Lieutenant General Robert Bruce



Adoptive father of Charlotte Bruce


Robert was born in 1746.


At the India Record Office of the British Library in London, Hudson's "Officers of the Bengal Army 1758 - 1834" Page 238 revealed


“Bruce, Robert (d. 1814) Lieut General, Colonel 16th NI, Cadet 1771. Admitted 26 Sept 1771; Ensign 2 Jan 1773; Lieut 28 Mar 1777; Capt 25 Mar 1781; Major 14 Sep 1796; Lt Col 1 Feb 1799; Col 2 Nov 1803; Major Gen 25 July 1810; Lt Gen 4 June 1814

d. Elstree, Herts 21 Sept 1814


Brother of Helen Bruce and of Isabell, wife of James Cockburn of the linen hall Edinburgh m 17 July 1805 Miss Charlotte Elizabeth Segar at Conongate, Edinburgh. Robert was a Colonel at the time of his marriage.


Services: Sec(retary) and Persian Intr(Interpreter) to Col G B Eynes q.v. in1770; Second Rohilla War; Bitaurah; ADC to Col George Burrington q.v. (severely wounded); Command in 1799 Corps of Hindustani Cavalry known as "Bruce's Independent Regt of Cavalry"; Employed in the suppression of disturbances created by Wazir Ali; Furlough 8 Mar 1803 till death.


Ref. Hickey iv 122; Gentleman's Magazine ii 402; Asiatic Annual Register i 164; Will dated 22 Dec 1813; Proved 2 Nov 1827 (Date of Proving of the will is 19th October 1814).


Note: "Orders by Major General Stuart 4 April 1799.

Major General Stuart has much pleasure in expressing his approbation of the expert gallantry of the officers and men of the independent regiment of cavalry who were engaged with the enemy yesterday evening and request Lieut Colonel Bruce will give them his thanks."


The will of Robert Bruce was dated 22nd December 1813 and states that he was “Esquire Major General in the Service of the East India Company on the Bengal Army Establishment, now residing at Elstree in the County of Hertford”


Specific mention is made to “whereas by a certain Instrument in writing or Contract of Marriage bearing date on or about the twentieth day of July one thousand eight hundred and five and made and executed agreeably to the law and practice of Scotland being the Settlement made previously to my marriage with Charlotte Elizabeth Bruce, my dearly beloved wife, then Charlotte Elizabeth Segar, Spinster”. He became bound to provide and secure to his wife, in case she should survive him, an annuity of £300 plus £500 towards purchasing household furniture.  He was also bound to make payment to the children of the said marriage the sum of £5000.  Should there be more than one child the sum of £5000 per child in accordance with the contract.


Robert also bequeathed to his wife all plate, jewels, bed and table linen, china, glass, houseware and table equipage and all the books.


To his sister, Helen Bruce, he left an annuity of £200 and to his other sister, Isabell, wife of James Cockburn of the Linen Hall, Edinburgh, an annuity of £100.


To his executors he bequeathed various amounts of Calcutta Sirra Rupees to be invested in Promissory Notes of The East India Company bearing interest, under the charge of Colvin Bassett & Company of Calcutta to pay annuities to four named Indians - two ladies, a male servant and a female servant.


He further bequeathed to his executors £2800 to invest on behalf of Margaret Watson Bruce, his adopted daughter, born in India, the wife of John Brown, a District Surgeon to His Majesties Forces in Dublin and on her death to be shared between the children of Margaret. Margaret married John David Brown on 19th August 1813 at St Clements Dane, Westminster, London. The reason for leaving this sum to Margaret was the fact the Robert had already advanced £1200 to her husband - the two sums equalling the bequests to the other daughters. The £1200 included a freehold house in the Cannongate of Edinburgh, which was to pass to Margaret on the death of Robert’s sister, Helen, and the value of the house he put at £200 rather than the £300 he believed it to be worth.


To his executors he also bequeathed £15000 to invest on behalf of three of his five adopted daughters, all born in India.


