Monro, Donald (fl.1550) (DNB00)

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MONRO, DONALD (fl. 1550), known as 'High Dean of the Isles,' first appears on record as parson of Kiltearn, in the presbytery of Dingwall, Ross-shire. On 26 June 1563 he was appointed by the general assembly of the kirk commissioner 'within the bounds of Ross, to assist the Bishop of Caithness in preaching of the Gospell and planting of kirkis' (Calderwood, ii. 224), at a salary of four hundred merks for one year. On 27 Dec, following a complaint was made in the assembly that he 'was not so apt to teache as his charge required' (ib. p. 245). Six members of the assembly were appointed 'to trie his gifts,' and to report. His ignorance of Gaelic seems to have been his chief fault, for on 5 July 1570 it was objected that 'he was not prompt in the Scottish tongue.' His commission was, however, renewed in August 1573 (ib. p. 275). Tradition says that when at Kiltearn he lived in Castle Craig, and crossed the Firth to his duties. About 1574 he was translated to the neighbouring parish of Lymlair, with a stipend of 66l. 13s. 4d. Scots, and kirk-land. His title, 'High Dean of the Isles,' may have had some pre-reformation significance, but was more probably one of those titles of courtesy satirised by Sir David Lyndsay in his 'Monarchic ' (bk. iii. 1290, &c.)

He made a systematic tour through the western islands of Scotland in 1549, of which he has left an interesting account. George Buchanan made use of it for the geographical portion of his ' History of Scotland,' and acknowledged his indebtedness (Works, folio edit. 1715, pp. 13, 18). Monro also wrote a small book, entitled 'The Genealogies of the Cheiff Clans of the Isles.' Both works were printed at Edinburgh, 1773-4, with the common title, 'Description of the Western Isles of Scotland, called Hybrides. With his Genealogies of the Chief Clans of the Isles. Now first published from the Manuscript.' Another edition appeared at Edinburgh in 1805, and in 1818 the account was included in the second volume of 'Miscellanea Scotica.' Two manuscript copies of his works are preserved in the Advocates' Library.

[Calderwood's History of the Kirk (Wodrow Soc. edit.); Miscellany of the Wodrow Society; i. 335; Hew Scott's Fasti Ecclesise Scoticanse, pt. v. pp. 299, 302, 455.]

G. G. S.