Francis Moncrieff

Last Saturday, at Twickenham, Scotland played England in the 150th test. Stuart Hogg was the captain for Scotland and his shirt was embroidered with the the name of Francis Moncrieff who was captain for Scotland when they first faced England at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh, 1871.

6 February 2021, Twickenham: Scotland beat England, 11 – 6:

27 March 27 1871: the first Rugby International, Raeburn Place, Edinburgh:

The match resulted from this challenge issued in the Scotsman (and other papers of the day):

This was the Glasgow Herald match summary:

“This great football match was played yesterday, on the Academy Cricket Ground, Edinburgh. The weather was fine, and there was a very large turnout of spectators. The competitors were dressed in appropriate costume, the English wearing a white jersey, ornamented by a red rose, and the Scotch brown jersey, with a thistle. Although the good wishes of the spectators went with the Scotch team, yet it was considered that their chances were poor. The difference between the two teams was very marked, the English being of a much heavier and stronger build compared to their opponents. The game commenced shortly after three o’clock, the Scotch getting the kick off, and for some time neither side had any advantage. The Scotch, however, succeeded in driving the ball close to the English goal, and, pushing splendidly forward, eventually put it into their opponents’ quarters, who, however, prevented any harm accruing by smartly ‘touching down’. This result warmed the Englishmen up to their work, and in spite of tremendous opposition they got near the Scotch goal, and kicked the ball past it, but it was cleverly ‘touched down’ they got no advantage. This finished the first 50 minutes, and the teams changed sides.

For a considerable time after the change the ball was sent from side to side, and the ‘backs’ got more work to do. By some lucky runs, however, the Scotch got on to the borders of the English land, and tried to force the ball past the goal. The English strenuously opposed this attempt, and for a time the struggle was terrible, ending in the Scotch ‘touching down’ in their opponents’ ground and becoming entitled to a ‘try’. This result was received with cheers, which were more heartily renewed when Cross, to whom the ‘kick off’ was entrusted, made a beautiful goal. This defeat only stirred up the English to fresh efforts, and driving the ball across the field, they managed also to secure a ‘try’, but unfortunately the man who got the ‘kick off’ did not allow sufficient windage, and the ball fell short. After this the Scotch became more cautious, and playing well together secured after several attempts a second ‘try’, but good luck did not attend the ‘kick off’ and the goal was lost. Time being then declared up the game ceased, the Scotch winning by a goal and a ‘try’.”

This is a photograph of the Scottish team. Captain Francis J. Moncrieff is standing in the 2nd row, 2nd from the right:

It was wonderful that Francis Moncrieff was stitched into Stuart Hogg’s rugby shirt for the match against England on Saturday. Stitched-in-together – two captains – 150 years apart.

So who was Francis Moncrieff?

He was born at 15 Great Stuart Street, Edinburgh, in August 1849. His father James, was Lord Justice-Clerk of Scotland. Here is the family in 1851 [note that Francis was the fourth youngest son and that his nurse was Margaret Gordon]:

Francis’ father was one of Edinburgh’s ‘Modern Athenians’:

15 Great Stuart Street is an example of New Town architectural beauty:

Following the first ever test match between Scotland and England, Francis Moncrieff married Frances ‘Fanny’ Lawson. Sadly Fanny died less than four years later, and their second son two years after that.

In 1880, Francis, who had just turned 30, already a widower, married Margaret Fitzherbert. Together they had four sons. Through these sons, the Moncrieff family lives on. Here are two of the great-great-grandsons of Francis Moncrieff speaking with pride before last Saturday’s game:

Proudly they keep Francis’ 1871 cap:

In May 1900, Francis Jeffrey Moncrieff died. He was only 50 years of age:

One of his four sons was killed in action during WWI:

His wife Mildred lived on til 1943, almost half-a century longer than her husband Francis: Scotland’s first Captain.

In the tapestry of life, however difficult or challenging it may be, we are stiched-in-together. This a comforting and rather wonderful realisation!

This footnote simply relates accidental connections through time. It is likely to be of little interest to you.

Francis Moncrieff was born in 15 Great Stuart Street. My father is called Stuart, was born in Edinburgh, though he was not born in Great Stuart Street  [I once made a film about  Great Stuart Street – see below].

My mother, Margaret Gordon, who was born in Edinburgh in 1943 was a nurse [I once made a film about the first nurse in Cabrach, a nurse who carried my mother’s name – see below]

Gallery of images relating to Stuart Hogg, Captain of Scotland 2021:

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Gallery of images relating to Francis Moncrieff, Captain of Scotland 1871:

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Stuart of Steuartfield died at Great Stuart Street, Edinburgh. This was a long time ago. This is a film:

Great Stuart Street:

This is a film about Margaret Gordon the first midwife in Cabrach.

Touching distance: