Gen. Sir George MUNRO, KCB of Culrain & Newmore

Gen. Sir George MUNRO, KCB of Culrain & Newmore

Male Abt 1616 - 1693

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  • Name  Gen. Sir George MUNRO, KCB of Culrain & Newmore  [1, 2, 3, 4
    Prefix  Gen. Sir 
    Suffix  KCB of Culrain & Newmore 
    Born  Abt 1616 
    • Estimate: This birth date is an estimate based on the birth dates of nearest relatives or contemporaries, or based on other clues such as christening date, marriage date, birth order, etc.
    Gender  Male 
    Died  11 Jul 1693  Alness, , Ross and Cromarty, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    • Newmore Castle
    Buried  Rosskeen, , Ross and Cromarty, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID  I3629  Munro
    Last Modified  21 Jan 2014 

    Father  Col. John MUNRO, II of Obsdale,   b. Abt 1590,   d. 11 Mar 1633, Wetterau, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother  Catherine GORDON,   b. Abt 1592,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Family ID  F1584  Group Sheet

    Last Modified  20 Jan 2009 
    Family ID  F9601  Group Sheet

    Family 2  Anne MUNRO,   b. Abt 1622,   d. 3 Mar 1647, Coleraine, , , Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  Abt 1639 
    Children 
     1. MUNRO,   b. Abt 1640,   d. Yes, date unknown
     2. MUNRO,   b. Abt 1641,   d. Yes, date unknown
     3. MUNRO,   b. Abt 1642,   d. Yes, date unknown
     4. MUNRO,   b. Abt 1643,   d. Yes, date unknown
    >5. Hugh MUNRO, Of Newmore,   b. Abt 1645, Of, Newmore Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Mar 1688
     6. MUNRO,   b. Abt 1647,   d. Yes, date unknown
     7. MUNRO,   b. Abt 1647,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Last Modified  21 Oct 2009 
    Family ID  F1588  Group Sheet

    Family 3  Christian HAMILTON,   b. Abt 1620,   d. Abt 1700 
    Married  1649  Culrain, , Ross and Cromarty, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    • Married at "Coleraine" [1]
    Children 
     1. John MUNRO,   b. Abt 1650,   d. 1682
    >2. George MUNRO, I Of Culrain,   b. Abt 1652,   d. Dec 1725, Culcairn, , , Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location
    >3. Anne MUNRO,   b. Abt 1654,   d. Yes, date unknown
    >4. Jean MUNRO,   b. Est 1656,   d. Yes, date unknown
    >5. Lucy MUNRO,   b. Est 1658,   d. Yes, date unknown
     6. Helen MUNRO,   b. Est 1660,   d. Abt 1723
    >7. Catherine MUNRO,   b. Abt 1666,   d. Yes, date unknown
    >8. Isobel MUNRO,   b. Est 1668,   d. Yes, date unknown
    >9. Florence MUNRO,   b. Est 1670,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Last Modified  1 Dec 2009 
    Family ID  F1589  Group Sheet

  • Notes 
    • George grew up a bold, powerful, fearless man, playing a conspicuous part in the history and feuds of his time. He entered the army at an early age and accompanied his famous uncle, Colonel Robert Munro, to the German wars, in which he very rapidly and highly distinguished himself. When the war between Sweden and Austria broke out in 1629, George tendered his services to Gustavus Adolphus under whom he subsequently served with marked distinction.

      At the battle of Lutzen, on 6 Nov 1632, where Gustavus Adolphus was killed, George of Newmore commanded the left wing of the Swedish army. It is worth noting that this battle was the only one in which Gustavus engaged the enemy without having the mass of his Scottish troops along with him. But although he fell, the Swedish army was victorious, for Wallenstein and his Imperialists were totally defeated and forced to retreat to the mountains of Bohemia.

      After the death of Gustavus, jealousy on the part of George Munro and the other officers of the Swedish army prevented that unanimity among the Generals which is so necessary for successfully carrying out any military campaign. At the battle of Nordlingen, the disastrous effects of this were painfully exemplified, for the petty differences on the part of those in command led to no properly defined plan of attack having been arranged, and the result was that, after a desperate struggle, the Imperialists gained a complete victory of the the combined army of Scots and Swedes. George was so disgusted with the state of matters which prevailed that he resigned his commission and returned home.

