Origins of the clan
Some people believe that the Munros came from Ireland and settled in Scotland in the 11th Century. Another theory is that they were originally from Scotland and moved to Ireland to escape Roman rule and then returned to Scotland 300 years later to expel Viking invaders. None of these theories can be fully substantiated. By tradition it is believed that during the 11th Century the Munro’s fought as mercenary soldiers under the Earl of Ross who defeated Viking invaders in Rosshire. The clan under chief Donald Munro, son of O’Ceann were granted lands in Rosshire and a seat at Foulis Castle as a reward for helping King Malcolm II of Scotland to defeat Viking invaders from Scandinavia.
Traditionally, Donald’s grandson Hugh Munro was the first Munro recorded to be authentically designated Baron of Foulis, he died in 1126. A reliable scholar, Alexander Nisbet stated in 1722 that George Munro, 5th Baron of Foulis received a charter from the Earl of Sutherland during the reign of Alexander II of Scotland, but this charter can no longer be traced. It is also said that the Munros fought in support of Alexander III of Scotland against the Norwegian forces of Haakon IV of Norway at the Battle of Largs in 1263 and as a result had all their lands in Ross-shire confirmed to them by the King.
The clan soon spread into Sutherlandshire and were given a charter for land in Strathspey in 1309, and were granted more land in 1336 by the Earl of Ross. The Munro’s lands lie on the north side of the Cromarty Firth and within their lands is the mountain Ben Wyvis and the Black Rock Gorge.
Wars of Scottish Independence
During the Wars of Scottish Independence chief Robert Munro, 6th Baron of Foulis led the clan in support of King Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Robert Munro survived the battle but his son George was there slain. George however had a son of his own before he died also called George. This George Munro succeeded his grandfather Robert as chief and led the clan at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333 where he died.
Chief ‘Robert de Munro’ was married to the daughter of the Earl of Ross and had many charters confirmed to him under King David II of Scotland including one for the “Tower of Strathskehech” and “Estirfowlys” in 1350. Robert was killed in an obscure skirmish fighting in defense of Uilleam III, Earl of Ross in 1369. His son Hugh Munro was also granted many charters including one in respect of the “Tower of Strathschech” and “Wesstir Fowlys” from Euphemia I, Countess of Ross in 1394.
15th Century & Clan Conflicts
Battle of Harlaw, 1411, chief Hugh Munro, 9th Baron of Foulis supported Domhnall of Islay, Lord of the Isles who later became the Earl of Ross through marriage. They fought in the Lord of the Isles ‘host’ against an army of Scottish Lowlanders led by the Duke of Albany who was temporarily prevented from gaining power in Ross-shire.
1428, A group of Munros were granted remission by King James I for past offenses when he came to Invernss to assert his authority in the Highlands.
Battle of Bealach nam Broig, 1452, Fought north-west of Ben Wyvis between the a force of Munros and Dingwalls against a force of western tribes loyal to MacKenzie of Kintail who had taken hostage the Earl of Ross’s son. The Munros and their allies rescued the Ross hostage and exterminated their enemies but with the loss of their chiefs, George Munro of Foulis and William Dingwell of Kildun.
Battle of Clachnaharry, 1454, Fought between the Munros, led by John Munro of Milntown against the Clan Mackintosh.
1491, A document is signed and sealed by a MacKenzie, at Foulis Castle, reading in Gaelic: “caisteal biorach, nead na h-iolair” meaning “castle gaunt-peaked, the eagle’s nest”. In allusion to the chief’s heraldic emblem.
Battle of Drumchatt, 1497, In 1495 King James assembled an army at Glasgow. Then on May 18 many of the Highland Chiefs made their submissions to him, including the MacKenzie and Munro chiefs. Soon after this Alexander MacDonald of Lochalsh and his clan rebelled against the King. He invaded the fertile lands of Ross-shire where he was defeated in battle by the Munros and MacKenzies at a place called Drumchatt where he was driven out of Ross-shire.
16th Century, Castles & Clan Conflicts
1500, the Munros of Milntown begin construction of Milntown Castle, although it was opposed by the Rosses for being to close to their Balnagowan Castle.
Battle of Achnashellach, 1505, described as an obscure skirmish between the Clan Cameron and Clan MacKay, where chief William Munro of Foulis who was on the side of the MacKays was killed, according to historicial evidence he was acting on the King’s business. William’s eldest son, Hector Munro became chief of the clan and had extensive lands confirmed to him by King James V, was made constable of Strome Castle and was made the Royal Lieutenant of Western Ross-shire as his father was before him.
