The family of Bruce orginated from the town of Brus, modern Brix between Cherbourg and Valognes in Normandy and was founded by one particular Norman knight by the name of Robert who came across to England in the wake of the conquest of 1066 and was granted some manors in Yorkshire by William I.
It has to be said that the Bruce family displayed a distinct lack of imagination in the naming of their sons. Having settled on the name Robert they stuck with it through thick and thin down the generations. Hence there are a succession of eight Robert Bruces over a period of three centuries and to make matters worse there are four generations of Roberts who each chose a wife named Isabel/Isabella.
You might think that this would be a source of confusion and you would be correct. More than one source gets hopelessly mixed up between Robert Bruce and another and it sometimes seems to be the case that no one is quite clear which Robert Bruce did what. But set out below is the descent of the House of Bruce from the orginal Norman Robert de Brus down to the children of the famous Robert the Bruce.
The first Robert of Bruce or Robert de Brus
Born circa 1020 Died circa 1094
This first Robert was naturally named after the town in Normandy from which he came. He was possibly the son or grandson of a Robert of Bruges who was castellan of Bruges in 1046. This might explain why the the Bruce family adopted a blue lion for their coat of arms, as the arms of the city of Bruges also display an almost identical blue lion.
There are some sources that suggest, by way of alternative, that this Robert's father was in fact one Rognvald Brusse and his father one Brusse, earl of Caithness. This is however, most probably a product of the fourteenth century imagination when it was thought necessary to invent a more 'Scottish' lineage for the famous Robert the Bruce.
Adam de Bruse
Lord of Cleveland
Born circa 1050 Died 1080/1090
Some sources show an Adam de Bruse as son of the first Robert and father of the second, others assume that no intervening generation is necessary; there appears to be no clear evidence either way.
The second Robert of Bruce
Lord of Skelton and Cleveland
First Lord of Annandale
Born circa 1078 Died 1141
The second Robert of Bruce was notable for his friendship with David son of Malcolm III, king of Scots, who spent the early part of his life living in England as the Earl of Huntingdon, after his marriage with Matilda, daughter of Waltheof Siwardson and heiress to the estate of Huntingdon.
When David finally became David I, king of Scots, Robert was one of a number of Norman knights invited north to help David knit together the rather disparate group of territories that fell under his rule. Robert was granted the Lordship of Annandale, which was then within the territory of Strathclyde in what later became Dumfrieshire in the south western corner of Scotland.
It was this Robert of Bruce that fought on the English side at the Battle of the Standard in the year 1138 in opposition to David I and his policy of invading the north of England. (Not surprising given that Robert held land in Yorkshire which was at risk of being ravaged by David's invasion force.)
The third Robert of Bruce
also known as Robert Le Meschin
Second Lord of Annandale
Born 1124 Died died 1194. He died 1189/1191.
ABT 1103 - by 1191
Robert married Eufemia and Judith of Lancaster
This Robert fought on the Scottish side of the Battle of the Standard. This was a case of his father hedging his bets and making sure that whatever happened, the Lordship of Annandale stayed in the family, and also explains why this Robert subsequently lost control of the family land in Yorkshire.
The fourth Robert of Bruce
Third Lord of Annandale
Born ? Died died 1215
The fourth Robert's great contribution was to marry Isabel of Scotland the daughter of William the Lion, king of Scots. This was an indication of how important the Bruce family had became within the young kingdom of Scotland, but the marriage achieved an even greater significance in later years, as it was this connection with the Canmore dynasty that was to form the main basis of the claims by this Robert's great-great-grandson to the throne of Scotland.
The fifth Robert of Bruce
Fourth Lord of Annandale
Born circa 1195 Died 1245/1251
The fifth Robert married another Isabel, Isabel of Huntington who was the daughter of David, Earl of Huntington and Matilda of Chester. This David was the son of Henry of Huntington, son of David I of Scotland and Isabel was therefore niece of the aforementioned William the Lion; so yet another connection was made with the House of Canmore.
The sixth Robert of Bruce
The Great Competitor
Fifth Lord of Annandale
Born 1210 Died 1294/1295
The sixth Robert continued the family tradition and married yet another Isabel, this time Isabel de Clare daughter of Gilbert de Clare and Lady Isabel Marshall which established a connection with the powerful Anglo-Norman de Clare and Marshall families.
This Robert was the first of his line to promote his claim as a candidate for the Scottish throne which became vacant following the death of Queen Margaret in 1290. He wasn't successful on this occasion but it brought the Bruces right to the forefront of Scottish politics.
The seventh Robert of Bruce
Sixth Lord of Annandale
Earl of Carrick
Born 1243/1244 Died 1302/1305,
This Robert married Margory of Carrick (the Countess of Carrick), and by right of his wife thereby obtained the title of Earl of Carrick.
Like his great-great-grandfather, he too fought on the English side against the Scots, this time at the battle of Dunbar in 1296. Although such is the confusion between the various Bruces, others suggest that it was not him but his son Robert the Bruce who did so, which would be doubly ironic.
The eighth Robert of Bruce
otherwise known as Robert the Bruce
Seventh Lord of Annandale and Earl of Carrick
King of Scotland (1306-29)
Born 1274 Died 1329
This is the well-known Robert the Bruce who was the great champion of Scottish independence, who was crowned king of Scotland in 1306, defeated Edward I of England at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314, issued the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, and died of leprosy in 1329.
He married twice. His first wife was Isabel of Mar, by whom had only the one daughter named Margory. His second wife was Elizabeth de Burgh, who gave him a son named David who was to succeed him on the throne of Scotland.
King of Scotland (1329-71)
Born 1324 Died 1371
Robert the Bruce took pity on future generations, broke the long family tradition and named his son David. Robert was fifty when David was born and died five years later, so David II became the boy king of Scotland. David II had a troubled reign, spending much of his minority in France before being captured by the English in 1346, and held by them until 1357 when the Scots paid a ransom of a 100,000 marks to get him back.
Despite two marriages, firstly to Joan of the Tower and later to Margaret Drummond, David died without issue (or at least without any legitimate issue), and so ended the tenure of the House of Bruce on the throne of Scotland.
Born circa 1297 Died 2nd March 1316
Margory, also known variously as Margery, Marjory and Marjorie, married Walter Stewart the sixth High Steward of Scotland. As can be seen, Margory died at the young age of around nineteen on the 2nd March 1316 as a result of falling from a horse. Margory was pregnant at the time of her accident, but although she was killed, her child was delivered by caesarian section, survived and was named Robert.
Robert despite being older than his uncle David and the fact that David nominated Edward III of England as his heir, ended up succeeding David as king Robert II of Scotland, the first ruler of the House of Stewart or Stuart on the Scottish throne. The Stewarts/Stuarts were still on the throne of Scotland three centuries later, when they managed to become kings of England as well.
The following specific sources;
Origins of House of Bruce at
Bruce Clan and related septs at
The Ancestry of Robert the Bruce at
The Bruce - Brus Page at
Together with other general genealogical sites such as;