Alexander Monro (c1648-1698)

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Alexander Monro (c1648-1698) was Principal of Edinburgh University from 1685 to 1690.


Fourth son of Hugh Munro of Fyrish (now part of the Novar Estate) and Isobel Munro. Monro's early life is unknown, but it is believed that he matriculated at St. Andrews University around about 1666 with an M.A., and certainly later with D.D. in 1682 when he became Professor of Divinity. His reputation of being a 'good scholar, a judicious man, and a person of considerable talent' brought him to the attention of the Edinburgh Town Council who appointed him to be Principal of Edinburgh University in 1685, which also appointed him as minister of St. Giles.

He was a steadfast Episcopalian, and some considered he may have supported Roman Catholicism as he had spent some time in France. In 1687 he altered the graduate's promise of perseverance by removing the word 'Reformed' in connection with the Christian Religion; and issued an 'Act of Faculty' which made all students take Professor Robert Burnet's class, who was also accused of Catholicism.

With the change of power after the Revolution Settlement, and the issuing of the Act of 1690, he refused to take the Confession of Faith and after being interrogated by the Commission of the universities over this, and his alleged influence of Catholicism, he was removed from his posts of both Principal and as Minister of St. Giles. In reply to his accusers he wrote the Presbyterian Inquisition (anon., 1691). Not long after he moved to London with his wife, Marion Collace. He was still under suspicion of having Jacobite sympathies and was jailed for five months in 1696 after a search of his house and property. Monro died in London in 1698 after a period of declining health.

Monro was married twice, the first to Anna Logan in 1673 but died in 1674 to which he had one daughter. The second to Marion Collace, in 1676, to which he had several children, the most notable being James Monro (1680-1752) the physician of mental health, the first of several generations of chief physician to Bridewell and Bethlem hospitals between 1728 and 1853.


  • Minister of Second Charge, Dunfermline, 1673
  • Minister of Kinglassie, 1676
  • Minister of Wemyss, 1678
  • Professor of Divinity, University of St. Andrews, 1682-1685
  • Principal, University of Edinburgh, 1685-1690
  • Nominated for Bishopric of Argyll 1689, but never consecrated


  • A memorial for His Highness the Prince of Orange, Presbyterian Inquisition (anon. London, 1691)
  • Sermons preached on several occasions (London, 1693)
  • An Apology for the Church of Scotland (London, 1693)
  • Spirit of Calumny Addressed to George Redpath (London, 1693)
  • An answer to Dr. Rule, An Enquiry into the New Opinions (chiefly) Propagated by the Presbyterians of Scotland (London, 1696)
  • Letter to Sir Robert Howard (London, 1696)


  • Tristram Clarke, 'Monro, Alexander (d. 1698)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) [[1], accessed 23 July 2010]
  • Sir Alexander Grant, The Story of the University of Edinburgh during its First Three Hundred Years, 2 vols (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1884)
  • Hew Scott, Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae. New Ed., Edinburgh 1915, vol. 1.