family Bruce (1066 - 1528)

from the lands of Bruis, in France

The Bruce (or, de Brus) family originated in the Normandy region of France and came to the British Isles with William the Conqueror. The name came from the lands of Bruis, Braose, or Breaux (between Cherbough and Valognes, France) where they were noblemen. Records of the Roll of Knights of those who took part in Williamís expedition mentions the lords of Breaux with two hundred men. 


de Brus of Scotland

Following is a brief history of fifteen generations of the Bruce family in England and Scotland, one of the most powerful and influential families in the British Isles.


Robert32 de Brus ( - 1094): The first de Brus specifically identified is Robert, who, for his service to William the Conqueror, received the grant of ninety-four manors encompassing 40,000 acres in Yorkshire in north central England. His son was also Robert31


Robert31 Bruce, first Lord of Annandale ( - 1141): Robert became friends with King David I of Scotland at the Court of King Henry I of England and in 1124 received from David the grant of Annandale, a long valley extending from saltwater to mountains in southern Scotland. He then became known as Robert Bruce, First Lord of Annandale. He was also Lord Cleveland of North Yorkshire and he long served King Henry as Justice or Chief Royal Agent in the north of England. He had two sons, Adam and Robert30.

At this point the English and Scottish houses of Bruce diverge Ė Adam, the oldest  son, took the lands of Yorkshire in England. Robert30, the younger son, took Annandale in Scotland.


Robert30 Bruce, second Lord of Annandale ( - 1189): Annandale was gifted to Robert when he was still a young man by his father, Robert31, first Lord of Annandale, because his father had abandoned the cause of King David who had given him the land and title, and was supporting a rival king, King Stephen. Robert30, second Lord of Annandale, continued to support King David in order to protect his properties. However, Annandale was taken from Robert30 when he fought in the Battle of Standard, 1138, along with King David against King Stephen who won. It was Robert31 the first, that captured his son, Robert30 the second, then fourteen years of age, in battle. Annandale was restored to Robert30 in 1166 in a confirmation granted by William the Lion for a fee consisting of the service of one hundred knights. Robert had two sons, the second of which was William29, who succeeded to Annandale.


William29 de Brus, third Lord of Annandale  ( - 1215): Williamís son was Robert28


Robert28 de Brus, fourth Lord of Annandale ( - 1245): Robert married Isabel28, the daughter of David29, Earl of Huntington and great-granddaughter of King David31 I of Scotland. (Note that this relationship to King David becomes significant in future generations. Their son was also Robert27


Robert27, fifth Lord of Annandale (1210 - 1294): He was known as the Competitor or the Claimant. Robert married Isabel27 de Clare, daughter of Sir Gilbert28 de Clare, Magna Carta Security, seventh Earl of Clare and Earl of Hertford and Glouster. In 1237, at the death of Robertís Uncle John, Earl of Chester and Huntington, his mother Isabel came into possession of the rich lordship the Earl held in Scotland, which Robert eventually inherited. Robert served for twenty years as a royal judge and became the first chief justice of the Court of Kings Bench. As such, he was one of most powerful and influential men in all of England. In 1264 he led a large force of men-at-arms to Nottingham to support King Henry III of England and his son, Lord Edward. Their army was defeated at Lewes and King Henry III, Lord Edward, and Robert were taken prisoner. Robertís son was later able to arrange for his ransom and release. Robert went to the crusades in the Holy Land in 1270 when sixty years of age. He did so in the company of Lord Edmund, Henry IIIís youngest son. After this he raised an army and marched against Dumfries, a prominent area of Scotland, in his attempt to obtain the crown as King of Scots. The crown was in question and Robert had a claim to it through his mother. He was successful in his battles, but unsuccessful in obtaining the crown. Robert & Isabelís son was also Robert26.


Robert Bruce26, sixth Lord of Annandale (-1304): Robert had no ambitions toward the crown and instead went crusading to the Holy Land with a neighbor, Adam, Lord of Kilconquhar. When Adam was killed, Robert returned with the sad news for his widow, Marjorie26, Countess of Carrick who was, in her own right, the holder of a Celtic earldom descended from the ancient Lords of Galloway. Robert undoubtedly saw an opportunity here and married the widowed Countess Marjorie, which, in addition to combining their estates, gave him the additional title of Earl of Carrick. Robert was King Edwardís governor of Carlisle. Robert & Marjorie had a number of sons, one of which was Robert25, who became known to history as Robert the Bruce.


