Iain Moncreiffe

Rupert Iain Kay Moncreiffe of that Ilk

Bust of Sir Iain Moncreiffe in the Register House, Edinburgh
Born April 9, 1919
Died February 27, 1985 (1985-02-28) (aged 65)
Occupation Officer of Arms, genealogist
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Christ Church, Oxford
Subject Genealogy, heraldry
Notable works Simple Heraldry (1953)
Blood Royal (1956)
The Highland Clans (1967)
Spouse Diana Hay, 23rd Countess of Erroll
Hermione Patricia Faulkner
1966-1985 (his death)
Children Merlin Hay, 24th Earl of Erroll
Peregrine David Moncreiffe of that Ilk
Alexandra Moncreiffe Hay

Sir Rupert Iain Kay Moncreiffe of that Ilk, 11th Baronet, CVO, QC (9 April 1919 – 27 February 1985) was a British Officer of Arms and genealogist.[lower-alpha 1]


Moncreiffe was the son of Lieutenant-Commander Gerald Moncreiffe, RN, and Hilda, daughter of the Comte de Miremont, he succeeded his cousin as 11th Baronet and Chief of Clan Moncreiffe in 1957.[1]

Educated at Stowe School, Heidelberg, and Christ Church, Oxford, as a cadet officer Moncreiffe trained with Derek Bond (actor) and Patrick Leigh Fermor,[2] he later served in the Scots Guards during the Second World War, then as attaché at the British embassy in Moscow, before studying Scots Law at the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated PhD with a thesis on the Scots law of succession to peerages.

A prominent member of the Lyon Court, Moncreiffe held the offices of Falkland Pursuivant (1952), Kintyre Pursuivant (1953), Unicorn Pursuivant (1955), and (from 1961) Albany Herald. He wrote a popular work about the Scottish clans, The Highland Clans (1967), and with Don Pottinger Simple Heraldry, Cheerfully Illustrated (1953), Simple Custom (1954), and Blood Royal (1956), but his interests also extended to Georgian and Byzantine noble genealogies. Lord of the Dance, A Moncreiffe Miscellany, edited by Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd encompassed his genealogical world-view.

He was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists in 1969.[3]

He was an incorrigible snob; he even called himself Master Snob.[4] He took silk (relatively late in his career) because very few barristers specialised in heraldic matters and he wished to highlight the importance of this field of speciality. He was a frequent writer of amusing and often illuminating letters to newspapers, particularly The Daily Telegraph, and provided the introduction to Douglas Sutherland's satirical book The English Gentleman (1978). He held membership in many London clubs and founded his own club in Edinburgh, called Puffin's Club, – the name was taken from the nickname of Sir Iain's first wife, 'Puffin', Diana Hay, 23rd Countess of Erroll. It was and continues to be a weekly luncheon club, which between the early 1960s and late 1990s met in Martin's restaurant in Rose Street Lane North, Edinburgh. It still meets monthly in London and Edinburgh. The membership was and is as varied and eccentric as its founder. Ex-King Zog I, King of Albania paid his founding subscription of £5 in 1961, but died before he could attend. The actor Terence Stamp, Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, Sir Fitzroy Maclean and Lord Dacre all attended with varying frequency. It was said that at some point half the crowned heads of Europe were on the list.[5]


Moncreiffe married twice. Firstly Diana Hay, 23rd Countess of Erroll, whom he married on 19 December 1946 at St Margaret's, Westminster. He and Lady Erroll were one of the few couples who both held titles in their own right. They had three children, see Diana Hay, 23rd Countess of Erroll

Moncreiffe's first marriage was dissolved in 1964 and in 1966 he took as his second wife Hermione Patricia Faulkner, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Douglas Faulkner by his marriage to Patricia Katherine Montagu Douglas Scott, the present Dowager Countess of Dundee.


  1. He used various forms of his name: His columns for Books and Bookmen were signed Iain Moncreiffe; Royal Highness is by Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Bt.; Simple Heraldry is by Sir Iain Moncrieffe of Easter Moncreiffe. Like other Scottish landowners, and other baronets, he distinguished himself from other Moncreiffes by referring to his estate: of that Ilk is Scots for "of the same [place]", since his estate was Moncreiffe Island itself; (Easter Moncreiffe was the name of his house; Moncreiffe House burnt down in 1957, and its ruins were inherited by his cousin's daughter).
  1. Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 276 - 277.
  2. Bond, Derek (1990). Steady, old man!: don't you know there's a war on?. Leo Cooper. p. 19. ISBN 9780850520460.
  3. American Society of Genealogists: All Fellows.
  4. Powell, Anthony (1990). Miscellaneous verdicts: writings on writers, 1946-1989. Heinemann. p. 51. ISBN 9780434599288.
  5. http://telegraph.boisdale.co.uk/archieve/Telegraph%20June%20july%202007.pdf


Further reading

Heraldic offices
Preceded by
Falkland Pursuivant
Succeeded by
Don Pottinger
Kintyre Pursuivant
Succeeded by
Charles Jauncey
Preceded by
Gordon Dalyell of the Binns
Unicorn Pursuivant
Succeeded by
Don Pottinger
Preceded by
Charles Ian Fraser
Albany Herald
1961 – bef. 1985
Succeeded by
John Spens
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