Bruce, John (1745-1826) (DNB00)

BRUCE, JOHN (1745–1826), historian, was heir male of the ancient family of Bruce of Earlshall, one of the oldest cadets of the illustrious house of Bruce; but he did not succeed to the estate of his ancestors, which was transferred by marriage into another family. He inherited from his father only the small property of Grangehill, near Kinghorn, Fifeshire, the remains of a larger estate which his family acquired by marriage with a grand-daughter of the renowned Kirkcaldy of Grange. He received his education at the university of Edinburgh, where he was appointed professor of logic. Having acquitted himself to the satisfaction of Viscount Melville in the education of his son, that nobleman obtained for him a grant of the reversion, conjointly with Sir James Hunter Blair, of the patent of king's printer and stationer for Scotland, an office which did not open to them until fifteen or sixteen years later. Through the influence of Lord Melville, Bruce was likewise appointed keeper of the state paper office, secretary for the Latin language to the Privy Council, and historiographer to the East India Company. He was M.P. for Michael or Midshall, Cornwall, from February 1809 till July 1814, and for a short time secretary to the board of control. He was a fellow of the Royal Societies of London, Edinburgh, and Göttingen. His death occurred at his seat of Nuthill, Fifeshire, on 16 April 1826. Bruce was an accurate historian and an elegant scholar, and produced several valuable works, some of which were privately printed for confidential use by members of the government. Their titles are:

  1. ‘First Principles of Philosophy,’ Edinburgh, 1780, 1781, 1785, 8vo.
  2. ‘Elements of the Science of Ethics, or the Principles of Natural Philosophy,’ London, 1786, 8vo.
  3. ‘Historical View of Plans for the Government of British India,’ 1793, 4to.
  4. ‘Review of the Events and Treaties which established the Balance of Power in Europe, and the Balance of Trade in favour of Great Britain,’ London, 1796, 8vo.
  5. ‘Report on the Arrangements which were made for the internal Defence of these Kingdoms when Spain by its Armada projected the Invasion and Conquest of England,’ London, 1798, 8vo, privately printed for the use of ministers at the time of Bonaparte's threatened invasion. On this report Pitt grounded his measures of the provisional cavalry and army of reserve.
  6. ‘Report on the Events and Circumstances which produced the Union of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland; on the effects of this great National Event on the reciprocal interests of both Kingdoms; and on the political and commercial influence of Great Britain in the Balance of Power in Europe,’ 2 vols., London [1799], 8vo. These papers were collected by the desire of the fourth Duke of Portland, then secretary of state, when the question of union between Great Britain and Ireland came under the consideration of the government.
  7. ‘Report on the Arrangements which have been adopted in former periods, when France threatened Invasions of Britain or Ireland, to frustrate the designs of the enemy by attacks on his foreign possessions or European ports, by annoying his coasts, and by destroying his equipments,’ London [1801], 8vo, privately printed for the government.
  8. ‘Annals of the East India Company from their establishment by the Charter of Queen Elizabeth, 1600, to the union of the London and English East India Company, 1707–8,’ 3 vols., London, 1810, 4to.
  9. ‘Report on the Renewal of the Company's Exclusive Privileges of Trade for twenty years from March 1794,’ London, 1811, 4to.
  10. ‘Speech in the Committee of the House of Commons on India Affairs,’ London, 1813, 8vo.

[Gent. Mag. xcvi. (ii.) 87, (new series) iv. 327; Martin's Privately Printed Books, 133, 138, 142, 149, 156; Biog. Dict. of Living Authors (1816), 42; Beloe's Anecdotes, ii. 432; Smith's Bibl. Cantiana, 85; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), 293; McCulloch's Lit. Pol. Econ. 106; Lists of Members of Parliament (official return), ii. 243, 258; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.]

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