Robert Bruce25, seventh Lord of Annandale and Earl of Carrick (1276 - 1329); King of Scots (1306 Ė 1329): Following the death of Alexander III, King of Scots, there was a period of time when there were conflicts concerning the successor to the crown. King Edward I of England took advantage of the situation by taking Scotland by force and establishing his own vassal king. There was much Scottish resistance, led first by William Wallace, and then by Robert Bruce after Wallace was captured in battle, tortured, and hanged in 1305. By 1306 the contest for the crown was only between John Comyn and Robert Bruce. The two met in the church of the Minorite friars in Dumfries and engaged in conversation and negotiations before the high altar in hopes in resolving conflicts. An argument arose and Bruce drew his dagger and stabbed Comyn in the heart. Comyn died and Robert Bruce had himself crowned King Robert I, against any odds that he might succeed -- Robert had killed Edward Iís choice of vassal king for Scotland and Edwardís English troops were roaming freely through a defeated Scotland; Robert had earned the wrath of the Pope for committing murder on the altar of the church and was excommunicated; and Comyn was from a large, prominent, and prosperous Scottish family who would support the English king against this fiery upstart.

King Robert could only muster a pitiful few to fight with him and soon was defeated in battle with the English and had to flee to islands off the coast of Ireland. Nevertheless, he persisted in his efforts against the English. The war fared poorly for the Scottish for many years and at times King Robert and his men were reduced to guerrilla warfare while living in caves. Because he was so outnumbered he adopted a highly mobile force, making quick striking ambush raids and then easily outdistancing the more cumbersome organized English troops in pursuit. His strength of character and courageous leadership, along with demonstrated success, albeit small at first, earned Robert support. King Robert had four brothers Ė Edward, Nigel, Thomas, and Alexander. In subsequent battles with the English, all except Edward were made prisoners and hanged. Robert narrowly escaped capture, although his wife and daughter were captured and held as prisoners in England.

Robert the Bruce proved to be a courageous leader and brilliant military tactician. Under his command the Scots eventually prevailed. Robert the Bruce concluded what was called the Thirty Year War on June 24, 1314 when he defeated King Edward II of England at Bannockburn in a battle in which Robertís army was outnumbered three-to-one. That day remains memorable to all Scots as the day they drove the English out of Scotland, and Robert the Bruce is honored as the greatest of the Scottish heroes of history. In that battle Robert captured enough English noblemen to enable him to ransom his wife and daughter and other supporters held as prisoners by the English. 

Robert later led his armies into England as far as Yorkshire. He invaded and conquered Ireland and in 1316 crowned brother Edward as King of Ireland, although Edward was later killed on the battlefield in Dunkalk.

Robert had four lawful children. By his first wife, Isabel25 (daughter of Donald26, Earl of Mar and his wife, Helen26, the daughter of Llewellyn27, Prince of North Wales) he had Princess Marjorie24. By his second wife, Elizabeth de Burg, who became Queen of Scotland on Robertís coronation in 1306, he had two daughters and a son, who was to later become King David, II. It is reported he had a number of children by other women.

Robert the Bruce died 7 June 1329 at Cadross, Scotland, having accomplished all of his goals but one. He had defeated England and freed Scotland, and the Pope was preparing a papal letter which would give recognition to Robert I and his successors as kings of an independent Scotland. His only unaccomplished goal was that he had not gone on a crusade to the Holy Land. On his deathbed he vowed ďSeeing therefore, that my body cannot go to achieve what my heart desires, I will send my heart instead of my body.Ē Upon his instructions his heart was removed from his body at his death, embalmed, and carried to the Holy Land in a silver box.   


Princess Marjorie24:  Marjorie was the daughter of Robert the Bruce and Isabel. Along with her mother, she was captured and held prisoner in England after her father, Robert the Bruce, was crowned King of Scots, and was not freed until Robert defeated the English at Bannockburn eight years later. Marjorie married Walter24 III, Lord High Steward of Scotland (son of James25 of Scotland and the grandson of Alexander26 the Steward of Scotland). They had one son, Robert23, and Marjorie died in childbirth.


King Robert23 II: Robert became king after the death of his uncle, David II. He was the first of the Royal House of Stewart which ruled Scotland, and eventually all of Britain. He married Elizabeth23 Mure. His son, Robert22, succeeded him to the throne.


King Robert22 III, Lord Kyle, Earl of Carrick (1340 Ė 1406): Robert had been severely injured by a horsekick, so power was exercised by a regent Ė first his brother, Earl of Fife, and then by his son, David, Duke of Rothesay. He married Annabelle22 Drummond.


Princess Mary21 Stewart: Mary married Sir James21 Kennedy of Dunure. Their son was Gilbert20.

At this point the genealogy lineage being followed departs from the lineage of royalty.


Gilbert20, first Lord Kennedy: His son was John19.


John19, second Lord Kennedy: He had a daughter, Margaret18.


Lady Margaret18 Kennedy ( - 1528): Lady Margaret married Sir Patrick Vans of Barnbarroch18. 


Ancestors and Friends; William Crawford, 1979.

The Family of, and The Descendants of Robert McGovney Vance; Dean F. Vance, 1983.

A Travellerís Guide to the Scotland of Robert the Bruce;  Nigel Tranter.

The Later Middle Ages in England; B. Williamson.

Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe; Louda, Jiri.

Encarta 98 Encyclopedia.

Magicdragon website + various other on-line sources.

Dictionary of the Middle Ages.

Robert the Bruce, a Pitkin Guide.

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