Bruce of Airth and Stenhouse - Tom Paterson Genealogy

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The Bruce family of Stenhouse claims a common ancestor with the noble house of Elgin. Sir Alexander Bruce, of Airth, lineally descended from Sir Robert Bruce, Knt., of Clackmannan, married Janet, daughter of Alexander, the fifth Lord Livingstone, and had several sons, of whom the eldest, William, was ancestor of the Bruces of Airth, now extinct. Robert, the youngest, became progenitor of the Bruces of Kinnaird; and William, the second son, obtained from his father the lands of Stenhouse, &c., in a charter, dated 28th June, 1611. This gentleman, who was created a baronet of Nova Scotia, with remainder to his heirs male whatsoever, 26th June, 1629, married, first, the heiress of Lothian, by whom he had an only daughter; and secondly, Rachael, daughter of Joseph Johnston, Esq., of Hiltoun, by whom he had two sons, and was succeeded at his decease, in 1630, by the elder, William.




ROBERT BRUCE, of Airth m.(abt. 1400) a daughter of Sir Alexander Livingstone of Callender. They had 2 sons: Alexander and Robert.

SIR ALEXANDER BRUCE, of Airth m. Margaret daughter of Sir Malcolm Forrester of Torwood. Eldest son John succeeded Stenhouse and his brother Alexander was the ancestor of the Brigham and Earlshall.

JOHN BRUCE, m. Elizabeth daughter of Sir William Menteith of Kerse. Was in 1481 charged by the commissioners to call Alexander, Duke of Albany, to answer for the charge of treason.

SIR ROBERT BRUCE, m.(abt 1450) Euphemia daughter of Alexander Lord Montgomery. He succeeded his father in Stenhouse in 1483 and his grandfather in Airth in 1488.


  1. Janet daughter of Sir Walter Forrester of Carden, m abt 1511. They had
    1. Alexander, b abt 1512, Airth
    2. John, b abt 1514, Airth
    3. James, b abt 1517, Airth
    4. William, b 1518, Airth
    5. Alexander ?, b abt 1526
  2. Marion daughter of Sir David Bruce of Clackmannan.

SIR ALEXANDER BRUCE, 3rd of Airth m. Janet daughter of Alexander 5th of Livingstone. Janet Livingstone, had a genealogy no less eminnent, being a great-granddaughter of James 1 and of Jane Beaufort his Queen. A sister of this Janet Livingstone was Mary Livingstone, one of the "four Marys" who were maids of honour to Mary, Queen of Scots. Sempill, of Beltrees, mar ried Mary Livingstone, and their son, a cousin of Robert Bruce, the minister, used his influence with the king more than once in after days on behalf of his persecuted relative. Sir Alexander, the father of Master Robert Bruce, was a rude, bluff baron, with a goodly proportion of acres for his estate, and behind him a powerful following of retainers. On one occasion, supported by his trusty followers, he encountered a party of the retainers of the laird of Weems in the High Street of Edinburgh, whom he attacked and pistolled, the skirmish being a very bloody one. Alexander died in 1600.

They had:

  1. William, b abt 1548,
  2. Robert , b abt 1554, became 1st of Kinnaird, this is the famous minister. His great grandson was James Bruce the famous African Traveller and discover of the white nile.
  3. John, b abt 1552, took the title of Airth.
  4. Alexander, b abt. 1558
  5. Marion, b abt 1562
  6. daughter b, abt 1563

WILLIAM BRUCE, m. Jane daughter of 5th Lord Fleming. They had (from IGI - to be confirmed):

  1. John, b abt 1583, Airth
  2. William. , b abt 1584, Airth
  3. Alexander, b abt. 1586
  4. Robert, b abt. 1587
  5. Alexander, b abt. 1588
  6. Patrick b. abt 1589

JOHN BRUCE, of Airth m. Margaret daughter of 4th Lord of Elphinestone. They had one son, Alexander Bruce who died without an hier. The title of Airth went to the Graham family and the title of Stenhouse went to John's brother William. IGI has more info - Margaret  b abt 1611, and John abt 1612.

WILLIAM BRUCE, obtained Stenhouse from his grandfather in 1611 and was created a baronet of Nova Scotia Sept. 29, 1628. Married 1st the daughter of General Middleton of Letham and 2nd to Rachel widow of John Jackson. He built Stenhouse in about 1622. They had William Bruce, b abt 1682 and Charles Bruce.

