Select Munro/Monroe Miscellany

Here are some Munro/Monroe stories and accounts over the years:

Munro and Variants

The Munro spelling predominates today, except in America where the main spelling is Monroe.

Numbers (000's)
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Munro Country

The country of the Munros lies on the north side of the Cromarty Firth.  Known as Ferindonald from the traditional founder of the chief's family (Donald's land or Fearainn Domhnuill in Gaelic) these lands comprised the area of the two adjoining parishes of Kiltearn and Alness.  The clan occupied the fertile coastal strip alongside the firth, with access mainly by sea, and spread up the river valleys into the uplands around Ben Wyvis.  In time the Munros held lands as well east of the river Alness and also in the Black Isle on the other side of the Cromarty Firth. 

According to a late tradition, the forest of Wyvis was held on a 'whimsical tenure' of delivering a snowball on any day of the year, if asked: but the earliest recorded duty was the more usual nominal one of a pair of white gloves or a silver penny. 

Foulis was at the heart of Munro country.  By the 1550's the chief's lands had been incorporated into the barony of Foulis, giving him a hereditary jurisdiction with power of 'pit and gallows' (drowning for women, hanging for men) for the more serious offences.

The Munros and the Mackintoshes at Clachnarry

In 1454, after the Munros had made a raid into Perthshire, they were returning home through Mackintosh country and were obligated to pay “road collop” or passage money as was the custom.  A dispute arose over the amount.  The Munros sent their spoils ahead, but were hotly pursued by the Mackintoshes who overtook them at Clachnarry. 

John Munro of Foulis, leader of the band, was – according to one account – left for dead on the field.  He was said to have been found by an old woman after the battle who nursed him back to health.  He was subsequently returned to his own people.  However, he had had his hand so severed or mutilated in the affray that he was known from that time on as John Bachlach.

The Scottish Munros

Sir Hugh Munro, the son of a Scottish landowning family, lived from 1856 to 1919.  He led an active life.  But what he is most remembered for is the “Munros,” his list of mountains in Scotland over 3,000 feet which was published in 1891. 

This was the result of exhaustive work with the large scale Ordnance Survey maps then available, supplemented by Munro's own extensive experience in the mountains.  Munro's Tables listed 538 tops, of which 283 were considered by him to be separate mountains and soon became known as “Munros.” 

Munro's failure to set out clear objective criteria for deciding when a top could be counted as a separate mountain has been a cause for debate. Indeed he was working on a revised set of tables at the time of his death that would have changed these numbers.  Since his death the lists have been revised on a number of occasions, most recently in 1997.  There are now 284 Munros and a further 227 tops over 3,000 feet. 

Modern "Munro Baggers" tend to go for the Munros without worrying too much about the tops.  Munro's untimely death in France meant that he fell fractionally short of climbing all of his own list of peaks and tops (he managed 535 out of 538).  But he came rather closer than most will ever manage.

James Phinney Munroe's Mistake

In 1889 the Lexington Historical Society commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Presidential visit to Munroe Tavern.  They invited James Phinney Munroe, the great grandson of Colonel Munroe, to speak on the public dinner from a family perspective.  As the young graduate from MIT couldn't find any family letters about the visit, he made up a letter that he said was written at sixteen by his great-aunt Sarah. 

To his great surprise the letter sparked an interest and in the following years he had to send corrections to newspapers that quoted the letter as a solid fact. Finally, in his book sketching the Munroe family history, he included the forged letter as part of a public penance.

Philip Munro's Westward Trek to Manitoba

In 1881, at the age of 54, Philip took his wife and six children for the long trek westward from Nova Scotia to homestead in Manitoba.  They arrived by barge at Brandon and then travelled upriver to settle some twelve miles north of Minnedosa.  They chose a site which reminded them of their Nova Scotia home.  They had to start from scratch in Manitoba, building a log home and providing food for the family.  It was said that they nearly froze and starved to death the first years in their drafty old cabin. 

In 1886 a terrible prairie fire from across the river swept up the valley and north east over the hills destroying many of the settlers’ homes.  Philip’s home was saved by his son Charles plowing a headline with the oxen led by grandson David Munro, then a boy of only ten.  He later said: "I was never so frightened in all his life.”  Twenty years later the Munros themselves lost their barn and stock in a valley fire. 

In these pioneer communities, the wife generally stayed at the farm with the children to take care of the cattle.  The husbands and older sons would go out to help during harvest and then work in the bush camps until spring. 

In 1884, the All Saints Anglican Church was built three miles north of the village of Clanwilliam.  Henry and Agnes Munro were married there in 1903.  And Philip Munro, patriarch of the family, was buried in the cemetery in 1911.

Alexander Munro of Singleton, NSW

Alexander's beginnings in Inverness in Scotland were unpromising.  By the time he was fourteen his father had died and he was caught thieving.  Despite his youth he was sentenced to transportation to Australia. 

He made good in Australia. 
Meerea Park in the Hunter valley can trace its winemaking roots to the 1850’s when Alexander Munro started his Bebeah vineyard at Singleton.  He was at one time the largest and most successful winemaker in New South Wales.  He built Singleton’s first hotel and was its first mayor. 

He in fact spent much of his life trying to atone for his early mistake. This paragraph from Munro’s Luck perhaps summarized his life and achievements. 

“Alexander Munro died in his home, Ardersier House at Singleton, on 26 January 1889.  He was described as a vigneron, ‘a prominent philanthropist and one of nature’s gentlemen’ and ‘the father of Singleton,’ in the lengthy obituaries published in the Maitland Mercury and Singleton Argus. 

The funeral cortege, which stretched for half a mile, was led by Masons and Oddfellows in their regalia and wound through the streets of Singleton before his burial in the Glenridding cemetery which he had donated to the town.  A tall but simple granite column, which Alexander Munro himself had purchased and imported from Scotland, was erected in his memory, to his wife Sophia, who died later in the same year and to the family of his adopted daughter Harriet. 

The inscription on the memorial stated: ‘After life’s fitful fever, they sleep well.’  Was the reference to ‘life’s fitful fever’ an allusion to their conviction and transportation?"

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