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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, Scottish


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 early record of the family found them at Middlesbrough, a town and parish, on the river Tees. "This place, at a very early period, had a chapel dedicated to St. Hilda, which, in the reign of Henry I., was granted by Robert de Brus to the monks of Whitby Abbey, on condition of their founding here a cell to that monastery; this condition was fulfilled, and the institution that was established continued to flourish till the Dissolution." [1] Skelton in the West Riding of Yorkshire held a special significance to the ancient family. "This place was given at the Conquest to Robert de Brus, a Norman Baron who came over with William, and who erected a castle here, of which scarcely any vestiges remain, the whole having been modernised in 1794. From this baron descended some of the kings of Scotland, and the present family of Bruce, marquesses of Ailesbury. The ancient manor [of Skinningrove] belonged to the Bruces, lords of Skelton, and came by marriage to the Thwengs, of Kilton." [1]


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bruce research. Another 345 words (25 lines of text) covering the years 1150, 1274, 1329 and are included under the topic Early Bruce History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 105 words (8 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 87 words (6 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 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 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 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


Bruce Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Mr. Bruce, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749-1752
  • Mr. Alnanwer Bruce U.E who settled in Cornwall, Ontario c. 1783
  • Mr. David Bruce U.E who settled in Eastern District [Cornwall], Ontario c. 1783
  • Mr. David Bruce U.E who settled in Parr Town [Saint John], New Brunswick c. 1783
  • Mr. John Bruce U.E who settled in Canada c. 1783


Bruce Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Catherine Bruce, aged 33, landed in Canada in 1815
  • John Bruce, who arrived in Canada in 1817

Bruce Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • James Bruce, a blacksmith, arrived in Van Diemenís Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • James Bruce landed in Sydney, Australia in 1836
  • Douglas Bruce arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "William Nicol" in 1840
  • Mary Ann Bruce arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "William Nicol" in 1840
  • Charlotte Mary Morgan Bruce arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "William Nicol" in 1840


Bruce Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Charles Bruce landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Peter Bruce landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841 aboard the ship Lady Nugent
  • Peter Bruce, aged 23, a sawyer, arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1841
  • Helen Bruce, aged 22, arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1841
  • Thomas Bruce, aged 33, a sawyer, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "New Zealand" in 1842


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  • John Bruce (1832-1901), American politician, U.S. District Judge for Alabama, 1875-1901
  • Lieutenant-General Andrew Davis Bruce (1894-1969), American Commandant Armed Forces Staff College (1951-1954)
  • 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
  • Thaddeus C. Bruce, American politician, Member of Connecticut State Senate 21st District, 1842
  • William Bruce, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Maine, 1960
  • William Cabell Bruce (1860-1946), American Democrat politician, Member of Maryland State Senate, 1894-96; U.S. Senator from Maryland, 1923-29
  • William G. Bruce, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Wisconsin, 1924
  • William W. Bruce, American Republican politician, Presidential Elector for Illinois, 1908
  • Charles Bruce, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Massachusetts, 1900
  • Charles Bruce, American politician, Postmaster at Darlington Court House, South Carolina, 1809-10

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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. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  2. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  4. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  5. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  7. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  8. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  9. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  10. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  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 14 March 2016 at 12:13.

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