SIR WILLIAM BRUCE , 2nd Baronet m.abt 1630, Helen daughter of Sir William Douglas of Cavers. His shield is was displayed at Stenhouse. They had

  1. William Bruce, b abt 1640
  2. Charles Bruce, whom the Russian General Romulus Bruce and Prussian Peter Bruce are descended.

WILLIAM BRUCE, 3rd Baronet married,

  1. Jean Fortune, m 15 Sep 1665, Edinburgh
  2. Alison Turnbull., m 17 Apr 1679, Edinburgh

WILLIAM BRUCE, 4th Baronet m. Margaret daughter of Sir John Boyd of Trochrg and died 1721. From his 4th son are descended the Compte de Bruces of Paris. His second son succeeded him. Had a son William b abt 1738,

SIR ROBERT BRUCE, 5th Baronet, died and the title reverted to his brother.

SIR MICHAEL BRUCE, 6th Baronet m. Mary daughter of General Sir Andrew Agnew of Lochnaw. Michael was responsible for demolishing Arthur's Oon, the Roman temple at the edge of Carron iron works, in 1743. An antiquarian is supposed to have painted a picture of  Sr Michael being driven into a stream by the devil and it is said the luck of the Bruces will be bad until the picture is destroyed. He was "Out" in the '45. He died in 1795 and had 6 sons and 7 daughters:

  1. Sir William Bruce, eldest son, later
  2. Eleonora Bruce, b 8 Feb 1741
  3. Isobel Bruce, b 18 Dec 1745
  4. Margaret Bruce, b 18 Dec 1745 (twins!)
  5. 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. Married Jane and had  daughters Jane Craufurd Bruce and Maria Medows Bruce (c 5 Apr 1790) His son was,

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). (She was of Westminster Saint george Hanover Square on marriage cert). Bruce's father died in 1820, leaving the family in financial difficulties. Bruce was called to the Bar in 1826, and was briefly, 1830-1, Member of Parliament for Ilchester.

His letters to his father (MSS. Eng. c. 5740-3) describe his travels in great detail. His father's replies (MSS. Eng. c. 5749-50) 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, 1807-61 (MSS. Eng. c. 5751-7, d. 2835-6), 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. 2838-9.

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. 2835-7), 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 (1823-83), with some family papers, and a group of papers relating to the Grenadier Guards (MSS. Eng. c. 5761-2), 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. 219-43, 297). The letters of Eric Bruce's son, Ian Bruce, to his parents, written on active service in the army, 1914-20, are MSS. Eng. c. 5764-5; 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 section 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), 1850-60 (MS. Eng. c. 5771)

  1. Mary Bruce, b. 20 May 1749
  2. Elisabeth Dunbar Bruce, b 31 Jan 1752
  3. Rachel Bruce, b. 5 Jan 1757
  4. James Thomas Bruce, b. 24 Mar 1758, Larbert

SIR WILLIAM BRUCE, 7th Baronet, d 1827. m. Anne Colquhoun daughter of Sir William Cunningham Fairlie. They had:

  1. Michael, 8th Baronet, b 31 Mar 1797, Stenhouse,
  2. William Bruce, b 24 Nov 1798, Stenhouse, m. Jane Catherine daughter of William Clark of London and a direct decendant of MacIan of Glencoe.
    1. William, 9th Baronet,  took the title.
    2. Patrick, b abt 1831 ( Toms note: Sir Michael Bruce has Michael Bruce of Lavallette fame as this Patrick's son but I think he is wrong)
    3. Ronald, b 18 Oct 1831, Stenhouse
    4. Michael Robert, b 14 dec 1832, Stenhouse.
    5. Ada married 21 Jan.1863,(need to check these dates) James-Waller O'Grady,  lieut. R.N. of Rathfredagh, Newcastle West , co. Limerick, J.P, son of the Hon. Walter O’Grady, Q.C
    6. Arthur Neil Bruce, b 27 Jan 1838, Stenhouse
  3. Alexander, b 15 Apr 1801, m Maria Anna Calh (?) and had a son Alexander James Bruce,b abt 1822, Stenhouse.
  4. Anna Colquhoun, b abt 1802
  5. Mary Agnew, c. 30 may 1803
  6. Patrick

SIR MICHAEL BRUCE, 8th Baronet, 1797- 1862,  m.(banns) 2 Jun 1822, Isabella daughter of Alexander Moir of Scotstoun. . The title went to his nephew William, son of William.

