Monday, February 29, 2016

George Munro & Agnes Fraser

George Munro, youngest son to James Munro and Williamina (Mina) Corbett was born on 6th February 1875 at Oldshoremore, Eddrachillis. He sailed on the “Ruahine's” maiden voyage to New Zealand on 25th November 1910, to commence work as a Police Constable at the Mount Cook Police Station, Wellington. 

Prior to his departure George was a Police Constable at Leith, Edinburgh, following a career in the Black Watch Regiment which saw him serve in the Boer War and India. Whilst at Leith, George married a Sutherlandshire lass, Angusina (Agnes) Fraser on June 10th, 1903. Agnes was the daughter of Thomas Fraser and Janet McKay and she was born on 29th April, 1878 at Achlyness, Eddrachillis.

When George had left for New Zealand, until the following year when she too would sail to join him, Agnes and their four young children stayed in Achlyness to live with her widowed mother Janet Fraser. With the other grandparents James and Mina Munro's home further along the road this would be a very special time for the family. Living in the Highlands mountain countryside at Achlyness over looking Loch Inchard, collecting peat for the fires, spending time with their grandparents and cousins was a huge contrast to living in Leith where the streets were lined with grey stone tenament housing.
Agnes and the four children - Mina, Janet McKay (Net), Thomas Fraser (Tom) and Jemima Agnes (Mimie), left Achlyness by coach to travel the 40 miles to Lairg where they caught the train to London. They all sat on top of the coach, drawn by two horses, and the driver sat up front according to Mina's recorded childhood memories made on tape. The train from Lairg took them to London where they boarded the New Zealand Shipping Company ship "Rotorua" on 28th October for Wellington. The sea voyage took 6 weeks and 2 days.

The Munro family resided in Wellington only a short time before George was transferred to the Dunedin North Police Station and later to the Roslyn Police Station. Two more children were born in Dunedin, Georgina Fraser Munro and Iain Fraser Munro. George later became Arms Officer at the Dunedin Central Police Station and he retired from the Police Force in July 1935. They were very long standing members of the Kaikorai Presbyterian Church in Dunedin. 

George was a noted performer on the bagpipes and in his youth was a successful competitor in Scottish national dances. His Henderson bagpipes were mounted with silver in South Africa for twenty- seven pounds - this amount was told through the generations. Son Thomas and grandson George both played the same bagpipes with success. George won the New Zealand Piping Championship in Dunedin in 1911, and Hokitika the following year. George and his elder son Thomas (Tom) competed in various competitions winning many championships. After George withdrew from active competition his services were in great demand as a judge, and he was recognised as one of the most capable officials in New Zealand.

George Munro was a foundation member of the Dunedin Scottish Society being elected Chieftain in 1928. He was the Official Piper of the Society for many years and the only President until his death. "The Munro Tartan was adopted as the Badge of the aforesaid Society. Whenever the Tartan is available Rosettes will be made for the Office Bearers and as the years roll on this mark of esteem will be a living Monument to the memory of Mr Munro." This motion was presented framed to Mr G Munro.
George Munro died on 13th February 1936 and is buried in the Anderson’s Bay Cemetery, Dunedin. Agnes was buried there following her death in 1944. 

"From the number of persons who attended the funeral of Mr George Munro on Sunday it was evident that he was held in high esteem by all sections of the community. A total of about 150 cars followed the cortege. The service was at his home. The pall bearers were members of the City Police Force. Pipers led the cortege to the main street playing 'Lord Lovat's Lament." Mr White, a former member of the Black Watch Regiment, dropped a Red Heckle on the casket, after which Mr John M'Donald, patron of Scottish Society, of which Mr Munro was it's first and only president, dropped a sprig of heather, and he was followed in turn by each member of the Scottish Society's executive".

Their descendants live here (New Zealand) and abroad; many having visited Sutherland. Mimie married Alec Fletcher from Skye and their youngest granddaughter Michelle has danced at the Edinburgh Tattoo twice.
Information from Ann Munro, New Zealand

Further information came to us: 

Anderson's Bay Cemetery, Dunedin, Otago

In Loving Memory of George Munro, born Oldshoremore, Sutherlandshire, Scotland, 6th February 1875, died at Dunedin 13th February 1936. Also his beloved wife Agnes Fraser died 22nd march 1944 aged 66 years . At rest. And their sons SGT/P Thomas Fraser Munro, killed in action, aged 35 years; CPL Iain Fraser Munro killed in action aged 25 years.

Agnes was Angusina Fraser who was born at Achlyness, Kinlochbervie,Sutherland on 29th April 1878. Thomas was born in Edinburgh and Iain in New Zealand, only sons killed in WW2.

Transcribed by Zelda Matheson, New Zealand and sent to us by George Munro, grandson of the above George