Eliza Paton Bruce                            born 21st February 1797


Sophia Stuart Bruce                        born 4th September 1800


Charlotte Bruce                              born 14th November 1802


The Capital sums to be paid to the daughters on reaching 25.  If any died before they reached 25, the total would be divided between the remaining daughters, plus his adopted daughter, Helen Burrington Norton, wife of John David Norton of the County of Middlesex. £4000 had been settled in Trust on Helen on her marriage; the trustees were Eardley Norton, Vicar of Arncliffe, Yorkshire (officiates at the marriage of Charlotte Bruce to Charles Thomas Gaskell in 1832), Alexander Fisson of Middlesex.


Robert later makes reference to his children, grandchildren and five adopted daughters.  (He makes no other reference to any natural children in his will and it can, therefore, be assumed that Robert and his wife did not have any natural children.


Other assets in India and the UK, amounting to a value of £31000, were bequeathed to has wife


Trustees and Guardians were:


John David Norton                        

Son in law

Alexander Omit Esq.                     


Of Fitzroy Square, Middlesex, late a Major in the East India Company

Alexander Lloyd                            


Major General in the East India Company

John Wotherstone Esq.                  


Of Gower Street, Middlesex, late a Lieutenant Colonel in the East India Company

William Charles Alston                 


Lieutenant General in the East India Company


The will was proved on 19th October 1814 by the oaths of John David Norton, Alexander Omit, William Charles Alston Esquires being first sworn by Alexander Lloyd and John Wotherstone.


It is possible that the five adopted daughters were the daughters of Robert’s Army or civilian colleagues who died naturally or were killed in India.  All except Charlotte have a second name which could be a surname, and Helen’s second name is the same as that of Colonel George Burrington to whom Robert was ADC and who was killed in action at the battle of Bitaurah, near Bareilly on 26th October 1794. The second name of Charlotte’s son, William Plumer Gaskell, is not a known family name and Plumer could have been the name of Charlotte’s real father; indeed “The County Families of The United Kingdom” of 1883 refers to Charlotte as the daughter of Plumer Esq., but this was almost certainly an assumption.


On the south wall of the porch of St Nicholas Church, Elstree, Herts.


     To the revered memory of

     Lieut General Robert Bruce

     of the family of Stenhouse

     North Britain

     and late of this Parish

     who died the 21st day of September 1814

     Aged 68

     And whose remains are interred near this place

     This tablet is erected by

     his surviving daughters


Gentlemans Magazine 1814


    At Elstree Lieut Gen Rob. Bruce of the East India Company Service


With reference to the Family of Stenhouse, Arms were matriculated at Lyon House, Edinburgh for the Bruce family of Stenhouse in 1801.


Helen Burrington Bruce married John David Norton on 19th August 1813 at St Clement Dane’s, Westminster, London.. One daughter, Isabella Norton, was baptised at the Old Church, St Pancras, London on 22nd March 1823. According to the 1851 Census, Helen was Lady Helen a widow and Annuitant aged 62, born in India.  She was a visitor at the home of Mrs Helen May Pryor at 11 John Hill, Battersea, London. With her were Isabella Norton born in Middlesex aged 29 and Bruce Norton, aged 30 also born in Middlesex and an E J Comp – Service. Another child was Sophia Stuart Norton. Both Isabella and Sophia appear at Fulmer House in the 1861 census (see Charlotte Bruce); Charlotte Maria Norton, Edward Stuart Norton. and Cecil Burrington Norton all appear in the will of Annie Gaskell written in 1902. Edward was then in Australia and Cecil, born in India, a Sergeant in the 12th Lancers. Sophia appears as a witness to the 1912 will of Robert Bruce Gaskell, then living at the same house as Robert - 54 Mount Park Road, Ealing.


Margaret Watson Bruce married John Brown in Edinburgh on 10th January 1803. There is a record of a Margaret Bruce baptised in Bombay on 16th May 1787. It is not certain that this is the correct Margaret.


Eliza Paton Bruce married Henry Francis Hough on 6th April 1820 at the Old Church, St Pancras, London


Sophia, as Sophia Stewart Bruce, married John Edward Willis in July 1828 in Little Shannon, London


by email if you want more information or if you have information to give me