Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bruce, Frederick William Adolphus

BRUCE, Sir FREDERICK WILLIAM ADOLPHUS (1814–1867), diplomatist, was the youngest of the three sons of Thomas Bruce, seventh earl of Elgin [q. v.], and his second wife Elizabeth, youngest daughter of James Townshend Oswald of Dunnikier, Fifeshire. He was born at Bromhall, Fifeshire, on 14 April 1814, and on 9 Feb. 1842 was attached to Lord Ashburton's mission to Washington, returning to England with his lordship in September of that year. On 9 Feb. 1844 he was appointed colonial secretary at Hongkong, which place he held until 1846, when on 27 June he became lieutenant-governor of Newfoundland. His next change was to Sucre, with the appointment of consul-general in the republic of Bolivia on 23 July 1847, and on 14 April 1848 he was accredited as chargé d'affaires. He was named chargé d'affaires to the Oriental republic of the Uruguay on 29 Aug. 1851, and on 3 Aug. 1853 became agent and consul-general in Egypt in the place of the Hon. C. A. Murray. On his brother, James Bruce, the eighth earl of Elgin, being appointed ambassador extraordinary to China, he accompanied him as principal secretary in April 1857. He brought home (18 Sept. 1857) the treaty with China signed at Tientsin on 26 June 1858, and was made a C.B. on 28 Sept. His diplomatic tact was thoroughly appreciated by the home government, for he was appointed on 2 Dec. 1858 envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the emperor of China, and on 1 March following chief superintendent of British trade in that country. His mission was prevented from proceeding to Pekin by the opposition made by the Chinese. The mission therefore returned to Shanghae, where it remained until the ratification of the treaty of 26 June 1858 at Pekin on 24 Oct. 1860. He proceeded to Pekin on 7 Nov. 1860, but withdrew to Tientsin for the winter, while arrangements were made for putting a residence in order for his reception. The mission was established at Pekin on 26 March 1861, but it was not until 2 April that Sir Frederick Bruce paid a visit to Prince Kung. On the removal of Lord Lyons from Washington to Constantinople, he was selected to fill the important office of British representative at Washington on 1 March 1865. He was made a K.C.B. of the civil division on 12 Dec. 1862, and received the grand cross of the order on 17 March 1865. He was appointed umpire by the commission named under the convention of 1864, concluded between the United States of America and the United States of Colombia, for the adjustment of claims of American citizens against the Colombian government. He died at Boston in the United States on 19 Sept. 1867, when his remains were embalmed, and, being conveyed to Scotland, were interred at Dunfermline Abbey on 8 Oct. The American press spoke in eulogistic terms of his amiable personal qualities and of the able manner in which he exercised his ministerial functions. He died unmarried.

[Gent. Mag. for 1867, pt. ii. 677–8; Hertslet's Foreign Office Lists, March 1868, p. 187; Boulger's History of China, vol. iii. (1884).]

G. C. B.