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BRUCE OF SUMBURGH in the parish of Dunrossness

  1. WILLIAM BRUCE, according to the family tradition, was a son of Robert, second son of John Bruce of Cultmalindie, and nephew of Laurence Bruce of Cultmalindie, and accompanied his uncle to Shetland in the capacity of Secretary or Clerk. He would appear to have been more probably a native of the East of Fife, to which he afterwards returned. As early as 1572, he is designed William Bruce of Symbister, in a discharge still preserved at Sumburgh. On 28th March 1592, he had a Feu Charter from Patrick, Earl of Orkney, of the twenty merk of land, six pennies the merk, of Soundburgh, called the King's lands, and four merks of land called the Provost's lands, lying runrig with the said twenty merks, and the twenty merks of land of Scatness. These Provost's lands which originally belonged to the Dom Kirke or Cathedral of Bergen, he excambed on 5th August 1604, with the Earl for the lands of Sandwick, but on 15th November 1605, this was departed from, and he received a new Charter from the Earl which was confirmed by the Crown on 20th November 1605. In 1592, he is a party along with Laurence Bruce of Cultmalindie, Henry Sinclair of Towquoy , William Irving of Saba, Robert Sinclair of Camstane, Thomas Cheyne of Vaila, John Sinclair of Tobe, and Magnus Cromartie of Cara, for themselves and in name of the remaining udallers, to a supplication to Parliament against an attempt of Earl Robert to compel them to feudalise their holdings by taking out charters from him.

    On the 30th June 1597, he was ordained by the Privy Council to find caution to the extent of 1000 merks, and on 15th March 1610, he was appointed a Commissioner of Peace for Shetland. He appeared as a witness at Edinburgh along with others against Earl Patrick in 1610, and “await there upon their complaints, and dare not pass home from fear of the Earl”, as he may be learned from the Privy Council Register.

    In 1611 there seems to have been a feud between this family and the Sinclairs of Houss, and a complaint having been made by the Lord Advocate to the Privy Council, the parties were summoned to Scalloway. In obedience to this summons William Bruce and Robert, his son, proceeded to Scalloway, where they were attacked by Laurence and James Sinclair, sons of Arthur Sinclair of Houss, and their retainers, to the number of forty, who so ill-treated them that they were left for dead. On 28th January 1612, it is reported that the parties had given their great Oath that they would keep the peace inviolate, and for a further manifestation of their sincerity they had “choppit handis togedder”. William Bruce returned to Fifeshire, his native country , where he died about 1630, and was buried at Crail, where his monument is still to be seen.

    By his wife Marjorie, daughter of John Stewart, Prior of Coldingham, (a natural son of James V and Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Carmichael of Crawford) and widow of William Sinclair of Underhoull, she died 25th November 1607, he had issue:

    1. Robert his heir

    By his second wife, Isabella, daughter of Sir James Spence of Wormiston, he had a son Andrew, from whom the family of Pittarthie in Fifeshire was descended.

  2. ROBERT BRUCE, second of Sumburgh and Symbister, to whom his father conveyed his Shetland estates in 1621, died March 1636. He is said to have married (first) Margaret, daughter of Patrick Cheyne of Esslemont, and (second) 18th July 1625, Marjory, daughter of Andrew Bruce of Muness, and had issue:
    1. William
    2. Laurence, ancestor of the family of Symbister.
    3. Andrew of Braewick
    4. Patrick
    5. James
    6. Mary
    All mentioned in the Confirmation of their father's estates on 19th April 1642.
  3. WILLIAM BRUCE, third of Sumburgh, was retoured heir to his father and grandfather on 19th April 1642, was appointed a Commissioner of Excise in 1661, and of the Peace in 1663, and of Supply 1667. On 16th February 1663, he acquired from Captain Laurence Middleton his whole right in the umboth lands of Sumburgh, which rights had been acquired, by Middleton from Peder Pedersen, provost of Copenhagen, and Carl Rosenmeyer, burgess there, on 20th October 1661, and which assignation was confirmed by King Frederick III of Denmark and Norway. This had formed part of the estate of Provostry of the Dom Kirk of Bergen, (see Mr Gilbert Goudie's account of this transaction in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 8th December 1879). He died 1675, married (first), in 1646, Elizabeth, daughter of James Sinclair of Scalloway, to whom he conveyed the lands of Sumburgh, then extending to 210 merks, in liferent in 1647, but had no issue. He married (second), Margaret, second daughter of John Sinclair of Quendale, and had issue:
    1. Robert, his heir
    2. Laurence
    3. Andrew, served heir of conquest to his grandfather, 22nd Jun 1672
    4. Dorothea, married John Ross of Lund
    5. Margaret, married Gilbert Bruce of Muness
    6. Barbara, married Mr James Kay, minister of Dunrossness, 1662 to his death, 15th September 1716.
  4. ROBERT BRUCE, fourth of Sumburgh, only son, was as Robert Bruce of Turrell, served heir to his great-grandfather William of Symbister, on 20th March 1675, was a Commissioner of Supply for Shetland, 1678, and died 1687. He married 1679, Barbara, daughter of Laurence Stewart of Bigtoun, and had issue:
    1. Robert, who predeceased him, before 1684.
    2. William, his heir.
    3. Laurence, who succeeded his brother
    4. Grizel, married (first) John Bruce of Muness, (second) 17th June 1707, Thomas Hunter of Lunna, and (third) 1720, Simon Fraser, second son of Fraser of Broadland
    5. Catherine, married Charles Sinclair of Scalloway. She is said to have afterwards married Captain James Ross, son of the Bishop of Edinburgh.
    6. Janet, married John Neven of Luning
  5. WILLIAM BRUCE, fifth of Sumburgh, succeeded his father, but died without issue in 1690, succeeded by his brother.
  6. LAURENCE BRUCE of Sumburgh, Commissioner of Supply for the County, 1690 and 1704, died 1737, He married (first) 1714, Elizabeth, daughter of George Crichton, and (second) Anne, daughter of Mr John Catanach, minister, of Unst, and widow of Andrew Bruce of Urie. By his first wife he had issue
    1. Robert, his heir.
  7. ROBERT BRUCE, seventh of Sumburgh, died 1764, having married in 1733, Alicia, daughter of Sir John Dalmahoy, of that Ilk, Bart.,. and had issue two sons
    1. Laurence, baptised 5th November 1734, died young.
    2. John his heir,
    3. two twin daughters - Katherine and Alicia - who died young.
  8. JOHN BRUCE, eighth of Sumburgh, was baptised by Mr John Hunter on 30th November 1735, admitted an advocate in 1761, was seised in 287 merks land in Sumburgh, and 192 merks land in Unst, on 28th October 1764, on precept of sasine by his deceased father, and died 17th October 1788. He married 22nd December 1765, Helen, daughter of Robert Hunter of Lunna, and had issue.
    1. Helen, born 24th October 1766, died 9th July 1849, married 6th April 1788, Admiral Alexander Fraser, equery to the Duke of Cambridge, and had issue
      1. Alexander, born 8th December 1788, Colonel Royal Engineers.
      2. Helen.
      3. John, baptised 24th May 1791.
      4. Thomas, Admiral Royal Navy.
      5. Mary,
    2. John, his heir.
    3. Robert, born 8th March 1769, died aged three months.
    4. Ursilla Katherine, born 26th April 1770, married, 18th December 1794, Robert Bruce of Symbister.
    5. Elizabeth, born 23rd November 1771 married, 21st August 1794, Rev. John Menzies, minister of Bressay, 1792-98, and of Lerwick, 1798, to his death on 17th May 1827, aged 73.
    6. Alicia, born 20th May 1774.
    7. Grizel, born 25th November 1777, died at Symbister, 17th June 1811, unmarried.
    8. Robert, born 7th September 1779, died without issue.
  9. JOHN BRUCE of Sumburgh, born 15th December 1767, was a commander in the Royal Navy, and a Deputy Lieutenant of Orkney and Zetland, 15th June 1804, and died, 4th May 1831. He married 7th June 1795, Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Hunter of Lunna, They had issue:
    1. Elizabeth, born 21st April 1796, died 19th April 1877, unmarried.
    2. John, his heir.
    3. Helen, born 23rd April 1799, died 22nd December 1811.
    4. Robert, born 12th May 1801, died 23rd January 1808.
  10. JOHN BRUCE of Sumburgh, born 17th February 1798, was a Deputy Lieutenant and for many years Convener of Shetland. He died, 21st January 1885, married 13th June 1832, Mary, daughter of John William Nelson, master shipwright to the Navy, she was born 31st December 1805, and died 24th January 1891, and had issue:
    1. Anna Maria, born 25th March 1833, died 6th July 1886.
    2. Elizabeth Helen, born 11th August 1834, married 22nd August 1859, Rev. Thomas D. Wingate, minister of Sandwick, 18th January 1859, of Stromness, 2nd February 1865, who was born 18th May 1825, and died 6th December 1900, and had issue:
      1. Mary Anne, born 3rd September 1860,
      2. Elizabeth Bruce, born 24th April 1862.
      3. Jane, born 24th November 1864, died 1st May 1890.
      4. Helen Murray, born 18th August 1867.
      5. John Bruce, Indian Civil Service, Burmah, born 8th August 1869
      6. Robert (twin), born 8th August. 1869
      7. Thomas Daniel, M.B., C.M., born 1st June 1871
      8. Anna Maria Bruce, born 18th June 1873
      9. James Park, born 23rd April 1875
    3. Mary, born 4th May 1836.
    4. John, his heir.
    5. Alice Grace, born 16th January 1839.
    6. Julia Edith, born 1st November 1840, died 7th June 1859, unmarried.
    7. Thomas Fraser, Colonel Indian Staff, born 7th May 1842
    8. Ann Jane, born 26th October 1843, died 7th January 1864, unmarried.
    9. Robert Hunter, born 3rd August 1845.
    10. James Park, born 10 May 1847, died 30th May 1871, unmarried.
    11. George Hector of Burraland, Lieutenant Royal Navy, born 7th February 1849
    12. Laura Blanche Matilda, born 8th December 1851, married 13th June 1878, Edward Milles Nelson, who was born 24th January 1851, and has issue:
      1. Dorothy Mary Milles, born 23rd October 1880.
      2. Bruce Kingeston, born 26th April 1882.
      3. Edward William, born 6th June 1883.
      4. Marjory Laura Dalmahoy, born 1st October 1884, died 11th October 1888.
      5. George Geoffry, born 6th December 1885.
      6. Ronald Duckworth, born 3rd July 1888.
    13. Frederick Walter, born 8th January 1853
  11. JOHN BRUCE of Sumburgh, born 9th June 1837, Deputy Lieutenant and Convener of Zetland, married 13th December 1871, Mary Dalziel, daughter of Ralph Erskine Scott, C.A., Edinburgh

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