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Archive of the Bruce Family


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The Bruce papers comprise correspondence and papers of five generations of the Bruce family, late 18th-20th century.

(Patrick) Craufurd Bruce (1748-1820), one of the sons of Sir Michael Bruce, 6th Bart., served in the East India Company, and was later a banker in London. His papers consist mainly of letters to him about his son Michael, including many letters from Michael on his travels (MSS. Eng. c. 5740-5743), letters from Lady Hester Stanhope (MS. Eng. c. 5744), and some domestic papers, including his notes on the character and behaviour of his servants, 1797-1820 (MS. Eng. d. 2834).

The most substantial portion of the papers is that of Michael Bruce (1787-1861). He travelled for several years in Europe and the Middle East (where he spent some time in the company of Lady Hester Stanhope). On his way back to England in 1816 he was tried and imprisoned in Paris, for his part in the escape of Count Lavallette from France. In 1818 he married Marianne Parker, the widow of Sir Peter Parker (d. 1814). Bruce's father died in 1820, leaving the family in financial difficulties. Bruce was called to the Bar in 1826, and was briefly, 1830-1831, Member of Parliament for Ilchester.

His letters to his father (MSS. Eng. c. 5740-5743) describe his travels in great detail. His father's replies (MSS. Eng. c. 5749-5750) and the letters of Lady Hester Stanhope to Michael Bruce and his father (MSS. Eng. c. 5744, c. 5758) supplement the information in his own letters. There are letters to him from various correspondents, 1807-1861 (MSS. Eng. c. 5751-5757, d. 2835-2836), including Lady Caroline Lamb, Dr. C.L. Meryon, and Louise Ney, Princesse de la Moskova. There is a box of papers of Lady Hester Stanhope (MS. Eng. c. 5759), in addition to the two boxes of her letters, and transcripts of papers of Sir George Savile relating to the Yorkshire Committee of Association (for reform) - MSS. Eng. d. 2838-2839.

Many of his letters, and those of his father and Lady Hester, with a selection of his other correspondence, are printed (with a few minor inaccuracies) in Ian Bruce's books about his great-grandfather, The nun of Lebanon (London, 1951), on Michael and Lady Hester, and Lavallette Bruce (London, 1953). The letters in three bound volumes (MSS. Eng. d. 2835-2837), acquired by the Dallas family in the 19th century, and bought back by the Bruce family in 1969, are not included in these two publications.

There are small groups of papers of the next three generations. There are letters to General Michael Bruce (1823-1883), with some family papers, and a group of papers relating to the Grenadier Guards (MSS. Eng. c. 5761-5762), and his wife's family annals, partly in the form of a diary (MS. Eng. e. 3000). His son, Eric Bruce, left an autobiography, 'Reminiscences of a scientist' (MS. Eng. d. 2842), and papers relating to his invention, the electric translucent balloon (MS. Eng. c. 5763, fols. 219-243, 297). The letters of Eric Bruce's son, Ian Bruce, to his parents, written on active service in the army, 1914-1920, are MSS. Eng. c. 5764-5765; letters from him to his wife, 1920s-1940s, are still with the family (1995). There is also a group of his family papers, his history of the 1st Battalion, the Gold Coast Regiment (MS. Eng. d. 2844), and some papers about his books on Michael Bruce.

The miscellaneous series contains papers (and some photographs) of the Bruce family and of many of the families connected by marriage to them - Brisbane, Dallas, Feilding, Grant, King, Stapleton-Bretherton - including extracts from diaries and copies of letters of Lucy Grant (later Feilding), 1850-1860 (MS. Eng. c. 5771). Most of the papers in the following catalogue were listed by the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts in 1989.


  • Creation: 18th - 20th Century


7.04 Linear metres (64 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Eng. b. 2067, fols. 1-2].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Eng. b. 2067, c. 5740-5772, d. 2834-2848, e. 2994-3004; Facs. d. 302; Photogr. c. 71, d. 13, e. 9

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 9691


Archive of the Bruce Family, late 18th-20th century, comprising papers of (Patrick) Craufurd Bruce (1748-1820) and Michael Bruce (1787-1861), with small groups of papers of the next three generations.

Biographical / Historical

(Patrick) Craufurd Bruce (1748-1820) served in the East India Company, and was later a banker in London. Michael Bruce (1787-1861) travelled for several years in Europe and the Middle East, was called to the Bar in 1826, and was Member of Parliament for Ilchester 1830-1831.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers (with a few printed books and maps, transferred to other sections of the Library) were bought, with a contribution from the Friends of the Bodleian, from the daughters of Ian and Joan Bruce - Anne Reyntiens, Janet Ward, Helen Todd, Eynor Bell, and Philena Bruce - in 1991.

Catalogue of the archive of the Bruce Family, 18th - 20th Century
Finding aid prepared by T. D. Rogers
Language of description
Script of description
Conversion to EAD supported by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom