Hunting down the Munro bloodline

Monday, January 30, 2006

In the beginning there was no word

Why would anybody do this to themself? I am gripped by a fever, a need to know how and why Mad Great Uncle Hector Munro thought he should have been the Baron of Foulis and the head of the Munro clan. He was last seen in Ridley Rd market in 1940 where he was modelling war leaders heads out of clay and passing round his hat for pennies. He was an itinerant worker who joined the Bomb Rescue Squad in London and his only son was a brilliant architect. The family moved to Surbiton when the old man died after the war.

My father, whose father was Hector's cousin, moved to Africa and I was raised without contact with the Munro family but I had some clues. My father referred to the family castle, Ffoulis in Scotland and even named his pedigree dog breeding line 'Ffoulis. He had a very old book that he'd found in his mother's attic when she died. It was a ship's log and the captain was Sir Robert Thomas Munro. The ship sailed to America (I think it was in the eighteenth century) and it took press-ganged labourers with it and that is about all I can remember about it.It is now locked up in a bank vault by my brother who doesn't speak to me. My father spoke about'The BlackBaron ofFoulis' and he said that there was a tradition in the family of naming the first son Robert with a second name of Hugh or Thomas.I found out later that this was not quite the case but close enough.

I started this search without knowing much more than that about the family. I started by looking up my father's birth on www.1837online.co.uk . I didn't even know his date or place of birth so it took a while to trawl through the Munro births around all the possible years. I found him eventualy - Robert Hugh Munro born in 1924. There were a few surprises when the certificate that I ordered from the records office came- he was born in Buckingham Road, Kingsland, Hackney and his mother's name was Daisy Wimpory. Who would have thought that my public school/Royal Navy Officer father was really an East Ender? His Dad was a Printer Machine Minder and his father was Robert Thomas Hugh. That made me think of his sister,Daisy.She must have been named after her Mum.

The only Munro family members who had stayed in touch were Daisy's two daughters, my cousins Linda and Lorna and so, after a bit of digging around on 1837 online I gave them a call.
They came over for a Sunday lunch so we could swap intelligence. They were quite interested in family history as they had a letter from my Dad's brother, Edward detailing everything he could remember seeing and hearing about it as a child. Old Hector's crazy claim was there in the letter but Edward thought it was the Earl of Rosshire of Ffoulis and that's a bit muddled. I know this because I looked up the story of the Munro family who are now living in Foulis Castle andthe first account I found goes like this:

Legend says that the original Munro lands in Ross-shire were given as a reward for assisting King Malcolm II repel Viking invaders from Scandinavia in the 11th century. The Munros were well established in Easter Ross by the 14th century where they owed allegiance to the earls of Ross. . The clan grew in stature and the chiefs of the clan became known as Munros of Foulis - Foulis Castle overlooks the Cromarty Firth, north-east of Dingwall. The clan also spread to the west coast to Loch Broom.

Members of the clan participated in the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and Halidon Hill in 1333. In 1547 the chief and many of his men fell at the Battle of Pinkie. A number of Munros, including the clan chief, served in armies abroad, particularly in Sweden during the Thirty Years' War.
During the Civil War in the 17th century, a number of Munros fought at the Battle of Worcester in support of Charles II. Following this, Oliver Cromwell transported a number of Munros to New England where they flourished - James Monroe became fifth President of the USA.
Like a number of presbyterian clans (Campbells, MacKays and Grants) the Munros supported the Revolution which saw James VII deposed in 1689 and William and Mary accede to the throne. They did not support the Jacobite Uprisings by the Catholic Stewarts in 1715 and 1745. Colonel Sir Robert Mumro, the 6th Baronet, was killed at the Battle of Falkirk in 1746, fighting on the side of the government forces against Prince Charles Edward Stuart. Foulis Castle was badly damaged in the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 by the Mackenzies but has been restored.
The Munros of Foulis have a unique family tree which covers 1333 to 1746. In more recent times, General Sir Hector Munro of Novar was a soldier who gained fame in India in the 1770s and 1780s.Hector Hugh Munro wrote books under the pseudonym of "Saki" and was killed in the 1914-18 war. Mountaineer Sir Hugh Munro was responsible for creating the list of mountains in Scotland above 3,000 feet which are named after him - the Munros. Jay R Monroe, founder of the Monroe Calculating Machine Company of the USA was one of the first to put mass produced calculating machines on the market in 1919. His son presented one of these machines to the Clan Munro museum in 1982.
The Munro clan motto is "Dread God".
A number of clans are regarded as septs (sub-branch) of the Munro clan - Dingwall, Foulis, MacLulich, Vass and Wass.
Munro was the 70th most frequent surname at the General Register Office in 1995.

