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Heraldry Database: Munro


Surname:  Munro
Branch:  Munro
Origins:  Scottish
More Info:  Scotland

Background:  The origins of Clan Munro are lost in the distant past. By tradition, the early clan was made up of 11th Century mercenary soldiers from Ireland, they were granted lands in Ross by a grateful King after assisting him in defeating the Viking invaders of this part of Scotland.

From documentary evidence they were well established by the middle of the 14th Century on the north shore of the Cromarty Firth in the area known as Ferindonald (Donald's land) named after their legendary first chief. From this narrow base comprising the modern parishes of Kiltearn and Alness they gradually spread their sphere of influence northwards and eastwards into the fertile plain of Easter Ross.

They initially held land as vassals of the powerful Earls of Ross. On the forfeiture of that earldom they were loyal directly to the Crown. Their lands later became the Barony of Foulis (pronounced "fowls") and thereafter the chief and his family were designated "of Foulis". The clan spread into Sutherland and were also given a charter for lands in Strathspey in 1309. The chiefs were Bailies to the Macdonalds, Earls of Ross and Lords of the Isles. Robert of Foulis supported Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314. Robert Mor, 15th chief, was a staunch supporter of Mary Queen of Scots and he received many favors from her son, James VI.

During the 17th century, the Munros fought in the continental wars and Robert, the 18th chief, joined the army of Gustavus Adolphus. He raised 700 of his own clan for service in Sweden and Denmark in defense of Protestantism. He greatly distinguished himself and his
Scots received the name the "Invincibles".

A law abiding and peaceful clan in general, nevertheless when needs arose they stoutly defended their interests against more powerful neighbors. Loyal to the Crown early in the reformation, the Chief and his followers adopted the Protestant faith. This move greatly influenced future clan policy.

It was a Munro of Foulis who was one of the original commanders of the six independant companies when they were raised in 1725. In 1740 when the companies of the "Black Watch" were formed into the 43rd (and later 42nd) Regiment, Sir Robert Munro, 6th Bart, was appointed Lieutenant Colonel. Sir Robert also published an account of his fortunes with the
MacKay regiment in the Thirty Years War. The clan later supported the Protestant succession to the British Crown against the Catholic Stuarts during the Jacobite Risings of the 18th
Century. This tradition of distinction in military service was to continue throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Munro clan made their mark in other fields. They made a significant early contribution to Scottish traditional arts in the fifteenth century with what is probably the earliest piece of pipe music written for the Pibroch. One piece, entitled 'Bealach na Broige', has been attributed to one of the early Munro family.

The Munros also became known for their prominence in the Scottish clergy. The most notable Munro clergyman was the Rev. Alexander Munro whose parish was at Cape Wrath on the very northwest tip of Scotland. He was not alone in the family in his choice of profession as the Munros boasted two other ministers enrolled as Justices of the Peace in Sutherland and two in Caithness.

The most prestigious position attained by a Munro in politics was achieved when James Monroe became President of the United States of America in the nineteenth century.

Motto:  Dread God.
Arms:  Or, an eagle's head erased Gules.
Crest:  An eagle perching Proper.
Supporters:  (on a compartment embellished with Common Club Moss) Two eagles Proper.
Badge:  A sprig of Common Club Moss slipped Proper.
Plant:  Common Club Moss.

View the Heraldry Dictionary for help.

The country of the Munros lies on the north side of the Cromarty Firth. Known as Ferindonald, from the Gaelic "Fearainn Domhnuill", or "Donald's Land", a reference to the traditional founder of the chiefly family, these lands comprised most of the adjoining parishes of Kiltearn and Alness. The clan occupied the fertile coastal strip alongside the firth, and they spread up the river valleys into the uplands around Ben Wyvis. Beyond the bounds of Ferindonald, the Lairds of Foulis had, by the fourteenth century, acquired lands on the west coast in Loch Broom and northwards in the border between Ross and Sutherland.

Donald, ancestor of the Munros of Foulis is said to have received his lands in Ross-shire as a reward for helping Malcolm II against invaders from Scandinavia. Members of the family are also said to have fallen in the Scots armies at Bannockburn in 1314 and at Halidon Hill. The first chief authenticated by record evidence was killed in defence of the Earl of Ross in 1369. When James I came to Inverness to assert his authority in 1428, he seized many leading Highlanders, and while some were executed or imprisoned, others, including a group of Munros, were pardoned for past offences. The clan does not seem to have been unduly combative, but two minor skirmishes are recorded, although not firmly dated. In one against the Mackenzies at Bealach nam Broid at the back of Ben Wyvis, the chief and many of his family were killed. In the other at Clachnaharry near Inverness, a younger son of the then chief lost his hand fighting against the Mackintoshes.

