John Munro


One-time Albany resident John Munro (Monroe) is said to have been born in the Highlands of Scotland in 1728 and to have been the son of Hugh and Catherine (or Christina) Gordon Munro. We seek to account for his life prior to emigrating to New York. However, this sketch must focus on this well-known character's Albany-related life.

He is said to have come to America as a sergeant with the 48th Regiment of the British army in 1756. wartime service in-progress He is said to have retired from military service in 1763.

His first wife was said to have been Helena Gless (or Simpson). A daughter was christened at St. Peter's in Albany in June 1759. In April 1760, he married a somewhat younger Mary Brouwer at the Dutch church in Schenectady. The marriage produced at least six children. During the early 1760s, he was among the founders and was an elder of the Albany Presbyterian church. His last son was said to have been born in Montreal in 1781.

He does not appear to have been closely related to fellow Scot and St. Peter's rector Harry Munro.

In August 1763, he was named in the will filed by his father-in-law. At that time, he was called an "Albany merchant."

In October 1763, he petitioned for and received land in the southwestern part of the city. In 1767, his third ward house and property received a substantial assessment. He also owned substantial acreage in the eastern part of Albany County. By the mid-1770s, he had relocated his family to his lands in the Hoosick Valley where his estate produced farm and forest products while he fashioned cut nails as well. The Hosack assessment roll for 1779 valued his property.

Munro actively pursued potentially lucrative governmental preferment. In 1770, Wlliam Johnson recommended him to be a judge/magistrate in Albany County. In September 1771, he petitioned the provincial governor to be appointed sheriff of Albany County. At that time, he stated that he had been an inhabitant of the city of Albany for the past fifteen years and a justice of the peace for the past four.

In March 1773, he was in Scotland when he wrote to Johnson on a number of business topics.

By August 1775, he was back in New York where the Albany revolutionaries identified this Scot as a British supporter and a captain in the "King's Royal Regiment" of New York. He was accused of making threatening statements and was expected to join the British army in Canada. In September, he and his wife were incarcerated, his papers were examined, and they were temporarily released on parole.

By July 1776, he again was in the "Tory jail" in Albany, was called a "dangerous enemy," and was subjected to further restrictions of his freedom. He was among those who would be ordered relocated to Connecticut. However, in August 1777, he was sent to confinement in Kingston. At that time he was identified as a "spirited Scotchman living near Bennington and as a former justice of the peace who was to serve as a brigade major in British service."

But, by July 1778, he was in Canada and communicating by mail with his wife who was living in Hoosick.

In October 1780, he was said to have been in command of 400 regulars and Indians from Canada who pillaged Ballston and took captives. At that time, he was called "Major Munro" and was identified as a "Tory from Schenectady."

In 1781, he is said to have been serving in Montreal and involved with housing and with refugees.

In 1790, perhaps it was his household that was configured on the census for Hoosick.

At some time, these Munros settled in Ontario where John and his son became prominent residents.

John Munro filed a will in April 1800 at the surrogate's court of Cornwall, Ontario. It bequeathed a "miniature of himself" to his son Hugh. He died in Morrisburg, Ontario in October. John Munro had lived seventy-two years. His widow lived in Canada until her passing in 1815.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of John Munro is CAP biography number 1526. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. Wikipedia biography. Bio from Burning of the Valleys. And in DCB.
      From Loyalist Trails (2014 #40): Captain John Munro and his wife Helen Simpson left their home in Tullochue, Scotland in 1756 to settle in Albany, New York. Within four years, Munro was a merchant, owned a house facing the Anglican church, and had become a widower. He married Maria Brouwer, a local woman, was made an elder of the First Presbyterian Church and became a justice of the peace.
          With the outbreak of the American Revolution, Sir Guy Carleton made Munro the commander of a company of the King's Royal Regiment of New York (the Royal Greens). One of Munro's sons, Hugh, served alongside his father for six years. During the course of the revolution, patriots seized Munro's considerable land holdings in Schenectady.
          The only record of Munro's exploits during the war is found in Pearson's First Settlers of Schenectady which notes "On the 16th of October, 1780. a party of 400 Regulars and Indians from Canada, under Major Munro . . . made their appearance in the Ballston settlement. They designed to attack Schenectady, but returned without effecting their object. They pillaged several houses and took twenty-four prisoners."
          In 1777, Munro was captured near Ticonderoga and condemned to death. However, instead of being hanged, he was a prisoner for eighteen months. By April 9, 1785, Munro was making a claim for compensation for his wartime losses. He testified that in order to get to London he had mortgaged his half-pay as an officer, leaving his wife and eight children in Canada without support. The crown awarded him 40 to cover his travel expenses, but said that his half-pay must be regarded as sufficient compensation for his services and losses.

first posted 4/20/10; lst updated 10/9/14