      A family legend says that after George returned home, he sent for Walter Innes, a sincere Christian residing at Inchnadown, who was much given to prayer. George asked him what he had been doing on a certain date which he named. Walter at first could not remember, but after some consideration, he said that he was engaged all that day in his barn praying to God to protect Newmore in the battlefield. "I thought you were so engaged, my good man," said Newmore, "as all through that day, in whatever direction I turned in giving the command and directing the battle I saw you as it were in person before me shielding me from danger, and thank God he has answered your prayers, and I have returned home safe and unhurt."

      In 1641, George accompanied his uncle, Colonel (soon after General) Robert Munro, to Ireland, where he also attained the rank of Colonel. In 1644, Colonel Robert was recalled to Scotland with a considerable part of the Scottish army to oppose the victorious progress of the Great Montrose. During his absence, the command of the army in Ireland was given to George, whose principles inclined him to favour the Royalists. He subsequently joined them, and became a stout opponent of the Presbyterian party both in Ireland and Scotland.

      In Jan 1645, the Scottish forces in Ireland suffered greatly from want of provisions, and Colonel George Munro was dispatched to Edinburgh to inform the Scottish Parliament of their needs. He told them that if they weren't speedily resupplied, they would have to abandon Ireland. He returned to Ireland, but not in time to take part in the battle of Benburb, where General Robert Munro was severely defeated by O'Neil.

      In 1648, Colonel George Munro was appointed Major-General by King Charles I and sent to Scotland with 1200 horse and 2100 foot to assist the Duke of Hamilton. The progress of the force under his command across the channel was greatly impeded by two warships sent by the Parliament of England to guard the passage, and 300 of his men were taken captive. After a detention of two days, the men were liberated. They all duly arrived in safety on the coast of Ayr, and at once marched for Carlisle to join the Duke. The whole army under Hamilton proceeded to Preston, where they were met by Cromwell, and in the sanguinary battle which followed on 17 Aug 1648, they were completely defeated and their commander, the Duke of Hamilton, taken prisoner at Uttoxeter.

      The result of this disaster to the Scottish army was fatal to the supporters of King Charles, secured the ascendancy of the Covenanters, and brought the second Civil War to a close. It accelerated the overthrow of the monarchy, and laid the foundation of dissensions in Scotland which afterwards rendered it an easy prey for Oliver Cromwell.

      After the defeat at Preston, George retreated into Scotland, where he committed great and reckless excesses, and aroused the utmost repugnance and alarm. Because of this he was forced to leave the country. He went to Holland to visit the exiled King Charles II, who bestowed the honor of knighthood upon George. He accepted a new commission from his Majesty and returned to Ireland at the head of a party of Scottish Highlanders. Once in Ireland, a body of Irish confederates was immediately placed under his command. With this force of Roman Catholics under his command, he marched from Connaught to Derry, and joined in the famous siege of Derry.

      On 7 jun 1649, he went to Coleraine, besieged the town and captured it. A small local force was assembled to resist him, and they sent a message asking him what were his intentions. General Sir George Munro replied that he had no object in view but to restore lawful authority and to oppose sectaries. He would not molest any persons who did not oppose him, and who were not known as enemies to authority. This satisfied the local force and they returned to their homes.

      Major-General Sir George Munro was authorized by Lord Montgomery of Ards to demand immediate possission of the town of Carrickfergus and its castle, which were held by Major Edmund Ellis. After George was joined by Montgomery, the castle garrison found it impossible to successfully defend themselves and surrendered. On 4 Jul 1649, the town and castle were transferred to the Royalist Party and the notorious Dalzell of Binns, was appointed Governor.

      Sir George returned to Coleraine, of which he had been appointed Governor. He sent letters to some of the Presbyterian ministers summoning them to appear there before him, and informing them that if they refused, he would pursue them, because he was told that their preaching tended to prejudice the King's interest. He told them that if they pledged themselves not to meddle in state affairs, he would not molest them. The ministers declined to pledge or to appear before Sir George, and many of them fled to Scotland.

      On 17 Jul 1649, Sir George left Coleraine for Derry, where he joined the besiegers with considerable reinforcements of horse and foot, and twelve pieces of field ordnance. Derry was the last stronghold in Ulster which held out against the Royalists, and the attack and blockade which had been maintained with varied success, were now pushed forward with increased vigor.

