Bruce, Thomas, third Earl of Elgin and second Earl of Ailesbury 1655?-1741, was sixth and eldest surviving son of Robert, second earl [qv.]. He was lord-lieutenant of Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, 1685-9. When the Prince of Orange landed in England, he was one of the noblemen who adhered to the cause of James, but on the king's withdrawal from Whitehall he signed the application to the Prince of Orange. He was one of those appointed to meet with the king when he was stopped by fishermen near the isle of Sheppey, to invite him to return to Whitehall. He accompanied the king in his barge to Rochester, previous to his final flight. Afterwards he returned to London, but he never took the oaths to William and Mary. When the French threatened a descent on England, in 1690, during William's absence in Ireland, an order was given, on 5 July, by Queen Mary for apprehension of the earl and of other Jacobite noblemen, but the danger having passed it was not deemed necessary to put the order into execution. In 1691 King William issued an order to enable him and his countess to make provision for paying their debts and to make leases of their estates. In May 1695 he was present at a meeting held at the Old King's Head tavern, Aldersgate Street, London, to concert measures for the restoration of King James, and was sent over to France to persuade Louis to grant a body of troops to aid in the enterprise. On account of his connection with the plot he was committed to the Tower in February 1695-6. His wife, Elizabeth Seymour, sister and heiress of William, duke of Somerset, died in childbed from anxiety connected with his imprisonment. He was admitted to bail on 12 Feb. following, and obtained the king's permission to reside in Brussels, where he married Charlotte, countess of Sannu, of the house of Argenteau, in the duchy of Brabant. He died at Brussels in November 1741, in his eighty-sixth year. By his first wife he had four sons and two daughters, and by the second he had an only daughter, Charlotte Maria, who was married in 1722 to the Prince of Horne, one of the princes of the empire. One of her daughters, Elizabeth Philippina, married Prince Gustavus Adolphus of Stolberg Guedern, and was the mother of Louisa Maximiliana, the wife of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the pretender. The Earl of Elgin was succeeded by Charles, his second and only surviving son.

     Collins's Peerage, ed. 1812, v. 124-6
     Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, i. 516.

Contributor: T. F. H. [Thomas Finlayson Henderson]

Published: 1886