Col. Sir Robert MUNRO, XXIV of Foulis, 6th Baronet

Col. Sir Robert MUNRO, XXIV of Foulis, 6th Baronet

Male 1684 - 1746

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  • Name  Col. Sir Robert MUNRO, XXIV of Foulis, 6th Baronet  [1, 2
    Prefix  Col. Sir 
    Suffix  XXIV of Foulis, 6th Baronet 
    Born  24 Aug 1684 
    Gender  Male 
    Died  17 Jan 1746  Falkirk, , Stirling, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried  Falkirk, , Stirling, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Falkirk Church Yard
    Person ID  I27  Munro
    Last Modified  10 Nov 2013 

    Father  Sir Robert MUNRO, XXIII of Foulis, 5th Baronet,   b. Abt 1661,   d. 11 Sep 1729 
    Mother  Jean FORBES,   b. Abt 1661,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married  Abt 1684 
    Family ID  F1596  Group Sheet

    Family  Mary SEYMOUR,   b. Abt 1686,   d. 24 May 1732 
    Married  , , , England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Anne MUNRO,   b. Est 1704,   d. Yes, date unknown
     2. George MUNRO,   b. Est 1711,   d. 1743
     3. Elizabeth MUNRO,   b. Est 1713,   d. Yes, date unknown
     4. Robert MUNRO,   b. Est 1715,   d. Yes, date unknown
    >5. Sir Harry MUNRO, XXV of Foulis, 7th Baronet,   b. Est 1720,   d. 12 Jun 1781, Edinburgh, , Midlothian, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified  20 Jan 2009 
    Family ID  F1597  Group Sheet

  • Notes 
    • Sir Robert Munro was 24th Baron and 6th Baronet of Foulis. He was a gentleman of calm wisdom, determined courage, and unassuming piety. He was sincere in his friendship and full of compassion even to the lowest of those around him.

      At an early age, Sir Robert highly distinguished himself during his education at the Edinburgh University. Upon leaving college, he at once entered the army as a Captain in the Earl of Orkney's Regiment.

      In 1705, when only 21 years old, he went to Flanders, where he served for seven years with distinction as a Captain in the Royal Scots under the famous Duke of Marlborough. The Colonel of his regiment was Lord Semple, but he was generally absent and so during the war, the regiment was run mostly by Sir Robert. The manner in which he handled this great responsibility is an honor to his memory.

      He had an intense influence over the men in the regiment and a high sense of honor pervaded them all. A letter was written from the Elector-Palatine to his envoy in London, asking him to thank the King of Great Britain for the exellent behavior of the Highland regiment while in his territories, "which was owing to the care of Sir Robert Munro, their Lieutenant-Colonel, for whose sake he would for the future always esteem a Scotchman."

      During this period of time, he formed a very close friendship with the well known Colonel James Gardiner, who was then a Cornet of Dragoons. This friendship lasted until death ended it.

      After the peace of 1712, Captain Munro returned to Scotland. In 1710, he had been elected member of Parliament for the Wick Burghs, a position which he held continuously until 1741.

      While sojourning in England after his return from Flanders in 1712, Sir Robert was introduced to Mary Seymour. The gallant young soldier was smitten by her, and had the happiness of perceiving that he had succeeded in at least attracting her notice. The introduction soon resulted in mutual friendship which ripened into mutal attachment of no ordinary warmth and delicacy. Before Sir Robert left England for the North, he arranged with Miss Seymour a plan of regular correspondence, and wrote to her as soon as he arrived at Foulis.

      After waiting with the usual impatience of a lover for a reply which did not come, he sent off a second letter, complaining of her neglect, which had no better success than the first. Shortly afterwards, he sent a third which also failed to elicit a response.

      The inference seemed too obvious to be misunderstood, and he strove to forget the lady. He hunted, fished, visited his friends, and engaged in numerous and varied concerns, but to no purpose. She still filled his mind.

      After a few months, he returned to England, a very unhappy man. When waiting on a friend in London, he was unexpectedly ushered into the midst of a fashionable party, and to his surprise found himself in the immediate presence of his lady love. She seemed much startled by his appearance and blushed deeply, but suppressing her emotion, she turned to the lady who sat next to her, and began to converse on some common topic of the day.

      Sir Robert retired, beckoned to his friend, and begged him to procure an interview with the lady, which he did. She said that she had not received a single letter, and believed that Sir Robert had lost interest in her. She had tried to forget him but had been as unsuccessful as Sir Robert had. They both were very relieved to find that there was still a strong emotional bond between them and they parted more attached than ever. Less than two months later, Mary Seymour became Lady Munro of Foulis.

      Sir Robert succeeded in tracing all his letters to one point--a kind of post-office on the border of Inverness-shire. There was a proprietor in the neighborhood who was deeply engaged in the interests of the Stuarts, and directly hostile to Sir Robert. There was little difficulty in ascertaining what had happened to the letters. Sir Robert was satisfied at having solved the mystery and, true to his nature, exacted no revenge.

