Monro, Robert (d.1680?) (DNB00)
|←Monro, Robert (d.1633)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 38
Monro, Robert (d.1680?)
|Monro, Robert (d.1746)→|
MONRO or MUNRO, ROBERT (d. 1680?), general, was of the family of Foulis Castle in Ross-shire, and followed his cousin, Robert Monro of Foulis, the 'Black Baron' [q. v.], the then head of the house, to the continental war. Thither also went his nephew, Sir George Monro [q. v.] The nature of his service there may be gathered from the title-page of the narrative which he published in London in 1637: 'Expedition with the worthy Scots Regiment called Mackey's Regiment, levied in August 1626 … for His Majesty's service of Denmark and reduced after the Battle of Nerling [Nordlingen] to one company in September 1634 at Worms … afterwards under the invincible King of Sweden … and since under the Director-general, the Rex-chancellor Oxenstiern and his Generals.' Munro served thus for seven years, beginning as lieutenant and ending as colonel. His first service was in Holstein, in 1627, and he notices that 'the Danish king was of absolute authority in his kingdom, as all Christian kings ought to be.' Denmark made a separate peace in 1627, and Munro, with his fourteen hundred Scottish comrades, transferred his allegiance to Gustavus Adolphus, whom, like Dugald Dalgetty, he is fond of calling 'the lion of the North.' In the Swedish king's service there were at one time, it is said, not less than three generals, eight colonels, five lieutenant-colonels, eleven majors, and above thirty captains, all of the name of Munro, besides a great number of subalterns (cf. Anderson, Scottish Nation, iii. 215). He visited Sweden in 1630, missed the battle of Lützen (16 Nov. 1632), and continued in the service after that fatal day. He was in Scotland recruiting in 1634, but returned to the continent. From a letter preserved at Dunrobin it appears that he was at Hamburg in October 1636 (Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. p. 178).
When the troubles began between Charles I and the Scots, Munro sided with his own countrymen, and was soon employed. In June 1639 he commanded a division of the army which repulsed Holland from Kelso (Baillie, i. 210). At the end of May 1640 he was sent with about eight hundred men to Aberdeen, where he acted with severity. Spalding, who is full of lamentations, particularly mentions that 'he caused set up between the crosses ane timber mare, whereupon runagate knaves and runaway soldiers should ride. Uncouth to see sic discipline in Aberdeen,.and more painful to the trespasser to suffer.' His troops were ill-paid, but he maintained order, and even killed a mutineer with his own hand. In September, much to Spalding's disgust, he and his officers were made burgesses of Aberdeen, and soon afterwards they marched to Edinburgh. On the breaking out of the Irish rebellion the Scots estates offered ten thousand men with three thousand stand of arms to the English parliament. The offer was accepted, and the command given to Alexander Leslie [q. v.], with Munro as his second, but only about four thousand really landed in Ireland. Leslie did not go over until some time after his vanguard, and then only for a short visit, so that the leadership of the new Scotch, as they were called, really devolved upon Munro, who was called major-general.
Munro was wind-bound for a month on the Ayrshire coast and in Arran, but reached Carrickfergus on 15 April 1642 with about 2,500 men. Lord Conway and Colonel Chichester retired to Belfast, but acknowledged him as their general, and he was soon in command of 3,500 men. On 30 April, having dispersed Lord Iveagh's forces near Moira, he attacked Newry, plundered the town, and put all in the castle to the sword. Several women were killed by the soldiers, some of whom were punished by the general, but little quarter was given anywhere during the war (Pike; Turner). A week later Munro tried to surprise Sir Phelim O'Neill [q. v.] near Armugh, but the latter burned the town and retired to Charlemont. Munro withdrew to Carrickfergus, where he lay inactive for some time, losing many men by Irish ague, and complaining that he could not get provisions (Letter to Leslie in Contemp. History, i. 419). No help could be given to the garrison of Londonderry, who were threatened by Sir Phelim, but early in June Munro was strong enough to capture Randal Macdonnell, second earl of Antrim [q. v.] at Dunluce. The earl attempted to stand neuter, with the usual result, but there were eight hundred MacDonnells in arms on the Irish side, and Munro was probably justified in making him a prisoner. He escaped by a stratagem some months later (War of Ireland, p. 25; Baillie, ii. 73), but his castles were garrisoned by Argyll's regiment, which might be trusted to keep MacDonnell strongholds safely. Munro failed to take Charlemont, and the Irish were strengthened by the arrival of Owen Roe O'Neill [q. v.], who landed in Lough Swilly at the end of July. During the autumn and winter Munro was inactive, but in the early spring of 1643 he relieved Sir John Clotworthy's men, who were hard pressed at Mountjoy on Lough Neagh. In May Munro took the field with about two thousand men, and gained some rather dubious advantage over Owen Roe at Loughgall, near Charlemont. Turner, who was present, adversely criticises his arrangements, and Colonel O'Neill says his horse were broken, and that he had to alight, crying 'Fay, fay, run away from a wheen rebels' (Des. Cur. p. 490). A less doubtful success was the recapture of Antrim, who had just landed with important letters. Ormonde's cessation [see Butler, James] of arms with the Irish confederates was not acknowledged by Munro, for his masters in Scotland were no parties to it, but the want of supplies prevented him from doing anything. The answer to this cessation was the solemn league and covenant, and in November Owen O'ConnolIy was chosen by the English parliament as their emissary to Ulster, while Lord