A Victorian era, romanticised depiction of a member of the clan by R. R. McIan, from The Clans of the Scottish Highlands, published in 1845.
1527, A charter is signed at Cawdor Castle between chief Hector Munro and the Knight of Calder.
1529, A charter is signed between chief Hector Munro and Fraser Lord Lovat to assist and defend each other.
Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, 1547, During the Anglo-Scottish Wars, chief Robert Munro, 14th Baron of Foulis died fighting when he led the clan at the last major battle between the Royal Scottish and Royal English armies. A clan chief was expected to lead by example, this meant being first into battle at the head of the clan.
1549, Donald Munro, or Monro, Dean of the Isles, visits Finlaggan Castle.
Inverness Castle, 1562, Robert Mor Munro, 15th Baron of Foulis was a staunch supporter and faithful friend of Mary Queen of Scots and consequently was treated favourably by her son James VI. Buchanan states, that when the unfortunate princess went to Inverness in 1562; “as soon as they heard of their sovereign’s danger, a great number of the most eminent Scots poured in around her, especially the Frasers and Munros, who were esteemed the most valiant of the clans inhabiting those countries in the north”. These two clans took the castle for the Queen.
Fortrose 1569-73, With the MacKenzies the Munros were often at feud, and Andrew Munro of Milntown defended and held, for three years, the Castle Chanonry of Ross, which he had received from the Regent Moray who died in 1569, against the Clan MacKenzie, at the expense of many lives on both sides. The feud was settled when the castle was handed over to the Mackenzies peacefully, because they had obtained more legal right to own the castle.
1587, Foulis Castles’, “tower and fortalice” are mentioned in a charter from the Crown.
Battle of Logiebride, 1597, fought at a fair in logiebride between clansmen from the Clan Munro and Clan Bane against clansmen from the Clan Mackenzie.
17th Century, The Thirty Years’ War & Civil War
During the early 17th Century the Munros continued their strong military traditions, fighting in the continental Thirty Years’ War. Most notably the 21st chief Robert Munro, 18th Baron of Foulis, known as the Black Baron and 700 members of Clan Munro joined the army of Gustavs Adolphus, in defence of Protestantism in Scandinavia along with many men from the Clan MacKay. In Robert’s own words: “When cannons are roaring, and bullets are flying, If one would have honour, he must not fear dying”. Robert and his men served with distinction and received the name of the “Invincibles” in recognition of their prowess. There were twenty-seven field officers and eleven captains of the name of Munro in the Swedish army.
During the Bishops’ Wars General Robert Monro laid siege and took Spynie Palace, Drum Castle and Huntly Castle. From 1642 to 1648 he commanded the Scottish Covenanter army in Ireland.
Battle of Stirling (1648), Sir George Munro, 1st of Newmore who fought in Ireland as a covenanter later became a royalist after his uncle, Robert Monro was imprisoned by Cromwell in 1648. In September of that year George Munro and his men defeated the advance forces of Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll. If it was not for Munro’s initiative quite a different battle may have been fought the following day.
Inverness Castle, 1649, Colonel John Munro of Lemlair, Colonel Hugh Fraser, Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty and Thomas Mackenzie of Pluscardine were all opposed to the authority of the current parliament. They assaulted the town and took the castle. They then expelled the garrison and raised the fortifications. However, on the approach of the parlimentry forces led by General David Leslie all of the clans retreated back into Ross-shire.
Battle of Carbisdale, 1650, On hearing of this rising against Leslie, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, leader of royalist forces and his invading army of foreigners, mainly Germans and Danes landed in Ross-shire. He was opposed by the Munros, Rosses and Clan Sutherland who supported Leslie and the Scottish Argyll Covenanter Government. The Munros and their allies completely defeated the invading army.
Battle of Worcester, 1651, The Scottish Covenantor Government had become disillusioned with the English parliament and supported the royalists instead. William Munroe was one of four Munroes captured and transported to America. Sir Alexander Munro of Bearcrofts survived and escaped the battle at Worcester..
The Restoration, 1660, the chief’s brother, George Munro, 1st of Newmore later commanded the forces of King Charles II in Scotland from 1674 to 1677. ,
Battle of Dunkeld, 1689,George Munro of Auchinbowie, son of Alexander Munro of Bearcrofts commanded royalist forces that defeated the Jacobites.