      After the failure of the Rising of 1715, the guilty proprietor was among those who were proscribed for taking part in the rebellion. Sir Robert's influence with the Government, and the office to which he was appointed, gave him great power over the confiscated proprietors, and this power he exerted to its utmost in behalf of the wife and children of the proprietor. "Tell your husband," he said to the lady, "that I have now repaid him for the interest he took in my correspondence with Miss Seymour."

      Since his father was blind, Robert no doubt took a leading part in putting into action his father's anti-Jacobite policies during the rising of 1715. In Nov 1715, Robert, younger of Foulis, was appointed Governor of Inverness. In 1716, he was appointed a Commissioner of Inquiry into the forfited estates of the attainted Highland Chiefs. In this office he was able to procure a number of parishes to be erected through the rebel countries and provide them with suitable stipends out of the confiscated lands, so that Protestantism began to be preached in lands where it had not been known before.

      At that time, the retiring Councilors of a Royal burgh elected their successors in office, usually themselves, and the right of electing members of Parliament was largely vested in the various Town Councils. The composition of the Council, therefore, was all important to Parliamentary candidates such as Sir Robert.

      During the 1721 municipal election in Dingwall, Sir Robert took some unusual steps to ensure that the majority of the Council favored him. There are several versions of this story, but Sir Robert and his brother, Captain George Munro, appears to have kidnapped some of the opposing Councilors just before the election so they were not able to vote against him. The Munro claim was that the Councilors owed money and were being apprehended for that reason, but the timing of their arrest was such that they were not able to cast their votes in the municipal election.

      Like his father, Sir Robert was an elder in Kiltearn Parish Church and discharged the duties connected with that office with characteristic conscientiousness and consistency.

      During his long Parliamentary career of more than thirty years, he distinguished himself as a consistent friend of the people and his Sovereign, and a stout upholder of the religion and liberty of his country.

      In 1740, when Scotland was on the eve of what he deemed a just war, even though he was then 56 years of age, he resigned from Parliament to accept a commission as Lieutenant-Colonel in the 42nd Royal Highlanders, the Black Watch. This is the same position he held when the Black Watch was first organized in 1729.

      On 9 May 1745, his regiment was among the first on the field at the battle of Fontenoy and he surprised the whole army by a display of extraordinary yet admirable tactics directed with the most invincible courage against the enemy. From the main battery of the French, which he was ordered to attack, he dislodged a force far superior to his own, and found a strong body of the enemy stationed beyond it preparing to open upon him a sweeping fire. He commanded his men to prostrate themselves to avoid the shot, which accordingly swept harmlessly over them. Then, when the French were in the act of reloading, the Highlanders suddenly sprang up, poured in their own fire, slung their muskets, and, under cover of the smoke, they charged with targe and claymore with such force that they quickly cut their way through the French lines.

      Then retreating for a little, according to the tactics of their country, he again brought his men to the charge, and with a similar maneuver of alternate attack and retreat, which was frequently repeated during the day, committed great havoc upon the French army. Sir Robert was everywhere with his regiment even though he was so fat that when he was in the trenches, he had to be hauled out by the arms and legs by his own men. He also was unable to prostrate himself just as the enemy raised their pieces for firing. He stood alone with the colors behind him exposed to the volley. His preservation that day was the surprise and astonishment not only of the army, but of all who heard about it.

      At one point, Sir Robert was ordered to silence a French battery which was annoying the allied army. The Black Watch Regiment immediately drove away the French and spiked their cannon, but then soon found themselves surrounded by three regiments of French cavalry. Seeing their dangerous position, Sir Robert shouted to his troops, "Now, my lads, mind the honor of your country." The regiment immediately assumed a determined "lion-like" posture and cut their way through the enemy, suffering severely in the action.

      When the battle had become general, the British began to give way before the numerically superior forces of the enemy and Sir Robert's regiment formed the rear guard of the retreating army, because they were the only regiment that could be kept to their duty. A strong body of French horse came galloping up behind, but when within a few yards of the Highlanders, they turned on Sir Robert's command and received them with a fire so well directed and so effectual, that nearly one-half of them were dismounted. The rest weeled about and rode off and did not again return to the attack.

      At Fontenoy, the Black Watch suffered five officers and thirty men killed, and two sergeants and eighty-six men wounded.

      The Duke of Cumberland was so much struck with the conduct of Sir Robert Munro's regiment that he decided to grant them any favor that was in his power to give. The men of the regiment asked for the pardon of one of the soldiers of the regiment who had been court-martialed for allowing a prisoner to escape, and was under sentence of a heavy corporal punishment which they felt would not only disgrace them all, but also their families and their country. The request was immediately granted and the Duke was even more impressed by the nature of the wish.

      Even the French could not withold their praise for Sir Robert and his regiment. A French writer says, "The British behaved well, and could not be exceeded in ardor by any but our officers, who animated the troops by their example, when the Highland furies rushed upon us with more violence than ever did a sea driven by a tempest...In short we gained the victory; but may I never see another."