Leven was made commander over the English as well as the Scottish forces there, and authorised to name Munro as his substitute. This new commission arrived in April 1644, but many officers would have preferred to remain under Ormonde's orders, and among them was Colonel Chichester at Belfast. On 14 May Munro surprised that town. Between Scottish, English, and Ulster protestants he could now take the field with six thousand or seven thousand effective men (War of Ireland, p. 38). Dundalk and Newry were held for Ormonde, and Munro was repulsed from the latter place. He was then on his return from a raid into the Pale, and his movements from 27 June to 15 July are detailed in a contemporary pamphlet (London, 27 Aug. 1644). In August and September he had to defend his own province against Castlehaven, who was baffled in the end by disease and famine, and perhaps by Owen Roe's jealousy (ib. p. 41; Castlehaven, p. 53). During 1645 there was no fighting, but much plundering and burning by Munro's orders. His plots to obtain possession of Drogheda and Dundalk were unsuccessful (Carte). His force was weakened by the withdrawal of troops to face Montrose in Scotland, but he managed to avoid going himself. Rinuccini reached Ireland in October, and added a fresh element to the general confusion. Owen Roe got a substantial part of the papal subsidy, and with its help raised his force to its greatest strength. On 5 June 1646 he routed Munro at Benburb, the latter flying to Lisburn without coat or wig. Five contemporary accounts of this battle are printed by Mr. Gilbert (Contemp. Hist. i. 676). A covenanter confesses that this disaster was something of a judgment on the Scottish army, many of the soldiers being 'prodigiously profane and wicked in their lives,' and pitiless plunderers of the poor country (Reid, ii. 30). O'Neill marched southward at Rinuccini's call, thus losing the fruits of his victory, and Munro was left unmolested at Carrickfergus.
It soon appeared that Ormonde had no alternative but to leave the protestants of Ireland at the mercy of O'Neill and the nuncio, or to place them under the protection of the English parliament. After long negotiations Dublin was occupied by the parliamentary forces in June 1647. On 16 March an ordinance had been passed that the Scottish army should be paid and should leave Ireland; but they never received their arrears, and in the meantime refused to surrender Carrickfergus or Belfast. Munro thought it prudent to write to the neighbouring clergy disclaiming any sympathy with the English sectaries (Letter in Reid, ii. 56). The British regiments, as they were called—that is, the English and Ulster protestants—were placed under Monck's command, and Munro's importance was thus greatly diminished. The Scots had not been recruited since Benburb, and were reduced to a 'remnant of six regiments' (War of Ireland, p. 65). In May 1648 the Hamilton party in Scotland invited Munro to join their engagement against 'the sectaries and their adherents in England' (Documents in Reid, ii. 544), and he lent a favouring ear to their proposals. Monck thereupon received positive orders from the parliament to seize Belfast and to let no one land from Scotland (Letter in Benn, p. 122). He straightway came to an understanding with some discontented officers, and on the night of 12 Sept. the north gate of Carrickfergus was thrown open to him (Reid, ii. 76). Munro was seized in his bed and shipped for England, and Belfast surrendered immediately afterwards (Benn, p. 123). The vessel which took awayMunro had lain for a fortnight in the lough, which made many think that he connived at his own arrest and that he was well paid; but his long imprisonment seems to refute this. 500l. was voted to Monck, and Munro, on his arrival, was committed to the Fleet 'for joining with the enemy in Scotland and perfidiously breaking the trust reposed in him' (Whitelocke, 9, Oct. 1648).
Munro was transferred to the Tower, where he remained about five years, during which he is said to have been often consulted by Cromwell. While in Ireland he had married Lady Jean Alexander, daughter of the first Earl of Stirling and widow of the second Viscount Montgomery of Ardes. He acquired lands through his wife, and there was every disposition to deal harshly with him until Cromwell interfered in his favour in 1654. He was allowed to return to Ireland, lived on the Montgomery estate near Comber, co. Down (Benn, p. 138), and was pall-bearer at the funeral of his wife's son, Hugh Montgomery, earl of Mount Alexander, at Newtownards in October 1663 (Hill, p. 252; see art. Montgomery, Hugh, d. 1672). Henry Cromwell had allowed the earl, although a royalist, to live in peace along with his mother, grandmother, brother, and sister, and 'honest, kind Major-general Munro, fitter than the other four to converse with his melancholy' (ib. p. 213). Lady Montgomery died in 1670, but Munro survived her for ten years or more, and continued to live in co. Down. Munro shares with Sir James Turner, who accuses him of wanting military forethought and of despising his enemy, the honour of furnishing a model for the immortal picture of Dugald Dalgetty in 'The Legend of Montrose.'
[Montgomery MSS. ed. Hill; Roger Pike's Relation in Ulster Journals of Archæology, viii. 7; John Spalding's Memorials of the Troubles in Scotland and England (Spalding Club ed.); Scott's Preface to his Legend of Montrose; Sir James Turner's Memoirs; Burton's Hist. of Scotland, chap. lxxiii., and his Scot Abroad, vol. ii. chap. ii.; Contemp. Hist. of Affairs in Ireland, ed. Gilbert; Reid's Hist. of Presbyterian Church in Ireland, ed. Killen; Hist. of War in Ireland, by a British officer in Sir John Clotworthy's Regiment; Benn's Hist. of Belfast; Rinuccini's Embassy in Ireland, English transl.; Robert Baillie's Letters; Carte's Ormonde; Colonel O'Neill's narrative in Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica, vol. ii.; Whitelocke's Memorials; Castlehaven's Memoirs, ed. 1815.]