Bruce, Robert (d.1094?) (DNB00)

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BRUCE, ROBERT de I (d. 1094?), was an ancestor of the king of Scotland who made the name of Bruce or Brus famous. The family is a singular example of direct male descent in the Norman baronage, and it is necessary to distinguish with care the different individuals who bore the same surname, and during eight generations the christian name of Robert. The surname has been traced by some genealogists beyond Normandy to a Norse follower of its conqueror Rollo, a descendant of whose brother, Einar, earl of Orkney, called Brusi (which means in old Norse a goat), is said to have accompanied Rollo and built a castle in the diocese of Coutances. A later Brusi, son of Sigurd the Stout, was Earl of Orkney, and died 1031. But the genealogy cannot be accepted. The name is certainly territorial, and is most probably derived from the lands and castle of Brin or Bruis, of which a few remains in the shape of vaults and foundations can still be traced between Cherbourg and Vallonges. More than one de Bruce came with the Conqueror to England, and the contingent of ‘li sires de Bréaux’ is stated at two hundred men (Leland, Collectanea, i. 202). Their services were rewarded by forty-three manors in the East and West, and fifty-one in the North Riding of Yorkshire—upwards of 40,000 acres of land, which fell to the lot of Robert de Bruce I, the head of the family. Of the Yorkshire manors the chief was Skelton in Cleveland, not far from Whitby, the salt of the elder English branch of the Brnces after the younger migrated to Scotland and became lords of Annandale.

[Orkeyinga saga, olds History of Cleveland, p. 198; Domesday, Yorkshire, 332 b, 333, and Kelham's Illustrations, p. 121; Dugdale’s Baronage, i, 447; Registrum Honoris de Richmond, p. 98, gives the seal of Robert.]

Æ. M.