The chiefs also held public office under the Stewart monarchs, and Sir William Munro was killed in 1505 on the king's business in Wester Ross; his son was the royal lieutenant there ten years later. In 1547 the chief was slain at the Battle of Pinkie with many of his men, resisting an English invasion. Early in her short reign, Mary, Queen of Scots, visited Inverness during her northern progress, and when the castle gates were shut against her by the constable, who was a Gordon, the Munros gave her loyal support. She later spent some time hunting in the neighbourhood. During her son's long minority, Munro of Milntown, and then his chief, Robert Mor Munro, had charge of the Crown lands of Ross and the Black Isle. Munro, as baron of Scotland, had attended the Reformation Parliament of 1560, and his son, Hector, was Dean of Ross in the reformed church before succeeding as chief in 1588.

Jame VI and his advisors were determined to bring the Borders and the Highlands more fully under Crown control, and here they looked to the clan chiefs as their principal instrument. The Laird of Foulis figures in a roll of Highland landlords attached to an Act of Parliament in 1587, and three years later Hector Munro was one of those required to find security for the good behaviour of his tenants and adherents, even those living on other men's lands.

When more peacful times came, military service abroad had its attractions, and many Munros fought under Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in the Thirty Years' War in Germany. Two successive chiefs, Baronet of Nova Scotia.

General Robert Munro commanded the army sent by the Scottish Parliament to Ireland in 1642. A long minority in the chiefship from 1635 to 1651 coincided with the period of civil war. Sir Robert Munro was sheriff of Ross under the Commonwealth and Prtectorate, and had his lands raided and his tenants abused, while his brother, George, later commanded the king's forces in Scotland from 1674 to 1677. The Revolution of 1688, which brought William and Mary to the throne of the deposed James VII, was supported by Sir John Munro of Foulis, a devout presbyterian. Dr. Alexander Munro of the Fyrish branch refused to abandon his allgiance to the Stuart monarchy, and as a consequence lost his offices as principal of Edinburgh University, minister of the High Kirk of St. Giles, and Bishop-elect of Argyll. The clan, however, followed their chief, and thoughout the period of Jacobite unrest from 1689 to 1746, supported the Government.

Events during the Forty-Five had left Foulis Castle a semi-ruin, and the chief, Harry Munro set about a programme of rebuilding after the rising. However, the castle and grounds were again to fall into neglect, but when Sir Hector Munro inherited the estate in 1884 he once more made it a family home. The castle is mentioned in documents from as early as 1491. Sir Hector's grandson, Captain Patrick Munro of Foulis, completed a programme of restoration begun in 1955, and Foulis now stands much as it did when it took its present form over two centuries ago. The present chief is Captain Patrick's son.

Name Variations:  Culloch, Dinguel, Dingvaile, Dingvaille, Dingval, Dingvale, Dingvall, Dingvell, Dingwall, Dingwell, Dungwail, Dyngvale, Dyngwaile, Dyngwale, Faulis, Fawlis, Follis, Foules, Fouleys, Foulis, Foulles, Foulls, Foulys, Fowlis, Fowliss, Fowlls, Gulloch, MacAlach, MacChullach, MacClullich, MacColloch, MacColly, MacCoulach, MacCoulagh, MacCoulaghe, MacCowlach, MacCuley, MacCullach, MacCullagh, MacCullaghe, MacCullaigh, MacCullauch, MacCullie, MacCullo, MacCulloch, MacCullocht, MacCullogh, MacCulloh, MacCullough, MacCully, MacHulagh, MacHullie, MacKculloch, MacKowloch, MacKowloche, MacKulagh, MacKullie, MacKulloch, MacKullouch, MacLulaghe, MacLulaich, MacLulich, MacLulli, MacLullich, MacLullick, MacOloghe, MacOulie, MacOwlache, MacUlagh, MacUlaghe, MacUllie, MacUlloch, Makawllauch, Makcoulach, Makcowllach, Makcowloch, Makcullo, Makculloch, Makcullocht, Makhulagh, Malcowlach, Manro, Monro, Monroe, Monroo, Munro, Munroe, Munroy, Pathillock, Patillo, Patillok, Pattillo, Pattillock, Pattullo, Pattullok, Patullo, Patullow, Pethilloch, Petillok, Pettillo, Pettillok, Pettillow, Pettullock, Petulloch, Petullow, Pitilloche, Pitiloch, Pittilloch, Pittillock, Pittillocke, Pittilluo, Pittulloch, Pitullich, Pyttyllok, Vas, Vase, Vass, Vassie, Vaus, Vauss, Vaux, Vaws, Wais, Was, Wass, Waus, Wause, Wauss, Waux.

One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Neil Grant - 2000.
Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia; George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire - 1994.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Ian Grimble - 1973.
World Tartans; Iain Zaczek - 2001.
Clans and Families of Scotland; Alexander Fulton - 1991.





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