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The Bruces

The Bruces of Stanstill: The Bruces, of whom the principal family was Bruce of Stanstill, are of old standing in the county [Caithness]. It is believed that ancient charters connected with this family are still extant in the charter-chest of Mr. Wemyss of Southdun; but the information at hand does not extend beyond 1559. At that period, Stanstill, which had formed part of the bishopric, was feued out with other lands to John, Earl of Sutherland. In the charter by the Bishop, Stanstill is mentioned as then held in feu by "William Davidson." As we find, in 1562, "David Saul of Stanstill," and, in 1567, "David Bruce of Stanstill," and David having been a family name, it is probably that "William Davidson" was William David's-son, that is, William Saul or Bruce, son of David Saul or Bruce. Saul seems to have been the patronymic or clan name of the Bruces, for, in 1630, David Bruce, then of Stanstill, bequeathed "two hundred merks of his readiest rents to be dedicat and given to the building of ane Ile and burying placein the kirk yard of Bower in the Clan-Saul Hillock, where he has ordainit to bury his bodie."

The Bruces of Lyth: In 1524 Lyth belonged to the "Mansons." In that year Kenneth, Donald, and William Manson got a charter of the lands in equal shares from Andrew, Bishop of Caithness, and, in 1532, a commission was directed by the Pope for confirming the grant.
     Between 1583 and 1610, Lyth was acquired by the Bruces, William Bruce of Stanstill having, in 1583, obtained a charter from the Bishop of one-third, - while, in 1601, another one-third was held by Saul Bruce, and the remaining one-third, in 1610, by Gavin Bruce.
     Saul and Gavin Bruce, portioners of Lyth, were probably brothers, and in a removing against them in 1610, at the instance of William Bruce of Stanstill (Gavin Bruce's father-in-law), from the lands of Bilster, they are designed by the alias of "Donald Williamsons." Their connection with the Stanstill branch is not known further than Gavin's alliance by marriage.
     In 1592 there was a charter to William Bruce, eldest son of Donald Williamson or Bruce. In 1681 the Bishop granted a charter to --- Bruce, heir of Gavin Bruce, son and heir of Donald. In 1683 there was a special retour and also a precept of clare constat to James Bruce, grandson of Gavin. Thus there are:--
     1. Donald Bruce Williamson.
     2. William Bruce, eldest son of Donald, in 1592.
     3. Gavin Bruce, who married Christian, daughter of William Bruce, second of Stanstill.
     4. --- Bruce, Gavin's son.
     5. James Bruce, grandson of Gavin. In 1682 he disponed his third of Lyth to George Sinclair of Barrock.

Source: Henderson, J. (1884) Caithness Family History. Edinburgh: David Douglas.

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