Monro Family (Physicians)

Descended from the Munro family of Fowlis, the Monros were a notable dynasty of doctors to London in the 18th and 19th century where they were involved in early work on curing 'insanity'. Four generations occupied successively the position of (Principle) Physician of the notorious Bethlem Hospital (Bedlam). They were also leading members of a variety of important medical associations. Other members were painters, priests and philanthrophists of note and one was an important early patron to J. M. W. Turner.

Dr James Monro

Born 1680, Wemyss. Only surviving son of Alexander Monro (educator), the principal of Edinburgh University by his wife Marion Collace. Educated at Balliol College, Oxford graduating as a physician in 1712. He began his practice as a physician at Greenwich 1713 before moving to London.

In 1728 he was elected Physician to Bethlem Royal Hospital. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1729 and in 1737 was chosen to present the Harviean Oration. He died on 4 Nov, 1752 at Sunninghill, Berkshire. Dr James Monro married on 22 Feb, 1707, Elizabeth (died 20 Nov, 1753) the only child of Thomas Hay (died 1734), Solicitor in Chancery and had issue (with others):

1. "Dr John Monro", of whom next.

2. Thomas Monro (1716-81), vicar and hospitaller of St Bartholomew the Less, 1754-65, before becoming Rector of Burgate and of Wortham. Married with issue; a number his descendents were in Holy Orders. His second wife was Mary, daughter of Christopher Taylor, Steward of St Bartholomew's Hospital.

Dr John Monro

Born 16 Nov, 1715, Greenwich, son of Dr James Monro and Elizabeth Hay. Educated at the Merchant Taylors' School, London then at St John's College, Oxford, where he became a Fellow in 1741 and a Radcliffe Travelling Fellow until 1751. He continued his education at the University of Leyden in 1745, and visited other centres of learning in Europe. In 1747 he was awarded his degree of Doctor of Medicine from University College, Oxford.

In 1751 he was appointed Joint Physician of Bethlehem and Bridewell Hospital (Bethlem Hospital) as an assistant to his father. On his father's death in 1752 he succeeded as Physician of Bethlem Hospital.

Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1753, and acted as Censor on six separate occasions. He delivered the Harveian Oration in 1757.

He barely published during his career which was for the most part devoted to the study of insanity for which he was apparently acclaimed for his success.

Dr James Monro retired in January 1783 after an attack of paralysis. He lived at 53 Bedford Square, London, but in 1791 moved to Hadley, near Barnet in co Middlesex and died there 27 Dec, 1791.

On 17 Nov, 1753 he married Elizabeth Culling Smith (died 1802), a sister of Sir William Culling Smith, 1st Baronet, and had, among other issue, Dr Thomas Monro, FRCP, of whom next. A grandson was Charles Henry Monro.

Dr Thomas Monro

Born 1759, in London, to Dr John Monro and Elizabeth Culling Smith. Educated at Stanmore School under Dr Samuel Parr, at Harrow and then Oriel College, Oxford where he graduated as a Doctor of Medicine in 1787.

Admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1791, and acted as Censor on three separate occasions. He delivered the Harveian Oration in 1799. In 1811 he was named as an Elect of the College.

Like his father and grandfather he was employed at Bedlam, first as Assistant Physician in 1787, then as Principal Physician in 1816 as successor to his father. However, he did not stay in that position long and retired soon after. He attended on King George III in that monarch's last illness.

Dr Thomas Monro was a patron of the fine arts, and his patronage included J. M. W. Turner and the landscape painter William Hunt. The critic John Ruskin said in his "Notes" on Turner in March 1878, that ::"His true master was Dr Monro; to the practical teaching of that first patron and the wise simplicity of method of watercolour study, in which he was disciplined by him and companioned by Giston, the healthy and constant development of the greater power is primarily to be attributed; the greatness of the power itself, it is impossible to over-estimate."

He died 14 May, 1833 at Bushey, Middlesex and was buried in the family vault there. In 1788 he married Hannah, daughter of Rev. Edward Woodcock, DD, the rector of Watford, and had, among other issue:

1. "Dr Edward Thomas Monro", of whom next.

2. Henry Monro (1791-1814), an artist. Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1811 and 1812, and at the British Institution in 1812. He left a few paintings of note, namely "Othello, Iago and Desdemona" and " [ The Disgrace of Wolsey] " (now in the Tate Gallery), but died at the age of 23. He left a [ sketch of his father] , now in the possession of the National Portrait Gallery.

Dr Edward Thomas Monro

Born November 1789 to Dr Thomas Monro and Hannah Woodcock. Educated at Harrow and Oriel College, Oxford, graduating as Doctor of Medicine in 1814. Joined the Royal College of Physicians in 1816 and was Censor three times. He delivered the Harveian Oration in 1834 and was an Elect in 1842. From 1845 to 1846 he was Treasurer of the Royal College of Physicians.

On his father's resignation in 1816 he was appointed as Principle Physician of Bethlem Hospital, the fourth of his family in direct line to hold that position.

Dr Monro was noted for having attended approximately 400 commissions and trials in lunacy. On only two occasions did his evidence differ from the verdict, and in those cases the decisions were later set aside. His evidence was apparently remarkable for its clearness and force., making him a favourite of lawyers.

Dr Edward Thomas Monro died 25 Jan, 1856. He married on 14th April, 1814, Sarah, the daughter of Samuel Compton Cox, a Master in Chancery and Treasurer of the Foundling Hospital. Among other issue, their children included:

1. Rev. Edward Monro (1815-66). Curate of Harrow-on-Weald and Vicar of St John's, Leeds; author of various religious publications. 1852 He was Select Preacher to the University of Oxford. He was noted for his ability for preaching and for his work among the poor of his parishes.

2. "Dr Henry Monro", of whom next.

3. Theodore Monro (1819-43). He was the founder of the Convalescent Hospital at Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, one of the first of its type. He married in 1842 Emma, daughter of Sir William Russell, Bt, MD.

Dr Henry Monro

Born 10 January, 1817 to Dr Edward Thomas Monro and Sarah Cox. Educated at Harrow and Oriel College, Oxford, graduating as Doctor of Medicine in 1863. In 1842 Dr Monro married Jane Eliza, daughter of Sir William Russell, Bt, MD, and had issue by her.

Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and served as it's Censor and Councillor several times. Member of the Council of the Royal Medical Chirurgical Society. President of the Medical Psychological Association in 1864-65 (now the Royal College of Psychiatrists).

For almost 30 years he was Consulting Physician to St Luke's Hospital, London, another institution which dealt primarily with those deemed to be insane. Dr Henry Monro followed in his family footsteps in dealing with mental health issues and published a variety of works on insanity and as well as stammering.

In I846 he founded the House of Charity at 9 Rose (now Manette) Street, Soho, London (now the [ House of St Barnabas-in-Soho] ) and spent forty years at this institution working with the destitute of London. Among those involved in the founding of the House of Charity included the future Prime Minister W E Gladstone and the Roundell Palmer, 1st Earl of Selborne, the Lord Chancellor, the latter serving as honorary secretary along with Dr Henry Monro [ [ Soho Square Area: Portland Estate - No. 1 Greek Street: The House of St. Barnabas-in-Soho | British History Online ] ] .

ee also

* Bethlem Hospital
* Royal College of Physicians


* cite book
last = Mackenzie
first = Alexander
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = History of the Munros of Fowlis
publisher = TannerRitchie Publishing, University of St Andrews
date = 2004
location =
pages =
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 1554290910

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