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The Monroes in France : a long story

The French Branch of the Monroes descends from a mythical figure who lived in the 17th century in Scotland and Ireland.

Family tradition (recorded in a manuscript of Charles Dieudonné Monroe written in 1727) tells us that he was a relative of the Chiefs of the Clan Munro.

An ardent Cavalier, he committed himself to the struggle against Cromwell in order to defend the Stuart dynasty. The military reverses suffered by the Royalists led in about 1650 to his banishment and the loss of his properties and name.

Exiled to Ireland, he returned to his parent General O’Neil Roe and took his name.

This Scottish nobleman was called Ulysses Monroe.

Many of his descendants still bear the name “Monroe dit Roe”.

Ulysses and his wife Mary Brady brought up Edmond and Charles Roe after the early death of their father Owen only son of Ulysses. Because of the links between the Monroes and the Stuart royal family, Charles Roe, who was about twelve, was entrusted to James II (James VII of Scotland) during  his exile in Saint-Germain en Laye at the court of his cousin Louis XIV. The arrival of Charles in France took place around 1686. After the Treaty of Ryswick which weakened the King of France, Charles served Duke Leopold of Lorraine, probably because of the link between the Stuart and Guise families. He settled at Mirecourt where he married Marguerite Lecusson with whom he had ten children. His brother Edmond who had been in the Tower of London and had escaped, met Charles as an officer in Leopold’s guard, but had no issue.

Therefore it is in Lorraine, which was allied to Austria, that the first descendants of Ulysses  established their line under the name of Roe then Roe Monroe.

The three first generations had numerous progeny, but with a limited outcome since one century later only three lines bearing the name have descendants living today.

Amongst the prominent figures of the family in the 18th century, we should mention one of the daughters of Charles, Marguerite, who took Holy Orders as a nun of the Order of St Clare and became abbess of her convent. Two grandsons of Charles, François-Joseph and Antoine-Eugène, won fame in Austria, notably during the Seven Years war which opposed Prussia to France and Austria. One was known as von Roe and the other as von Monroe. The latter belonged to the noble guard which accompanied Marie-Antoinette, sister of Leopold Emperor of Austria, when she came to France to marry the Dauphin, the future Louis XVI. Both brothers finished their careers with the rank of Major General. They had no male descendants.

In the following generation, we should also remember the names of Claude Roe Monroe, an officer in the French Hussars; and also his young sister Marie-Anne who during the French revolution saved her father and her elder brothers from the guillotine by a courageous intervention at the Comité de Salut Public in Lyon where her family then lived.

During the 19th century the Monroes of France, already established in fine estates in the Lyon area, settled also in Savoie, in Dauphiné, and in the Midi. Thanks to a lasting peace the family’s military traditions gave way to the practice of law. Charles-Henri-Dieudonné, grandson of the grandson of the first French Charles, was distinguished as first President of the appeal court of Chambéry. He then settled in Avignon and through his daughter Louise links us with the numerous and renowned Girardon family. We may recall here that an ancestor of Anthony Chamier, member of CMA Council, came from this Avignon area and that the name is still remembered there. This family had to leave France because they were Protestants. Conflicting but parallel fates!

Also in the middle of the 19th century, two brothers Charles-François-Donald and Louis-Eugène still bore the name of Monroe. The elder, through the marriage of his grand-daughter Francoise Monroe with the Baron Henry de Drouas, originates our links with this ancient family of Burgundy. The younger settled at the Chateau de Chervé in the département of the Loire, and by his marriage with the beautiful Valentine Turin – perhaps a descendant of the Savoie dynasty – had nine children. Three of  them took holy Orders. One was a Carmelite at Rome, another a Fille de la Charite and a third – Francois - a Jesuit missionary in Alaska for forty years. One of the daughters, Isabelle, by her marriage with Joseph Richard, a silk manufacturer in Lyon, had numerous descendants. One of his sons, my grandfather, revived the the family’s military tradition. He distinguished himself during the First World War at the end of which he was General commanding the 15th Army Corps; he then commanded the 15th Military Region. René, the youngest of the Monroes of Chervé, settled in Argentina before coming back to his beautiful house, Le Bretail. The eldest of the nine, Louis-Augustin, is the ancestor of the Gourd and Reding families.

The First and Second World Wars followed by the war in Indochina took a heavy toll on the Monroes : six of them fell, including Donald who was killed during the German blitz upon London in 1944. He was a reporter with the British Eighth Army.

Donald Monroe, Les Huards 31st October 2006

The Franco-Scottish relationship within CM(A)

The Monroes of France have always kept a strong link with their “cousins” in Scotland.

Many of them were welcome in their former homeland, at Auchenbowie with Alexander Monro or at Foulis with the late Chief Patrick Munro of Foulis.

In 1986, at the time of a gathering of the French Monroes, Hector, the present Chief, and his wife Sarah, were present in Drôme, at Grâne and Nodon.

In 1987, about twenty French members were at Foulis.

Ten years later, Hector, accompanied by Anthony Chamier, attended the meeting at Le Bretail, a prelude to the participation of about forty French members in the 1997 Gathering.

In 2006 the Clan Monroe France (CMF), which had been created in 1998 under the aegis of the  Clan Munro (Association), met with two hundred members present at Château de Lacoste in Périgord, the home of Edouard and Marie-Christine de Bastard, to prepare a very peaceful “landing” in Scotland at Foulis on 28th and 29th July 2007.

In September 2009, a meeting took place at Chateau de Pouvrai in Orne, another place of Monroe ancestry, at Barth family, notably in the presence of Donald Monro to reinforce the link with Scotland.

  The 9th Monroes in France gathering was held September 2011 in the magnificent Domaine de Vincenti, property of Bernard and Brigitte de Valence (Henri-Dieudonné Monroe’s branch) in the Drôme region. Donald Monro joined that time Aline Munro of Foulis, Chief of the clan’s daughter. The atmosphere was particular: Donald Monroe, President of the association Clan Monroe France since its creation in 1998, decided to hand over on power. Yves Monroe (Louis-Eugène Monroe’s branch) was elected President.

  In 2013, the Monroes of France met around Chervé (Loire). 150 persons, amoung them of lot of young people, participated at this gathering. The key point of this meeting consisted in sharing strong moments in various properties owned nowadays by the Monroes, in the surroundings of Chervé castle, property of Louis-Eugène Monroe and his descendants from 1849 to 1954. During the Annual General Meeting, it has been decided to change the name of the association: «Clan Monroe France» became «Les Monroe de France, membre du Clan Munro (Association)»; a new logo has also been adopted. This consecrates the statement of common roots (in France, the Monroes all descent from Ulysse Monroe and there is only one spelling -MONROE-) and the strong link with Scotland and the Clan Munro, Les Monroe de France association being recognized as a full branch of Clan Munro (Association).

Tristan Monroe <>, as  the President - +33 6 73 47 82 88 - Paris

Lionel Monroe <>, as the Treasurer - +33 6 33 74 09 53 - Lyon

Pierre et Véronique CHAUVIN des VILLARS <>, as the Secretary - +33 6 08 60 50 26 - Lyon

MONROE Donald <>, a an honorary member

Guy Monroe <>, a an honorary member

Marc Estrangin <>, a an honorary member

Heegaard Pierre <>, as a board member

Henri de DROUAS <>, as a board member

Laure d'Hauteville <>, as a board member

Maxime de Valroger <>, as a board member

Charles de La TEYSSONNIÈRE <>, as a board member

Rémi de Girardier <>, as a board member

Domitille de Soras <>, as a board member