BRUDENELL BRUCE, Charles Bruce, Lord Bruce (1773-1856).
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Family and Education
b. 14 Feb. 1773, o. surv. s. of Thomas, 1st Earl of Ailesbury, by 1st w. Susanna, da. and coh. of Henry Hoare†, banker, of Stourhead, Wilts., wid. of Charles Boyle, Visct. Dungarvan. educ. privately abroad 1783; Leyden Univ.; Grand Tour. m. (1) 20 May 1793 at Florence, Hon. Henrietta Maria Hill (d. 2 Jan. 1831), da. of Noel Hill†, 1st Baron Berwick, 2s. 4da.; (2) 20 Aug. 1833, Maria Elizabeth, da. of Hon. Charles Tollemache, 1s. suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Ailesbury 19 Apr. 1814; KT 20 May 1819; cr. Mq. of Ailesbury 17 July 1821.
Ensign, Berks. militia 1792; capt. Marlborough yeomanry 1796; col. Wilts. yeomanry 1797-1811, Wilts. militia 1811-27.
In 1791 when Lady Malmesbury met him in Italy she described Lord Bruce as ‘quite Lord Ailesbury just out of the shell—which, by the by, is no bad comparison, for they are like unfledged turkeys’. Soon afterwards he crossed her path again: ‘a sad goose, but a good humoured creature and so desperately in love with the Duchesse de Fleury it is quite melancholy. Lord Malmesbury says he is in love like a rabbit with a bunch of parsley.’1
At the first opportunity after he came of age Bruce was returned by his father for the family borough of Marlborough, for which he sat until his father died. Ailesbury also wished him to have the management of his electoral interest. As the son of a courtier, he was expected to be well disposed to administration. In fact he was not an enthusiastic attender, occasionally deserted the government, without going into systematic opposition, and never justified his conduct in the House. For instance, he joined the opposition division for inquiry into the failure of the Ferrol expedition, 19 Feb. 1801,2 and was one of the minority of 20 against the peace treaty of Amiens, 14 May 1802. The Irish secretary fancied he was in Pitt’s minority for the order of the day, 3 June 1803, though other lists do not confirm it3 and, although he was listed ‘Pitt’ in March 1804, he did not support Pitt’s naval motion or any other of the minorities against Addington, except that on the Irish volunteer bill, 16 Apr. He was listed ‘Pitt’ in September 1804 and July 1805, having opposed the censure of Melville, 8 Apr. 1805. In January 1806 he met with Pitt’s friends to concert action on his death.4 He opposed the Grenville ministry on their repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, and again on the Hampshire election petition, 13 Feb. 1807. He was listed ‘adverse’ to the abolition of the slave trade. On 16 Mar. 1807 he was discharged by the House on payment of fees after being taken into custody as a defaulter.
Bruce thought that his and his father’s support of the Portland administration in 1807 might be rewarded with a marquessate if they applied for it. (Ailesbury did apply, without success.)5 He voted with ministers on the Scheldt question, 23 Feb., 30 Mar. 1810. Not surprisingly the Whigs were ‘doubtful’ of him. He voted against parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810. On the Regency bill he appeared in the government minority of 1 Jan. 1811. He was listed a Treasury supporter after the election of 1812, but his only subsequent surviving vote was against the Catholic relief bill, 24 May 1813.
Bruce achieved his ambition of a marquessate at the coronation of George IV, whose tutor his father had been. His politics became ultra conservative. He died 4 Jan. 1856.