Monro, Robert (d.1746) (DNB00)

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MONRO or MUNRO, Sir ROBERT, twenty-seventh Baron and sixth Baronet of Foulis (d. 1746), was the eldest son of Sir Robert, fifth baronet, high sheriff of Ross, by his wife Jean, daughter of John Forbes [q. v.] of Culloden. Sir George Monro [q. v.] was his granduncle. He entered the army at an early age and served with distinction in Flanders, obtaining, before the cessation of the war in 1712, the rank of captain in the Royal Scots. During the war he made the acquaintance of Colonel James Gardiner [q. v.], with whose subsequent religious views his own closely coincided. He entered parliament for Wick in 1710, and suffered a reduction of military rank for his lack of subservience to the tory ministers. He continued to represent the same burgh until 1741. On the outbreak of the rebellion in 1715, Munro, with three hundred of his clan, assisted the Earl of Sutherland in detaining the Earl of Seaforth, with three thousand men, in Caithness, and preventing him from reinforcing the rebels under Mar at Perth until sufficient forces had been gathered under the Duke of Argyll to check Mar's progress southwards by Stirling. The rendezvous of Sutherland's men was at Alves, in the country of the Munros, and Seaforth resolved to attack him there; but Sutherland retired slowly northwards into his own country, whereupon Seaforth ravaged all the country of the Munros (Lord Lovat's ' Account of the Taking of Inverness ' in Patten, Hist. of the Rebellion, 2nd ed. pt. ii. p. 144). On the capture of Inverness (13 Nov.), Munro, with his clan, was left to garrison it (ib. p. 154). On the retreat of Seaforth northwards, after the flight of the Pretender and the dispersal of his forces, Munro joined the Earl of Sutherland at Beauly in order to give him battle, being specially desirous to avenge the devastation of his lands; but Seaforth deemed it advisable to capitulate (ib. p. 157). In 1716 Munro was appointed one of the commission of inquiry into the forfeited estates of the highland chiefs, and it was chiefly at his instance that various new parishes were erected and endowed through the highlands out of the proceeds of the sale of confiscated lands. From the termination of the commission in 1724 Munro, with the exception of representing Wick in parliament, held no office of public trust until in 1739 he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the new highland regiment, then known as the 43rd, or Black Watch, afterwards famed as the 42nd, formed out of the independent highland companies. The colonel of the regiment was the Earl of Crawford, but as he was abroad, the organisation and training of the regiment were deputed to Munro, who devoted sixteen months to this object, the regiment being quartered on the banks of the Tay and Lyon. The regiment remained in Scotland until March 1743, when it proceeded south to London, on the way to Flanders. A rumour reached the men that they were about to be sent to the plantations, and a large number, after the regiment arrived in London, endeavoured to make their way back to the highlands. After they had been brought back and three of them shot as deserters, the regiment embarked for Flanders towards the end of May, but was not engaged in active service till the arrival of the Duke of Cumberland in April 1745, when an attempt was made to raise the siege of Tournay. The regiment greatly distinguished itself in various skirmishes previous to the battle of Fontenoy on 11 May. On the day of the battle, Munro ' obtained leave of the Duke of Cumberland to allow them to fight in their own way.' Accordingly they were ordered to ' clap to the ground ' on receiving the French fire, and instantly after it they sprang up, before the enemy could reload, and, rushing in upon them, poured in their shot with such effect as to drive them into confusion. This manœuvre was repeated by them on several occasions with similar effect (account by Philip Dodridge in Appendix to the Life of Colonel Gardiner). Munro himself, being old and corpulent, was unable to ' clap to the ground ' with his men, but although he alone of the regiment remained erect, with the colours behind him, he escaped scatheless. In the charges he showed equal activity with his men, and when in the trenches was pulled out by them by the legs and arms (ib.) The regiment's peculiar mode of fighting attracted the special notice of the French. 'The highland fiends,' wrote a French eye-witness, ' rushed in upon us with more violence than ever did a sea driven by a tempest ' (account of the battle, published at Paris, 26 May 1745, in Stewart, Highlanders, i. 283). The valour and determination shown by the regiment led the Duke of Cumberland to choose it, along with the 19th, to cover the retreat, which was done with perfect steadiness. In acknowledgment of his services Munro was in June promoted to the command of the 37th regiment, previously held by General Ponsonby, who was slain at Fontenoy.

On the outbreak of the rebellion in 1745, Munro's regiment was ordered to Scotland, and at the battle of Falkirk, 17 Jan. 1746, formed part of the left wing. When the regiment gave way before the charging clans, Munro alone held his ground. Although simultaneously attacked by six men of Lochiel's clan, he gallantly defended himself, killing two of them, but a seventh coming up shot him in the groin with a pistol, whereupon he fell forward, and was at once struck to the ground and killed on the spot. His brother, Dr. Robert Munro, who had come to his assistance, was killed about the same time. Next day their bodies were discovered by some of the Macdonalds, and buried in the churchyard of Falkirk, all the chiefs of the rebel clans attending the funeral. The right hand of Munro after death still clutched the pommel of the sword, from which the blade was broken off. By his wife Mary, daughter of Henry Seymour of Woodlands, he had three sons : Robert, who died young; Harry, who succeeded him; and George, an officer in the royal navy, who died in 1743.

[Account of the Munros of Foulis in Appendix to Doddridge's Life of Colonel Gardiner; Stewart's Highlanders of Scotland ; Cannon's Records of the British Army ; Patten's History of the Rebellion ; Culloden Papers; Douglas's Baronage of Scotland; Foster's Baronetage.]

T. F. H.