Reverend Mr. Robert Bruce, Minister of the Gospel at St. Giles

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Reverend Mr. Robert Bruce, Minister of the Gospel at St. Giles

Death: July 27, 1631 (76-77)
Immediate Family:

Son of Alexander Bruce of Airth and Janet Livingston
Husband of Martha Douglas
Father of Robert Bruce; Anna Bruce; Rebecca Bruce; Margaret Bruce; Maria Bruce and 6 others
Brother of Sir William Bruce, of Airth; Edward Brice; Lady Marion of Airth Menteith; John Bruce and Alexander Bruce

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Immediate Family

About Reverend Mr. Robert Bruce, Minister of the Gospel at St. Giles


Minister of the Gospel at St. Giles in Edinburgh

Evidence from the National Records of Scotland

6 March 1581-82: Instrument of Redemption by Robert Bruce of Baldrig, brother to Sir Alexander Bruce of Airth, kt., to the said Sir Alexander, of an annualrent of 300 merks furth of the lands of Stanehous, Crawnestis and Inches, in the baronie of Harbertachyre on payment of 3000 merks by Mr. Robert Bruce, son of the said Sir Alexander, acting as his procurator. National Records of Scotland, Papers of the Bruce family of Airth, reference GD37/71

Biographical Summary

Robert Bruce, born 1554, second son of Sir Alexander B. of Airth and Janet, daugh. of Lord Livingston and great-granddaughter of James I. ; educated at St Leonard's College, St Andrews ; M.A: (1572) ; studied law in Paris and practised his profession in Edinburgh. He was on his way to becoming a judge, but a remarkable spiritual experience "on the last night of Aug. 1581 " sent him to study for the Church. He was licensed by the Presb. of St Andrews in 1587, and almost immediately called to this charge. He was Moderator of the Assembly summoned to meet on 6th Feb. 1588 to consider means of defence against the threatened invasion of the Spanish Armada. In Oct. 1589, when James XI. (who both respected and feared him) sailed to Norway to fetch his bride, and parties in Edinburgh were somewhat excited, the King appointed Bruce an extraordinary Privy Councillor, and such was his influence that he kept all quiet, and on His Majesty's return received a cordial letter of thanks, 19th Feb. 1589-90. He crowned the Queen 17th March 1590, and was again Moderator May 1592. His power and success as a preacher were very remarkable, and he continued to enjoy the King's favour till 1596, when, giving offence by his opposition to James's prelatic tendencies, he, with others, was banished from Edinburgh. He was allowed to return after a time, and in May 1598 was admitted to the Little Kirk. At first he refused the imposition of hands, not judging it an essential part of the ordination ceremony, but ultimately he consented to accept it "as a ceremony of entry only." In August 1600 the Gowrie Conspiracy took place, and Bruce being one of those who entertained doubts as to the treason of the Ruthvens, refused to offer up thanks in the manner prescribed for the King's deliverance. As a result (and spite of the efforts of his friends to get the matter settled), Bruce was ordered to quit Edinburgh, and prohibited from preaching anywhere in the kingdom upon pain of death. The last thirty years of his life were spent in various places. From 1605 to 1609 he was confined to Inverness, where he met with much hard treatment from Lord Enzie and others, but where his preaching was much appreciated by his friends. On a vacancy he supplied the charge of Forres for a time, after which, on the solicitation of his son, he received permission to return to his patrimonial estate of Kinnaird, near Stirling, where he repaired at his own expense the church of Larbert, and discharged all the duties of the ministry, officiating sometimes also at Stirling. Occasionally he resided on his other property at Monkland. "Wherever he had an opportunity of preaching, great crowds attended ; he preached with remarkable power, and his own life being in full accord with his preaching, the influence he attained was almost without parallel in the history of the Scottish Church." In 1620 he was again banished to Inverness, where, broken in health and in increasing weakness, he remained till 1624. On King James's death in 1625 the severity against him was much mitigated, and by King Charles's order he was allowed to return to Kinnaird, where he died 27th July 1631. Tn person he was tall and dignified, with a majestic countenance and venerable appearance in the pulpit. He had a knowledge of the Scriptures beyond most of his time. Andrew Melville described him as a "hero adorned with every virtue, a constant confessor and almost martyr to the Lord Jesus," whilst Livingstone of Ancrum said : " Mr Robert Bruce I several times heard, and in my opinion never man spoke with greater power since the Apostles' days. ;: He marr. 22nd Aug. 1590, Martha (died Nov. 1620), second daugh. of Sir George Douglas of Pittendreich, and had issue —

  • Robert, ancestor of James Bruce, African explorer ;
  • Anna, bapt. 10th March 1595 ;
  • Rebecca (marr. Andrew Young, minister : Stirling Sas., iv., 89) ;
  • Margaret, bapt. 9th July 1598 ;
  • Maria, bapt. 1st Sept. 1599 ;
  • James ;
  • Jean, bapt. 21st Jan. 1601 ;
  • Mary (marr. 15th Feb. 1618, Michael Elphinstone of Quarrel : Reg. of Deeds, eclxxviii., 295) ;
  • John, a clergyman of the Church of England ;
  • Elizabeth (marr. 26th April 1624, James Campbell, younger, of Moy) ;
  • Martha (marr. in 1648, James Ramsay, son to Barnbougie).

SOURCE: Fasti ecclesiae scoticanae: the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the reformation, Vol. I, page 54

Other References

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