Robert Munro, 1st Baron Alness
|The Right Honourable
The Lord Alness
GBE PC KC DL
|Robert Munro in 1922|
30 October 1913 – 5 December 1916
|Prime Minister||H. H. Asquith|
|Preceded by||Alexander Ure|
|Succeeded by||James Avon Clyde|
|Secretary for Scotland|
10 December 1916 – 19 October 1922
|Prime Minister||David Lloyd George|
|Preceded by||Harold Tennant|
|Succeeded by||The Viscount Novar|
|Lord Justice Clerk|
|Preceded by||Lord Dickson|
|Succeeded by||Lord Aitchison|
|Born||28 May 1868
|Died||6 October 1955
|Spouse(s)||(1) Edith Evans (d. 1920)
(2) Olga Grumler
|Alma mater||University of Edinburgh|
Robert Munro, 1st Baron Alness GBE, PC, KC, DL (28 May 1868 – 6 October 1955) was a Scottish lawyer, judge and Liberal politician. He served as Secretary for Scotland between 1916 and 1922 in David Lloyd George's coalition government and as Lord Justice Clerk between 1922 and 1933.
Background and education
Munro was born in Alness, Ross-shire, the son of Reverend Alexender Ross Munro and Margaret, daughter of Reverend John Sinclair. He was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School and Edinburgh University.
Legal and political career
Munro was admitted to the Scottish Bar as an Advocate in 1893. He was a Counsel to the Board of Inland Revenue and became a King's Counsel in 1910. At the January 1910 general election he was elected Member of Parliament for Wick Burghs, holding the seat until its abolition for the 1918 election. He was then returned to the House of Commons as MP for the new Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency, holding the seat until 1922.
In 1913 Munro was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Lord Advocate by H. H. Asquith. When David Lloyd George became Prime Minister in December 1916, Munro entered the cabinet as Secretary for Scotland, a post he held until the end of the coalition government in October 1922. The latter year he was appointed to the bench as Lord Justice Clerk and President of Second Division of the Court of Session, taking the judicial title Lord Alness. He also held the office of Honourable Bencher, Lincoln's Inn in 1924.
Following his retirement from the bench in 1933, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Alness, of Alness in the County of Ross and Cromarty, on 27 June 1934. He returned to political office in May 1940 when Winston Churchill appointed him a Lord-in-Waiting (government whip) in the newly formed war coalition, sitting as a Liberal National. He retained this post (as one of few non-Conservatives) in Churchill's brief 1945 caretaker government. In 1947 he was invested as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire.
He is considered by many commentators to have conducted himself poorly, if not criminally, over the treatment of Detective Trench. Detective Trench expressed misgivings in 1914 over the conviction of Oscar Slater in 1909 and lead to Trench's dismissal from the Glasgow police and his subsequent indictment by Munro on trumped-up charges of reset relating to insured jewels recovery. The charges were thrown out by Munro's predecessor as Lord Justice Clerk Scott Dickson but Munro appears to have acted in concert with the Chief Constable of Glasgow James V Stevenson and his Liberal Colleague Thomas McKinnon Wood (whose job as Scottish Secretary Munro obtained later in 1916). Slater and Trench,the latter posthumously, were vindicated when in 1928 Slater's conviction was quashed. Bizarrely Munro, as Lord Alness, sat on the appeal court. Lord Alness was also a Deputy Lieutenant of Edinburgh.
Lord Alness was twice married. He married firstly Edith Gwladys, daughter of Reverend John Lewellyan Evans, in 1898. After her death in September 1920 he married secondly Olga Marie, daughter of Jeanes Georges Grumler, in 1921. Both marriages were childless. Lord Alness died in October 1955, aged 87, when the barony became extinct.
- thepeerage.com Robert Munro, 1st and last Baron Alness
- leighrayment.com House of Commons: West Lothian to Widnes
- leighrayment.com House of Commons: Rochester to Ryedale
- The London Gazette: . 19 December 1913.
- The London Gazette: . 4 November 1913.
- The London Gazette: . 12 December 1916.
- The London Gazette: . 20 October 1922.
- The London Gazette: . 6 July 1934.
- The London Gazette: . 4 June 1940.
- Torrance, David, The Scottish Secretaries (Birlinn 2006)
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Robert Munro
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir Arthur Bignold
|Member of Parliament for Wick Burghs
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for Roxburgh and Selkirk
Sir Thomas Henderson
James Avon Clyde
|Lord Justice Clerk
|Secretary for Scotland
The Viscount Novar
|Peerage of the United Kingdom|
|New creation||Baron Alness