Papers of the Bruce Family, 18th-20th Century

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 161 MSS. Eng. b. 2067, c. 5740-72, d. 2834-48, e. 2994-3004; Facs. d. 302; Photogr. c. 71, d. 13, e. 9
  • Dates of Creation
      18th century-20th century
  • Language of Material
      English, and French.
  • Physical Description
      64 shelfmarks

Scope and Content

Correspondence and papers of the Bruce family. The most substantial portion of the papers is that of Michael Bruce (1787-1861). His letters to his father describe his travels in great detail. His father's replies and the letters of Lady Hester Stanhope to Michael Bruce and his father supplement the information in his own letters. There are letters to him from various correspondents, 1807-61, including Lady Caroline Lamb, Dr. C.L. Meryon, and Louise Ney, Princesse de la Moskova. There is a box of papers of Lady Hester Stanhope (MS. Eng. c. 5759), in addition to the two boxes of her letters, and transcripts of papers of Sir George Savile relating to the Yorkshire Committee of Association (for reform).

Administrative / Biographical History

Papers of five generations of the Bruce family:  

  • (Patrick) Craufurd Bruce (1748-1820), one of the sons of Sir Michael Bruce, 6th Bart., served in the East India Company, and was later a banker in London
  • his son Michael Bruce (1787-1861) who travelled for several years in Europe and the Middle East
  • General Michael Bruce (1823-83)
  • Eric Bruce (1855-1935), son of General Michael Bruce, who invented the electric translucent balloon
  • and Eric Bruce's son, Ian Bruce (1890-1956)

Further details can be found in the introduction to the online catalogue ( and in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Access Information

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Acquisition Information

The papers (with a few printed books and maps, transferred to other sections of the Library) were bought, with a contribution from the Friends of the Bodleian, from the daughters of Ian and Joan Bruce - Anne Reyntiens, Janet Ward, Helen Todd, Eynor Bell, and Philena Bruce - in 1991.


Collection level description created by Emily Tarrant, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue of the collection is available online at


Many of Michael Bruce's letters, and those of his father and Lady Hester, with a selection of his other correspondence, are printed (with a few minor inaccuracies) in Ian Bruce's books about his great-grandfather, The nun of Lebanon (London, 1951), on Michael and Lady Hester, and Lavallette Bruce (London, 1953).