Harry Munro
Stefan Bielinski

Henry/Harry Munro was born in the Highlands of Scotland in 1730. He was the son of Physician Robert Munro and his wife, Anne Munro - the daughter of Scottish nobleman John Munro. Following the death of his parents, sixteen-year-old Henry or Harry enrolled at the University of Edinburgh where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees. He then studied divinity and was ordained in the church of Scotland in 1757.

Munro came to America during the Seven Years War as the chaplain of the 77th Highlander Regiment. After landing in Charleston, South Carolina, the regiment went to Philadelphia in 1758 and later served at Fort Dusquene. In 1759, he served at Crown Point and Ticonderoga. Later, he accompanied the regiment to Canada and the West Indies. He returned to New York in 1762 ready for a civillian assignment.

Harry Munro married three times. His first wife, the widow of a regimental officer, died in 1760 leaving him with an infant daughter. About 1763, he married a "Miss Stockton" from Princeton, New Jersey and built a house there. She died a year later after bearing him a son. In 1766, he married thirty-eight-year-old Eva Jay - the sister of John Jay. Their only child was born a few months later.

During the 1760s, his religious beliefs evolved to where he went to England to pursue Anglican Holy Orders. Munro was ordained in the church of England in 1765 and then returned to America where he conducted a mission on Philipsburgh Manor in Westchester County.

In 1768, Harry Munro left Yonkers and became rector of St. Peter's Anglican church in Albany. The following year, he joined with the church officers in an initiative that led to the incorporation of St. Peter's by the royal government of New York. He worked to build up the congregation and to make it an integral part of the Albany community. He was able to secure land from the city to build a parsonage and an additional lot on Gallows Hill as well. At that time, Munro also held the appointment and salary as missionary for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. His mission at Fort Hunter and beyond made him the associate and client of Sir William Johnson. In 1770, he was appointed chaplain at Albany with an annual salary of fifty pounds.

His evangelical services were recognized by testimonials from his Albany parishioners and an honorary M.A. degree confired on him by Kings College in 1772. During that time, he sought to develop his wartime bounty land - 2,000 acres "between the Hudson River and Lake Champlain" called "Munrosfield." He built a large cabin there (town of Hebron) and held summertime services. However, his subdivision of the tract into small farms in 1774 found only a few takers. His son later sold the patent.

As the situation between crown and colonists deteoriated in the years that followed, Munro found himself more at home at the Fort Hunter mission than in Albany where its leaders were determined to resist Imperial strictures and to neutralize those who supported the British.

St. Peter's ceased operations in 1776 and its pastor was arrested and incarcerated in the fort where he had served as chaplain. Eva and their son already had fled to the safety of her family in Westchester County. In October 1777, Munro and others escaped the Albany jail and fled north to the British army. After serving briefly as a military chaplain, in 1778 he sailed for England; preached in London; and studied languages. He intended to return to America but the success of the American cause dissuaded the fifty-year-old Munro from leaving Britain. His wife declined to join him and remained with the Jay family in Westchester.

Munro the scholar received an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Andrews in 1782. The following year he retired to Scotland. Suffering paralysis in 1791, he removed to Edinburgh where he died in 1801.



the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Harry Munro is CAP biography number 1033. This profile is derived chiefly from community-based resources and from Edward F De Lancey, "Memoir of the Rev. Dr. Harry Munro, The Last Rector of St. Peter's Church, Albany, under the English Crown," NYGBR 4:113-24, a thorough compilation of available information.

Peter Jay Munro (1767-1826), jurist. Some biographical material on him is available online.

Home | Site Index | Navigation | Email | New York State Museum

first posted: 8/10/02