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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, Scottish

Where did the English Bruce family come from? What is the English Bruce family crest and coat of arms? When did the Bruce family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Bruce family history?

Today's generation of the Bruce family bears a name that was brought to England by the migration wave that was started by the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Bruce family lived in Normandy. The exact location of the place from which the family name is derived is under dispute, as one may perhaps expect of such a prominent name. The traditional interpretation is that the name is derived from the place-name Brix, in La Manche. It is argued, however, that there is no real evidence in support of this, and that the name is actually derived from the place-name Le Brus, in Calvados. A surname based upon an already existing place-name is called a habitation name.

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Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, Norman French and other languages became incorporated into English throughout the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Bruce include Bruce, Brus (Gaelic), Bruys, Bruse and others.

First found in Yorkshire where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bruce research. Another 289 words(21 lines of text) covering the years 1150, 1274, and 1329 are included under the topic Early Bruce History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 60 words(4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bruce Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Bruce family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 120 words(9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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In England at this time, the uncertainty of the political and religious environment of the time caused many families to board ships for distant British colonies in the hopes of finding land and opportunity, and escaping persecution. The voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, though, and many arrived in North America sick, starved, and destitute. Those who did make it, however, were greeted with greater opportunities and freedoms that they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Early immigration records have shown some of the first Bruces to arrive on North American shores:

Bruce Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Richd Bruce, who arrived in Virginia in 1638
  • Sarah Bruce, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1643
  • Richard Bruce who landed in Virginia in 1650
  • Richard Bruce settled in Virginia in 1650
  • Phill Bruce, who landed in Virginia in 1664


Bruce Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Alexander Bruce who settled in Virginia in 1716
  • James Bruce settled in South Carolina in 1716
  • Alexander Bruce who landed in Virginia in 1716
  • James Bruce who landed in South Carolina in 1716
  • Alexander Bruce, who landed in New York in 1746


Bruce Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Dinah Bruce, aged 30, arrived in Alexandria, Va in 1801
  • Eliz Bruce, aged 26, landed in New York, NY in 1803
  • Thomas Bruce, who landed in America in 1803
  • Barwick Bruce, who arrived in Hartford, Conn in 1806
  • Robert Bruce, who landed in America in 1806


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  • David Kirkpatrick Este Bruce (1898-1977), American diplomat who served as Ambassador to France, the Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Lieutenant-General Andrew Davis Bruce (1894-1969), American Commandant Armed Forces Staff College (1951-1954)
  • F Iona Bruce (b. 1964), Singapore-born, English television presenter in the United Kingdom
  • Christopher Bruce (b. 1945), English dancer and choreographer
  • Sir David Bruce (1855-1931), Australian physician and bacteriologist
  • Malcolm Gray Bruce (b. 1944), British politician, Member of Parliament for Gordon
  • James Bruce (1811-1863), 8th Earl of Elgin and 12th Earl of Kincardine, a British colonial administrator, best known as Governor General of the Province of Canada and Viceroy of India
  • George Bruce (b. 1909), Scottish poet
  • Baron Henry Austin Bruce (1815-1895), Welsh 1st Baron of Aberdare and politician
  • Frederick Fyvie Bruce (1910-1990), Scottish classicist and biblical scholar

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  • Alexander Bruce of Southside Virginia and Some of His Descendants by June A. Bruce Stubbs.
  • The Ancestry and Descendants of Robert Bruce and Catherine Cearley by Lawrence Little.
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  1. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  2. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  3. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  4. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  6. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  7. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  9. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  10. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  11. ...

The Bruce Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Bruce Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 27 January 2014 at 08:12.

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