Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bruce, William (1702-1755)

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1316492Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 07 — Bruce, William (1702-1755)1886Alexander Gordon

BRUCE, WILLIAM (1702–1755), publisher and author, the youngest son of James Bruce, minister of Killeleagh [q. v.], was born in 1702. He received a collegiate education, but entered business life. In 1730 he was at Dublin in partnership with John Smith, a publisher who had been educated for the ministry. In 1737 or 1738 he became tutor to Joseph, son of Hugh Henry, a Dublin banker (M.P. for Antrim 1715). With his pupil he visited Cambridge, Oxford, and probably Glasgow, for purposes of study. About 1745 he settled permanently in Dublin, and was an elder of Wood Street, his brother Samuel's congregation. He was certainly a nonsubscriber, most probably an Arian. In 1750 the general synod at Dungannon accepted a scheme of his origination for a widows' fund, which came into operation next year. In 1759 it became necessary to reduce the annuities, but it now yields three times more than was originally calculated by Bruce. In Dublin Bruce was distinguished as a public-spirited citizen. He published a pamphlet, 'Some Facets and Observations relative to the Fate of the late Linen Bill,' &c., Dublin, 1753 (anonymous, third edition), to show that the linen manufacture of the north of Ireland was exposed to a double danger by the projected closing of the American market, and the proposed abolition of the protective duties on foreign linens and calicoes. Bruce, who was unmarried, died of fever on 11 July 1755, and was buried in the same tomb with his intimate friend and cousin, Francis Hutcheson (died July 1746), the ethical writer. Gabriel Cornwall (died 1786) wrote a joint epitaph for the two friends in Latin. Bruce kept no accounts, and died richer than he thought. All his property he bequeathed to his friend, Alexander Stewart of Ballylawn, co. Donegal, afterwards of Mount Stewart, near Newtownards, co. Down (born 1699, died 22 April 1781; father of the first marquis of Londonderry). Stewart divided the property among Bruce's relatives, in accordance with a paper of private instructions. Bruce was the author, in conjunction with John Abernethy (1680-1740) [q. v.], of 'Reasons for the Repeal of the Sacramental Test,' which appeared in five weekly numbers at Dublin in 1733, and was reprinted in 1751 as the first of a collection of ‘Scarce and Valuable Tracts and Sermons’ by Abernethy.

[Essay on the Character of the late Mr. W. Bruce in a Letter to a Friend, Dublin, 1755 (by Gabriel Cornwall, dared ll Aug.; prefatory letter to Stewart by James Duchal, D.D.). reprinted, Monthly Rev. vols. xiii. xiv.; Armstrong's Appendix to James Martineau's Ordination Service, 1829. pp, 64, 96; Hincks's Notices of W. Bruce and Contemporaries in Chr. Teacher, January 1843 (also issued separately); Reid's Hist. Presb. Ch. in Ireland (Killen), 1867, ii. 405, iii. 234, 289 sq.]

A. G.