The possessions of the clan Monro or Munro, situated on the north side of Cromarty Firth, were generally known 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 sameyear, 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, mnarried 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.
George, son of Hugh Monroe and tenth Baron of Foulis is on records of the charters of the years 1437-38-39-40-49. George was the 4th great-grandfather of William Munro of Lexington, MA . He was killed with several members of his family and many of his followers at the battle o f “Beallach-nam-brog” in 1452. He married first Isobel daughter of Ross of Balnagown, by whic h he had a son George who was killed with his father at the aforementioned battle. He marrie d second, Christian, daughter of John McCulloch, of the Plaids; his son John of this marrig e succeeded to the estates and Chiefship of the Clan Munro.
The forfeiture of the earldom of Ross in 1476, made the Munroes and other vassal families in dependent of any superior but the crown. In the charters which the family of Foulis obtaine d from the Scottish kings, at various times, they were declared to hold their lands on the si ngular tenure of furnishing a ball of snow at Midsummer if required, which the hollows in the ir mountain property could at all times supply; and it is said that when the Duke of Cumberla nd proceeded north against the Pretender in 1746, the Munroes actually sent him some snow t o 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 ch ief, was a faithful friend of Mary, queen of Scots. Buchanan states , that when that unfortun ate princess went to Inverness in 1562, “as soon as they heard of their soverign’s danger , a great number of the most eminent Scots poured in around her, especially the Frasers and M unroes, who were esteemed the most valiant of the clans inhabiting those countries”. These tw o 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, f or three years, the castle of the canonry of Ross, which he had received from the Regent Mora y in 1569, against the clan Kenzie, at the expense of many lives on both sides. It was, howev er, 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 Reforma tion. He died in 1588. His son, Robert, sixteenth baron of Foulis, died without issue in Jul y 1589, and was succeeded by his brother, Hector Munro, seventeenth baron of Foulis. The latt er died 14th November 1603.
Hector’s eldest son, Robert Munro, eighteenth chief of Foulis, styled “the Black Baron”, wa s the first of his house who engaged in the religious wars of Gustavus Adolphus, in the 17t h century. In 1626, he went over with the Scottish corps of Sir Donald Mackay, first Lord Rea y, accompanied by six other officers of his name and near kindred. Doddridge says of him, tha t “the worthy Scottish gentleman was so struck with a regard to the c ommon cause, in which h e himself had no concern but what piety and virtue gave him,that he joined Gustavus with a gr eat number of his friends who bore his own name. Many of them gained great reputation in thi s war, and that of Robert , their leader, was so eminent that he was made colonet of two regi ments at the same time, the one of horse, the other of foot in that service”. In 1629 the lai rd of Foulis raised a reinforcement of 700 men on his own lands, and at a later period joine d Gustavus witht hem. The officers of Mackays and Munro’s Highland regiments who served unde r Gustavus Adolphus, in addition to rich buttons, wore a gold chain round their necks, to sec ure the owner, in case of being wou nder or taken prisoner, good treatment, or payment for fu ture ransom. In the services of Gustavus there were at one time not less than “three generals , eight colonels , five lieutentant-colonels, eleven majors, and above thirty captains, all o f 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 ma le issue, he was succeeded by his brother, Hector MUnro, nineteenth baron of Foulis, who ha d also distinguished himself in the German wars, and who, on his return to Britain, was creat ed by Chrarle s I a baronet of Nova Scotia, 7th June 1634. He married Mary, daughter of Hug h Mackay of Farr, and dying in 1635, in Germany, was succeeded by his only son, Sir Hector, s econd baronet, who died, unmarried, in 1651, at the age of 17. The title and property devolve d on his cousin, Robert MUnro of Opisdale, grandson of George, third son of the fifteenth bar on of Foulis.
During the civil wars at home, when Charles I called to his aid some of the veteran officer s who had served in Germany, this Colonel Robert Munro was o ne of them. He was employed chie fly in Ireland from 1641 to 1645, when he was surprised and taken prisoner personally by Gene ral Monk. He was subsequently lieutenant-general of the royalist troops in Scotland, when h e fought a duel with the Earl of Glencairn. Afterwards he joind Charles II in Holland. Afte r 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 Johm, fourth baronet, who, in the Scottish convention of estates, proved himself to b e a firm supporter of the Revolution. He was such a strenuo us advocate of Presbyterianism, t hat, being a man of large frame, he was usually called “the Presbyterian mortarpiece”. In th e Stuart persecutions, previous to his succession to the title, he had for his adherence to t he covenant, been both fined and imprisoned by the tyrannical government that then ruled Scot land. He died in 1696. His son, Sir Robert, fifth baronet , though blind, was appointed by Ge orge I high sheriff of Ross, by commission, under the great seal, dated 9th June 1725. He mar ried 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 mili tary officer, was the companion in arms of Colonel Gardiner, and fell at the battle of Falkir k, 17th January 1746.
