|EVANTON ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
THE MUNROS of FOULIS
'History of the Munros', Alexander Mackenzie (1898) The Clan Munro', C.I. Fraser of Reelig (1954)
Said to have been the Son of O'Cathan, Prince of Fermanagh. Received lands between Dingwall and River Averon as a reward from Malcolm II, King of Scots, for assistance against the Danish invaders. The land received the name of "Fearann-Domnhnuill", anglicised to Ferindonald. A portion was erected into the barony of Fowlis.
An alternative theory says that Donald was a member of the Siol O'Cain, claimed to be an ancient tribe of North Moray.
(The Chronological Account 1805 says that Fowlis is so named "after a land so-called in Ireland, near Loch Fowle")
Said to have assisted Malcolm III in his contentions with Macbeth between 1054 and 1057.
Son of George, the first in the account of the family to be designated "Baron of Fowlis."
He is said to have acquired Logie Wester and Findon, of which the Earls of Ross were superiors.
2nd Baron, son of above.
Loyal subject of David 1 and Malcolm IV. Died in 1164 and buried at Chanonry (Fort rose).
3rd Baron, son of above.
Is said to have built the Old Tower of Fowlis in 1154.
It is said that he assisted William the Lion on his expedition to quell disorder in Ross.
4th Baron, son of above.
Tradition has it that he married the daughter of Hugh Freskyn de Moravia, with whom he allied to capture Harold, Earl of Caithness who had murdered his bishop, Adam.
5th Baron, son of above.
Received a charter from Alexander II (1198-1249). Died 1269
6th Baron, son of above.
Attained majority in 1282.
Joined Robert the Bruce; his son George was killed at Bannockburn. He died in 1323.
7th baron, grandson of the above.
Steadfast supporter of the Bruce dynasty. Marched to Northumberland to take part under Hugh, Earl of Ross, in the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333, which resulted in his own death and total defeat for the Scots. His brother escaped unhurt and took charge of his nephew's affairs.
8th Baron, son of George.
Received from William, Earl of Ross, a charter of confirmation of Easter Fowlis and other lands, in which it is declared that they had belonged to his predecessors since the time of Donald. It was confirmed by David II in 1364.
He was one of the baron Bellies of the Earldom of Ross.
Killed in an obscure clan fight while assisting William, Earl of Ross.
9th Baron, son of above.
In 1369 he received from William of Ross the lands of Keatwell and Fortyr (upper lands) of Badgarvie in the parish of Kiltearn; and lands in Edderton, Lochbroom, Carbisdale and Kincardine in 1370; Contullich and the Tower of Ardoch from Euphemia, Countess of Ross, in 1379; and by another charter the davoch lands of Wester Fowlis and Tower of Strathskiach. Joined Donald, Lord of the Isles, in his contest with the Duke of Albany, the Regent of Scotland (while James 1 was a prisoner of the English) over the Earldom of Ross in the early 1400s. Donald claimed possession and title though his wife, daughter of Euphemia Countess of Ross. After the Battle of Harlaw, from which the Lord of the Isles withdrew, the Duke of Albany recovered the whole of Ross and forced Donald to become a vassal of the crown by the Treaty of Port Gilp 1416.
The fortunes of the Munros continued to be bound up with the family of the Isles until 1476, when the Munros and other vassals in the North were made independent of any superior but the Crown.
(The charters henceforth sometimes required the provision of a snow ball from the hill of Fowlis in the forest of Wyvis to be provided at midsummer to the Crown. In 1746 a party of Munros sent snow from Ben Wyvis to the Duke of Cumberland, to cool his wine).
10th Baron, son of above, inherited in 1410 his mother's lands in Caithness.
In 1428 King James I, freed from captivity, granted remission to a number of Munros for crimes of killings, thefts, burnings etc, indicating a conciliatory attitude towards them.
George was killed along with his eldest son and many of his clan at the bloody and vengeful Battle of Beallach-nam-Brog in 1452, at a spot between Ferindonald and Lochbroom. Some Mackenzies had seized Walter Ross of Balnagowan, to exchange him for the Mackenzie Chief who had been imprisoned in Dingwall by Countess Euphemia, the Earl of Ross's mother. Lord Lovat, the King's Lieutenant, sent troops north who were joined by the Munros and the Dingwalls of Kildun. The battle is apparently so named as the highlanders tied their shoes to their chests to defend themselves from their enemies' arrows.
11th Baron, second son of above. Inherited in 1453. His uncle John of Milntown, was appointed "Tutor of Fowlis". In 1454 he led the clan in the Battle of Clachnaharry between the Munros and Mackintoshes after Malcolm Og had demanded as 'road collop' a major part of the booty from Atholl being carried by John Munro. An obelisk was erected in 1821 to mark the spot of this bloody skirmish.