and another version from the Clan Munro website goes like this:

'The possessions of the clan Monro or Munro, situated on the north side of Cromarty Firth, were generally know in the Highlands by the name of Fearrann Donull or Donald's country, being so called, it is said, from the progenitor of the clan, Donald the son of O'Ceann, who lived in the time of Macbeth. The Munroes were vassals of the Earls of Ross, and may be regarded as a portion of the native Scottish Gael. According to Sir George Mackenzie, they came originally from the north of Ireland with the Macdonalds, on which great clan "they had constantly a depending". Their name he states to have been derived from "a mount on the river Roe", county Derry.

Clan tradition, probably not more to be relied upon than tradition generally, hold that they formed a branch of the natives of Scotland who, about 357, being driven out by the Romans, and forced to take refuge in Ireland, were located for several centuries on the stream of the Roe, and among the adjacent mountains. In the time of Malcolm II, or beginning of the 11th century, the ancestors of the Munroes are said to have come over to Scotland to aid in expelling the Danes, under the above named Donald, son of O'Ceann, who, for his services, received the lands of East Dingwall in Ross-shire. These lands, erected into a barony, were denominated Foulis, from Loch Foyle in Ireland, and the chief of the clan was designated of Foulis, his residence in the parish of Kiltearn, near the mountain called Ben Uaish or Ben Wyvis. So says tradition.

Another conjecture as to the origin of the name Munro is that, from having acted as bailiffs or stewards to the Lord of the Isles in the earldom of Ross, they were called "Monrosses". Skene, as we have said, ranks the clan as members of a great family called the Siol O'Cain, and makes them out to be a branch of the clan Chattan, by ingeniously converting O'Cain into O'Cathan, and thus forming Chattan. Sir George Mackenzie says the name originally was Bunroe.

Hugh Munro, the first of the family authentically designated of Foulis, died in 1126. He seems to have been the grandson of Donald, the son of O'Ceann above mentioned. Robert, reckoned the second baron of Foulis, was actively engaged in the wars of David I and Malcolm IV. Donald, heir to Robert, built the old tower of Foulis. His successor, Robert, married a daughter of the Earl of Sutherland. George, fifth baron of Foulis, obtained charters from Alexander II.

Soon after the accession of Alexander III, an insurrection broke out against the Earl of Ross, the feudal superior of the Munroes, by the clans Ivor, Talvigh, and Laiwe, and other people of the province. The earl having apprehended their leader, and imprisoned him at Dingwall, the insurgents seized upon his second son at Balnagowan, and detained him as a hostage till their leader should be released. The Munroes and the Dingwalls immediately took up arms, and setting off in pursuit, overtook the insurgents at Bealligh-ne-Broig, between Ferrandonald and Loch Broom, where a sanguinary conflict took place. "The clan Iver, clan Talvigh, and clan Laiwe", says Sir Robert Gordon, "wer almost uterlie extinguished and slain". The earl's son was rescued, and to requite the service performed he made various grants of land to the Munroes and Dingwalls.

Sir Robert Munro, the sixth of his house, fought in the army of Bruce at the battle of Bannockburn. His only son, George, fell there, leaving an heir, who succeeded his grandfather. This George Munro of Foulis was slain at Halidonhill in 1333. The same year, according to Sir Robert Gordon, although Shaw makes the date 1454, occurred the remarkable event which led to a feud between the Munroes and Mackintoshes. Robert, the eighth baron of Foulis, married a niece of Eupheme, daughter of the Earl of Ross, and queen of Robert II. He was killed in an obscure skirmish in 1369, and was succeeded by his son, Hugh, ninth baron of Foulis, who joined Donald, second Lord of the Isles, when he claimed the earldom of Ross in right of his wife.The forfeiture of the earldom of Ross in 1476, made the Munroes and other vassal families independent of any superior but the crown. In the charters which the family of Foulis obtained from the Scottish kings, at various times, they were declared to hold their lands on the singular tenure of furnishing a ball of snow at Midsummer if required, which the hollows in their mountain property could at all times supply; and it is said that when the Duke of Cumberland proceeded north against the Pretender in1746, the Munroes actually sent him some snow to cool his wines. In one charter, the addendum was a pair of white gloves or three pennies.