In May 1740, when the Independent companies were formed into the 43d Highland regiment (no w the 42d Royal Highlanders), Sir Robert Munro was appointed lie utenant-colonel, John Earl o f Crawford and Lindsay being its colonel . Among the captains were his next brother, george M unro of Culcairn , and John MUnro, promoted to be lieutenant-colonel in 1745. The surgeon o f 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 w as shot on the shores of Loch Arkaig among the wild rocks of Lochaber , on Sunday, 31st Augus t 1746, by one of the rebels named Dugald Roy Cameron, or, as he is styled in tradition, Du R hu. After the Rebellion, an order was issed to the Highlanders to deliver up their arms. Duga ld, accordingly, sent his son to Fort-William with his arms to b e delivered up. When proceed ing down Loch Arkaig, the young man was met by an officer of the name of Grant, who was condu cting 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 watch ed behind a rock for his return, on a height above Loch Arkaig . Captain Munro had unfortunat ely borrowed the white horse on which Grant rode, and he met the fate intended for Grant. Dug ald Roy escaped, and afterwards becam e a soldier in the British service.
Sir Robert left a son, Sir Harry Munro, seventh baronet and twenty-fifth baron of Foulis, a n eminent scholar and a M.P.
His son, Sir Hugh, eighth baronet, had an only daughter, Mary Seymour Munro, who died Januar y 12, 1849. On his decease, May 2, 1848, his kinsman, Sir Charles, be came ninth baronet an d twenty-seventh baron of Foulis. He was eldest son of George Munro, Esq of Culrain, Ross-shi re (who died in 1845) , and lineal male descendant of Lieutenant-general Sir George Munro, ne xt brother to the third baronet of this family. He married – 1st, in 1817, Amelia, daughter o f Frederick Browne, Esq, 14th dragoons; issue, five sons and two daughters; 2d, in 1853, Harr iette, daughter of Robert Midgely, Esq of Essington, Yorkshire. Charles, the eldest son, wa s bor n in 1824, married in 1847, with issue.
The military strength of the Munroes in 1715 was 400, and in 1745, 500 men. The clan sloga n or battle cry was “Caisteal Foulis natheine” – Castle Foulis in flames.
Another account of the clan…
The Munroes claim to be early natives of Scotland who were driven out by the Romans around 3 57 A.D. and took refuge in Ireland. At the beginning of the 11th century, the clan supposedl y returned to help expel the Danes, or Norsemen, from Scotland. They were under the leadershi p of Donald, son of O’Caenn who, for his services received the lands of East Dingwell in Ross -shire. These lands later became the Barony of Foulis, and thereafter the chief and his famil y were designated “of Foulis”. The clan spread into Sutherland and were also given a charte r for lands in Strathspey in 1309. The chiefs were Bailies to the Macdonalds, Earls of Ross a nd Lords of the Isles. Robert of Foulis supported Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314. Ro bert Mor, 15th chief was a staunch supporter of Mary Queen of Scots and he received many favo urs from her son James VI . During the 17th century, the Munroes fought in the continental wa rs and Robert 18th chief joined the army of Gustavus Adolphus, raising 700 of his own clan fo r service in Sweden and Denmark in defence of protestantism. He greatly distinguished himsel f and his Scots received the name of the “Invincibles”. The Munroes supported the governmen t during the Jacobite uprisings and it was Munro of Foulis who was one of the original comman ders of the six independant companies when they were raised in 1725. In 1740 when the compani es of the “Black Watch” were formed into the 43rd (and later 42nd) Regiment , Sir Robert Munr o, 6th Bart was appointed Lieutenant Colonel. This tradition of distinction in military servi ce was to continue throughout the 19th and 20th centuries . The current chief Captain Patric k Munro of Foulis has the family seat of Foulis castle in Ross-shire.
The Monroe Book: Being the History of the Munro Clan from its
Origins in Scotland to Settlement in New England and Migration
to the West, 1652-1850 and Beyond
Abbrev: The Monroe Book
Publication: Genealogical Publishing Service, Franklin, North Carolina, 1993
History of the Munros of Fowlis: with Genealogiies of the
Principal Families of the Name to which is added those of
Lexington and New England
Abbrev: Munros of Fowlis
Publication: A & W MacKenzie, Inverness, Scotland, 1898