      To cut off the communication of the city with the sea, the besiegers built a fort at the Knock of Ember, near the narrowest part of the river between Culmore Castle and the town, to which in honor of his Majesty, they gave the name of Fort Charles. No sooner was it completed than Colonel Coote, who so bravely defended the city, directed Captain Keyser, the commander of a Parliamentary frigate stationed in the Lough, to proceed with a hundred musketeers to attack and demolish it. The fort was well manned and mounted with eleven pieces of ordnance, and the attackers were repulsed by General Sir George's force.

      On 26 Jul, Lord Montgomery joined General Munro with a considerable force. He sent Colonel Coote a copy of his commission from King Charles II and summoned him to surrender the city to his Majesty's army. The summons went unheeded and was followed on the 28th by a smart attack upon the town. Several of the garrison were killed, but Montgomery and Sir George were repulsed with considerable loss. They were ultimately compelled to abandon the siege, and George retired to Coleraine.

      The Royalists, without any support from the Presbyterians, were very insecure in the garrisons of Coleraine and Carrickfergus. On 15 Aug 1649, Cromwell appeared in Ireland, and by his vigorous and successful prosecution of the war speedily rendered the arms of the English Commonwealth triumphant throughout the whole island. Sir George was soon forced by Colonel Coote to evacuate Coleraine and retire to Carrickfergus. From there he sent a party under Colonel John Hamilton to rescue the town of Antrim. He himself followed, setting fire to that town and to Lisnegarvey.

      On 6 Dec, Coote and Colonel Venables met Sir George and Montgomery in battle on the plain of Lisnegarvey, at a place called Lisnestrain, not far from Lisburn, a town also burned by General Munro. The infantry was under the command of Lords Montgomery and Clanbrassie, and the cavalry under Sir George. A severe and determined engagement took place in which the Royalists were completely defeated and totally dispersed. Many of the officers and about 1000 men having been killed. Sir George fled towards the river Blackwater, and saved himself by swimming across, escaping to Charlemont, and then to Enniskillen.

      Colonels Coote and Venables then marched to Carrickfergus and compelled Dalzell to capitulate and deliver up the town and castle on 13 Dec.

      In Apr 1650, Colonel Coote obtained possession of Enniskillen from George, who, despairing of relief, surrendered the town and castle on favorable terms for himself and those under him, most of whom accompanied him back to Scotland.

      In 1653, war broke out between England and Holland. In Paris, the exiled King Charles judged it a favorable opportunity to take up arms against Cromwell's Government. The king commissioned General Middleton as Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Forces in Scotland, superseding the Earl of Glencairn, who was at that time on his march through Moray, ravaging the lands of all who refused to join him. Sir George joined Middleton and in Jan 1654, they landed in Caithness. Middleton ordered Glencairn to join him at Dornoch, where his Lordship arrived in Mar 1654. Although Glencairn was deeply mortified at having to resign his command to Middleton, he resolved to put the best face on it. The appointment of Middleton was also resented by Glencairn's men, who were greatly attached to him, and their commander's treatment created considerable irritation.

      Having assumed command, Middleton ordered a review of Glencairn's forces in order to inspect them. As might be expected among irregular troops hastily gathered together, there were many defects in themselves as well as in their armor, which Middleton's officers were not slow to detect and openly comment upon, much to the annoyance of Glencairn and his officers.

      After the review, the Earl invited Middleton and all the principal officers to dine with him at his headquarters, at Kettle, four miles west of Dornoch. After having entertained them to the best of everything the place could afford, he turned to Middleton and said, "You see, my Lord, what a gallant army I and these noble gentlemen with me have raised out of nothing. They have hazarded their lives and fortunes to serve his Majesty. Your Excellency ought, therefore, to give them all the encouragement you can."

      Irritated by the tone of this speech, Sir George Munro, who had been appointed Lord Middleton's Lieutenant-General, and who probably regarded the rank and file of the "gallant army" with all the contempt wich a veteran of the line entertains for volunteers and holiday soldiers, jumped up and with an oath exclaimed, "My Lord, the men you speak of are no other than a pack of thieves and robbers. In a short time I will show you other sort of men." This offensive remark threw the company into a tumult. The proud chiefs who followed Glencairn could not brook such a gross affront. There was quite a contention for the honor of defending Glencairn, each rising with his hand on his sword, and demanding the statement to be withdrawn and apologised for. Glencairn turned to Sir George and exclaimed with heat, "You are a base liar, for they are neither thieves nor robbers, but much better than you could raise."

