Bruce History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the great Scottish surname Bruce actually lie off of the British Isles, as Bruce (or Brus) was a name carried to England in the great wave of migration from Normandy following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Bruce family originally lived in Normandy. The exact location of the place from which the family name is derived is under dispute, as one may 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. [1]

Early Origins of the Bruce family

The surname Bruce was first found in Yorkshire where Robert de Bruis was granted ninety-four manors. His son Robert de Bruys traveled north with Earl David of Huntingdon who later became King of Scotland and was granted large estates in Annandale, Scotland about 1150. Robert de Bruys had two sons: Robert and William. Robert, who became known as Robert the Bruce, would later claim the crown of Scotland and unite Scotland against the English. He defeated the English army soundly in the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. "Robert, 'the Bruce of Bannockburn,' was arguably the most illustrious monarch that ever swayed the Scottish sceptre." [2] As a result of this battle Scotland gained its independence from England as declared in the Treaty of Northampton (1328).

King Robert the Bruce died the next year at Cardross. Although he had instructed to one of his most trusted followers to bury his heart in the Holy Land, they were stopped in Spain and therefore returned to Scotland. His heart is buried at Melrose in Dunfermeline. The Earls of Elgin are descended from the Bruces of Clackmannan.

Early History of the Bruce family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bruce research. Another 128 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1318, 1274, 1329, 1548, 1611, 1550, 1625, 1599, 1663, 1629, 1681, 1700, 1679, 1686, 1688, 1669, 1735 and are included under the topic Early Bruce History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bruce Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Brywiss, Broyse, Bruce, Bruice, Bruise, Brus, Broys, Brywass, Brues, Brywess, Bruwes, Bruys, Bruze, Brwze, Brywes, Bruse, Braose, Bruis, Browse and many more.

Early Notables of the Bruce family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family at this time was Robert Bruce (1274-1329), King of Scotland. His body is buried in Dunfermline Abbey, while his heart is buried in Melrose Abbey. His embalmed heart was to be taken on crusade by his lieutenant and friend Sir James Douglas to the Holy Land but Douglas only made it as far as Granada, Spain. Other notables include: Edward Bruce, 1st Lord Kinloss PC (1548-1611), a Scottish lawyer and judge; Sir George Bruce of...
Another 79 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bruce Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bruce World Ranking

In the United States, the name Bruce is the 541st most popular surname with an estimated 54,714 people with that name. [3] However, in Canada, the name Bruce is ranked the 474th most popular surname with an estimated 10,129 people with that name. [4] And in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Bruce is the 462nd popular surname with an estimated 102 people with that name. [5] Australia ranks Bruce as 347th with 10,456 people. [6] New Zealand ranks Bruce as 260th with 2,358 people. [7] The United Kingdom ranks Bruce as 324th with 19,008 people. [8]

Ireland Migration of the Bruce family to Ireland

Some of the Bruce family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 50 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Bruce migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Bruce Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Richard Bruce, who arrived in Virginia in 1638 [9]
  • Sarah Bruce, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1643 [9]
  • Richard Bruce who landed in Virginia in 1650
  • Richard Bruce, who settled in Virginia in 1650
  • Phill Bruce, who landed in Virginia in 1664 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bruce Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Alexander Bruce who settled in Virginia in 1716
  • James Bruce, who 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 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bruce Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Dinah Bruce, aged 30, who arrived in Alexandria, Va in 1801 [9]
  • Eliz Bruce, aged 26, who landed in New York, NY in 1803 [9]
  • Thomas Bruce, who landed in America in 1803 [9]
  • Barwick Bruce, who arrived in Hartford, Connecticut in 1806 [9]
  • Robert Bruce, who landed in America in 1806 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Bruce migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Bruce Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Bruce, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749-1752
  • James Bruce, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • John Bruce, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Mr. Alnanwer Bruce U.E. who settled in Cornwall, Ontario c. 1783 [10]
  • Mr. David Bruce U.E. who settled in Eastern District [Cornwall], Ontario c. 1783 [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bruce Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • John Bruce, aged 60, who arrived in Churchill Factory, Canada in 1813
  • Catherine Bruce, aged 33, who landed in Canada in 1815
  • John Bruce, who arrived in Canada in 1817
  • Mrs. Catherine Bruce, aged 54 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Scotland" departing 13th April 1847 from Cork, Ireland; the ship arrived on 8th June 1847 but she died on board [11]
  • George Bruce, who arrived in Esquimalt, British Columbia in 1862