SIR WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM BRUCE, b abt 1829, m. 26 Aug 1850 Charlotte daughter of Waller O'Grady. Sir William Cunningham Bruce, the 9th Baronet, of Stenhouse, was the the eldest son of  William Cunningham Bruce, Esquire, of the Bombay Civil Service, by Jane, daughter of William Clarke, Esquire, of London. He was born in 1825; and succeeded his uncle, Sir Michael, as eighth baronet, in 1862. In 1850, he married Charlotte Isabella, daughter of the Hon. Walter O’Grady, Q.C., and grand-daughter of Standish, first Guillamore. She died in 1873. Sir William was a captain of the 74th Foot and he died in 1906.The heir, his son Michael, was born in 1853 but his second son William Waller Bruce succeded him. 

Toms Note: Thomas O'Grady, my ancestor and son of Standish was a Major in the 74th Foot and Sir William's wife Charlotte was his niece. I've always thought that Thomas was billeted at Stirling castle and that's how he came to meet Mary Balfour, who had his illegitimate son. Maybe he met her while  visiting his army friend at Stenhouse.


SIR WILLIAM WALLER BRUCE, 10th Baronet,  b 1856, m. 12 Mar 1892, Angelica Mary daughter of General George Selby, Royal Artillery. Angelica's six brothers were all killed or died on active service with "The Gunners" He died in 1912 leaving issue,

SIR MICHAEL WILLIAM SELBY BRUCE11th Baronet, b. Ensenada, Lower California, 27 Mar 1874. Succeded his father in 1912. Distinguished military career and made propaganda films in 2nd World War then returned to the Royal Air Force. Had several publications including Songs from the Saddle, Hunter's Yarns, The Royal House of Bruce, Tramp Royal. heir was Michael Ian Bruce.

m. 1st, 1925, Dorren Dalziel daughter of Major W. F. Grenwell. - divorced in 1938 - one son by this marriage

MICHAEL IAN BRUCE  b 3 Apr 1926, married, 1947, Barbara Stevens daughter of Francis J. Lynch of New York. He had 2 sons: Michael and Robert.

m. 2nd 1938, Constance Elizabeth (d. 1945 in enemy action) daughter of Frank Plummer, Toronto, Canada - one daughter, Constance Mary Corinna, b1940

m. 3rd 1946, Margaret Helen daughter of Sir Arthur Lennon Binns, M.C, C.B.E, of Lytham, Lancs - one son,



WILLIAM NIGEL ERNLE BRUCE, younger brother of  Sir Michael the 11th Bart, b1895 in Ensenada, Mexico. m. 1921, Violet daughter of Col. Wilington Shelton of Buree , Co. Limerick.  Toms Note: Another Limerick connection! This is Nigel Bruce the film actor who was Watson to Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes. 

The following is copied from the linked site  

"Nigel Bruce was born on February 14, 1895 while his father, a Scottish baronet and his wife, were travelling in Ensenada, Mexico. They returned to the British Isles where he was educated in England. During his service in World War I, Nigel was wounded in the leg and remained in a wheelchair for 3 years.

Fortunately Nigel's injury did not stop his craving for the stage and afterwards in 1920, he made his debut in The Creaking Chair. In 1922 Nigel married Violet Shelton. They later had two children, Jennifer and Pauline.

Nigel appeared in more than 30 films before his "definitive" role as Watson, including his first film roll in Red Aces (1929). He also appeared in Treasure Island (1934); The Scarlet Pimpernel (1935); Under Two Flags (1936); and Charge of the Light Brigade, The (1936) for a total of more than 70 films during his career.

Unlike Rathbone, Nigel never tired of his role as Watson and enthusiastically continued to play it through all 15 films and countless radio programs. He greatly contributed to the films success, impressing audiences with his gifts of humor and genuine characterization. Rathbone states in his autobiography "There is no question in my mind that Nigel Bruce was the ideal Dr. Watson... There was an endearing quality to his performance...".

Nigel passed away on October 8, 1953, after a heart attack."

Bruces of Stenhouse, 9th - 11th Baronets

Above, three generations of Bruce. Clockwise from the top -
Sir William Cunningham Bruce 9th Bart;
Sir William Waller Bruce, 10th Bart; Nigel Bruce on his knee;
standing the young Sir Michael Bruce, 11th Bart - author of  the "Tramp Royal"

Below, Nigel Bruce as Watson

Sources: Tramp Royal, Sir Michael Bruce of Stenhouse and Airth;  Burkes Peerage Records; Robert Bruce (biography) The Bruces of Airth and their Cadets; The Elgins. Burkes Peerage, The Bodelian Library, Oxford., The Bruce Family web site run by Thomas Bruce -

Tom Paterson (last updated 27th April 2008)