John & Isabela

The story of our Munro family in North America begins with a seaside meeting on a beach, possibly near Inverness, of John Munro and Isabella Gordon McKay.  According to stories handed down in the Pratt family, Isabella was out walking, accompanying her ‘Lady’ and John was recovering from a wound in his chest which he had suffered while serving in the army.  There is family anecdotal evidence to suggest that Isabella may have been an attendant of the Duchess of Gordon at the time. (Notes concerning the Gordon Estate and Sir Hector Munro will download to your compute if you click here. )   From what we can determine, John served as a lieutenant in the Peninsular war.  His father, Captain John Munro must also have fought in the Peninsular War but we have not located Army records for either the father or the son. (>>>)


Apparently John and Isabella were instantly attracted to each other.  However, because of Isabella’s social status their friendship was not accepted by her family.  From information passed down through the Pratts it seems that there was a great deal of family objection  to a marriage between John and Isabella, probably based on class. Speculation suggests that to counter the opposition, John enlisted in the Footguards and spent seven years in his Regiment, the 3rd Highland Regiment, with one posting  in London with the rank of Major.  It was these seven years that entitled him to the land grant on the 7th Concession in Vespra in a tract reserved for vetrans. 0  Possibly it was his new rank of Major that overcame the opposition to his love for Isabella.  John was a carpenter according to later documents that recorded their marriage and the births of their first three children. 

We do not have birth or baptismal records for either John or Isabella. However, by subtracting their ages from their death dates, We know that Isabella was born in 1792 and John in 1793/94.

0 From “Pioneer Papers”, Notes of Barrie’s First Residents by George Sneath, p.29.  Barrie, The Historical Society, 1908.John’s son-in-law, George Sneath wrote accounts of Vespra History.  He noted the information about John’s London period of Army Service.  Unfortunately the Regimental Discharge documents which were kept in a wooden chest have disappeared.  A second wooden chest, the one which John Munro carried in the Peninsular war is in the possession of a Caldwell descendant.  This box has John Munro’s name carved into it and was given to Isabella to keep her bonnets in.  John was a talented wood carver.  It is likely that he made both boxes.  
(see John's handiwork page.)


According to information passed down by their daughter, Christiana [Munro] Sneath, Isabella was born on the Gordon Estate in Inverness.  Her middle name, Gordon, was given to her at the request of the Duchess of Gordon.  9

9This information came from notes made by Jennie Stewart in conversations with her mother, Jane Sneath, Christiana’s daughter.


John was most likely the eldest of his five brothers as the birth record of his brother, Henry, names their father as Captain John Munro.  According to Scottish naming patterns, the first son is named after the father’s father and the second after the mother’s father.  John Henry Munro of Busby, great-grandson of John and Isabela,  has left us a hand-written family tree wherein he says  '. . . believed there were eight brothers in all'.  Aside from John, he names Henry, George and David. 

(See John Henry's family tree page.) 

Henry emigrated to the USA in the 1830s.  George was thought to have emigrated to Bermuda.  We have located records only for Henry.  However, a David Munro was present at the baptism of John and Isabella`s third child, Alexander, and we suspect he remained in Inverness.

Scottish naming patterns suggest that Isabella’s father was named Alexander McKay. 


John Henry Munro of Busby recorded in his family tree that John Munro and Isabella were married in the Gaelic Chapel of Fort George just  outside of Inverness.  The marriage was recorded in the Inverness Parish records.  The date was June 3rd  1823. >>> John Henry also wrote that John`s father, also John Munro, had married Anne Fraser in the same Chapel.


We have Inverness Parish Church records for the baptisms of John and Isabella’s three children:

Son John was baptised March  23, 1824. (click to view) 
Christian [Christiana]  was baptised May 16, 1826.
(click to view)  Alexander was baptised September 23, 1829. (click to view) 

According to information first recorded by her granddaughter Isabel Sneath, Christiana was born at Novar House near Evanton.  


According to memories handed down in both the Pratt family and by Hugh James Munro (Lethbridge), John, their first born son was kidnapped and never recovered.  Heartbroken, the young couple decided to leave Inverness and settle in Canada.

John and Isabella probably sailed to Canada in 1831.  We have not yet located a record of the voyage but two documents place John Munro in York [now Toronto] in August of 1831: 

(Click to view 'Arrival in Canada' page.)

According to Isabel [Stewart] Caldwell,  granddaughter of Christiana Munro, the ship that brought the Munros to Canada sank in the St. Lawrence near Montreal.   Although Robert Pratt related that John's tools were lost in the sinking, he seems to have had tools enough to work on carpentry projects after he got settled.  (See 'John's Handiwork' page.)  As well, Gordon Marshall, son of Chris Stewart, has in his possession a cup and saucer from a set that Isabella Munro brought from Scotland.  As well, in the possession of the Caldwell family is a piece of water stained fabric which survived the sinking—clues that it is likely most of the possessions brought by the Munros were salvaged. No official account of the sinking has been located.



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