Authorised form of nameBruce; Alexander (c1629 - 1680); 2nd Earl of Kincardine; landowner and politician
Datesc1629 - 1680
Place of birthEurope
Date of birthc.1629
Place of deathEurope
Date of death9 July 1680
Dates and placesBurial:
Bruce family chapel, Culross, Fife, Scotland, Europe (c. July 1680)
St Leonard's College, St Andrews (matriculated 1645)
Left Scotland and moved to Bremen (1657), Hamburg (1658) and The Hague (1660); collaborated with Hugen de Zulinchem and Christiaan Huygens to devise a pendulum clock to determine longitude at sea (1658); returned to Scotland (1660); Privy Councillor (Scotland) (1660); Major in the Holland Regiment (1665); Commander at Pentland rising (1666); Extraordinary Lord of Session (1667-1680); joint Commissioner of the Treasury (Scotland) (1666-1680); Privy Councillor (England) (1674-1676)
Membership categoryFounder Fellow
Date of election28/11/1660
RelationshipsParents: Sir George Bruce of Culross and Mary Preston
Siblings: Edward Bruce, 1st Earl of Kincardine
Married: Veronica van Arsen
Children: five sons and four daughters
General contextOne of the insights into Bruce's life can be gained through his lengthy correpondence with Robert Moray spanning roughly 15 years (1657-1673, Moray's death). Their letters covered a wide variety of topics, including chemistry, mathematics, physics, horticulture, moral philosophy, divinity, and mining. The latter reportedly featured in his reports to the early Society, in which he gave detailed insights into subterranean mining experiments at his family estate in Culross. Following on from his experiments with Huygens in chronometry, Bruce was involved in a patent dispute on the resulting invention, with a patent finally being granted in the Royal Society's name in 1665.
Bruce tried to persuade Robert Moray and John Maitland to found a Scottish East India Company in 1671, in order to guarantee commercial success of Scottish colonists from Scottish plantations went to Scotland and not England. He profited of a newly created salt monopoly as he was responsible for collecting customs and excise duties for an annual rent of £2000 Scots. He laid down this post after a rise in opposition to the increasing salt prices in 1673. Bruce was additionally involved in the attempts of the English House of Commons to impeach John Maitland, the duke of Lauderdale for misgovernment of Scotland.
Bulloch's Roll; DNB; GEC; Dalton; ODNB
Martin, D C. 1960. 'Sir Robert Moray, FRS (1608?-1673)', in Notes and Records, vol. 15, pp. 239-250
Wemyss, C. 2005. 'Merchant and Citizen of Rotterdam: The Early Career of Sir William Bruce', in Architectural Heritage XVI, pp. 14-30
Youngson, A J. 1960. 'Alexander Bruce, FRS, Second Earl of Kincardine (1629-1681)', in Notes and Records, vol. 15, pp. 251-258
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA4353
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
MM/14/49Letter from Lord Elgin, Dunfermline, to William Douglas28 March 1930
DM/5/72E'Recommended to the Right Hon. the Earls of Kincardine' c.1663
MM/14/47Letter from J Drummond Robertson,Torquay, to William Douglas28 February 1930
MM/14/45Letter from Lord Elgin, Dunfermline, to David Douglas20 February 1879
MM/14/48Letter from MW Meikle, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, to William Douglas19 March 1930
MM/14/51Copy of letter from William Douglas to the Earl of Elgin31 March 1930
MM/14/46Letter from TG Law, Edinburgh, to David Douglas5 January 1888
MM/14/50Letter from J Drummond Robertson., Torquay, to William Douglas30 March 1930
MM/14/52Letter from Alexander Miller, Edinburgh, to William Douglas30 April 1930
MM/14/53Letter from JA Vollgraff, Leyden, to the Royal Society28 September 1947
MS/390/61Bond of Alexander Bruce, 2nd Earl of Kincardine, to the Treasurer of the Royal Society20 April 1675
CLP/3i/8Paper, 'Off wynd mills in Holland' by Mr [Alexander?] Bruce[1662]
MM/14/44Copy of letter from David Douglas to the Earl of Elgin17 February 1879
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