Robert, the 14th baron, fell at the battle of Pinkie in 1547. Robert More Munro, the 15th chief, was a faithful friend of Mary, queen of Scots. Buchanan states, that when that unfortunate princess went to Inverness in 1562, "as soon as they heard of their soveriegn's danger, a great number of the most eminent Scots poured in around her, especially the Frasers and Munroes, who were esteemed the most valiant of the clans inhabiting those countries".

These two clans took for the Queen Inverness castle, which had refused her admission.With the Mackenzies the Munroes were often at feud, and Andrew Munro of Milntown defended, for three years, the castle of the canonry of Ross, which he had received from the Regent Moray in 1569, against the clan Kenzie, at the expense of many lives on both sides. It was, however, afterwards delivered up to the Mackenzies under the act of pacification.

The chief, Robert More Munro, became a Protestant at an early period of the Scottish Reformation. He died in 1588. His son, Robert, sixteenth baron of Foulis, died without issue in July 1589, and was succeeded by his brother, Hector Munro, seventeenth baron of Foulis. The latter died 14th November 1603.Hector's eldest son, Robert Munro, eighteenth chief of Foulis, styled "the Black Baron", was the first of his house who engaged in the religious wars of Gustavus Adolphus, in the 17th century. In 1626, he went over with the Scottish corps of Sir Donald Mackay, first Lord Reay, accompanied by six other officers of his name and near kindred. Doddridge says of him, that "the worthy Scottish gentleman was so struck with a regard to the common cause, in which he himself had no concern but what piety and virtue gave him, that he joined Gustavus with a great number of his friends who bore his own name. Many of them gained great reputation in this war, and that of Robert, their leader, was so eminent that he was made colonet of two regiments at the same time, the one of horse, the other of foot in that service".

In 1629 the laird of Foulis raised a reinforcement of 700 men on his own lands, and at a later period joined Gustavus with them. The officers of Mackays and Munro's Highland regiments who server under Gustavus Adolphus, in addition to rich buttons, wore a gold chain round their necks, to secure the owner, in case of being wounded or taken prisoner, good treatment, or payment for future ransom. In the services of Gustavus there were at one time not less than "three generals, eight colonels, five lieutenant-colonels, eleven majors, and above thirty captains, all of the name of Munro, besides a great number of subalterns".

The "Black Baron" died at Ulm, from a wound in his foot, in the year 1633, and leaving no male issue, he was succeeded by his brother, Hector Munro, nineteenth baron of Foulis, who had also distinguished himself in the German wars, and who, on his return to Britain, was created by Charles I a baronet of Nova Scotia, 7th June 1634. He married Mary, daughter of Hugh Mackay of Farr, and dying in 1635, in Germany, was succeeded by his only son, Sir Hector, second baronet, who died, unmarried, in 1651, at the age of 17.

The title and property devolved on his cousin, Robert Munro of Opisdale, grandson of George, third son of the fifteenth baron of Foulis.During the civil wars at home, when Charles I called to his aid some of the veteran officers who had served in Germany, this Colonel Robert Munro was one of them. He was employed chiefly in Ireland from 1641 to 1645, when he was surprised and taken prisoner personally by General Monk. He was subsequently lieutenant-general of the royalist troops in Scotland, when he fought a duel with the Earl of Glencairn. Afterwards he joined Charles II in Holland. After the Revolution he was appointed commander-in-chief of the forces in Scotland.Sir Robert Munro, third baronet of Foulis, died in 1688, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir John, fourth baronet, who, in the Scottish convention of estates, proved himself to be a firm supporter of the Revolution. He was such a strenuous advocate of Presbyterianism, that, being a man of large frame, he was usually called "the Presbyterian mortarpiece". In the Stuart persecutions, previous to his succession to the title, he had for his adherence to the covenant, been both fined and imprisoned by the tyrannical government that then ruled Scotland. He died in 1696.