      King George I had never seen a Highland soldier and expressed a desire to see one. Three privates were selected from the Black Watch Regiment and sent to London. Gohn Grant, one of the three, died on the journey, but Sir Robert presented the other two, Gregor Macgregor and John Campbell, to the King. They went through their broadsword exercise and showed their skill in handling the Lochaber axe, or lance, before a number of general officers who had assembled for the purpose in the Great Gallery at St. James' Palace. The King was greatly impressed and gave them each a guinea. The soldiers gave their guineas to the porter of the palace gate as they left.

      In Oct 1745, Sir Robert's Regiment was ordered home to deal with the Rising. They arrived on the Thames on 4 Nov 1745, and while other regiments were sent to Scotland under General Hawley to assist in quelling the insurrection, Sir Robert's 42nd Regiment was marched to the coast of Kent, where it joined the division of the army there assembled to repel an expected invasion. This was done because more than three hundred men had fathers and brothers engaged in the Rising, and the prudence and humanity of keeping them aloof from a contest between duty and affection is evident. Sir Robert was promoted to Colonel and given command of the 37th Regiment which was ordered to Scotland.

      On 17 Jan 1746, Sir Robert's regiment took part in the Battle of Falkirk. His new regiment was deployed on the left wing of the army, but in the moment of attack, it participated in the general panic which had seized the other regiments on the left, and fled, leaving its Colonel surrounded by the enemy, alone and unprotected. In this situation, Sir Robert was attacked by six men of Lochiel's Regiment, and, for some time, gallantly defended himself with his half-pike, but was ultimately overcome and slain.

      Sir Harry Munro of Foulis, Robert's heir and successor wrote to Lord President Forbes a few days after the battle saying:

      "My Lord,--I think it my duty to acquaint your Lordship of the deplorable situation I am in. The engagement between the King's troops and the Highlanders on Thursday last, within a mile of Falkirk, proves to me a series of woe. There both my dear father and uncle Obsdale were slain. The last, your Lordship knows, had no particular business to go to the action, but out of a most tender love and concern for his brother, could not be dissuaded from attending him, to give assistance if need required. My father, after being deserted, was attacked by six of Lochiel's regiment, and for some time defended himself with his half pike. Two of the six, I am informed, he killed, a seventh coming up fired a pistol into my father's groin, upon which, falling, the Highlander with his sword gave him two strokes in the face, one over the eyes and another on the mouth, which instantly ended a brave man. The same Highlander fired another pistol into my uncle's breast, and with his sword terribly slashed him, whom he killed. He then despatched a servant of my father's. That thus my dearest father and uncle perished, I am informed, and this information I can depend on, as it comes from some who were eye-witnesses to it. My father's corpse was honourably interred in the Church-yard of Falkirk by direction of the Earl of Cromarty and the Macdonalds, and all the Chiefs attended his funeral. Sir Robert was the only body on the field on our side that was taken care of. Now, my Lord, you may easily conceive, all circumstances duly weighed, how dismal my situation is. I depend on your advice and assistance."

      Sir Harry erected a large and elaborately ornamented sarcophagus over his father's grave. The English translation of the Latin inscription reads:

      "Here lies what is mortal of Sir Robert Munro, Baronet of Fowlis, Chief of his clan. An officer in the army whose life was honourably spent in the field and in the British Parlia- ment for the Liberty and Religion of his native country. He died most gloriously on the Battlefield near Falkirk, 17th January, 1746, in the 62nd year of his age, renowned for his virtue and counsel. He commanded the Highland Regiment which will be remembered as long as the battle of Fontenoy. Let us ever desire to continue friendship and fidelity from friends, kindness and clemency to foes, goodwill and goodness to all even to enemies."

      During his distinguished military career, Sir Robert fought at many battles including Dettingen, Fontenoy, Culloden, Quebec, and he was killed at Falkirk.

      References:

      (1) "The Munro Tree (1734)" by R. W. Munro - Edinburgh (1978) - Z

      (2) "History of the Munros of Fowlis" by A. Mackenzie - Inverness (1898) - p.
      117-138

      Compiled and edited by Allen Alger, Genealogist, Clan Munro Association, USA [3]

  • Sources 
    1. [S84] Clan Munro files - Rapaport, Diane, Diane Rapaport, Copies of pages from The William and Mary Quarterly - sen t 19 Mar 2001 - p. 742 (Reliability: 3).

    2. [S668] RW Munro's Genealogy Database, Robert William Munro, (The collected genealogy notes of RW Munro, Hon. Historian of Clan Munro (Association) edited by Dr. Jean Munro, transcribed by Charles C. Munroe, III and others. Transcription completed Jan 2009. Original card file is kept at the "Storehouse of Foulis" near Foulis Castle in Scotland.), card 431, 434 (Reliability: 3).
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      1

    3. [S633] Clan Munro files - Monroe, William L., Jr., William L. Monroe, Jr., The Munros - From the Carolinas - by Bill Monroe - p. 4 (Reliability: 3).