18th Century & Jacobite Uprisings
The United Kingdom
After Queen Elizabeth I of England died without an heir, King James VI of Scotland also became King of England in the Union of the Crowns in 1603. A century later in 1707 England and Scotland were officially united to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
Jacobite Uprising of 1715 to 1719
The Earl of Seaforth led a force of 3000 men headed by the Clan MacKenzie which also included men from the Clan MacDonald, Clan MacKinnon, Clan MacRae and the Clan Chisholm. He was opposed by Colonel Sir Robert Munro of Foulis who had formed a camp at the Bridge of Alness with 600 men which also included men from the Clan Ross. Munro had sent many of his own men south to protect the lands of the Clan Forbes of Culloden from the Jacobites. Munro was soon joined by the Earl of Sutherland and the chief of Clan MacKay who both brought with them only a portion of their clans and expected support from the Clan Grant did not arrive. Seaforth’s forces advanced on the Sutherland’s camp who made a quick retreat to avoid contact with their more powerful foe. Soon afterwards a council of war was held between the two sides and the Sutherlanders and MacKays peacefully moved back north to their own territory, while much of the Ross’s lands were ravaged and the Munros returned to find their lands plundered.
The MacKenzie Jacobite garrison at Inverness surrendered to Simon Fraser of Lovat upon the very day when the Battle of Sheriffmuir was fought and another Jacobite force was defeated at the Battle of Preston. After this 31 year old Colonel Robert Munro of Foulis marched into the town of Inverness with 400 Munros and took over control as governor from Fraser. Government troops arrived in Inverness towards the end of February, and for some months the process of disarming the rebels went on, helped by a Munro detachment under George Munro of Culcairn.
The clan rivalries which had erupted in rebellion were finding an outlet in local politics. MacKenzie’s Earl of Seaforth title came to an end in 1716, and it was arranged that while the Clan Ross held the county seat the Munros would represent the Tain Burghs. Ross ascendancy was secure in Tain, and from 1716 to 1745 the Munros controlled Dingwall, with one of Robert Munro’s brothers as provost, but not without something like two armed Munro “invasions” of the county town in 1721 and 1740, when opposing councillors were abducted to secure a favourable result (for the first incident Colonel Robert and his brother were fined £200 each, and after the second his parliamentary career came to an abrupt end with defeat at the 1741 election). The blind baron’s third son, George Munro of Culcairn raised a detachment from his father’s clan to fight at the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719 where they defeated the Jacobites.
The Black Watch
In 1725 six Independent Black Watch companies were formed. One of Munros, one of Frasers, one of Grants and three of Campbells. These companies were known by the name Am Freacadain Dubh, or Black Watch. By 1740 it had become the 43d Highland regiment and then the 42d Royal Highlanders. Sir Robert Munro was appointed lieutenant-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 Robert’s younger brother, Dr Duncan Munro.
War against the French
The Munros fought for the British Army against the French. Their first action came on 11 May 1745, at the Battle of Fontenoy. Allowed “their own way of fighting”, each time they received the French fire Col. Sir Robert Munro ordered his men to “clap to the ground” while he himself, because of his corpulence, stood alone with the colours behind him. For the first time in a European battle they introduced a system of infantry tactics (alternatively firing and taking cover) that was not superseded. Springing up and closing with the enemy, they several times drove them back, and finished with a successful rear-guard action against French cavalry.
Jacobite Uprising of 1745 to 1746
In June 1745, a month after the battle of Fontenoy, Sir Robert Munro, 6th Baronet of Foulis was “rewarded” by an appointment to succeed General Ponsonby as Colonel of the English 37th Regiment of Foot. When the Jacobite Rising broke out, his friends in the Highlands hoped for his presence among them. One wrote that it would have been “the greatest service to His Majesty and the common cause”, but it was not to be. The Munros supported the British government during the Jacobite uprisings.
In 1745 the Jacobites were led by Charles Edward Stuart who was the exiled claimant to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland, commonly known as “Bonnie Prince Charlie”. Charles was the son of James Francis Edward Stuart who was in turn the son of King James II of England, Scotland and Ireland, who had been deposed in 1688. After his father’s death Charles was recognised as “King Charles III” by his supporters but his opponents referred to him as “The Young Pretender”.
In the northern shires the Earl of Sutherland was the King’s Lieutenant, and the Clan Sutherland, Clan MacKay, Clan Ross, Clan Munro, Clan Gunn, Clan Campbell, and Clan Grant could be counted on to support the British Government, but the Clan MacDonald, Clan MacKenzie, Clan MacKintosh, Clan Menzies, and Clan Chisholm were Jacobites, and the Clan Fraser was divided owing to a disputed chiefship but they later joined the Jacobites.
