Munro/Monroe Surname Genealogy

has it that the Munros were Irish mercenaries who came to Scotland in
the 11th century and fought against the Vikings under Donald Munro, son
of the Irish chieftain O’Caenn.  As a reward they were
granted lands in Ross-shire in the Scottish Highlands.
Some say the Munro name was derived from the Gaelic Mac an Rothaich, meaning “man from
Roe,” where Roe is the Roe river in Ulster.   That would
support the supposed Irish origin of the Munros.  An alternative
version has Munro coming from the Gaelic maolruadh, meaning “bald and red.”
Munro spelling
are Munroe, Monro, and Monroe – with an “o”
supplanting the original “u” and an “e” added at the end.  Monroe
describes the fifth President of the United States and a famous
American actress.

Munro/Monroe Resources on

Munro/Monroe Ancestry

The Munro lands
around Foulis extended along the north side of Cromarty Firth in
Ross-shire and later into Sutherland.  Robert de Munro was the first chief of the clan to be recorded in
1350 by contemporary
evidence.  Disputes
with other clans
featured in the succeeding centuries,
although most of these were minor skirmishes.

Munros took a different path than other Highland clans in that they
were early
adopters of the Protestant faith.  John
Munro of Foulis, a devout Presbyterian, welcomed the Glorious
Revolution of 1689
and the Munro clan stood by the British Government in the Jacobite
risings of
1715 and 1745.  Although the Munros did
not suffer as did other clans in the aftermath of Culloden, this event
did in
fact mark the end of their traditional clan way of life.

The Munro tradition in warfare probably began
with those Munros – including Robert Munro, the black Baron – who
fought for
Protestant causes abroad in the early 17th century.
Some returned home to serve in the
Covenant armies or to join the Royalist cause.  Munros
later distinguished themselves as
generals in the British army in India during the 18th century.

The main cadet branches of the Munros have been
those of Milntown, Newmore, Teanininch, Balconie, Novar, Obsdale,
and  Auchinbowie.  The clan history was first
described in Alexander Mackenzie’s 1888 book
History of the Munros of Foulis.

America.  The Munro
spelling did not transfer to America, but Munroe and Monroe did –
principally because the Royalist Munros sent to America during the
English Civil War spelt their names that way.

New England.
William Munroe had been taken at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and
transported to Massachusetts as an indentured servant.  He married
three times and was the progenitor of a large New England Munroe
family. Munroe Tavern in Lexington, built in 1695, had a part to
play in the Revolutionary War and George Washington supped there in
1789.  James
Phinney Munroe
, a descendant, outlined the family lineage in
his 1890 book A Sketch of the Munro
.  An updated version was published by Richard S.
Munroe in 1966.

Virginia.  Andrew
Monroe meanwhile was sent to Maryland after his capture at the
Battle of Preston in 1648.  These Monroes became Virginia planters
in Westmoreland county.  Andrew’s great grandson James Monroe
fought in the Revolutionary War and became the fifth President of the
United States in 1816.

Canada.  John Munro had come
out to
America from Munro country as a soldier in the 1750’s and stayed.  He was one of the Loyalists who crossed the
border into Upper Canada in 1784.  His
son Henry joined the North West Company as a surgeon in 1796.  

Other Loyalists crossing
the border were Daniel Munro to Nova Scotia, Samuel Munro to Prince
Island, Hugh Munro to Bathurst, New Brunswick, and another Hugh Munro
Glengarry county, Ontario.  Philip Munro,
who was involved in the siege of Quebec in 1757, stayed and married
there.  His children were Monroes.

From Morayshire in Scotland came James and
Helen Munro in 1816 to take up a land grant in Nova Scotia.  Their son Philip
uprooted his family in 1881 for the long trek west to
homestead in Manitoba.  James Munro came
to Theorold, Ontario from Scotland in 1844 and prospered with a cotton
factory.  His house, Munro House,
still stands.

South Africa.  Alexander Munro
departed Aberdeen with his
wife on the Barossa in 1823 under
assumed names.  He was granted a seal
hunting permit at Mossel Bay and there he built a house and tavern. Apparently he gambled most of his money
away.  However, the tavern and Munros
remain in the area.

Australia.  Early Munros in
were convicts.  Some made good, such as
James Munro from London and Alexander
from Inverness.  James,
transported in 1800 to Sydney, became a skilled seaman who later
settled on
Preservation Island in the Bass Straits.
Mount Munro was named after him.
Alexander, transported in 1830, made his mark with his vineyard
in the
Hunter Valley.  Lydia Munro was a First
Fleeter who arrived on the Prince of
in 1788.

Some later Munro free
settlers in Australia from the Scottish Highlands were:

  • Donald
    Munro who came to Sydney with his
    family from the Black Isle in Scotland to Sydney on the John Gray in 1848.
    He started cattle ranching in the Hunter
    valley ten years later.  It was his son
    Alec who started the breeding of shorthorn cattle under the
    Weebollabolla name.
  • Hugh
    Munro who came with his brother Joseph
    to Victoria from Golspie in Sutherland in 1851.  Later
    Munros in Hugh’s family were jockeys, including Darby
    Munro, one
    of Australia’s greatest jockeys.
  • Donald
    and Catherine Munro who arrived in Melbourne under the Bounty Scheme
    from Skye in
    1854.  After Donald’s early death in
    1865, Catherine moved the family to new farming lands in NSW.
  • James
    Munro, a descendant of the Munros of
    Foulis, left Sutherland for Melbourne with his family in 1858.  He made money from the building society he
    started there and became Premier of Victoria in 1890.
    However, his business practices were dubious
    and he is remembered as one of the corrupt politicians of the land boom
  • and
    two Munro brothers, Archibald and Donald,
    who left their home at Barnaline in Argyle for Queensland in 1871.  They set up a timber mill on the banks of
    Gehan Creek and later were early users of locomotives there.

Munro/Monroe Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Munro/Monroe Names

Donald Munro of Foulis, who died in 1039, was considered in
tradition the first chief of the Munro clan.
James Monroe was the fifth
President of the United States.  He is best-known for having
formulated the
Monroe doctrine in 1823.
was an English short-story writer who went under the
pen-name of Saki.
Sir Hugh Munro
was a
mountaineer best known for his “Munros” Scottish mountain
Matt Monro was an English
ballad singer of the 1960’s.
Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jean
Mortensen, was the famous American actress of the 1950’s and early
Alice Munro is an acclaimed
Canadian short story writer.

Select Munros/Monroes Today

  • 23,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Perthshire)
  • 22,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 32,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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