MONRO, ROBERT [SSNE 179]
- MONRO, MONROE
- First name
- 18th BARON, COLONEL, MONRO OF FOULIS
- FOULIS, KILTEARN, ROSS-SHIRE
- Social status
Robert Monro (d.1633) of Foulis, Scottish laird and Swedish colonel, known as the Black Baron, was born in Scotland, the son of Hector Monro and his wife Anne/Agnes, who was the daughter of Hugh, 5th Lord Fraser of Lovat. Monro was the cousin of the other famous Colonel Robert Monro of Obsdale [SSNE 94] and of John Monro of Obsdale [SSNE 178]. Robert became the 18th chief of Foulis as a minor upon the death of his father in 1603 and served heir to him in May 1606. Complaints were soon made in Monro's name to the Privy Council of Scotland as in 1607 a key player in Easter Ross, George Ross of Balnagown, was brought to charge for not abiding by a contract signed by Monro's father concerning fishing rights. This was only the first of many dealings between Monro and the Privy Council in Edinburgh, and indeed Monro's behaviour so disturbed two Stuart kings that they both ordered the Council to summon Monro to answer charges. In 1608, his cousin, John Munro of Obsdale, probably acted as Robert’s second tutor. During King James VI and I's attempts to control his independent subjects in the Highlands and Islands, Monro's name was always amongst the Northern lairds noted by the Council to be under pain of caution from 1609 to 1610 if they harboured any known thieves on their lands.
Monro was equally noted as liable for the apprehension of two Highland outlaws for murder in 1614. Between these two events Monro married his first wife, Margaret Sutherland, the daughter of William Sutherland of Duffus, for whom the marriage contract was dated 24 November 1610. However, Margaret died in childbirth in or about January 1616. Shortly after this, Monro travelled south and married Mary Haynes in England around 1618. Within a year he had used up her fortune of £3600 and the couple soon headed for Scotland. En route, however, Monro convinced Haynes to stay behind in Newcastle and promptly abandoned her there to her fate. Despite her desperate attempts to find him she met with silence in Edinburgh and returned to England to give birth to their child, a daughter called Elisabeth. Monro soon met and married another woman, Marjorie or Marion McIntosh, daughter of the laird of Dunachton. Robert fell into indebtedness reputedly contracted during his spendthrift lifestyle while travelling in France. In financial difficulties, Monro disposed of some lands and in 1617 resigned the lands and barony of Foulis reserving the superiority to Simon, the 24th Lord Fraser of Lovat who received a Crown charter for the lands in January 1618. This obviously did not sit well with Monro who was again brought up in the Privy Council meetings. Simon lodged a complaint with the Council against Monro in 1619 for taking armed accomplices and entering his castle by force and taking possession of it. The Council's decision was to denounce Monro as a rebel if he did not henceforth leave the property, and as no further reference was made to the matter, it would seem he complied with the demands. There is no news of Monro between 1619 and 1624, although he became a guild burgess of Aberdeen in August 1619, and in 1623 his brother was appointed one of the Justices of the Peace for Inverness and Cromarty. Monro was again involved in duties to apprehend an outlaw the following year, just as his major troubles with the Council were to begin.
