Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2007)|
Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin and 11th Earl of Kincardine (pron.: //; 20 July 1766 - 14 November 1841) was a Scottish nobleman and diplomat, known for the removal of marble sculptures (also known as the Elgin Marbles) from the Parthenon in Athens.
Early life 
Elgin was born in Broomhall, Fife, the second son of Charles Bruce, 5th Earl of Elgin and his wife Martha Whyte. He succeeded his older brother William Robert, the 6th Earl, in 1771 while he was only five. He entered the army as an ensign in the 3rd Guards. He was elected as a Scottish Representative Peer in 1790, remaining one until 1807. In 1791, he was sent as a temporary envoy-extraordinary to Austria, while Sir Robert Keith was ill. He was then sent as envoy-extraordinary in Brussels until the conquest of the Austrian Netherlands by France. After spending time in Britain, he was sent as envoy-extraordinary to Prussia in 1795.
Elgin was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire between 1799 and 1803; he showed considerable skill and energy in fulfilling a difficult mission, the extension of British influence during the conflict between the Ottoman empire and France.
Elgin Marbles 
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2012)|
He had a great enthusiasm for antiquities; one of his projects, as he set out on his embassy, was the collection of antiquities, but also the gathering of first-hand evidence (drawing, casts) for Ancient Greek art, especially in Athens, as models for taste and artistic practice in Britain; for which purpose he assembled a team of artists and craftsmen in Italy, on his way to Constantinople. His team of artists in Athens, after some problems, was granted, by means of a firman, free access to the Acropolis, and specifically permission to sketch freely, take casts, carry out digs, and take away inscriptions and reliefs from the site, but, it seems, not the Parthenon itself. The removal of about 1/2 of the frieze metopes, frieze and pedimental sculpture was a decision taken on the spot by Philip Hunt, Elgin's chaplain (and temporary private secretary, i.e. representative, in Athens), who persuaded the voivode (governor of Athens) to interpret the terms of the firman very broadly.
Lord Elgin bribed local Ottoman authorities into permitting the removal of about half of the Parthenon frieze, fifteen metopes, and seventeen pedimental fragments, in addition to a caryatid and a column from the Erechtheion. He used these antiquities to decorate his mansion in Scotland and then later sold them to the British Museum in an attempt to repay his escalating debt.
On the recommendation of a parliamentary committee, which also vindicated Elgin's conduct, the "Marbles" were bought by Great Britain in 1816 for £35,000, considerably below their cost to Elgin (estimated at £75,000), and deposited in the British Museum, where they remain.
Later career 
On his return to Britain, Elgin, finding that he could not get the British Museum to pay what he was asking for the marbles, sued his wife's lover for an appropriately high sum. He divorced Mary for adultery by legal actions in 1807 and 1808 in the English and Scottish courts—and by act of parliament—which caused much public scandal. He then, on 21 September 1810, married Elizabeth (1790–1860), youngest daughter of James Townsend Oswald of Dunnikier. Elgin moved to the European continent.
- George Charles Constantine (1800–1840), died unmarried, known by the courtesy title of Lord Bruce.
- Mary, married on 28 January 1828, Robert Dundas
- Matilda-Harrie, married on 14 October 1839, John Maxwell son of Sir John Maxwell, 7th Baronet
- Lucy, married on 14 March 1828, John Grant of Kilgraston.
After their marriage ended in divorce Mary later married Robert Ferguson of Raith (1777–1846) who had been cited in the divorce. Elgin, on 21 September 1810, married Elizabeth (1790–1860), youngest daughter of James Townsend Oswald of Dunnikier. They had four sons and three daughters, including:
- James Bruce, who became governor-in-chief of British North America and viceroy of India and succeed to the Earldom.
- Robert (1813), who became a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Grenadier Guards, married Katherine-Mary (d 1869), 2nd daughter of Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart, 6th Baronet.
- Sir Frederick Wright-Bruce (1814), who became a diplomat
- Thomas Charles Bruce (1825), who became MP for Portsmouth
- Charlotte-Christian, married on 1 July 1850, to Frederick Locker, grandson of Rear-Admiral Sir Edward Locker
Elgin died, aged 75, in Paris.
See also 
- Encyclopædia Britannica, "Thomas Bruce, 7th earl of Elgin", O.Ed., 2008
- William St Clair, "Bruce, Thomas, seventh earl of Elgin and eleventh earl of Kincardine (1766–1841)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008) , accessed 20 Sept 2008
- Burke's Peerage (1939 edition)[page needed]
- Christopher Hitchens, The Elgin Marbles: Should They Be Returned to Greece?, 1998, p.p.10-11
- Burke 1852, p. 364.
- "Lord Bruce died, after a lengthened illness, ... at Talaton, Devon, where he had been residing for the benefit of his health. The deceased, George Charles Constantine Lord Bruce, who was eldest son of the Earl of Elgin, by his first marriage with Miss Nisbet, which marriage was dissolved by act of Parliament in 1808, was born the 5th of April, 1800, and was brother of Lady Mary Chichester, the lady of Mr. R. A. Chichester, M.P., Lady Matilda Maxwell, and Lady Lucy Grant. The Hon. James Bruce, the noble earl's eldest son' by his second marriage, born July 20, 1810, is now heir to the family honours. (Courier staff 1841, p. 4)"
- "Dec, 1. 1840 At Talaton, where he had been residing for the benefit of his health, aged 40, George Charles Constantine, Lord Bruce, eldest son of the Earl of Elgin. He was of Christ Church, Oxford. He died unmarried, and his half brother, born in 1816, is now heir apparent to the Earldom (Urban 1841)"
- Lang 1987, p. 350 footnote 1.
- Burke, John Bernard (1852). A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the peerage and baronetage of the British Empire (14 ed.). Colburn. p. 364.
- Courier staff (14 May 1841). "NECROLOGY.". The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859) (Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia). p. 4. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
- Lang, Cecil Y. (1987). In Lang, Cecil Y.; Shannon, Jr., Edgar F. The Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson: 1851-1870 2. Harvard University Press. p. 350. ISBN 978-0-674-52584-9.
- Urban, Sylvanus, ed. (January 1841). "Obituary: Lord Bruce". The Gentleman's magazine 170. J.B. Nicolas and Son. p. 106.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin|
|British Minister in Brussels
Lord Henry Spencer
|British Minister to Prussia
The Earl of Carysfort
|British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire
The 22nd Earl of Crawford
|Lord Lieutenant of Fife
The 22nd Earl of Crawford
|Peerage of Scotland|
|Earl of Elgin
Earl of Kincardine