MUNRO Surname Meaning and Origin

River Roe

Ciaran Craig / 500px / Getty Images

The Munro surname is usually a Scottish variant of the surname Monroe, with several possible origins:

  1. derived from the Gaelic name Rothach, meaning "man from Ro," or someone who came from the foot of the River Roe in County Derry.
  2. From bun, meaning "mouth of" and roe, meaning "a river." In Gaelic, the 'b' often becomes an 'm' - hence the surname MUNRO.
  3. Possibly a derivation of Maolruadh, from maol, meaning "bald," and ruadh, meaning "red or auburn."

Surname Origin: Irish, Scottish

Alternate Surname Spellings: MUNROE, MUNROW, MUNROSE, MONRO, MONROE

Where in the World Is the MUNRO Surname Found?

Despite originating in Ireland, the Munro surname is most prevalent in England, according to surname distribution data from Forebears, but ranks higher based on percentage of population in Scotland, where it ranks as the 61st most common surname in the country. It's also fairly common in New Zealand (133rd), Australia (257th), and Canada (437th). In 1881 Scotland, Munro was a very common surname, especially in both Ross and Cromarty and Sutherland, where it ranked 7th, followed by Moray (14th), Caithness (18th), Nairn (21st), and Inverness-shire (21st).

WorldNames PublicProfiler also has the Munro surname as being very popular in New Zealand, as well as throughout Northern Scotland, including the Highlands, Argyll and Bute, the Western Isles, the Orkney Islands, Moray, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Perth and Kinross, South Ayrshire and East Lothian.

Famous People With the Last Name MUNRO

  • H. H. Munro - British short story author who wrote under the pen name "Saki"
  • Alexander Munro of Bearcrofts - 17th-century Scottish military leader
  • Charles H. Munro - Canadian physician and politician
  • Donald Munro of Foulis - Irish mercenary settler in Scotland; founder of Clan Munro
  • James Munro - 15th Premier of Victoria, Australia
  • William Munro - British botanist

Genealogy Resources for the Surname MUNRO

Munro DNA Project
This DNA project of over 350 members originated with Munro researchers who's ancestors settled in North Carolina. The group wants to become a resource for all Munro researchers worldwide interested in combining DNA testing with genealogical research to identify common Munro ancestors.

Clan Munro
Learn about the origins of Clan Munro and their family seat at Foulis Castle, plus view a family tree of the chiefs of Clan Munro, and learn how to join the Clan Munro association.

Munro Family Crest - It's Not What You Think
Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Munro family crest or coat of arms for the Munro surname. Coats of arms are granted to individuals, not families, and may rightfully be used only by the uninterrupted male line descendants of the person to whom the coat of arms was originally granted.

FamilySearch - MUNRO Genealogy
Explore over 1.3 million historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Munro surname and its variations on the free FamilySearch website, hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

MUNRO Surname & Family Mailing Lists
RootsWeb hosts several free mailing lists for researchers of the Munro surname.

MUNRO Genealogy Forum
Search the archives for posts about Munro ancestors, or post your own Munro query.

The Munro Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the popular last name Munro from the website of Genealogy Today.


  • Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.
  • Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Collins Celtic (Pocket edition), 1998.
  • Fucilla, Joseph. Our Italian Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2003.
  • Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Reaney, P.H. A Dictionary of English Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "MUNRO Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 28). MUNRO Surname Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "MUNRO Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. (accessed April 1, 2023).