Moncreiff, Henry (1750-1827) (DNB00)


MONCREIFF, Sir HENRY, D.D., bart., afterwards Sir Henry Moncreiff Wellwood of Tulliebole (1750–1827), Scottish divine, born at Blackford, Perthshire, on 6 Feb. 1750, was eldest son of Sir William Moncreiff (1738–1767), minister of the parish of Blackford, who by the death of Sir Hugh succeeded to the baronetcy in 1744. His mother, Catharine, was eldest daughter of Robert Wellwood of Garvock. He received his early education at Blackford parish school, and in 1763, when only thirteen years old, matriculated in Glasgow University, where he continued to study till the death of his father in 1767. He then removed to Edinburgh University, where he finished his course in 1771. Such was the respect entertained in Blackford for the family that, with the sanction of the presbytery, the parish was kept vacant from the time of Sir William's death until 1771, when Henry received the presentation, and on 15 Aug. was ordained its minister, being the third Moncreiff who had held the living in succession. He proved himself a very diligent and efficient clergyman, and when one of the charges of St. Cuthbert's, Edinburgh, fell vacant, he was, on the recommendation of the heritors, appointed to it by the crown, as colleague to the Rev. John Gibson. Inducted on 26 Oct. 1775, he quickly became one of the most influential ministers of the city. A very eloquent and vigorous preacher, he also took a leading part in the business of the church courts, especially the general assembly, where he rose to be the leader of the evangelical party (vide Lockhart's Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk, iii. 45 and 74, for graphic sketches of his appearances in the pulpit and general assembly). In 1785 he was elected moderator of the assembly, and in the same year received the degree of D.D. from the university of Glasgow, and was appointed chaplain to the Prince of Wales. He took an active part in the foundation of the Society for the Benefit of the Sons of the Clergy and in the management of the ministers' widows' fund (of which he was collector for many years) and of other benevolent schemes. In 1793 he was appointed chaplain to George III. In 1825 he lost the sight of an eye through illness, and on 9 Aug. 1827 he died in Edinburgh. He was buried in the West Church burying-ground there; and a monument in the vestibule of St. Cuthbert's hard by tells of the high place which he occupied in the regard of his parishioners and of the citizens of Edinburgh generally. For over half a century Moncreiff was one of the leading figures in the church of Scotland, and perhaps its most influential clergyman (cf. Lord Brougham in Edinb. Review, xlvii. 242).

In 1773 Moncreiff married his cousin, Susan Robertson, eldest daughter of James Robertson Barclay, writer to the signet, of Keavil, Fifeshire, by whom he had five sons and two daughters. The eldest son, William Wellwood, became judge-advocate of Malta, and died in 1813; his second son, Sir James Wellwood, afterwards Lord Moncreiff, is separately noticed. The eldest daughter married Sir John Stoddart, afterwards chief justice of Malta. He added Wellwood to his name at the desire of his grand-uncle, Henry Wellwood of Garvock, on having the estate of Tulliebole in Kinrossshire, which had previously belonged to the Wellwood family, settled on him. Moncreiff published, in addition to many pamphlets and tracts : 1. Four volumes of 'Sermons' in 1805, 1806, 1822, 1831. 2. 'Discourses on the Evidence of the Jewish and Christian Revelations,' 1815. 3. 'Account of the Life and Writings of John Erskine, D.D.,' 1818. 4. 'Life of Dr. Henry,' prefixed to vol. vi. of his ' History of England,' which Moncreiff edited, 1793.

[Preface by Sir James W. Moncreiff to posthumous volume of sermons, 1831, pp. ix-xxv; Peter s Letters to his Kinsfolk, iii. 45, 74; Edinburgh Review, xlvii. 242; Chambers's Biog. Dict. of Eminent Scotsmen, iv. 434; Scott's Fasti, i. 122; Cockburn's Memorials; information supplied by Lord Moncreiff.]

T. H.