THE BRUCES OF ELGIN.
rr HE noble and Royal House of Bruce, of which the Braces of
Elgin are certainly a branch, though the precise line cannot be traced, is derived from ROBERT DE Bans (probably a Flem- ing), whose name appears in Domesday Book as a tenant in capita of ninety-four lordships in Yorkshire, of which the principal is Skelton. Either he or a son of the same name obtained from David I. a grant in Scotland of the lordship of Annandale, all the territory called Estrahanent, and all the lands from Strathuith, the bounds of the property of Donegal (the ancestor claimed by the Randolphs, Earls of Moray), into the limits of Ranulph de Mes- chines, then lord of Cumberland, to have and enjoy his castle there, and with all the customs to it appertaining, as amply as the said Ranulph held his in Carlisle and in the territory of Cumberland. For this donation Robert de Brus did homage to King David. He still, however, remained a subject of the English Crown, and appeared in the English army when the opposing forces met near Northallerton in 1138. As a vassal of both Crowns Brus was despatched to endeavour to arrange terms with King David, but was met by a cry of "Thou art a false traitor !" and dismissed from the Scottish camp, renouncing his fealty to the King of Scots. He died in 1141. It should be observed that Dugdale and Douglas divide his life between two generations, attributing the grant in Scotland to a second Robert de Brus, whom they call the son of the founder of the English family. Sir Harris Nicolas, who does not recognize the existence of this second Robert de Brus, is usually accurate in such matters, though the dates rather militate against him in this case, and render it more probable that there were two generations of Braces between their settlement in England and the year 1141. The English stem of the Braces retained baronial rank in the southern kingdom till the reign of Edward I., when the line ended. in 1273 with the four sisters of Peter de Bras, the last Baron. These were Agnes, who married Walter de Fauconberg ; Lucy, married to Marmaduke de Thweng ; Mar- garet, the wife of Robert de Roos; and Laderama, the wife of John de Bella Aqua, or Bellew.
Robert de Brus, according to Sir Harris Nicolas second son of the founder of the English family, according to Dugdale and Douglas grandson of the same, succeeded in 1141 to the lordship of Annandale, and according to the latter authorities fought on the Scottish side at the battle of the Standard, near Northallerton, in 1138, and was taken prisoner by his own father, who delivered him to King Stephen, and he was by that King courteously released. If any such incident really occurred, it was probably a family arrangement (like that which we have recently related of the Da1rymples) to save to the Bruces their lands in both countries. The story goes that young Bruce told his father that they had no wheat bread in Scotland, and on this hint obtained from him a grant of the lordship of Hert and territory of Hertness, in Durham, to holdof him and his heirs, lords of Skelton. The lands in Annandale were confirmed to him by William the Lion, and he was alive in1196. His elder son, Robert, according to Dugdale, died before him, and was succeeded by his brother, William de Bras, who died in 1215. His son and successor, Robert de Bras, who died in 1215, married babel, second daughter of David, Earl of Huntingdon, brother of King William the Lion. It is from this marriage that the Braces derived their subsequent claim to the Crown of Scotland. Robert de Brus, the offspring of this Royal affiance, was nominated one of the Regents of Scotland and guardians of Alexander III. in 1255, and was taken prisoner fighting on the side of Henry ILL at the battle of Lewes. On the death of Queen Margaret (the Fair Maid of Norway) he entered his claim to the Crown of Scotland as nearest heir to Alexander III. To speak of the career of the Royal line of Braces thenceforth would be merely to repeat the history of Scotland during that period. We will confine our- selves to simply recording that Robert de Bras died in 1295, aged eighty-five. His son Robert in 1271 married Margaret, Countess of Carrick, a fair and widowed heiress, who had literally carried hitn off prisoner to her castle, and there made terms of matrimony with him ; and in her right he became Earl of Carrick. He died in 1304, having sat as a Baron by writ of summons in the English Parliament from 1293 to 1297. His son Robert Bruce was the celebrated King of Scotland of that name. He died in 1329, and his son, King David II., without issue in 1371, when the Crown passed to the son of the Steward of Scotland and of Lady Marjory Bruce, daughter of King Robert.
On the 9th of December, 1359, King David Bruce granted to his beloved and faithful kinsman (consanguineo) ROBERT DR BRUY8 a charter of the castle and manor of Clackmannan, Gyrmanston,
Garclew, Wester Kennault, Pitsoluden, and many other lands in the sheriffdom of Clackmannan. This Robert de Brays, the admitted ancestor of the Earls of Elgin, is represented by some genealogists as the grandson of a John de Breda or Bruce, said to
have been the third son of the Robert Bruce who first laid claim to the Crown of Scotland, and consequently an uncle of King
Robert Bruce. But of the existence of this John there is no proof whatever, much less of his having been the grandfather of the Robert de Brays, King David's kinsman. We are therefore entirely left to conjecture as to the exact relationship between the Royal Braces and the family of which we have now to give an account, and conjecture is here entirely at fault.
