Clan Munro (Association) Australia

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Clan Munro History continued

Our early beginnings are in doubt. As we have said, by tradition, the Munros came from Ireland in the 11th century. But there are other proposals and some, such as that expressed by the Earl of Cromartie (see below) aver that our clan’s origins are in Alba. The only thing that is certain is that none of the proposals can prove that the Munros came from Ireland in the 11th century.


An American researcher, Mr Malcolm Hamilton, believes that they did come from Ireland but at a much later date - in the 14th century. His research also throws doubt on the authenticity of our early Munro Chiefs and in this he is in agreement with the Munro genealogist and historian, the late RW Munro (see below). Malcolm’s research is not yet complete but when it is published and we will bring you more information.


Another view is expressed by the Earl of Cromartie in his book “A Highland History.” In it he says that a map drawn by Ptolemy gives names to thirteen great tribes of Alba. We will not name them all here but he says that one of the tribes was the Kanteai who lived in Ross and Moray. Cromartie says “that from them came the Siol O’Cain which branched into Clan Munro in Ross, MacMillans and according to Skene, Clans Chattan and others south of the Moray Firth.”


The late RW Munro, the Clan Munro genealogist, in editing the Munro Tree 1734, says when discussing the original Munro Tree:

“There are four main grounds for objection, which can be briefly stated

•     Such precise dates as are given in the MS must obviously be suspect at such an early period in the absence of any supporting documents

•     the alleged occurrence of the surname Munro in the time of Macbeth (c. 1040) is impossible, as surnames were not used in Scotland until several

         centuries later, and the earliest forms were normally descriptive or patronymical

•     the Macdonald marriage, in the form stated, is chronologically impossible, although it may have some genuine traditional basis

•     and the appearance of the Christian name George at least 300 years before any other surviving record of its use in Scotland (or so it appears), and long

         before it took root even in England is clearly improbable."


“These first ten generations, therefore, with all their names and dates and other attendant details, should not be taken too seriously, and can certainly not be regarded as established fact or even as genuine local tradition. It seems to be not at all unlikely, as has been suggested that the traditional founder, Donald, has been placed earlier than he should be in time, and that the gap between him and the recorded chiefs (which may in fact have been no more than a generation or two) has been filled in perhaps more or less at random from scraps of undated oral tradition, with appropriate details supplied by conjecture if not by deliberate invention."


“Highland memories are long, and Highland pedigrees are mostly even longer: in 1723 a native writer on Scottish surnames, William Buchanan of Auchmar, remarked on 'the fondness of people's having the origin of their most famous men screwed up to as great a pitch of antiquity as possible, yea, sometimes above measure'."


"Documented history gives us a respectable antiquity without any need to embellish it - our neighbours the Rosses were not associated with Balnagown until the 14th century, nor were the Mackenzies of Kintail on record before the mid 15th century.”


“From 1369 onwards the Munro genealogy can be fully supported by contemporary evidence, as illustrated in the notes, and as much of that evidence is based on land-holding it will be well to see what is known from various sources about the Munro lands of Ferindonald and the ancient barony of Foulis.”

There are other proposals about Clan Munro history. If you have a version or would like to comment, why not tell us about it by email.