The Monro Inheritance

By R. Robert Mutrie

    During the second half of the 1800’s and early 1900’s a number of inheritance schemes for unclaimed estates in Europe and early America launched by both individuals and lawyers. They identified a potential estate then approached possible heirs in North America requesting genealogical information and seed money to recover the fortunes for them.

    In 1850, a plan to recover a Scottish fortune was presented to Elizabeth (Betsy) Douglass of Woodhouse Twp., a daughter of Judge William Monro of Flanders, New Jersey, and her cousin Harriet Ann Gillaspy of Walsingham Twp., a daughter of Lieutenant John Monro, UE. See the end for family relationships.

    The attempt was to relate the Canadian Monro family to Sir Hector Monro of Evanton, Ross & Cromarty, Scotland who died without surviving issue. Neither Betsy nor Harriet seems to have known much of their heritage. Betsy Douglass wrote a letter to her parents in 1850 noting:

“Mrs. Glaspy (sic) and the rest of Uncle John Monroe’s Children requested me to write to you and ask you if you remember anything of your Father’s people. and what your Grand Fathers and grand Mothers Christian Names are and the place they lived. and the title your Grand Father had in Scotland, and all other circumstances relating to your Fathers people that you can remember.”

    According to a contradictory tradition in the James Monro family their grandfather Robert Monro actually came with his friend Donald McCall from the Isle of Mull in the Scottish Highlands while serving in the Seven Years War (1756-1763). This origin was far from Renfrewshire, the home location of Sir Hector Monro.

   Family researcher Charles C. Monroe III has identified another Robert Monro, a brother of Sir Hector Monro, who may have brought his family to New Jersey in the 1770’s. This Robert Monro was christened at Urquhart, Scotland on 3 Jan 1717 and married at Killellen Church, north of Houston, Renfrewshire, Scotland on 1 Mar 1761, Marion Wilson. They had children with similar names to the family at Flanders all baptized at Killellen: William on 1 Sep 1864, Catherine on 3 Feb 1765, Robert on 18 Jun 1767, James on 11 Aug 1771, John on 27 Feb 1774, Margaret on 5 Mar 1780. The noteworthy difference is that this birth data does not agree with the information found for the family of the Canadian Highland ancestor Robert Monro.

    There was a follow up to the 1850 scheme in 1878 when Irwin Bridgeman made an attempt to raise funds from the then surviving family members to continue the research into the estate of Sir Hector Monro. Irwin Bridgeman died on 31 Dec 1878 just 5-½ months after writing his letter and the project may have ended there.

    Although the Canadian family was not related to Sir Hector, the information as to their residency in the letter is both interesting and helpful. The letter is presented below.


The Betsy Douglass Letter

    The following is from a typescript of a letter written by Betsy Douglass to her father William Monro in Flanders, New Jersey. This was received from Monro researcher Charles C. Munroe. The original of the Betsy Douglass letter and the Irwin Bridgeman letter were passed down from Ann Eliza (Douglass) Ford to her daughter Hellen (Ford) Scott and are now in the possession of Munroe Scott.

Betsy Douglass            )

Wants (Illegible)            )                                                          C-O-P-Y

Dec 26th [1850]

Dear Father and Mother

With pleasure I sit down to address a few lines to inform you that we are all well at present. hoping these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. you never thought it worth while to write to me that I might hear from you although I hear now and then. but it is not as pleasing to hear by Strangers. as it is to receive a letter. but I am very glad to hear anyway. My health is not very good but I suppose that Old age is coming on and raising a large Family and seeing them Scattered- some in one place and some in another. and some lain in their Silent Graves to Sleep the Sleep of Death. these things are enough to bring on old age sooner perhaps than it would have come if it had been Otherwise but I not to murmur. as long as my Children are all well in good circumstances and doing well. they are all gone but Joseph. John was married last September. Harriet is going to School about nine miles from home. she is going six months longer and then she is coming home. She studies Music French and Drawing. I have nearly given up work as I think I have worked long enough. Levi is in very good health. he holds his age better than I do. Grain is low this fall and winter hay is on the rise. I believe hay is worth twelve dollars per ton. I think Grain will be higher in the spring as there is going to be an acadammised road from Dover to Warwick and they have given it out in Jobs and for that reason I think produce will be in good demand. but I must bring this part of my letter to a close and tell you what I want. Mrs. Glaspy and the rest of Uncle John Monroe’s Children requested me to write to you and ask you if you remember anything of your Father’s people. and what your Grand Fathers and grand Mothers Christian Names are and the place they lived. and the title your Grand Father had in Scotland, and all other circumstances relating to your Fathers people that you can remember. as there has been word brought from there from different people that there is a large fortune from Sir Hector Monroe’s estate. Everything is is (sic) very favourable if they can prove their heir ship. and they say if they can get anything that I shall be an equal sharer with them. they have got some smart men ready to take it in hand as soon as they get an answer from you. you must give in your evedence of what you can remember and do not neglect it for they can not do any thing till they get an answer. if you do not answer this letter soon (as you have not answered any of the rest) I shall write to some of the Douglasses to get them to enquire the reason. you must not neglect writing immediately after you get it. write the next day if you can. I dont want you to think there is no use of it or neglect it or neglect it one day but forward it on as soon as you can. the answer to this can be here in less than two weeks if you try. Don’t neglect it. I shall look for an answer in two wekks. I remain your affectionate Daughter

Elisabeth Douglass


Irwin Bridgman to Ann Eliza Douglass Ford, July 18th, 1878

    This letter, which I refer to as Irwin #2, is also a transcript of an original in my possession, being among family documents handed down by my mother. It is this letter that makes me assume that both Irwin #1 and Irwin #2 were written to my mother’s mother, Ann Eliza Douglass, who would have been 30 at the time and not married to James Ford until the following year.  The frank nature of some of the personal comments suggest a friendly relationship between two cousins of virtually the same age. 