Mackenzie finds no evidence to suppose that the Munros took part in the Battle of Park of 1488 between the MacDonalds and the Mackenzies. Baron John was Chamberlain to John, last Earl of Ross, in Dingwall.
12th Baron, son of above, inherited in 1491.
Knighted by James IV for his prominent part in public affairs, which as justiciar brought him into confect with Hector Roy Mackenzie at the Battle of Druim-a-chait in 1501 by Knockfarrel. After Munro had removed one couple from Mackenzie's barn, Mackenzie invited him to come and take the other, which he duly did only to be ambushed and massacred on his return home. (Tobar nan Ceann, Fountain of the Heads, is named after nineteen heads that tumbled down beside it.)
William was killed by Lochiel while on king's business in Lochaber in 1505,
13th baron, son of above; attained majority in 1514.
Married Catherine Mackenzie, of the house of Kintail, by way of reconciliation.
Appointed a Privy Council Lieutenant of Wester Ross to protect the district from the incursion of Sir Donald MacDonald of Lochalsh.
Acquired lands at Lochcarron, Lochalsh, Lochbroom and others which were confirmed by James V in 1541.
Died at Carbisdale in 1541.
14th Baron, son of above.
A resolute and magnanimous man and a loyal subject.
Brought clan to Edinburgh to join Scottish Army in defence against the Protector, the Duke of Somerset. Killed along with many hundreds of his countrymen at the Battle of Pinkie on 8th September 1547.
Robert Mor Munro
15th Baron, son of the above, reached majority in 1548.
Killed 2 tenants in Little Boath. Had to lease the lands of Kiltearn to John Munro.
In 1560 he received the lands and mill of Kiltearn. Acquired from the Bishops of Ross Lemlair, Pellaig, Wester Glens and Mukle Boitt (Boath).Gave Neil Beaton a heritable tack of Culnaskea for being surgeon/doctor to the family.
Married Margaret Ogilvy of Findlater, whose father was a close friend of the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, and her daughter Mary, Queen of Scots.
The Munros came to her aid in 1562 when she came to Inverness and found the Castle shut against her by Captain Alexander Gordon House of Huntly. He was beheaded.
In 1570 a serious quarrel broke out between the Munros and the Mackenzies over possession of the former castle of the bishops at Fortrose. The Munros held it for 3 years until dispossessed when out for salmon.
Robert was as early as 1560 an avowed Protestant and so too most of his clan. He voted in the Parliament of that year for the overthrow of the Popish Church. and for the Scottish Confession of Faith.
The first place the reformed religion is reported to have been preached in Ross-shire was at Waterloo, by Rev. Donald Munro, Dean of the Isles Robert became a Baillie and Chamberlain of James VI in 1581.
The Munros were now "considered a clan of some importance and amongst the most available of the Celtic of northern friends of the Grown." Robert Mor profited considerably by the long leases of church lands and forfeitures at the time of the Reformation and he left a much extended inheritance.
In 1586 he was denounced by the Privy Council, along with other Highland Chiefs, for obstructing fisheries and extortionate exactions.
In 1588 he was appointed by the King collector for Inverness-shire, which included Ross.
Died in 1588, aged about 60. The first Chief to be buried at Kiltearn, so marking a complete severance with Rome.
3 sons and 3 daughters by first wife Margaret; 3 sons and 4 daughters by second wife, Katherine Ross, Balnagowan, the 'Foulis Witch'.
In 1576/7, in conjunction with Hector her stepson, who became Chief, she supposedly attempted to kill, by means of clay images and elf arrows, Robert, the Fowlis heir. A William Macgillivray also sold her a box of poison for which he was burnt at the stake in 1577, along with various accomplices. She was tried in 1590 and acquitted.
16th Baron, eldest son of Robert Mor.
His first 2 wives died young; he died in 1589.
17th Baron, brother of above.
Chaplain of Newmore in 1560, then of Obsdale, then Dean of Ross.
In 1590 he was tried, immediately after his step-mother Katherine, for causing the death of his half-brother George, who died of slow poison in 1590. He was acquitted.
He was favoured as a trusty friend by James IV.
In 1597 a bloody fight took place between the Mackenzies on one hand, Munros and Baynes on the other, after which a lament was composed.
In 1602 the Munros levied a hundred men to assist Queen Elizabeth against her rebellious Irish subjects.
Died in 1603, buried at Kiltearn.