King James VI and I commanded that Monro be called before the Council to be tried for charges of bigamy against Mary Haynes in May 1624. A month later the Council recorded the king's letter and noted that Monro would be summonsed. However nothing seems to have resulted from this as Haynes herself petitioned the Council for financial relief in November 1625 at which point the whole story of Monro's behaviour emerged. Haynes believed that Monro was living with Marjorie McIntosh on the income of his estate, which was worth £900 Sterling per annum, and she sought a share of this money. Again no action appears to have been taken, and half a year later the Council informed George, Lord Gordon, that he was to apprehend Monro who had been put to the horn at the King's command. Shortly after this Monro was again registered as engaged to apprehend another outlaw. In an attempt to escape his predicament Monro tried to join the Scottish recruits being levied for Danish service in June. However, the Council wrote to Colonel Lord Donald Mackay [SSNE 93] and warned him not to take Monro into his company which was about to be transported abroad. Monro must have realised his impossible situation and surrendered to the Council. He obtained a month-long respite from his horning in order to meet with Haynes in Edinburgh and resolve the issue. Monro again was charged to apprehend a number of men accused of stealing cattle, butter and cheese from Hector Monro of Balconie. He must have made his escape from Edinburgh as on 29 July 1626 Lord Gordon was once again ordered to apprehend Monro. Haynes resorted to royal intercession a second time. On 3 March 1627 Charles I informed the Scottish Privy Council that although Haynes had obtained the right to life-rent and escheat from Monro, as an English national she had no recourse to Scottish laws and therefore all obstacles for her compensation were to be removed. The king further instructed the Privy Council that the money be immediately delivered to her from Monro’s escheat. However, with his Danish service, Foulis was able to gain the assistance of the Danish king to recommend him to King Charles. As a result, in January 1628, and with Monro’s case pending before the Court of Session, King Charles notified the Scottish Chancellor to enable and encourage further mediation in this case. No further news of this affair appears in the Council records, indicating that a settlement was reached either in court or by mediation. Monro soon escaped to the continent by levying a company in 1628, although he had to cede his commission to John Beaton that year. Monro left as a volunteer in the regiment of Donald Mackay [SSNE 93] presumably on 10 October 1628. Monro then entered the service of the Swedish Crown as the colonel of a Dutch regiment, and is noted as commanding two regiments, one of horse and the other of infantry. Monro's regiment was engaged in the vanguard at the battle of Breitenfeld near Leipzig in 1631, along with Sir James Ramsay's [SSNE 3315] forces. His troops also served at Nuremberg and became part of the largely Scottish Green Brigade. In the battle at the Alte Veste near Nuremberg on 3 September 1632 he led 4 companies with 350 Germans in the Green Brigade. His troops – only 280 men after that battle – garrisoned Nuremberg until 18 November 1632. Soon after this Monro was shot in the foot during the disputed crossing of the Danube and died of fever at Ulm in April 1633. On his death the barony of Foulis passed to Monro's brother Hector.
Extracts from the Council Registers of the Burgh of Aberdeen, 1570-1625 (Aberdeen, 1848), II, p.362; J. Mackay, 'Mackay's Regiment' in Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, VIII, 1879, p.187; R. Monro, His Expedition with a worthy Scots Regiment called Mac-Keyes (London, 1637), I, pp. 1, 3, 36 and 82, II, list 1; Swedish Riksarkiv, P. Sondén, Militärachefer I svenska arméen och deras skrivelser; Swedish Krigsarkiv, Muster Roll, 1629/14,16,18,20; 1630/22-28; G. Lind, Danish Data Archive 1573; Dictionary of National Biography; T. Riis, Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot (Odense, 1988), II, p.126; C. T. Macinnes, ed., The Calendar Writs of Munro of Fowlis, 1299-1823 (Edinburgh, 1940), pp.57-9; Peter ENGERISSER, Von Kronach nach Nördlingen. Der Dreißigjährige Krieg in Franken, Schwaben und der Oberpfalz 1631-1635 (Weißenstadt 2007 - second edition), pp. 127, 639, 642. Thanks to Dr Bernd Warlich for this reference.
See also The Earl of Stirling’s Register of Royal Letters, Relative to the Affairs of Scotland and Nova Scotia from 1615 to 1635, ed. C. Rogers, 2 vols. (Edinburgh, 1885) I, pp. 133, 243; The Munro Tree: A Genealogy and Chronology of the Munros of Foulis and Other Families of the Clan, ed. R. W. Munro (Edinburgh, 1978). Sir Robert Gordon, A Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland (Edinburgh, 1813), p. 402; A. Ross, Ross-shire Past and Present: Ecclesiastical, Antiquarian, and Traditional Notes (Invergordon, 1887?), p. 214.
Thanks to Dr Thomas Brochard for updating this entry/