Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bruce, James (1660?-1730)

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BRUCE, JAMES (1660?–1730), Irish presbyterian minister, was the eldest son of Michael Bruce (1635-1693) [q. v.] He was called to Carnmoney, county Antrim, but preferred a settlement at Killeleagh, county Down (near Killinchy, his father's place), where he was ordained after 6 Nov. 1684. In April 1689 occurred 'the break of Killeleagh,' when the protestants were routed and Killeleagh castle deserted by its garrison. Bruce fled to Scotland, but returned in 1691 or 1692, when Ulster was at peace. In 1696 he secured, from the presbyterian proprietors of the Killeleagh estate endowments for the presbyterian minister at Killeleagh (and three others) in the shape of a lease of lands at a nominal rent. More important was his success in establishing at Killeleagh in 1697 a philosophical school for the training of the presbyterian ministry and gentry which proved obnoxious to the episcopalians and was closed in 1714. In 1699 Bruce was appointed one of the synod's trustees for the management of the regium donum and continued in this office till his death His congregation was large at his communion on 2 July 1704 there were seven successive tables and the services began at 7 a.m. and lasted till evening. A new meeting house was built for him probably in 1692. In the nonsubscription controversy 1720 6 Bruce sided with the subscribers himself signing the Westminster Confession in 1721 but was unwilling to cut off the nonsubscribers from fellowship. His presbytery Down was in 1725 divided into Down and Killeleagh those including Bruce who were against disowning the nonsubscribers being placed in the latter Bruce died on 17 Feb 1730. His will dated in February 1725 directs his burial at Killeleagh where he was interred on 24 Feb Tradition places the spot eastward of the episcopal church. He married 25 Sept 1685 Margaret died May 1706 daughter of Lieutenant colonel James Trail of Tullychin near Killeleagh by Mary daughter of John Hamilton brother of the first Lord Clandeboye. He had ten children of whom three sons and three daughters survived him. His sons Michael [q. v.] and Patrick were presbyterian ministers, William [q. v.] was a publisher. From his son Patrick (1692–1732) minister successively of Drumbo, co. Down Killallan, Renfrewshire, and Killeleagh, are lineally descended the Hervey Bruces of Downhill, baronets since 1804. Bruce published nothing In Daniel Mussenden's manuscript volume of sermon notes is an abstract of Bruce's sermon (Prov viii. 17) at a communion in Belfast, 20 Aug 1704, which is strongly Calvinistic

[McCreery's Presb. Ministers of Killeleagh, 1875, pp. 90 sq.; Porter's Seven Bruces in N. Whig, 16 April 1885; Reid's Hist. Presb. Ch. in Ireland (Killen), 1867, ii. 477, 519; [Kirkpatrick's] Historical Essay upon the Loyalty of Presbyterians, 1713, p. 506; Bruce's appendix to Towgood's Diss. Gent. Letters, 1816, p. 359; Disciple (Belfast) April 1883, p. 100; Belfast Funeral Register (presbyterian); manuscript extracts from Minutes of General Synod; Mussenden's manuscript sermon notes, 1704–20, in the possession of a descendant of Bruce.]

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