Robert 'Dubh' Munro, 'The Black Baron'
18th Baron, inherited in 1608.
In 1617 he is referred to as "Robert Munro of Tayne", the family having acquired additional lands all round Tain.
He became highly indebted and pledged his lands and castle to his uncle, Lord Fraser of Lovat, redeeming them 20 years later.
In 1626 he took a Captain's commission in the King of Denmark's Service against the Catholic Emperor. The regiment commanded by Sir Donald Mackay of Strathnaver was mainly Highland and wholly Protestant.
When the Danes made peace the Munro company and others joined the army of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden - "The Champion of Protestantism". Robert Munro distinguished himself as Colonel of Foot and Horse at the Battles of Leipzig of 1631 and Lutzen in 1632, where Gustavus fell, having defeated Wallenstein's Imperial German army.
Robert died of a foot wound in 1633 aged 44.
Sir Hector Munro
19th Baron, brother of the above.
Educated for the Church but joined his brother in the 30 Year's War. Was created Baronet of Nova Scotia by Charles I as a hereditary title. Died in 1635 in Hamburg.
Sir Hector Munro
20th Baron, second baronet; son of the above. Died in 1651 aged 16
Sir Robert Munro of Fowlis
21st Baron; 3rd Baronet; second son of Col John Munro II of Obsdale; cousin of the 'Black Baron'.
Distinguished himself in Denmark, Sweden and elsewhere on the Continent in the 30 Year's War when Munros comprised 3 Generals, 8 Colonels, 5 Lt. Colonels, 11 Majors and 30 Captains and many subalterns in Gustavus Adolphus' army.
Was sent to Ireland where he was defeated by Owen Roe O'Neill in 1646 and in 1648 he was seized by the Parliamentary General Monck and confined to the Tower of London.
In 1649 Colonel John Munro of Lemlair joined Pluscardine's abortive Royalist Rising, but the following year he took part in the defeat of Montrose at Carbisdale.
Sir Robert was responsible for bringing Thomas Hogg as minister to Kiltearn and continued to pay his stipend after Hogg's dismissal.
He died in 1666.
Sir John Munro, Fowlis 22nd Baron, 4th Bt
Signed a bond of friendship with the Kenneth Mackenzie, Earl of Seaforth in order to mend the fences.
Became known as "The Presbyterian mortar-piece". Suffered fines and imprisonment for non-conformity. Rev Mackillican, deposed minister of Fodderty, preaching in Obsdale, reputedly escaped detection by the soldiers, sent by the Bishop John Paterson of Ross, by concealing himself under Sir John's ample skirts.
In 1689 he was one of Scottish representatives who approved of offer to William of Orange and his Queen.
Sir Robert Munro "The Blind Baron"
23rd Baron of Fowlis, 5th Bt
William III in 1698 granted a charter of confirmation of the lands of Fowlis and other estates. He, like his father, was a strenuous upholder of the Protestant succession.
Mobilised the clan in support of the Hanoverian succession and his son, Captain George, of Culcairn, trysted at Alness with the forces of the Earl of Sutherland, the king's lieutenant in the North.
The Earl of Seaforth took advantage of the departure of the troops and proceeded to ravage the countryside and took the castle.
After The Battle of Sherrifmuir they recouped their losses by spoiling Seaforth's lands at Brahan.
4 years later George Munro of Culcairn helped General Wightman to defeat another attempted Jacobite Rising at Glenshiel, organised by Cardinal Alberoni of Spain and in which Rob Roy's Highlanders fought furiously alongside the Spaniards. Here Culcairn, gravely wounded, was shielded by possibly his foster-brother, until both were rescued. George continued in active service, fought with the Gordons in 1745 at Inverurie and was active against the Jacobites. In 1746 he was shot and killed, while on a borrowed white horse, alternatively with a borrowed cloak, supposedly in place of another officer, near Loch Arkaig, where 'Culcairn's Brae' is still known.
Sir Robert Munro of Foulis
24th baron, 6th Baronet
Born 1684. Succeeded father in 1729.
One of the greatest of all Munro Chiefs.
Served in Marlborough's Army on the Continent.
1710 - Whig MP for Wick Burghs for 30 years. In 1721, at the time of one election, he employed armed Munros, under Culcairn, to kidnap and temporarily detain at Fowlis Castle certain Kenneth Bayne of Tulloch and most of the Dingwall councillors. A boy was shot in the tongue and the wife of Alexander Mackenzie later died of her wounds. "It would do her good to lose some of her foul blood" said Colonel Robert. The planned exile of the councillors to Orkney was prevented by a terrific storm and they were rescued by a mob of women. Sir Robert was subsequently fined £200. The jury did not credit Sir Robert's version of the event which claimed that a mob had attacked them when about lawful business and that the shots were fired by gentlemen who had come to their assistance. Sir Robert and his brother were fined £200.