Robert de Brays, besides the grant above mentioned, obtained two others from the same monarch. One, dated October 20, 1364, was of lands in the sheriffdom of Clackmannan, "for faithful service performed and to be performed to us," to be held by him and the heirs male of his body, being legitimate ; the other, dated January 17, 1368, was of the King's lands of Rate, within the sheriffdom of Perth, to be held in an entire and free barony. He left five sons, the youngest of whom, James, was consecrated in 1441 Bishop of Dunkeld, and nominated in 1417 to the bishopric of Glasgow, but died before the forms of the appointment were com- pleted. The eldest son, Sir Robert Bruce of Clackmannan, obtained a new charter (August 12, 1393) of the lands of Rate extending the limitations to his nearest heirs whatsoever, and another charter (October 24, 1391) for the Clackmannan property limiting it to his sons David and Thomas and the heirs male of their bodies, and failing these a provision that it should revert to the Crown. In these charters Sir Robert and his son David are called the King's beloved kinsmen. He was succeeded by his son, Sir David Bruce of Clackmannan, who, again, was succeeded by his son, John Bruce of Clackmannan, who died in 1473. John Bruce's eldest son, Sir David, knighted by King James IV., married first a daughter of Sir William Stirling of Keir. Their son Robert had a grant from his father in 1481 of the lands of Rate. Robert Bruce's son David renounced on the 1st of February, 1507, in favour of his uncle David, all his right to the estate of Clackmannan. This "uncle David" was the son of Sir David of Clackmannan by a second marriage to a daughter of Robert Ilerries of Terregeles. David Bruce, thus preferred to his elder half-brother and his nephew in the lands of Clackmannan, had also a charter of those of Rate on the 11th of September, 1497, and on the 18th of Sep- tember, 1512, had a letter under the Great Seal permitting him to hold a free fair annually in the town of Clackmannan. Sir David's eldest son, John, died before him, leaving his son, Sir Robert Bruce, NA° is designated grandson and heir apparent to Sir David in charters of the year 1551, by one of which he has a grant of the barony of Clackmannan and Rate. His line became extinct in 1772. Sir David's fifth son, David Bruce of Green, is the ancestor of the Braces of Wester Kennet, who claim to be heads of the House of Bruce. Their claim, whether it can be established positively or not, cannot be disproved, as we have here a break in the chain of evidence which connects the Elgin branch with the line of Robert de Bruys. That Edward Bruce of Blair - hall, with whom we continue the line, was the second son of Sir David of Clackmannan, is an assertion not supported by any char- ter authority. He was evidently one of the Clackmannan family, but beyond that all must remain doubtful. He had charters of part of the lands of Easter Kennet from John Brody on the 22nd of April, 1537, and of the lands of Bergandy and part of Shiresmiln from William, Commendator of Culross, June 7, 1540. He married a sister of Robert Reid, Bishop of Orkney (who was one of the Commissioners from Scotland to witness the marriage of Queen Mary and the Dauphin in 1558). Their eldest son, Robert Bruce, was ancestor of the Braces of Blairhall, which are extinct in the male line. The second son, EDWARD BRUCE of Kmoss, of which Cistercian abbey he was Commendator, continues the line of Elgin, and may be called the real founder of that family. He had a charter on the 24th of December, 1593, of the lands of Pitkaine and Crowany in Fife, and being a man of superior abilities and learning he was appointed a Lord of Session, 2nd of December, 1597, and sent along with the Earl of Mar, in 1600, to England, nominally to congratulate Queen Elizabeth on the suppression of Essex's rising (in which King James had been concerned), the mission having originally formed part of the Essex plot. In this capacity Edward Bruce was one of the agents of James with whom Robert Cecil held close correspondence respecting the succession.
He had a charter of the barony of Kinloss erected into a temporal Lordship, with the title of a lord of Parliament, February 2, 1602, and on the 3rd of May, 1608, a grant of all the lands and baronies which belonged to the abbey of Kinloss united into the lordship of Kinloss, as in the previous charter. Accompanying into England the new sovereign, James (with whom he was a great favourite), Lord Bruce was sworn of the English Privy Council (as he had already been of the Scotch), and constituted Master of the Rolls for life, resigning on this occasion his lord- ship of Session in Scotland. This was one of the appointments of
Scotch favourites by which James roused the jealous indignation of his new southern subjects. Lord Bruce had charters to him, his wife, Magdalen Clerk, and his brother, GEORGE BRUCE, burgess of Cutaoss, of an annual rent of Urquharter, on the 24th of May, 1598; to him and his wife and their son and heir, Edward Brace, of the barony of Pittenerick, December 10, 1605; of the ecclesiastical lands of Rossyth, on the 4th of September in the same year ; and of the lands of Poldynnes, February 19, 1607. Lord Bruce died January 14, 1611, in the sixty-second year of his age, and was buried in the Rolls Chapel in Chancery Lane, where a "fair monument" was erected to his memory, with his effigy in a recumbent posture. By his wife, Magdalen, the daughter of Alexander Clark, of Balbirny, in Fife, Lord Bruce left two sons and a daughter, Christian, who when only twelve years and four months old was married by the King to William, Lord Cavendish, afterwards second Earl of Devonshire. We have already spoken of her talents in telling the story of the Cavendishes, of whose present ducal house she is the ancestress.