Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Moncrieff, Alexander

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MONCRIEFF, ALEXANDER (1695–1761), presbyterian minister, born in 1695, was the eldest son of the laird of Culfargie in the parish of Abernethy, Perthshire, and. as his father died when Alexander was a boy became heir to that estate. His grandfather, Alexander Moncrieff of Scoonie, Fifeshire, was the companion of the martyr James Guthrie [q. v.], whose history and character deeply influenced Moncrieff. After passing through the grammar school at Perth he attended the university of St. Andrews, where he took his degree, and then entered the Divinity Hall of the same university. At the conclusion of his curriculum, in 1716 he went to Leyden, where he pursued his studies for a year. He was licensed by the presbytery of Perth as a preacher in 1718, and in September 1720 he was ordained in his native parish of Abernethy. Keen controversies were agitating the church of Scotland. The Marrow controversy, in which Thomas Boston [q. v.] of Ettrick was a conspicuous leader, began shortly after Moncrieff 's ordination, and he joined the little band who were contending for purity of doctrine in the church. The agitation regarding patronage, or the power of patrons to present to vacant churches, apart from the co-operation or even against the wish of the people, followed. Moncrieff joined the Erskines in denouncing attempts to invade the people's rights. He was one of the four ministers whom the assembly suspended, and who, having formally separated themselves from the judicatories of the church of Scotland, formed on 6 Dec. 1733, at Gairney Bridge, Kinross-shire, the secession church of Scotland [see Erskine, Ebenezer]. The new denomination met with much sympathy and success, and was soon able not only to supply ordinances in different parts of the country, but even to organise a theological

hall for the training of its future ministers. In February 1742 Moncrieff was unanimously chosen professor of divinity, a position which he filled with great ability and zeal. He was also an active and influential member of the associate presbytery and synod. In 1749 his son was ordained as his colleague and successor in the charge of the congregation at Abernethy. Moncrieff published in 1750 a vindication of the secession church, and in 1756 'England's Alarm, which is also directed to Scotland and Ireland, in several Discourses, which contains a warning against the great Wickedness of these lands/ A little devotional work by him, entitled 'A Drop of Honey from the Rock of Christ,' was published posthumously at Glasgow (1778). He died on 7 Oct. 1761, in the sixty-seventh year of his age and the forty-second of his ministry.

He appears to have been a man of resolution and daring. He was jocularly called 'the lion of the secession church' by his colleagues. With Erskine, William Wilson, and James Fisher he was joint author of the 'judicial testimony' against the church of Scotland, issued in December 1736. His church, since its union with the relief church, forms the united presbyterian church.

[Young's Memorials of the Rev. Alex. Moncrieff of Abernethy, with a Selection from his Works, 1849; McKerrow's Hist. of the Secession Church, 1848; Landreth's United Presbyterian Divinity Hall, 1876.]

T. B. J.