In transcribing this I have some difficulty deciphering certain names and have indicated such with a (?). The page numbering is mine.  Irwin Bridgman died Dec. 31st, 1878, just 5 ½ months after writing this.

         Munroe Scott, January 23, 2003



80 Berkeley St.

Toronto July 18th 1878

Dear Eliza

            Your welcome favor received.  Requests for remittances were sent as follows.


[Descendants of Levi and Elizabeth Douglass]

Mrs. Jas Lambie } Windsor

Miss Bowlby      }      

Mrs Thos. Harrison } Selkirk

Persis Douglass       }   

Frank Douglass        }   

John Douglass       Aylmer

Mrs John Henderson      Brandy Creek

Mrs Jas Alexander          Simcoe

Joseph Budd             } Brandy Creek

Samuel D. Budd       }       

Zebulon Landon         Simcoe



Colin Monro Dusten } Wallaceburg

Caleb More Dusten   }       

Mrs Harriet Montrose    Kingsville       All of Ontario


Wm Monro Force        Newark   New Jersey

Wm Douglass          Trumansburg (?)

Robert Douglass.   Le (?)a   Unitilla (?) Co Oregon

W.H.D.Corwin        Suckassuny (?)  New Jersey

Mrs M.T.King         Morristown   Morris Co   N.J.

Mrs Robert C. Shaw   Suckassissny (?)  New Jersey

Mrs J.B.Stevens     Morristown   New Jersey

Silas Dickinson     Ininiutl (?) Wash. Ter.

Mrs Sarah R. Wheeler Main   Cook Co Illinois


Received from Mrs Lambie                         $10.00

John M.Dusten 5.00

Mrs S.R. Wheeler 5.00     $10.00

Mr.John Dusten says will send other 5 and all he is able when wanted.  Mrs Wheeler sent paper of assignment and five dollars, I suppose on advice of her brother J.M.Dusten.  Miss A.E.Budd of Detroit - I did not apply to.  From what Eliza wrote me Mr. Alexander and Henderson promised to send, but have not as yet. Mr. Landon declined but is well able.  Silas Dickenson said he could do nothing.  Mr M.L. King (?) Says he will send as soon as he can.  Dr. Harrison thinks with Mr Landon that the chance for a share ought to be sufficient inducement for any one to risk the expenses.  In a business point of view however the share of a chance is not considered sufficient to risk much money on.  I don’t think however that Mr Landon risked much of his money on chances.  However I should not comment.  I know how much I would risk if I could.  The other names I have not heard from.

                                    Yours truly    Irwin Bridgman

There will be perhaps as many more to apply to.  


Monro Family Relationships

The Parents

Robert Monro, born at Isle of Mull, Argyleshire, Scotland c. 1716, died at Roxbury Twp., Morris Co., New Jersey on 1 Jul 1804 in 88th y. He married Mary _______, born on 24 Dec 1732, died on 1 Mar 1805. They were buried in the Flanders Methodist Church Yard, Flanders, New Jersey.


The Children

John Monro, born in New Jersey on 23 Apr 1756, died at Walsingham Twp., Norfolk Co., Upper Canada on 7 Oct 1828 ae 71y 11m. He married at Roxbury Twp., Morris Co., New Jersey on 26 Feb 1794, Sarah Hatheway, born on 16 Jan 1764, died on 11 Dec 1850 ae 86y 8m 15d. They were buried in Monro-Gillaspy Cemetery, Lot 24, Concession 2, Walsingham Twp. at St. Williams. John Monro served as a Lieutenant in the New Jersey Volunteers then lived at St. Williams, Walsingham Twp., Norfolk Co. Parents of Harriet (Monro) Gillaspy mentioned in the letter written by Betsy Douglass.


William Monro, born in the American Colonies c. 1764, died at Flanders, New Jersey on 27 Apr 1854 ae 90y. His first wife and mother of his children was Jemima Baxter, born c. 1760, died on 28 Dec 1832 in 73rd y. William’s second wife was named Elizabeth and she died on 23 Sep 1861. All three were buried in Flanders Methodist Church Yard. William Monro was a Judge of the Common Pleas at Flanders, Morris Co., New Jersey. Father of Elizabeth (Betsy) (Monro) Douglass who wrote the letter to her parents.

Robert Monro, born at New York, New York in Feb 1769, died at Dawn Township, Lambton County, Upper Canada on 3 Mar 1845. He married first to Mary __________, born c. 1762, died on 26 Oct 1822 ae 58y. Robert married second on 14 Jul 1823, Pamela Blanchard. Mary was buried in Old Woodhouse Methodist Church Cemetery, Woodhouse Twp. Robert was a physician at Charlotteville Twp., Norfolk Co. Descendants were named in the 1878 inheritance papers above.


James Monro, born in New Jersey in 1771/2, died at Charlotteville Township, Norfolk County, Upper Canada on 26 Mar 1806. He married Catherine McCall (daughter of Donald and Elsie (Simpson) McCall), born at Basking Ridge, Somerset County, New Jersey in 1770, died c. 1817. James operated a public house at Charlotteville Twp., Norfolk Co., seat of the London District Court.


Ann Monro, Mary Monro, Elizabeth Monro daughters of Robert Monro mentioned in his will. Nothing more is known of them.