Clan Bruce

Clan Bruce
Clan Bruce
Crest badge
Clan member crest badge - Clan Bruce.svg
Crest: A lion stantan Azure armed and langued Gules
District Fife
Gaelic name Brùs

The Rt. Hon. Andrew Douglas Bruce
The 11th Earl of Elgin and 15th Earl of Kincardine
Seat Broomhall House
Historic seat Lochmaben Castle
Clackmannan Tower

Clan Bruce (Scottish Gaelic: Clann Brus) is a Scottish clan from Kincardine in Scotland. It was a Royal House in the 14th century, producing two kings of Scotland.



Origins of the Clan

The surname Bruce comes from the French de Brus or de Bruis, derived from the lands now called Brix, situated between Cherbourg and Valognes in Normandy, France.[2] The first of this family on record, in Great Britain, was Robert de Brus, 1st Lord of Annandale who came to England with King Henry I after his victory at Tinchebray in 1106.[2] He was given 80 manors in Yorkshire, and later 13 manors around Skelton. He received the Lordship of Annandale from King David I of Scotland shortly after his accession in 1124.[1][2] Robert founded a priory at Gysburn.[2]

Both the English and Scots lines descend from this Robert.[1][3]

It has long been written that the ancestor of the family was Robert de Brus, a knight of Normandy who came to England with William the Conqueror[4]. But this was an invention taken from totally unreliable medieval lists of those who fought at Hastings.[4]

Soon after the accession of David I of Scotland to the throne, Robert visited the monarch and obtained from him the lordship of Annandale. Robert de Brus (known as Robert le Meschin, or 'the Cadet') was the first of the family to be connected with Scotland. He came from Normandy with Henry I around 1100, and by 1103 had acquired some or all of the family's holdings in Yorkshire, which he increased over the following years.[3] When David I of Scotland invaded England in 1138 Brus was sent to negotiate by the English. He was however accused of being a traitor and was dismissed from the Scottish camp. The Scots were later defeated at the Battle of the Standard where Robert's grandson Robert was taken prisoner. Robert died on 11 May 1141 and was buried at Gysburn.[1]

In continuation of the male line a later Robert Bruce married Isabel, daughter of King William I of Scotland (William the Lion) and died before 1191. He was succeeded by his brother William who in turn died in 1215 and was succeeded by his son, Robert de Brus who married Isabel, daughter of the Earl of Huntingdon, brother of William the Lion.[1]

Foundation of the royal line

The foundation for the Bruce royal claim came in 1219 when Robert Bruce, 4th Lord of Annandale married Isobel of Huntingdon, daughter of David of Scotland, 8th Earl of Huntingdon and niece of William the Lion. The union brought both great wealth, with the addition of lands in both England and Scotland, and the royal connection that the Bruces sought. Their son, Robert Bruce, 5th Lord of Annandale, known as 'the competitor' was sometime Tanist to the throne. On the death of Alexander III of Scotland both Bruce and John Balliol claimed succession. Margaret, Alexander's infant granddaughter was named as heir, however, she died in 1290 travelling to Scotland to claim her throne. Soon after the death of young queen Margaret, fearing civil war between the Bruce and Balliol families and their supporters, the Guardians of Scotland asked the kingdom's southern neighbour, Edward I of England to arbitrate among the claimants in order to avoid civil war. Edward I saw this as the opportunity he had long been waiting for to conquer Scotland as he had conquered Wales and rule over all the British Isles. In 1292 Edward chose Balliol who swore allegiance to the English monarch. It was not long, however, before Balliol rebelled against Edward, eventually leading to John's defeat and forced abdication after the Battle of Dunbar in 1296.[1]

Ascent to the throne

With the abdication of John Balliol, Scotland was effectively without a monarch. Robert the Bruce swore allegiance to Edward at Berwick-upon-Tweed but breached this oath when he joined the Scottish revolt the following year. In the summer of 1297 he again swore allegiance to Edward in what is known as the Capitulation of Irvine. Bruce appears to have sided with the Scots during the Battle of Stirling Bridge but when Edward returned victorious, to England after the Battle of Falkirk, Bruce's lands of Annandale and Carrick were exempted from the lordships and lands which Edward assigned to his followers. Bruce, it seems, was seen as a man whose allegiance might still be won. Bruce and John Comyn (a rival for the throne) succeeded William Wallace as Guardians of Scotland, but their rivalry threatened the stability of the country. A meeting was arranged at Greyfriars Church in Dumfries, neutral ground. Bruce stabbed Comyn through the heart, and as a result was excommunicated by Pope Clement V. Robert the Bruce was crowned at Scone, Perthshire in 1306. Robert led the Scottish army at the Battle of Bannockburn where the English were defeated.[1]

See: Wars of Scottish Independence

Robert's son, David II of Scotland became king on his father's death in 1329. In 1346 under the terms of the Auld Alliance David marched south into England in the interests of France, but was defeated at the Battle of Neville's Cross and imprisoned on 17 October of that year, and remained in England for eleven years. David returned to Scotland after negotiation of a treaty and ruled there until he died in Edinburgh Castle unexpectedly in 1371 without issue. The line of succession passed to the House of Stewart.[1]

After Robert the Bruce

Sir Edward Bruce was made commendator of Kinloss Abbey and appointed a judge in 1597. He was appointed a Lord of Parliament with the title of Lord Kinloss in 1602. He accompanied James VI to claim his English throne in 1603 and was subsequently appointed to English judicial office as Master of the Rolls. In 1608 he was granted a barony as Lord Bruce of Kinloss. His younger son, Thomas, 3rd Lord Kinloss, was created first Earl of Elgin in 1633. When the fourth Earl died without issue, the title passed to the descendants of Sir George Bruce of Carnock, who already held the title Earl of Kincardine and in 1747 the Earldoms were united.

Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin was a diplomat and ambassador to the Ottoman Empire between 1799 and 1803. He is famous, or infamous, for the removing of marble sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens, now commonly referred to as the Elgin Marbles. His son, James, was Governor General of the Province of Canada and Viceroy of India.

The current chief, Andrew Bruce, 11th Earl of Elgin, is prominent in Scottish affairs and is convener of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs.


Castles that have belonged to the Clan Bruce include:

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Grant, James (1886). The Scottish Clans and Their Tartans. Edinburgh, Scotland: W. & A. K. Johnston Limited. p. 2. ISBN none. 
  2. ^ a b c d A. A. M. Duncan, ‘de Brus, Robert (I), Lord of Annandale (d. 1142)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
  3. ^ a b Blakely, Ruth Margaret (2005). "Robert de Brus I:Founder of the Family". The Brus family in England and Scotland, 1100–1295. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press. pp. 8–27. ISBN 9781843831525. 
  4. ^ a b Emma Cownie, ‘Brus , Robert de (supp. d. 1094)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004


Clan Bruce
Preceded by
House of Balliol
Ruling House of the Kingdom of Scotland
Succeeded by
House of Stewart

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