Sir Robert became Lt Colonel of the 1st Highland Regiment in the Regular Army, the Black Watch, the Frelceadan Dubh, which quickly impressed by its unexpected discipline and sobriety.1745. He inspired the army to glorious victory against the French at the Battle of Fontenoy on 9th May 1745 -"notwithstanding his great corpulency" and standing exposed to volleys. "The Highland furies rushed upon us with more violence than ever did a sea driven by a tempest" (French records)
He was ordered home at the time of the 1745 Rebellion but the Black Watch was not sent to the Highlands. It was as Commander of the 37th Foot, an English Regiment, that in January 1746 he took part and was killed by Lochiel's men at the Battle of Falkirk aged 62.
He had married Mary Seymour, daughter of the Speaker of the House of Commons. He had the pleasure of subsequently confiscating the property of the Jacobite 'postman' who had earlier interrupted all his correspondence to the object of his affections.
Sir Harry Munro
25th Baron, 7th Bt.
Captured by the Jacobites at the Battle of Prestonpans and rescued from imprisonment at Glamis.
In 1746 Jacobites again captured Fowlis Castle and harried Ferindonald, which was in mourning for Sir Robert.
Sir Harry received some compensation and a pension.
In 1776 he entailed all the estates by a deed, which included female heirs and became the object of much litigation by different branches of the family.
Sir Hugh Munro
26th Baron, 8th Bt, son of above. Born 1763.
Irregular union with Jane Law whom after 7 years he married in 1801, whereafter they moved to Fowlis castle. His beautiful wife drowned in the Firth soon after in 1803.
Their daughter Mary Seymour, born in 1796 in England, was the subject of a great lawsuit to test the legitimacy of her birth and her right of succession, in which she was ultimately successful, after appeal to the House of Lords. The Culcairns, who sought to inherit, questioned the paternity of the pursuer. The Lords found in favour of Mary Seymour on the grounds that her father had never lost his Scottish domicile and that therefore his subsequent marriage had legalised the birth of all children previously born out of wedlock.
She died unmarried in 1849, aged 53.
Sir Hugh, who died in 1848, during the course of the litigations had found it necessary to dismantle the property. The furniture was sold and the beautiful timber, including large chestnuts, throughout the estates cut down.
Sir Hugh had a natural son, George, to whom his sister bequeathed the property of Milntown and it was sold to William Matheson, Newton, who sold it to Major Jackson of Swordale.
The male line of Robert, 21st Baron, now extinct, the estates reverted to the nearest male heir, the Baronetcy of Nova Scotia.
The estates and clan headship passed to the Culcairn and Culrain line.
Sir Charles Munro of Culcairn,
27th Baron. Eldest son of George Munro of Culcairn and Culrain.
Served in the 45th Regiment in the Peninsular War under the Duke of Wellington. Badly wounded at the Storming of Bagadoz; also in the War of Independence in South America, including in 1818 under General Simon Bolivar.
Died aged 91 on 12th July 1886 in Southport. Lady Amelia Munro survived him by 5 days.
Sir Charles Munro their eldest son succeeded.
He was a D. L. and J. P. for Ross-shire, a Captain in the Highland Rifle Militia and a Major in the Ross-shire Rifle Volunteers. He died in 1888.
Colonel Sir Hector Munro
1849 - 1935
11th Baronet, 29th Baron of Foulis; JP,
Commanded 3rd Bn (Militia), Ross-shire Buffs, relieving a Regular Army batallion in Egypt during the South African War.
ADC to King Edward VII and King George V.
Lord Lieutenant Ross and Cromarty 1899 till death (36 years.)
The Ross-shire Journal of 5.1.1900 reports the speeches and presentation of a scroll and silver engraved cask, made to him, by the tenants of Foulis, in recognition of his appointment as Lord Lieutenant.
Rev. MacQueen stated "there was not in all broad Scotland a landlord who was more respected and beloved by his tenantry".
Marianne Chamier, a grand-daughter, recollects that he was "Very highly regarded. I think you'll find everybody liked him - a super old boy, a great peace-maker. He was very nice to everybody, the same to everyone. He used to go alternately to the Episcopal Church in Dingwall and the Kiltearn Kirk" He was not a strict disciplinarian but didn't allow tennis or cards, or any sort of games on Sundays. We could go for walks... We had family prayers before breakfast every morning and always grace before meals. He was a very clean, neat old man, with polished shoes and a shiny, bald head. He wore black and white knickerbockers when he went to London and Bath, where he took the waters every spring. He used to be wracked with rheumatica and a bad chest, which several weeks at Bath seemed to cure."
