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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
Robert Frater Munro


ON the north side of the Firth of Crornarty the Munros had their dwelling place for a thousand years. Other clans came and went and changed their names, but the Munros grew and blossomed. They remained Royalists, and whatsoever King reigned, the Munros held their own. Several branches spread their possessions, but Munro of Foulis was always looked upon as the head of the clan. They fought under Alexander III at Largs, and under Bruce at Bannockburn, and had charters from both of these warrior kings. One chief was killed at the battle of Pinkie. Another commanded two regiments under Gustavus Adolphus; he was killed in battle in 1638. There were at that time twenty-seven field officers and eleven captains of the name of Munro in the Swedish army. The size of the clan may be estimated from the fact that at the funeral of Lord Lovat, a relative of the chief, the Munros mustered 1,000 strong, the MacKenzies 900, the Grants 800, the Rosses 1,000 and the Frasers. 1,000, all in arms—a singular gathering.

In modern times they have been marked men of surpassing intelligence in almost every walk of life, adventurous, always among the foremost in arms, in arts, in law, in literature and in science. The subject of our sketch, Robert Frater Munro, inherits many of the qualities of his distinguished ancestors. His father was a descendant of a family which had been settled in Sutherlandshire for more than three hundred years. Both his father and mother were born in that shire and were married there. Mr. Munro received his education and early business training in Inverness; he later went to London and became a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and practised his profession in London for nine years. The training Mr. Munro received as a Chartered Accountant in England became invaluable to him in his subsequent career in this country, especially that part of it which comprised the administration of Industrial Companies while carrying on the business for the Creditors as Receiver and Manager under the supervision of the Court.

Large railroad interests in the West and Southwest of the United States were controlled by London capitalists, and Mr. Munro was sent out by them to reorganize their financial system, which he did with a thoroughness which left nothing to be desired; this was in 1882. After several years of the best service, Mr. Munro came to New York. At this time the Cotton Seed Oil Trust was being organized, and Mr. Munro ‘s knowledge of the South, gained as a railroad official, together with his grasp of financial affairs, eminently fitted him for the work of formation and later of organization of the manufacturing and commercial part of the business. He is now President of The American Cotton Oil Company, which is one of the largest and most successful mercantile organizations in America.

As may be readily imagined, Mr. Munro ‘s wide experience among men of affairs has made him cosmopolitan in the highest and best sense. Of an engaging manner and fine presence, he is the ideal gentleman, and in spite of his long absence from Scotland, he retains the enthusiasm of his youth for all that pertains to the grand old land. He has been among the leading officers of Scottish Societies wherever he has lived. Among these may be mentioned the Celtic Society of London, the Inverness Society of London, the Royal Caledonian Asylum of London, the Caledonian Society of Cincinnati, Ohio, the Burns Society of New York, and the St. Andrew’s Society of the State of New York. He was twice elected President of the latter Society, in 1907 and 1908. He is a delightful presiding officer and gifted with that peculiar Scottish humour which flashes out unexpectedly, and adds brilliancy to his fine diction.

Mr. Munro married Miss A. Nada Swasey, daughter of the late Mr. John B. Swasey. of Boston, Mass., and has one son, William Frater Munro.


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