Sir Robert Munro
Chief Col. Sir Robert Munro had been fighting at the front at the second Battle of Falkirk (1746) when, by account of the rebels, the English 37th Regiment he was in command of ran away and he was surrounded and attacked by seven Jacobites, he killed at least two with his pike before being shot by a Jacobite commander with a pistol, he was 62 years old. The Jacobites wished to do special honour to their opponent: They buried Robert in the grave of Sir John de Graham who died at the first Battle of Falkirk (1298). The graves can be seen in Falkirk churchyard.
Robert’s son Sir Harry Munro who served as an officer in Loudon’s Highlanders had been captured at the Battle of Prestonpans in September 1745. He returned home to find Foulis Castle had been partially destroyed by Jacobites who set fire to it after the Battle of Falkirk. A few months after Falkirk the Jacobites were finally defeated at the Battle of Culloden by government forces. After the rising was suppressed a Munro Independent Company under Harry continued to police the Highlands and was disbanded in 1748. Harry set about rebuilding the castle as it is today incorporating what he could of the original building which now appears as a mansion house built in a formal Georgian style rather than the defensive fort it once was.
Foulis Castle has always been and is still the seat of the Chief of the Clan Munro.
Teaninich Castle was bought by the Munros in 1660.
Newmore Castle was occupied by the Munros from the 16th century to the 18th century.
Balconie Castle was the seat of the Munros of Balconie.
Milntown Castle was the seat of the Munros of Milntown.
Novar House was originally built by the Munros in the 17th century.
Lemlair House was the seat of the Munros of Lemlair.
Contullich Castle, owned by various Munros.
British Empire & Military
Sir Hector Munro of Novar (1726 - 1805) and Sir Thomas Munro, 1st Baronet of Linderits (1761 to 1827) were Scottish Generals in the British Army who had great success fighting in India. James Munro (VC) was a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross during the Crimean War, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. During the First World War, Liutenant-General Sir Charles Monro, 1st Baronet of Bearcrofts ordered the retreat from Gaipoli once in command of British Forces. He later became Governor of Gibralter.
Science & Medicine
Four direct generations, from the distinguished Auchinbowie-Bearcrofts branch of the clan, John Munro (surgeon), Alexander Monro (primus), Alexander Monro (secundus) and Alexander Monro (tertius) were professors of anatomy at Edinburgh University.
Church & Music
The Munros made a significant early contribution to Scottish traditional arts in the fifteenth century with what is probably the earliest piece of pipe music written for the Pibroch. This piece, entitled Bealach na Broige has been attributed to one of the early Munro family and is the pipe music for the clan. The Munros were also prominent members of the Scottish clergy in the north of Scotland and clan members became justices of the peace in Caithness and its environs.
Sir Hugh Munro (1856-1919) was the founding member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club in 1889.
The succession of a Highland Chief has traditionally followed the principle of agnatic seniority or patrilineal seniority, whereby succession passes to the former Chief’s closest male relative. The 11th Bt Foulis was succeeded by his edest daughter Eva Marion Munro as chief of the clan. Eva Marion Munro married Col C. H. Gascoigne, their son Patrick took the surname ‘Munro’ of his maternal grandfather to become clan chief. However was the Baronetcy of Foulis was succeeded to by Sir George Hamilton Munro, 12th Baronet (1864-1945). The current Baronet is Sir Ian Kenneth Munro, 17th Baronet of Foulis. See Main Article: Munro Baronets.
The younger of Foulis, eldest son of the present chief.
Hector W. Munro
The Present Chief.
Capt. Patrick Munro
Son of Eva Marion Munro and C. H. Gascoigne, took his mothers maiden name to become chief.
Eva Marion Munro
eldest daughter of 11th baronet married Col C. H. Gascoigne.
Sir Hector Munro, 11th Baronet of Foulis
Colonel in the Seaforth Highlanders ADC to Edward VII & George V - end of male line.
Sir Charles Munro, 10th Baronet of Foulis
D.L. & J.P. for Ross-shire.
Sir Charles Munro, 9th Baronet of Foulis
Cousin of Hugh. Married Amelia, daughter of Frederick Browne.
Sir Hugh Munro, 8th Baronet of Foulis
End of direct line. Married Jane, dughter of Alexander Law.
Harry Munro, 7th Baronet of Foulis
Rebuilt Foulis Castle after a fire destroyed it - MP for Ross-shire 1746 - 47, fought at Culloden. Married Anne, daughter of Hugh Rose of Kilravock.
Sir Robert Munro, 6th Baronet of Foulis
Colonel in the Black Watch - killed at Falkirk, interred in the Churchyard of Falkirk next to Sir John Graham. Married Mary, daughter of Sir Henry Seymour of Woodlands.