His son, Sir Robert, fifth baronet, though blind, was appointed by George I high sheriff of Ross, by commission, under the great seal, dated 9th June 1725. He married Jean, daughter of John Forbes of Culloden, and died in 1729.His eldest son, Sir Robert, twenty-seventh baron and sixth baronet of Foulis, a gallant military officer, was the companion in arms of Colonel Gardiner, and fell at the battle of Falkirk, 17th January 1746.In May 1740, when the Independent companies were formed into the 43d Highland regiment (now the 42d Royal Highlanders), Sir Robert Munro was appointed lieutenant-colonel, John Earl of Crawford and Lindsay being its colonel. Among the captains were his next brother, George Munro of Culcairn, and John Munro, promoted to be lieutenant-colonel in 1745. The surgeon of the regiment was his younger brother, Dr James Munro. The fate of Sir Robert's other brother, Captain George Munro of Culcairn, was peculiar. He was shot ont he shores of Loch Arkaig among the wild rocks of Lochaber, on Sunday, 31st August 1746, by one of the rebels named Dugald Roy Cameron, or, as he is styled in tradition, Du Rhu. After the Rebellion, an order was issed to the Highlanders to deliver up their arms. Dugald, accordingly, sent his son to Fort-William with his arms to be delivered up. When proceeding down Loch Arkaig, the young man was met by an officer of the name of Grant, who was conducting a party of soldiers into Knoydart, and being immediately seized, was shot on the spot. His father swore to be revenged, and learning that the officer rode a white horse, he watched behind a rock for his return, on a height above Loch Arkaig. Captain Munro had unfortunately borrowed the white horse on which Grant rode, and he met the fate intended for Grant. Dugald Roy escaped, and afterwards became a soldier in the British service.Sir Robert left a son, Sir Harry Munro, seventh baronet and twenty-fifth baron of Foulis, an eminent scholar and a M.P.His son, Sir Hugh, eighth baronet, had an only daughter, Mary Seymour Munro, who died January 12, 1849. On his decease, May 2, 1848, his kinsman, Sir Charles, became ninth baronet and twenty-seventh baron of Foulis. He was eldest son of George Munro, Esq of Culrain, Ross-shire (who died in 1845), and lineal male descendant of Lieutenant-general Sir George Munro, next brother to the third baronet of this family. He married - 1st, in 1817, Amelia, daughter of Frederick Browne, Esq, 14th dragoons; issue, five sons and two daughters; 2d, in 1853, Harriette, daughter of Robert Midgely, Esq of Essington, Yorkshire. Charles, the eldest son, was born in 1824, married in 1847, with issue.The military strength of the Munroes in 1715 was 400, and in 1745, 500 men. The clan slogan or battle cry was "Caisteal Foulis na theine" - Castle Foulis in flames. '

The mystery began to deepen for me when I read my Uncle Edward's letter and saw this in a list of things he remembered seeing in is childhood. '' A letter from the war office c1789 saying a Colonel John Munro had been shot dead whilst riding on a borrowed horse, being mistaken for the horse's owner.

I've marked this in green so you can see the story about Captain George Munro who died this way. Old Edward's memory may have been blunted and the letter he saw may have been dated 1748 and been about a Captain George not a Colonel John. It seems unlikely that the same incident could have happened twice in one family!

This left me thinking:
  • Why would my family have this letter if we were not related to Captain George Munro of Culcairn?
  • If we were descended from him then, when the male line died out in 1848, we should indeed have inherited the title as the Culcairn Munro's were next in line according to an entail created by Sir Harry Munro before he died.

Iwill try to get the entail on my next blog!

Oh well it won't upload!

To me the said Sir Harry Munro myself, whom failing,

to Hugh , my eldest lawful son and the heirs male of his body, whom failing,

to the heirs male to be procreate of my body of my body with Dame Anne Rose, my spouse whom failing

to the heirs male to be procreate of my body of any subsequent marraige, whom failing

to the heirs female to be procreate of the said Hugh Munro my eldest son whom failing

to the heirs female to be procreate of the body of my second son George Munro whom failing

to CAPTAIN GEORGE MUNRO OF CULCAIRN , eldest lawful son of the deceased John Munro of Culcairn and the heirs male of his body whom failing

to Thomas Munro second lawful son of the deceased John Munro of Culcairn and the heirs male of his body whom failing

to DUncan Munro third lawful son of the deceased John Munro of Culcairn and the heirs male of his body whom failing

to Charles Munro of Culcairn and the heirs male of his body.....................................

So..... in order to inherit the title, Baron of Foulis and the estates, a few people would have to fail. And they did.

Hugh Munro died leaving an only daughter of doubtful legitimacy in 1848

She died shortly after him with no issue.

Sir Hugh's brother George died without issue.

The next chap in line was Captain George Munro, he of the borrowed horse. He did have children but we don't know yet what happened to them. I'm sure you can see the way my mind is working - if I am descended from this George (and his war office letter was in my family) then old Uncle Hector wasn't so far off the mark.

The title and lands went to the Culrain branch of the family and are with them still.

My mission then was to find out where I came from.

subsequent marraige with