George Bruce fl.1716-1738

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George BRUCE fl.1716-1738

Biographical Note

Little is known of George Bruce beyond his appointment as Master of Dundee Grammar school in May 1716. In 1717 he was also made a Burgess of Dundee.


On 27th May 1738, Bruce left his library by deed of mortification to the Grammar School of Dundee, along with 5500 merks (Scots). The books were to be kept separate from any other library in the grammar school, and were intended for the use of the teachers of the Grammar school, as well as the Provost of Dundee, the Dean of Guild, and the minister of Dundee. The interest from the 5500 merks was directed to be split into thirds, with one third to be used for the purchase of new books, and another for payment to the Doctors of the Grammar School for their role as keepers of the library. Whether Bruce’s directions were carried out are unknown.

In May 1765, it was recorded that the library left by George Bruce was to be moved to the hospital, possibly because the Grammar School moved to a new building. Maclaren’s 1874 enlarged edition of James Thomson’s History of Dundee, records that the library was “persevered in the Grammar School department of the High School of Dundee.”

In 1958, D.W Doughty examined rare books at the High School of Dundee, and identified 5 volumes surviving from Bruce's bequest:

Nicolas Lloyd edition of Charles’ Estienne’s Dictionarium historicum, geographicum, poeticum (London, 1586)

Johannis Buxtorfi Manuale Hebraicum et Chaldaicum (Basel, 1613), previously owned by the Dundee minister Robert Norrie 1647-1727.

The Plantin edition of Justus Lipsius Poliorceticon sive De Machinis. Torementis. (Antwerp, 1596), also owned by Robert Norrie.

Seneca’s Tragedies L.& M. Annaei Senecae Atque Aliorum Trageoediae.. (London, 1613)

and Justinius Ex Trogo Pompeii Historia, printed in Basel at the press of Michael Isingrin in 1539, notably with the stamped binding of James Stewart 1531/2-1570, Regent of Moray.

Research undertaken at the High School of Dundee in December 2022 identified a further 4 volumes with Bruce’s inscription:

Diodori Sicvli Bibliothecae Historicae Libri XV… (Hanover, 1611)

John Dryden’s translation of The satires of Decimus Junius Juvenalis (London, 1713)

An English translation of Justin’s History of the world (London, 1713)

An English translation of Suteonius The Lives of the XII. Caesars (London, 1717)

This research also discovered that a number of books described by Doughty are no longer at the high school, including the copy of Ex Trogo Pompeii Historia formerly belonging to the Regent of Moray.

Characteristic Markings

George Bruce inscribed the title pages of his books with “Geo Bruce.” The inscription “Bruce’s library” found in many of the books at the High School of Dundee is not evidence that a book was part of Bruce’s original library, especially as many of these books were published after Bruce’s death

Inscription of George Bruce (High School of Dundee)


  • Doughty, D.W. 'A note on some old books found in the High School of Dundee', Bibliotheck, 1 no.4 (1958), 42-46.
  • Miscellaneous Transcripts 1513-1770 from Extracts of the Records of the Town Council of Dundee, Friends of Dundee City Archives
  • Smart, Gwyneth. Dundee Town Council Minutes, Vol.VIIIA Index to 1716/1717 Friends of Dundee City Archives, 1994
  • Thomson, James. & James McClaren (ed.). The History of Dundee ... A New and Enlarged Edition of the Work Published in 1847, Dundee, 1874