and Margaret Leving-
stoune (corresponding with Sir John and Beatrix Forman of Douglas and
Playfair) — viz., John, " ancestor of the family of Wester Rind."

6. According to Douglas, Hugh Moncreiff, one of the younger brothers
of Sir John Moncrieff of that Ilk, first Baronet, died without issue; while
Playfair makes him father of Sir John Moncreiff of Tippermalach, who
assumed the Baronetcy on the death of Sir James Moncreiff in 1698, and
grandfather of Sir Hugh, who died in 1744. In Playfair's pedigree, Hugh
Moncreiff of Kirkton of Malar, uncle of the first Baronet, is said to have
died without issue.

7. Douglas erroneously states that Alexander, youngest son of William
Moncreiff of that Ilk and Margaret Murray of Balvaird, " died without
issue " ; while Playfair correctly makes him the " ancestor of the Mon-
creiffs of Kintillo, afterwards of Culfargie and Barnhill," as set forth in the
Tree and Martin's MS.

8. Playfair gives six sons to William Moncreiff of that Ilk and Jean
Oliphant, making Archibald, minister of Abernethy, the second, and con-
tinuing his descendants to Sir Harry Moncreiff- Well wood, grandfather
of the present Lord Moncreiff. Douglas, on the other hand, gives him
only two sons — viz., William of that Ilk, and David, who married the heiress
of Balcaskie. He states, however, that William Moncreiff of that Ilk, who
married Jean Oliphant, " is also said to have had another son, Mr Archibald


Moncreiff, who was minister at Abernethy in Perthshire, and progenitor of
Mr William Moncreiff, minister of Blackford, who, upon the death of
Sir Hugh of Tubbermallo, claimed the Baronetship ; but as we can find no
documents to prove his succession, we cannot here deduce his descent." In
Martin's MS., Archibald Moncreiff, minister of Abernethy, appears as the
fifth son of Sir William of that Ilk and Jean Oliphant, with two sons, who
are both said to have had issue — viz., Archibald, also minister of Aber-
nethy, and George, minister of Arngask. He occupies the same place in
the Tree, where, however, nothing is said about his sons.

9. Playfair, following Martin, inserts an additional brother — Sir David
— as Baronet, between Sir John, second Baronet, and Sir James ; thus
making Sir James fourth Baronet, while according to Douglas he was

10. Douglas gives the baronetcy of 1626, on the death of Sir Hugh
Moncreiff of Tubbermallo in 1742 (1744), to Sir William Moncreiff, fourth
baronet of the creation of 1685, on the erroneous supposition that all the
male descendants of William Moncreiff of that Ilk and Margaret Murray of
Balvaird had failed ; while Playfair gives the title to William Moncreiff,
minister of Blackford, the alleged descendant of Archibald Moncreiff, min-
ister of Abernethy, above referred to.

1 1. The other discrepancies are of a comparatively minor character.

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S already stated, all the Moncrieff pedigrees, except that given
by Sir Robert Douglas, insert four generations before Mat-
thew de Moncrieff, who is said to have flourished about the
middle of the thirteenth century — -viz. :

I. Raymerus (or Ramerus) Moncrieff, who lived, ac-
cording to Playfair, between 1107 and 11 24, and who is said to have held
the office of Keeper of the Wardrobe in the household of Alexander I.
The date under his name in the Culfargie Tree is not very legible, but is
probably intended for either 1 13S or 1 158. Raymerus was father of —

II. Gasperus Moncrieff, who, according to Playfair, had two other
sons, besides his successor —

III. Gerard Moncrieff. According to the same authority, Gerard
had five sons, of whom three died in their father's lifetime, while the fourth
was Roger, and the fifth John (?), the father of Matthew, who is said, " in
the private memorials of the family," to have married his first cousin,
Roger's only daughter. Gerard's successor appears to have been —



IV. Roger MONCRIEFF, who, in his turn, was succeeded by his nephew
and son-in-law —

V. Matthew MONCRIEFF of that Ilk, with whom Douglas begins the
pedigree. Matthew appears to have obtained a charter from Sir Roger de
Mowbray of the lands of Moncrieff and Balconachin, which were erected
into a free barony by a subsequent charter from Alexander II. in 1248;
and, three years later, he got a charter of confirmation of the same lands
and barony from Alexander III., who ascended the Scottish throne in 1249.
These three charters are in the possession of

Sir Robert Moncreiffe of Moncreiffe.

