Cavalry Officer and Duelist - Captain Alexander Munro
Alexander Thomson Munro was born in Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland on 27 April 1803. He was the son of Lieutenant John Munro, a soldier who greatly distinguished himself during service in India and Mary Thomson Munro. Alexander was later baptised on 16 May.
At a young age Alexander was exposed to army life. Alexander’s father was a magistrate and would regularly give out certificates to old army pensions who would regale young Alexander with stories of the various campaigns and battles they were present at. Alexander’s father also encouragement him to join the army, but he was unable to obtain a commission so he travelled to the East Indies, while still having his friends pursue a commission for him.
After spending a few years in Granada, Alexander returned and obtained a commission as an Ensign in the 78th Regiment of Foot via purchase for £450 on 11 January 1831, and then subsequently as a Cornet and Adjutant in the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards via purchase for £1200 on 18 January 1831. This cavalry regiment was originally raised in 1650 and part of the Household Cavalry which was part of the King’s bodyguard.
Cornet and Adjutant Munro was further commissioned to Lieutenant on 31 May 1833. Harte’s army list records Lieutenant Munro as based in London in 1841.
On 30 June 1843, Lieutenant Munro went to the house of his brother-in-law, Colonel David Lynar Fawcett for tea. Colonel Fawcett, 55th Regiment of Foot, had been born in King’s County, Ireland (Offaly).
During the evening Colonel Fawcett accused Lieutenant Munro of mismanaging his affairs while he was away on service in China. Munro was furious with these accusations and challenged Fawcett to a duel.
The following morning at 5am outside the Brecknock Arms in Camden Town, London, Munro’s fatally shot Fawcett. Colonel Fawcett laid up in Camden Arms Inn where he received medical aid, however despite this he died from his wounds two days later.
After the shooting Munro fled to Belgium. A memorandum appeared in the London Gazette on 19 January 1844 stating that Lieutenant and Adjutant Munro was suspended for being absent without leave.
Munro was eventually tried at the Old Bailey in September 1847, where he was found guilty of the willful murder of his brother-in-law and was sentenced to death, however this was commuted to 12 months’ imprisonment, which he spent in Newgate Prison in relative comfort. He had a lot of support from friends in the military.
After being released from prison, Munro repurchased his commission and took up a posting in Sligo as Barracks Master. In July 1855, Munro was appointed Barracks Master in Boyle, County Roscommon. In July 1863, he was Barracks Master in Richmond Barracks, Templemore, County Tipperary. Additionally, while the dates are unclear, he was also Barracks Master in Quebec, Canada.
Alexander died on 21 June 1867 at Stada Cona Villa, Military Road, Crinkill – just outside Parsonstown, it was possible he was acting as Barracks Master for Birr Barracks. His obituary mentions little about his career. At the time of his death cemeteries in Birr were in a terrible state, so he was interred at Seir Kieran, about 14 kilometers outside of Birr. Almost ironic that he was buried in the home county of his brother-in-law. In Alexander’s will he left £200 pounds and all his effects to his wife Eliza.
The inscription on his now collapsed tombstone reads:
to the memory of
Captain ALEXANDER THOMSON MUNRO
Barracks Master Quebec
and late of the Royal Horse Guards (Blue)
who died on the 21st June 1867
aged 64 years