Bruce, Edward, Lord Kinloss and Baron Bruce of Kinloss 1549?-1611, judge, born about 1549, was second son of Sir Edward Bruce of Blairhall in the county of Clackmannan, by Alison, daughter of William Reid of Aikenhead in the same county, sister of Robert Reid, bishop of Orkney, and descended from Robert de Brus, chief justice of the king's bench in 1268. His early history is from the loss of the records obscure, and the date at which he became an advocate is not known, nor when he was appointed to the office of judge of the commissary court of Edinburgh, though it is clear from the Pitmedden manuscript preserved in the Advocates' Library that he succeeded Robert Maitland, dean of Aberdeen, who had been superseded in the office of lord of session in 1576. It does not, however, appear whether the dean lost his position as commissary at that or at a subsequent date, but it is certain that Bruce was one of the commissaries in 1583. In this year he received a grant of the abbey of Kinloss in Ayrshire, to hold in commendam for his life, subject to an annuity payable to the abbot, and a rent of 500 merks payable to the crown. About the same date he was appointed one of the deputes of the lord-justice-general of Scotland. Four years later we find him energetically defending the right of the lords spiritual to sit in parliament, on the occasion of a petition presented by the general assembly of the Scottish church praying that they might be expelled, and in the result the petition was dismissed. The popish conspiracy of 1594 brought Bruce into considerable prominence. In 1594 Bruce was despatched, with James Colvill, laird of Ester or Easter Wemyss, to the English court to remonstrate with the queen upon the countenance which she afforded to the popish conspiracy by harbouring Bothwell, to complain of the conduct of her ambassador, Lord Zouche, in carrying on secret negotiations with him, and to ask for a subsidy to help in crushing the conspiracy. His mission was partially successful. In 1597 Bruce was appointed one of the commissioners for the levying of an aid granted by parliament to provide funds for the diplomatic service and other purposes. The same year (2 Dec.) he was made a lord of session. On 15 March 1598 Bruce was again sent to the English court to make the king's apologies for certain offences of which Elizabeth complained, and to prepare some other particulars concerning the estate of the two borders and two realms. Probably he was secretly instructed to sound the queen and council as to the real position of his master's chances of obtaining the succession, but if so the mission appears in that respect to have been a wholly fruitless one. Early in 1601, on the eve of the discovery of the Essex plot, James, who had for some time been in secret correspondence with the conspirators, determined to send the Earl of Mar and Edward Bruce to London, ostensibly upon a mission of no special importance, but really for the purpose of ascertaining the precise posture of affairs in the country and the prospects of the plot, with a view to possible co-operation. The envoys, however, did not start until February, and consequently did not arrive until after the execution of Essex. Accordingly the king now instructed them to obtain, if possible, a formal declaration from the queen and council that he was free of all complicity in any intrigues that had ever been set on foot against her, and particularly in the late conspiracy, and an assurance of his succession to the throne on her decease. They obtained an early audience of Sir Robert Cecil, who exacted from them a pledge (1) that the king should abandon all attempts to obtain parliamentary or other recognition of his title to the succession as the condition of holding communication with them, and (2) that all such communications should be kept perfectly secret. The result was the celebrated correspondence between James and Cecil, part of which was published by Lord Hailes in 1766, and of which another portion has since been edited for the Camden Society. Bruce accompanied James to England on his accession, was naturalised by act of parliament, and made a member of the privy council in both kingdoms. He was also (22 Feb. 1603) raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Bruce of Kinloss, and on 18 May following was appointed to the mastership of the rolls in succession to Sir Thomas Egerton. In 1605 the university of Oxford conferred upon him the degree of M.A. In 1608-9 his daughter Christiana married William Cavendish, afterwards the second earl of Devonshire, the king himself giving the bride away and making her fortune up to 10,000l. He died very suddenly on 14 Jan. 1610-11, in his sixty-second year, and was buried in the Rolls Chapel in Chancery Lane. His eldest son, Lord Edward Bruce, was killed in a duel with Sir Edward Sackville, afterwards earl of Dorset, near Bergen-op-Zoom in 1613. His heart was discovered embalmed in a silver case, bearing his name and arms, in the abbey church of Culross in Perthshire in 1808. His younger brother Thomas was created Earl of Elgin on 21 June 1633, and Baron Bruce of Whorlton in Yorkshire on 1 Aug. 1641. The third son, Robert, was created Baron Bruce of Skelton in Yorkshire, Viscount Bruce of Ampthill in Bedfordshire, and Earl of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire on 18 March 1663-4 [see Bruce, Robert, Earl of Ailesbury].
Acts Parl. of Scotland, iii. 484, iv. 143
Letters of John Colville (Bannatyne Club), 298
Pitcairn's Trials, i. 133
Spottiswoode's Hist. of the Church of Scotland (Bannatyne Club), ii. 322, 329
Moysie's Memoirs (Bannatyne Club), 117, 137, 139
Wood's Fasti Oxon. (Bliss), i. 311-12, 491
Cal. State Papers (Scotland 1509-1603), ii. 649, 650, 652, 708, 746, 748
Birch's Memoirs, i. 175, ii. 509, ad fin.
Haydn's Book of Dignities, 413, 414
Letters of Sir Robert Cecil (Camden Society), 75
Dugdale's Chron. Ser. 100, 101
Dugdale's Orig. 335
Correspondence of James VI with Sir Robert Cecil, xxv. 38, 45-9, 51, 78
Hailes's Secret Correspondence of Sir Robert Cecil with James VI, pp. 5, 6, et passim
Ferrerii Hist. Abb. de Kinloss (Bannatyne Club), xi.
Gardiner's Hist. of England (1603-42), i. 52
Collins's Peerage (Brydges), v. 323-4
Burnet's Own Time (Oxford edition), i. 14
Court and Times of James I, i. 7, 104
Statutes of the Realm, iv. 1016
Archæologia, xx. 515
Foss's Lives of the Judges
Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice.
Contributor: J. M. R. [James McMullen Rigg]