Material relating to Thomas Bruce (1766-1841), 7th Earl of Elgin

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-879
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      2 letters; 1 card. Access to records in a fragile condition may be restricted.
  • Location
      Gen. 1995/23-24, Gen. 748*

Scope and Content

The correspondence is composed of: letter to J. S. Smythe, former ambassador to the Porte (Istanbul), requesting him to hand over official papers, written Pera, 1801; admission card for the Assembly Rooms signed by the Earl, 1822; and, letter to J. Cleland, LL.D., Broomhall, Dunfermline, 1833.

Administrative / Biographical History

Thomas Bruce was born on 20 July 1766, and on the death of his elder brother, William Robert, in 1771 he became 7th Earl of Elgin and 11th Earl of Kincardine. He was educated at Harrow and Westminster and studied at St. Andrews University and in Paris. He entered the army in 1785 and by 1837 had become a General. In 1799 he had been appointed to the embassy in Istanbul (then Constantinople), and his mission began the study and examination of Grecian remains within Turkish jurisdiction including those in Athens. A collection of ornamental sculpture removed from the Parthenon began to be shipped to Britain in 1803, and they became known as the Elgin Marbles. They were bought for the nation in 1816. Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, died on 14 November 1841.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Leslie, Stephen. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show various references to Elgin related material (check the Indexes for more details): note from the Rev. J. Duncan to Messrs. Cadell and Davis, requesting books to be delivered to him, circa 1799, at Dc.4.102; letter of Mr. Roe to Mr. Wyatt about customs examination of packages brought from Malta addressed to Lord Elgin, Custom House, 1812, at La.II.648/208; and, mentioned in a letter from J. A. Cheque to A. Rolland W.S., with a proposal for a loan in connection with coalfields, 1831, at Gen. 886/2, no.8.

In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes several locations of Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin related material.