Thomas Bruce, 1st Earl of Elgin
2 December 1599|
|Died||21 December 1663(aged 64)|
|Title||Earl of Elgin|
|Other titles||3rd Lord Kinloss
Baron of Whorlton
|Predecessor||Edward Bruce, 2nd Lord Kinloss|
|Successor||Robert Bruce, 1st Earl of Ailesbury and 2nd Earl of Elgin|
|Heir||Robert Bruce, 1st Earl of Ailesbury and 2nd Earl of Elgin|
|Issue||Robert Bruce, 1st Earl of Ailesbury and 2nd Earl of Elgin|
|Parents||Edward Bruce, 1st Lord Kinloss and Magdalene Clerk|
Born in Edinburgh in 1599, Thomas Bruce was the second son of Edward Bruce, 1st Lord Kinloss by his wife Magdalene Clerk. He succeeded to the Scottish peerage title as 3rd Lord Bruce of Kinlosse in August 1613, aged 13, on the death of his elder brother, Edward Bruce, 2nd Lord Kinloss, killed in a duel with Edward Sackville, 4th Earl of Dorset. The family estates included Whorlton Castle and manor given to his father by James I in 1603. King James I granted the wardship of Thomas and the estates to his mother Magdalene, until he came of age at 21.
In 1624 James I granted Bruce Houghton House, near Ampthill, Bedfordshire. Designed by Inigo Jones and built for Mary Sidney Herbert, Dowager Countess of Pembroke it had been reverted to the King by Mary's brother two years after her death in 1621. It became the Bruce family's principal residence for over a century. Charles I later granted him nearby Houghton Park to preserve game for the royal hunt but persistent hunting and hawking by the local Conquest family forced Charles' subsequent intervention.
During Charles I's period of Personal rule, Bruce maintained close relations with the court. He attended the King for his coronation in Scotland in 1633 and the title, Earl of Elgin, was created for him on 21 June 1633.
The year after performing in Thomas Carew's masque, Coelum Britannicum, he graduated Master of Arts from the University of Oxford in 1636. Bruce was invested as a Knight in 1638 at Windsor, along with William Villiers and the Prince of Wales.
Bruce continued in royal favour. He was created Baron Bruce of Whorlton, York, in the Peerage of England, on 29 July 1641. In 1643 he was appointed "Keeper of the King's Park" at Byfleet, a role he held until 1647.
Although Bruce's sister Christian Cavendish, Countess of Devonshire was a notable Royalist, Bruce himself took the side of the Parliamentarians, serving on several county committees from 1644 to Pride’s Purge.
Shortly before the 1648 outbreak of the Second English Civil War, fellow scot, William Murray, 1st Earl of Dysart, whipping boy of Charles I and husband of his relative, Catherine Bruce, appointed Bruce as principal trustee of Ham House to act on behalf of his wife, Catherine, and their daughters. The move was successful in helping protect Murray's ownership of the estate by making sequestration by the Parliamentarians both more difficult and, given Elgin's influential position with the Scottish Presbyterians, politically undesirable.
Bruce was later described by Sir Philip Warwick as 'a Gentleman of a very good understanding, and of a pious, but timorous and cautious mind'. He recounted how Bruce expressed some uneasy regret for his actions, that he had tried to avoid parliament when he could and denied having been one of the handful of lords that condemned Archbishop Laud to death.
Marriages & progeny
Thomas Bruce married twice:
- Firstly on 4 July 1622 to Anne Chichester (d.1627), a daughter of Sir Robert Chichester (1578-1627) of Raleigh, in the parish of Pilton in Devonshire, by his first wife Frances Harington (d. 1615), a daughter of John Harington, 1st Baron Harington (1540-1613) of Exton in Rutland, and a co-heiress of her brother John Harington, 2nd Baron Harington of Exton (1592-1614). She was a half-sister of Sir John Chichester, 1st Baronet, of Raleigh (1623-1667). Anne died on 20 March 1626/27, the day after having given birth to an only child:
- Robert Bruce, 1st Earl of Ailesbury (1626-1685), only son and heir.
- Secondly on 12 November 1629 he married Lady Diana Cecil (d.26 February 1658) a daughter of William Cecil, 2nd Earl of Exeter and widow of Henry de Vere, 18th Earl of Oxford. Diana had married de Vere in 1624, just a year before his death, and thus brought with her considerable estates at West Tanfield and Manfield, near Bruce's existing Yorkshire estates, as well as property in Lincolnshire and Middlesex including Clerkenwell Priory. The marriage was without progeny. Thomas built in her memory the Ailesbury Mausoleum in the churchyard of St. Mary's Church, Maulden, in Bedfordshire, an octagonal building built over an already existing crypt. Inside the Mausoleum survives the monument to Diana and marble busts of her husband Thomas and of his grandson Edward Bruce. Sir Howard Colvin identified it as one of the first two freestanding mausoleums in England, the other being the Cabell Mausoleum in Buckfastleigh, Devon.
Thomas Bruce died on 21 December 1663 at the age of 64, and was succeeded by his son and heir Robert Bruce, 2nd Earl of Elgin, 1st Earl of Ailesbury.
- "Jervaulx Abbey Estate Records". North Yorkshire County Council Archives. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
- Page, William, ed. (1912). "Parishes: Houghton Conquest". A History of the County of Bedford. Institute of Historical Research.
- Pennant, Thomas (1780). "Ampthill to Luton, section 2". The Journey from Chester to London. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- Helms, M. W.; Naylor, Leonard (1983). Henning, B.D., ed. "BRUCE, Robert, Lord Bruce (1626-85), of Houghton Park, Ampthill, Beds.". The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
- "Sites of Cultural Stress from Reformation to Revolution: The Masque". Folger Institute. 2004. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
- Cokayne, George Edward; Gibbs, Vicary, eds. (1912). Complete peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, extant, extinct or dormant (Bass to Canning). 2 (2 ed.). London: St. Catherine Press. pp. 352–353.
- Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knighthood (107 ed.). Burke's Peerage & Gentry. p. 1295. ISBN 0-9711966-2-1.
- "Elgin, Earl of (S, 1633)". Retrieved 19 September 2012.
- Pritchard, Evelyn (2007). Ham House and its owners through five centuries 1610-2006. Richmond Local History Society. ISBN 9781955071727.
- Warwick, Sir Philip (1701). Memoires of the reigne of King Charles I.:with a continuation to the happy restauration of King Charles II. London. p. 169.
- Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.174, pedigree of Chichester
- "Thomas Bruce, 1st Earl of Elgin". Retrieved 19 September 2012. (citing The Complete Peerage, vol V, p41)
- "Ailesbury, Earldom". Retrieved 19 September 2012. (citing The Complete Peerage, vol I, p58)
- Henderson, Thomas Finlayson (1886). "Bruce, Robert (d.1685)". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 7. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 129.
|Peerage of Scotland|
Edward Bruce, 1st Lord Kinloss
Robert Bruce, 3rd Lord Kinloss
|Earl of Elgin
Robert Bruce, 2nd Earl of Elgin
|Peerage of England|
|New title||Baron of Whorlton
(descended by acceleration)