      Middleton then found it necessary to interfere, and commanded them both, on their allegiance, to keep the peace and, addressing them said, "My Lord, and you Sir George, this is not the way to do the King service, to fall out among yourselves, therefore I will have you both be friends." He filled a glass with wine, turned to the Earl and said, "My Lord Glencairn, I think you did the gravest wrong in calling Sir George a liar. You shall drink to him, and he shall pledge you." Glencairn, feeling the truth of Middleton's remarks was willing to overlook the insult to himself, and without hesitation drank to Sir George, who, however, did not respond in an equally cordial manner, but in an imperious and haughty air muttered some words which were inaudible. The matter was allowed to pass, and Glencairn appeared to have recovered from his annoyance.

      Later in the evening, after Middleton had left, Colonel Alexander Munro, Sir George's brother, appeared at the gate and desired an audience with Glencairn. The Earl welcomed him cordially and invited him to join the festivities. After a time, Alexander said that he was sent by his brother with a challenge to fight a duel, and asked him to name the time and place of meeting. It was arranged that Glencairn and Sir George whould meet early next morning half way between Dornoch and his quarters. The arrangements were kept secret from everyone but the principals and their seconds, Alexander Munro and John White, the Earl's valet.

      It was arranged to fight the duel on horseback, with one pistol each, and broadswords to be used if necessary. They fired simultaneously, without any effect, and drawing their swords attacked each other with concentrated fury. After a few passes, Sir George was wounded in the bridle-hand, which caused him to lose control of his horse, and so he asked the Earl's permission to finish the duel on foot. Glencairn instantly dismounted, exclaiming. "Ye carle, I will let you know that I am a match for you either on foot or on horseback." He soon proved this was no idle boast, for in a few minutes Sir George was severely wounded on his forehead, which bled so profusely that he was quite blinded. Still Glencairn was not satisfied and made a lunge with the intention of running his antagonist through the body, but John White interposed, and with a quick movement seized the Earl's hand and pushed the sword upwards, saying, "That is enough, my Lord. You have got the better of him." Glencairn was so enraged that he turned on his second and gave him a severe blow across the shoulders for daring to interfere. However, he did not resume the duel.

      Sir George was quite helpless, and it was with great difficulty that his brother brought him back to Dornoch. When Middleton heard of the affair, he was exceedingly angry, and sent Captain Campbell with a guard to arrest the Earl, whom he deprived of his sword and made prisoner on parole.

      The duel caused much contention among the officers and men of the regiment as to who was to blame. Hot words on the subject passed between Captain Livingstone, who maintained that Sir George acted properly, and a gentleman named Lindsay, who insisted that he had not. Another challenge was issued and the two parties met on the links of Dornoch to fight another duel. Lindsay was a superior swordsman and ran Livingstone through the heart at the first thrust. Lindsay was at once arrested, tried and condemned by Middleton to be shot at the Cross of Dornoch. The sentence was duly carried out the same day, although Glencairn, supported by other officers, made every effort to save him. The evident partiality shown to Sir George naturally proved exceedingly mortifying to Glencairn, and he withdrew from the regiment. Sir George and he never became reconciled.

      Couped up among the mountains by strong parties which Monk posted at Inverness, Perth, and other gates of the Highlands, General Middleton marched backwards and forwards through Ross and Inverness, cautiously followed by General Morgan. On 26 Jul 1652, Middleton's forces were surprised by his pursuer in a defile near Lochgarry. Middleton was routed and the King's army retreated in confusion. there was no great slaughter, as night came on soon after they were engaged. Every man shifted for himself and went where he best liked. Such was the inglorious end of "the gallant army of worthy gentlemen."

      Sir George was not held in high esteem by General Middleton or by Captain John Gwyn, who wrote a defamatory poem about him. These feelings were no doubt prompted by Sir George's vaccillating proclivities in changing sides so often, and by his unfortunate duel with Glencairn.

      In 1661, Sir George was elected member of Parliament for Ross-shire and continued to represent that constituency until 1663. He represented the county of Sutherland from 1669 until 1674 when he became a member of the Privy Council. He was again returned fro Ross-shire in 1685, but gave it up in 1686. He was finally elected for the same county in 1689, and continued to represent it in the House of Commons until his death in 1693.

