Recorded in several spelling forms including Moncrief, Moncrieff, Moncrieffe and Moncrefe, this is an ancient Scottish surname. The nameholders derive from three original families all living in Perthshire in the 14th century, and all holding lands in the barony of Moncrieff in the parish of Dunbarny. The meaning of the surname is uncertain, but may be "the hill covered by trees". It is said that in the 13th century one Matthew Moncrieff obtained a charter from the Norman overlord Sir Roger de Mowbray of Yorkshire, for the lands of Moncrieff and Balconachin, and these lands were later "created" into a free barony by a charter from King Alexander 11 of Scotland in 1248. Whether this "creation" was by force or more legal means is unclear, however it cannot have been easy for a "sassenach" to hold lands in Scotland at this time, as the two countries were permanently at war. Certainly thereafter the Moncrieff's, as shown in the original spellings, never looked back. Early examples of knights of the house of Moncrieff include John de Moncref, who in 1296 rendered homage to the Scottish government, whilst Sir Thomas de Moncref was taken prisoner by the English at the battle of Dunbar Castle in the same year The earliest known example of the surname recording is that of Matthew Moncrieff, circa 1230, in the charters of Perthshire, Scotland. This was during the reign of King Alexander 11, 1214 - 1249.
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