Sir Hector married the daughter of Sir John Stirling, Margaret Violet Stirling, who became Lady Munro (1856 – 1946).
Rev. Watson stated that "she combines in herself all the qualities that go to make a good wife and a good neighbour.... her amiable disposition throws a warm glow of affability around her life without detracting from the dignity that belongs to her station." At least one person describes her, at least in her latter years, as "a bit fierce.. very expressive, very good looking and (with) a frightful temper. She had fearful rows with the maids."
Their first son Robert died in infancy. Their other son and heir Hector Charles Seymour MC, 2nd Bn Seaforths, joined the Ist World War in 1914. In 1915 he was in Boulogne hospital with a severe chill and later that year suffering from a gas attack. Just weeks before the Armistice he was killed, aged 23, by a sniper near Cambrai on October 22, during a recce for a German gun. He was interred at St Souplet.
His eldest sister, Eva Marion Gascoigne, inherited. She had married an English soldier in the Seaforths, who died quite young. The baronetcy of Nova Scotia could not pass through a female line and became separated from the Clan chief. It passed to a distant cousin of the Obsdale branch, now styled Munro of Foulis-Obsdale.
Mrs. Gascoigne took an active role in the parish, particularly with regard to Kiltearn School. She is fondly remembered.
The Gascoigne's eldest son Patrick (b.1912) inherited in 1938 (33rd Laird) on condition he change his name to Munro. He was then required to disinherit his mother. After the Imperial Service College and Sandhurst he joined the Seaforth Highlanders in 1933 and was a POW after the Highland Division surrendered at St Valéry. "My eldest brother and youngest brother were both taken at Valéry. They had trouble staying together because one was Gascoigne and the other was Munro.... the Germans wouldn't believe they were brothers."(MG)
Captain Patrick was Vice Lieutenant of Ross & Cromarty in 1968; also Hon. Sheriff of Ross and Cromarty.
Married to Eleanor Mary French.3 sons; His heir is Hector William.
(Refs: Who's Who in Scotland 1991; Ross-shire Journal; Hector Munro)
General Sir Hector Munro, K.B., of Novar
1726 - 1805
Opinions differ widely as to the value of his military career in the aftermath of the '45 and in India with the 34th Regiment. In British/Indian history he is remembered as Major Munro, the victor of Buxar, when "undismayed by giant odds, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat" and as Sir Hector, the villain of Conjeeveram who "allowed the golden moments to slip through his palsied fingers." (Thornton)
In 1764 he took over command of the 101st from Major Carnac. "Major Hector Munro of Morris's regiment, lately employed in Bombay, brought the remains of his own and Morgan's regiments (89th and 90th)." (Fortescue). He quickly reasserted discipline among the Europeans, around 200 of whom, mainly Frenchmen, had deserted to join Meer Cossim. His reaction to a revolt among the Sepoys was to tie 24 of them to canons and "blow them away".
He gained a crucial Victory at Buxar against Shuja/Surajah Dowlah on Oct.23 1764 against odds of 5 to 1, which was followed by dreadful carnage. He went on to accept the surrender of Benares but failed to reduce the fortress of Chunar. Suffering from ill health, he returned to Scotland and received rank of Lt Colonel and £16,000 from Surajah's treasures.
In 1766 he was created baronet and for the first time established in his ancestral estate of Novar. (Bain) He spent £120,000 on his estate at Novar and levelled one of the hillocks in front of the site for the mansion house. "Sir Hector Munro expended (on his estate) the whole wealth which he had acquired in India so that he was obliged to go to India again and make a second fortune for the purpose of enabling him to live upon it" (Southey).
Sir Hector Munro introduced larch to Easter Ross; he received 3 from Duke of Atholl.
In 1767 he bought his way to a seat on the Inverness Burghs and with four other Ross-shire lairds, including Sir Harry Munro of Fowlis, took over the Council. This they accomplished by marching ten councillors with full fanfare into a tavern and plying them with "metal and other means so forcible as to cause every one of them to desert the interests of their old friend and become mere sepoys." (Sir Alexander Grant of Dalvey). Sir Hector became the Provost.
In 1768 he was duly returned as MP for the Inverness Burghs and "an additional recruit was added to the Indian cohort in the House of Commons."(Hist. of Ross) He continued to represent the same until 1802, in spite of his further Indian campaigns.
Edinburgh Evening Courant 22 June 1771