The wife of Matthew Moncrieff was
Marjory, sister of "John of Dundemor," as
appears from an undated charter, among the
Moncreiffe muniments, of the lands of Upper
and Nether Dunbeirach, &c, granted by the
said John of Dundemor to Matthew and
Marjory. 1 According to the Culfargie Tree
and Martin's MS., Matthew's son and suc-
cessor was" Sir Malcolm, while both Douglas and Playfair, as already
indicated, interpose no fewer than four generations between Matthew
and Malcolm, making the son and successor of the former —

VI. (Sir) John Moncrieff of that Ilk, who is said to have been com-
pelled to swear allegiance to Edward I. of England in the year 1296,
when he is designed " Dominus Johannes de Moncrieff, Chevalier." 2

1 In the Appendix to Dr Laing's valuable ' His-
tory of Lindores and Newburgh ' (pp. 433-435) are
some interesting particulars relative to the an-
cient family of Dundemore of that Ilk, afterwards
Dunmore or Dunmuir, in the parish of Abdie,
the name being derived from the Gaelic words
dun and more = the great dun or fort. John of
Dundemore, whose sister married Matthew Mon-
crieff of that Ilk, was one of the regents of Alex-
ander III. in his minority, 1249-62. In the year
1260 he had a controversy with the monks of the
Isle of May relative to the lands of Turbrech in
Fife, which was finally settled by his relinquish-

ing his claims under a series of curious condi-
tions, which are duly set forth in the Records of
the Priory of the Isle of May. In 1507, by a
charter under the great seal, "James IV. be-
stowed the west half of Dinmuir [Dunmuir] or
Nether Dinmuir, now called Ayton [and the pro-
perty of Mr Carnegie of Stronvar], on Andrew
Ayton, captain of the Castle of Stirling, of the
family of Ayton in the Merse, for good and
faithful services." — Sibbald's 'History of Fife,'
p. 409.

- " Historical and Critical Remarks on the Rag-
man Roll," Nisbet's ' Heraldry,' end of vol. ii.


Like his predecessor Matthew, he obtained a charter of confirmation of
the lands of Moncrieff from Alexander III. Sir John Moncrieff appears
to have been twice married, but unfortunately only the Christian names of
his wives have been preserved. About the year i 294, in a charter wit-
nessed, among others, by Roger de Mowbray and Petronella de Moncryf,
"Sir John Moncreif, Lord of that Ilk, grants half a chalder of barley,
half a chalder of oats, and four bolls of wheat to the Preaching Friars of
Perth, out of the tenement of Moncreif, for their sustentation, and that for
the weal of his own soul and the souls of his father and mother, his heirs,
his wife Annabella, Alice his former wife, and their children, and all the
faithful dead." According to both Douglas and Playfair, he had two sons —

1. (Sir) William, his heir ; 2. Sir Ralph.
Sir John is said to have died towards the very end of the thirteenth cen-
tury, when he was succeeded by his eldest son — -

VII. (Sir) William Moncrieff of that Ilk, who is mentioned in
Matthew of Westminster's history, along with his brother Ralph and other
Scottish lords and barons, as having entered England in the year 1296 and
burned certain houses (villas). His name also appears in the " Remarks on
the Ragman Roll." Sir William died at the end of the reign of King
Robert Bruce (cir. 1328), and was succeeded by his son—

VIII. (Sir) Duncan Moncrieff of that Ilk, of whom nothing appears
to be recorded except that he and his wife both died in the year 1357,
and were buried together in the church of Moncrieff. Duncan's son and
successor was — ■

IX. (Sir) John Moncrieff, designed " Dominus ejusdem" in a
charter of Sir Robert Mayners, knight, to the Monastery of Dunfermline,
confirmed by King David II. in 1360. He is said to have died at an
advanced age, about the year 14 10, leaving issue a son and successor —

X. (Sir) Malcolm Moncrieff of that Ilk, who, in 1456, was appointed
one of the Judges or Lords of Council of King James II. " Malcolmus
de Muncreyfe" is mentioned in the list of jurors in the Retour of
William of Striueline as heir of his father in the lands of Redgortoun,
29th April 1432 j 1 and " Malcholmus Muncrefe de eodem " occurs in the

1 Fraser's ' Stirlings of Keir,' p. 211.



assise " proborum et fide dignorum virorum " specified in the agreement

between William Abbot of Cupar and Thomas Stewart of Grandtully

concerning the marches of Murthly and Kyn-

tully, 10th July 1449. 1 He married Catherine

(Anna ?) Murray, 2 of the family of Tullibar-

dine, by whom, according to both Douglas

and Playfair, he had three sons —

1. (Sir) John, his successor.

2. George Moncrieff of Tippermalloch (or

3. Matthew Moncrieff, first of the family
of Easter Moncrieff, "of whom several

families of the name of Moncrieff are descended."
In the old church of Moncrieff is a large monumental slab indicat-
ing the burial-place of Sir Malcolm's wife. It bears the remains of an
impaled escutcheon, now almost entirely effaced, which doubtless contained
the rampant lion of Moncrieff and the three stars of Murray, with the
following surrounding inscription in fine old English characters :
[DE • MONCRIEFF • QV^E • OBIIT •] . . .

Sir Malcolm died about the year 1465,
when he was succeeded by his eldest

XI. (Sir) John Moncrieff of that Ilk,
who, in his father's lifetime, got a charter
under the Great Seal, dated 1464, of the
lands of Auchindane in Fife. About two
years later he obtained another charter from
King James III. — Johanni Moncrieff de eodem — of the lands of Gil-
christon or Gilgristoune (now Kilgraston) and others. He married

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