Robert Munro, 1st Baron Alness

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For other people named Robert Munro, see Robert Munro (disambiguation).
The Right Honourable
The Lord Alness
GBE PC KC DL
1922 Robert Munro.jpg
Robert Munro in 1922
Lord Advocate
In office
30 October 1913 – 5 December 1916
Monarch George V
Prime Minister H. H. Asquith
Preceded by Alexander Ure
Succeeded by James Avon Clyde
Secretary for Scotland
In office
10 December 1916 – 19 October 1922
Monarch George V
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Preceded by Harold Tennant
Succeeded by The Viscount Novar
Lord Justice Clerk
In office
1922–1933
Monarch George V
Preceded by Lord Dickson
Succeeded by Lord Aitchison
Personal details
Born 28 May 1868 (1868-05-28)
Alness, Ross-shire
Died 6 October 1955 (1955-10-07)
Bournemouth, Hampshire
Nationality British
Political party Liberal
Liberal National
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[edit]

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.[1]

Legal and political career[edit]

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.[1] 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.[1][2] He was then returned to the House of Commons as MP for the new Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency, holding the seat until 1922.[1][3]

In 1913 Munro was sworn of the Privy Council[4] and appointed Lord Advocate[5] by H. H. Asquith. When David Lloyd George became Prime Minister in December 1916, Munro entered the cabinet as Secretary for Scotland,[6] 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,[7] taking the judicial title Lord Alness. He also held the office of Honourable Bencher, Lincoln's Inn in 1924.[1]

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.[8] 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,[9] sitting as a Liberal National.[citation needed] 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.[1]

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.[1]

Personal life[edit]

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.[1]

References[edit]

  • Torrance, David, The Scottish Secretaries (Birlinn 2006)

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Arthur Bignold
Member of Parliament for Wick Burghs
January 19101918
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Roxburgh and Selkirk
19181922
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Henderson
Legal offices
Preceded by
Alexander Ure
Lord Advocate
1913–1916
Succeeded by
James Avon Clyde
Preceded by
Lord Dickson
Lord Justice Clerk
1922–1933
Succeeded by
Lord Aitchison
Political offices
Preceded by
Harold Tennant
Secretary for Scotland
1916–1922
Succeeded by
The Viscount Novar
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Alness
1934–1955
Extinct