Henry Munro was born in 1824 in Gorbals, Lanarkshire, Scotland. He was working at the Sydney Morning Herald in Sydney by July 1847. On 31 December 1853, he married Isabella Douie Pegg, nee Harkness (1827-1877), who was also from Scotland and lived in Balmain. She already had a son from her marriage in 1849 to Richard Pegg, who had died in 1850.
Henry and Isabella Munro lived at Wellington Street, Kingston, Newtown. He died on 9 August 1872, aged 46, after a ‘short but painful illness’. Munro was survived by his wife Isabella and a family of nine children. Isabella died five years later, on 28 August 1877, at Wellington Street, Newtown.
Occupation & interests
Munro worked for many years at the Sydney Morning Herald as a compositor, a typesetter who prepared text for letterpress printing by arranging individual letters in the right order. His wife’s first husband, Richard Pegg had also worked as a compositor at the Sydney Morning Herald during the late 1840s, which is likely how the couple met. When the Dunbar perished in August 1857 at South Head, Munro was on a whaleboat to view the wreckage and was involved in publishing accounts of the tragedy for the Sydney Morning Herald.
In May 1872, shortly before his death, Munro was declared insolvent and was noted as “lately residing at Argyle-place, Sydney, printer, out of employment.”
Local government service
Henry Munro was an alderman on the first Newtown Council in 1863 and represented Kingston Ward until 1872. He was Mayor in 1865 and 1868. He was active in finding proper chambers for council and served as Council’s first Treasurer in 1863. ‘Henry Munro, Mayor’ was added on the parapet of the Newtown Town Hall in 1869, to commemorate the repurposing of the former School of Arts as the Newtown Town Hall the year before, under his mayorship.
From March 1872, when his own financial situation became precarious, Munro was absent from Council’s fortnightly Tuesday meetings, and at a special afternoon meeting on 9 May 1872, Mayor William Bailey stated that Mr Munro was required to vacate his seat in the Council.
In 1874, two years after Munro’s death, Mayor Bailey authorised the Town Hall’s exterior to be repainted and Munro’s name to be obscured. But this led to a petition by some members of the community who wanted the name of their ‘late respected Mayor’ restored. This was done in 1875, and the name remained on the building until the 1930s.
Biographical information for this alderman was originally researched by Mark Matheson for the Newtown Project Website. Additional research was carried out by Dr Martina Muller in 2022.
‘Advertising’, Sydney Chronicle, 24 July 1847, 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31752711
‘Family Notices’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 November 1850, 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1510183
‘Family Notices’, Empire, 7 January 1854, 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page5969305
‘Summary’, Sydney Mail, 10 April 1869, 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166807158
‘In Insolvency’, NSW Government Gazette, 14 May 1872, Issue No. 131, 1240, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225841269
‘In Insolvency’, NSW Government Gazette, 19 July 1872, Issue No. 201, 1847, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225843298
‘Family Notices’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 September 1872, 7, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13263213
‘No title’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 February 1875, 7, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13351635
‘Family Notices’, Evening News, 2 October 1877, 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108191893