      On 7 Jan 1669, the Lords of the Privy Council granted a commission of fire and sword to Sir George Munro and others against William Sinclair of Dunbeath and his confederates for invading the lands of Lord Reay. Sir George, however, declined to act, and a new commission to the same effect was granted to John Campbell, younger of Glenorchy.

      Although Sir George has not been well treated by certain historical writers, there are several indications that he was not such a villian.

      In about 1678, Christina Ross, widow of Andrew Fearn of Pitcalnie, was left with twelve children. She was cruelly persecuted by her parish curate for harboring the Rev. Thomas Ross, and allowing him to preach in her house. The curate finally got a warrant from the Privy Council authorizing a military officer to seize all her goods, attach the rents from her small estate, and imprison her. She fled with her eldest son, then twelve years old. The rest of her children were taken charge of by Sir George Munro, Sir John Munro of Foulis and others.

      During the persecuting period, Sir George was appointed to suppress conventicles and non-conformity in Easter Ross. John Paterson, Bishop of Ross, had spies all over the district who reported to him all conventicles held or about to be held. The Bishop continually gave Sir George instructions to disperse the meetings and capture the leaders. Sir George's heart was not in the work and according to tradition, whenever he received instructions from Bishop Paterson, he would call his dog to his side and speak to him when he knew that Lady Munro, a sincere friend of the Covenanters, was within hearing, but not in his presence. He would tell the dog that he had been instructed to go and disperse a conventicle at ________. Of course, Lady Munro would send a warning and Sir George would find no meeting and report so to the Bishop, giving his Lordship at the same time a bit of his mind for sending him on such a fool's errand.
      On 30 Dec 1684, at Edinburgh, the Privy council commissioned Sir George and the Earls of Erroll and Kintore "to prosecute all persons guilty of Church disorders and other crimes in all the bounds betwixt Spey and Ness, including Strathspey and Abernethie". In other words, they were to stamp out non-conformity. There are several stories which indicate that Sir George did not have much of a stomach for the cruelties that he was expected to carry out in the name of religion and he used a number of clever ruses to save defendants from time to time.

      Sir George held vast lands in his estate. His properties included Newmore and Culcairn in the parish of Roskeen, Gildermorie in Alness, Kinrive and Strathrory in Kilmuir Easter, culrain in Kincardine, Rosehall and the fishings of the Shin in Sutherlandshire.

      He bought Newmore from his uncle Robert in 1646. Carbisdale and other lands were detached from the Foulis Barony and created into the new Barony of Culrain for Sir George in 1670.

      He eventually changed sides again and became a rigid Presbyterian at the Revolution, and became an elder in Rosskeen Church under the ministry of the Rev. William Mackenzie. His name appears on the Commission of Assembly in 1690 for settling the affairs of the Church north of the Tay.

      George's first wife was his cousin, Anne, the daughter of his paternal uncle, Major General Robert Munro of Obsdale. She died in 1647.

      In 1649 he married Christian Hamilton, the only daughter of Sir Frederick Hamilton of Manner. Her brother, Gustavus, was the first Viscount Boyne. She was a descendant of Mary, eldest daughter of King James II of Scotland. Christian was a very pious woman and was a sincere friend of the Covenanters and ejected ministers, and a consistent opponent of the Episcopal hierarchy.

      George died at his home and was buried at Roskeen.

      She was on friendly terms with Brodie of Brodie, and a frequent visitor at Brodie Castle. She survived her husband and continued to live in Newmore Castle. She died soon after 1700 and was buried within the Newmore Chapel in the churchyard of Rosskeen.

      References:

      (1) "The Munro Tree (1734)" by R. W. Munro - Edinburgh (1978) - L/32, R/4,
      R/6, R/13, V

      (2) "History of the Munros of Fowlis" by A. Mackenzie - Inverness (1898) - p.
      176-195, 296, 495

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

  • Sources 
    1. [S645] Clan Munro files - Boggs, Elizabeth Monroe, Elizabeth Monroe Boggs, Pedigree of the Munro Family - undated (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 418 (Reliability: 3).
      1

    3. [S871] Clan Munro files - Monroe, Elijah-Brent Alan, Elijah-Brent Alan Monroe, Letter from Elijah-Brent Alan Monroe (Reliability: 3).

    4. [S691] Clan Munro Magazine, Clan Munro (Association), No. 26 - 2012 (Reliability: 3).