Australia Bruce migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Bruce Settlers in Australia in the 18th Century
Bruce Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mrs. Mary Bruce, (b. 1787), aged 25, English servant who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Emu" in October 1812, the ship was captured and the passengers put ashore, the convicts were then transported aboard the "Broxburnebury" in January 1812 arriving in New South Wales, Australia [13]
  • Mr. Francis Bruce who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Dick" on 2nd October 1820, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [14]
  • Mr. John Bruce, Scottish convict who was convicted in Aberdeen, Scotland for 14 years, transported aboard the "Caledonia" in 19th June 1822, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [15]
  • James Bruce, a blacksmith, who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • James Bruce, who landed in Sydney, Australia in 1836
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Bruce migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Bruce Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Charles Bruce, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Peter Bruce, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841 aboard the ship Lady Nugent
  • Peter Bruce, aged 23, a sawyer, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1841
  • Helen Bruce, aged 22, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1841
  • Mr. Peter Bruce, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 17th March 1841 [16]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Bruce (post 1700) +

  • Patsy Ann Bruce (1940-2021), née Smithson, an American country songwriter and manager, best known for co-writting "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" with her ex-husband Ed Bruce
  • William Edwin "Ed" Bruce Jr. (1939-2021), American country music songwriter, singer, and actor, best known for writing the 1975 song "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys"
  • Earle Bruce (1931-2018), American football player and coach
  • Lieutenant-General Andrew Davis Bruce (1894-1969), American Commandant Armed Forces Staff College (1951-1954) [17]
  • 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
  • Charles Bruce, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Massachusetts, 1900 [18]
  • Charles Bruce, American politician, Postmaster at Darlington Court House, South Carolina, 1809-10 [18]
  • C. Arthur Bruce, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Tennessee, 1932, 1940, 1944, 1952 (alternate) [18]
  • Blanche Kelso Bruce (1841-1898), American Republican politician, U.S. Senator from Mississippi, 1875-81; Delegate to Republican National Convention from Mississippi, 1880, 1884; Register of the U.S. Treasury, 1881, 1897-98 [18]
  • Benjamin F. Bruce, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Madison County 2nd District, 1867 [18]
  • ... (Another 67 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Dorsetshire
  • Alexander Morrison Bruce (d. 1945), British Stoker 2nd Class aboard the HMS Dorsetshire when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he died in the sinking [19]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. William Bruce, British Able Bodied Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [20]
  • Mr. James Bruce, British Canteen Assistant, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [20]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. James Joseph Bruce, British Petty Officer, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [21]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. John F. Bruce, American Gunners Mate Third Class working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he survived the sinking [22]


The Bruce Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Fuimus
Motto Translation: We have been


Suggested Readings for the name Bruce +

  • 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.

  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  4. ^ https://forebears.io/surnames/
  5. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  6. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  7. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  8. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  9. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  10. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  11. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 67)
  12. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retrieved 4th February 2021, retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/charlotte)
  13. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/Emu
  14. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 8th July 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/Dick
  15. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 30th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/caledonia
  16. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  17. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, November 3) Andrew Bruce. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Bruce/Andrew_Davis/USA.html
  18. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 21) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  19. ^ Force Z Survivors HMS Dorsetshire Crew List, (Retrieved 2018, February 13th), https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listdorsetshirecrew.html
  20. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  21. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  22. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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