Sir Robert Munro, 5th Baronet of Foulis
The Blind Baron. Married Jean, daughter of John Forbes of Culloden.
Sir John Munro, 4th Baronet of Foulis
The Presbyterian Mortar Piece. Married Agnes, daughter of Sir Kenneth MacKenzie.
Sir Robert Munro, 3rd Baronet of Foulis
Great-grandson of Chief Robert-Mor Munro, d.1588 and son of Col John Munro, 2nd of Obsdale.
Sir Hector Munro, 2nd Baronet of Foulis
Died age 17 - ending direct male line.
Sir Hector Munro, 1st Baronet of Foulis
Brother of Robert. Made 1st baronet by Charles I. Died in Hamburg, Germany. Married Mary, daughter of Hugh MacKay of Farr and Stravnaver.
Robert Munro, 18th Baron of Foulis
The Black Baron served in the 30 years war - died at Ulm, Germany. Married Margarat daughter of William Sutherland of Duffus.
Hector Munro, 17th Baron of Foulis
Brother of Robert. Married Anne daughter of Hugh Fraser, 5th Lord Lovat.
Robert Munro, 16th Baron of Foulis
Died 8 months after his father.
Robert Mor Munro, 15th Baron of Foulis
Known as Mor due to his large stature. A loyal protector of Queen Mary- first Protestant and 1st to be buried at Kiltearn Church. Married Margaret, daughter of James Ogilvy of Cardell. Robert later married a daughter of Alexander Ross of Balnagowen.
Robert Munro, 14th Baron of Foulis
Married Margaret, daughter of Sir Alexander Dunbar of Westfield. Loyal supporter of Scotland against invasion of Protector, Duke of Somerset - killed at Pinkie
Hector Munro, 13th Baron of Foulis
Extensive lands confirmed to him by James V at Stirling 1541. Married Kathrine, daughter of chief of MacKenzie of Kintail.
William Munro, 12th Baron of Foulis
Married Anne, daughter of Lachlan Og MacLean of Duart. Killed in a raid assisting Chief of the Mackays.
John Munro, 11th Baron of Foulis
In minority was under his uncle John who led the Clan at Clachnaharry 1454, married Margaret, daughter of Sir William Calder of Calder.
George Munro, 10th Baron of Foulis
Under the Great Seal of James I, dated at St. Andrews 1426 - lands of great extent confirmed to him, killed at Battle of Bealach nam Broig. Married a daughter of Alexander MacCulloch of Plaids.
Hugh Munro, 9th Baron of Foulis
Joined the Lord of the Isles in contest with Duke of Albany 1411. Married Isabel, daughter of John Keith of 1st of Inverugie.
Robert de Munro, 8th Baron of Foulis
A charter confirmed by David II of Scotland 1364. First married Margaret Barclay. Later married a daughter of the laird of Forrester of Corstorphine.
George Munro, 7th Baron of Foulis
Succeeded his grandfather - continued his support of Bruce, killed at Halidon Hill. Married a daughter of Ross of Balnagowan.
Only son of Robert - predeceased his father, was killed at Bannockburn. Married a daughter of Kenneth the 4th Earl of Sutherland.
Robert Munro, 6th Baron of Foulis
Joined the party of King Robert the Bruce, led the clan at Bannockburn in 1314.
George Munro, 5th Baron of Foulis
Had all his Ross-shire lands confirmed to him by charter from Alexander II of Scotland before 1249.
Robert Munro, 4th Baron of Foulis
Married daughter of the Earl of Sutherland.
Donald Munro, 3rd Baron of Foulis
Said to have built the old Tower of Foulis 1154. Assisted Wm the Lion in repressing rebellion.
Robert Munro, 2nd Baron of Foulis
Loyal subject of David I of Scotland and Malcolm IV of Scotland - Interred in Church of Chanonry of Ross - burial place of Munros for 400 years.
Hugh Munro, 1st Baron of Foulis
First member of the line “Baron of Foulis”.
Assisted Malcolm III of Scotland in contention with Macbeth for Crown of Scotland.
Founder of the ancient House of Munro.
Clan Septs & Tartans
The Septs who lived within the territory of the Clan Munro included:
Crest Badge: An eagle perching, proper.
Motto: Dread God.
Gaelic Name: Mac an Rothaich.
Origin of Name: Gaelic Rothach (man from Ro).
Plant Badge: Common club moss.
War Cry: Caisteal Folais’n a Theine (Castle Foulis in flames).
Pipe Music: Bealach na Broige.
Hunting Tartan: 42nd Black Watch.