Clan Munro History
The origins of the Clan Munro are very hard to verify. However, the common consensus is that they came from County Derry, Ireland near the river Roe. The leader being Donald, son of O’Cathain, who came to Scotland to assist Malcolm 11 to fight the Danish invaders. It is believed that before the return of Donald, the beginnings of the Clan were driven out of Scotland by the Romans as early as 357 AD and that after many centuries their descendants returned to Scotland at about 1039.
A narrow strip of land about 13 kilometres long on the northern shore of Cromarty Firth from Dingwall to Alness is the heartland of the clan. Early Munros are thought to have been farmers and fishermen. Because the Firth was shallow the fertile land was protected from the open sea. The land occupied by the clan was known as Ferindonald ( Fearan Domhnuill,or Donalds land). The “man from Roe” theory is now discounted. Munros in Gaelic, form the Clann Rothaich and held their lands as vassals of the earls of Ross.
Hugh Munro de Foulis who died in 1126 was granted a charter of land in a written charter by William, Earl of Sutherland. In 1309 Robert 1 granted Robert Munro lands in Strathspey and George Munro in 1338 witnessed a charter of lands in Badenoch. Regarded as the first chief of clan Munro, another Robert was granted more land near Foulis.
By 1452 the clan gained further lands, however they had disagreements with other clans. They fought with the MacKenzie rebels at Garbat, near Ben Wyvis because the rebels had captured one of the earl of Ross’ men and were trying to rescue him. In 1454 John Munro lead a band of men to Perthshire where he captured cattle. When he reached Mackintosh country they demanded cattle in return for passage through their territory. No agreement was made and the Munros headed off with the Mackintoshes in pursuit. When they were caught at Clachnaharry near Inverness a battle ensued in which John was badly wounded.
We do not know for sure if there were any Munros fighting in the battle of Flodden, however, it is thought that the Argyllshire Munros are decendents from a wounded clan member who survived the battle. In 1547, Robert Munro of Foulis was killed at the Battle of Pinkie.
Robert Dubh Munro of Foulis who was known as the “Black Baron” in 1617 became an officer in a regiment that fought against the Catholics for the King of Denmark. This company was comprised of 700 Munros; all protestants. Following the campaign in Denmark many of these men went to fight in Sweden, joining the Swedish army and rising to an high rank.
Jacobite Rebellions and Culloden
Arguably one of the most disruptive periods of Scottish history was that of the Jacobite rebellions of the Old Pretender in 1715 and the Young Pretender (Bonnie Prince Charlie) in 1745. The “Little Rebellion” of 1719 saw the Munro’s fighting for the Government against the Jacobites and their Spanish allies at Glenshiel.
In 1729, Sir Robert Munro became clan chief and joined the Black Watch regiment in 1740 after which he was appointed Colonel of the 37th Foot, an English regiment. Robert’s son, Harry, together with 200 Munro’s joined the Earl of Loudoun’s regiment to oppose Bonnie Prince Charlie. Robert and his brother, Duncan were killed at Falkirk in 1746 and Harry was taken as a prisoner at Prestonpans.
This was the last official battle that the Clan participated. The Battle at Culloden in 1746 saw no Munro’s participate on the Government side even though Munro’s 37th foot were there. This regiment was named after Sir Robert Munro, the commanding officer. It is thought that there may have been a small number of Munro’s on the side of Bonnie Prince Charlie from the Argyle area.
1708 – 1995
The Bishop of Ross and Caithness, Robert Forbes (1708-1775) was the guest of Harry Munro at Foulis. In his diary the Bishop recorded that the library at Foulis was first rate and that a Michael Angelo painting was on display.
Sir Hector Munro (11th Baronet) commanded the 3rd Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders during the Boer War of 1899-1903. Hector’s younger son, also Hector, was killed toward the end of the First World War. Unfortunately, an older son had died in infancy leaving no direct heir. The Foulis branch of the family moved to that of Foulis-Obsdale. Consequently, the chief became Eva Marion the eldest daughter of Sir Hector. She passed away in 1976 and the new chief being Capt. Patrick Munro who adopted the name of his maternal grandfather and who passed in 1995.
The Clearances and Munros Worldwide
It is believed that no Munro Clan members were forcibly removed from Munro country because of the clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries. Many could foresee the effect of the clearances from other clans and relocated to Southern Scotland where farm work was available. A lot of these folk then found their way to large cities such as Glasgow again in search of work. In these cities living conditions were appalling so an overwhelming option was to emigrate in the hope of a better life. Hence many Munro’s left for destinations overseas; particularly Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US. It is estimated that worldwide there are 65 million people of Scottish decent. Additionally, there is a large contingent of Munro’s in France mainly because of one Munro who was a bodyguard for Marie Antoinette.
The foregoing only covers the main incidents in the history of our clan. We are fortunate that our history is both extremely interesting and extensive. From time to time we shall add many interesting items to the website.