William Bruce (architect)
Sir William Bruce of Kinross, 1st Baronet was a Scottish gentleman-architect. He was a key figure in introducing the Palladian style into Scotland. Bruce was a merchant in Rotterdam during the 1650s, and played a role in the Restoration of Charles II in 1659. As the king’s architect he undertook the rebuilding of the Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse.
About William Bruce (architect) in brief
Sir William Bruce of Kinross, 1st Baronet was a Scottish gentleman-architect. He was a key figure in introducing the Palladian style into Scotland. Bruce was a merchant in Rotterdam during the 1650s, and played a role in the Restoration of Charles II in 1659. As the king’s architect he undertook the rebuilding of the Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse in the 1670s. Little is known of William Bruce’s youth, and his date of birth is unrecorded. He was probably born at Blairhall in western Fife, in around 1630, the second son of Robert Bruce of Blairhall and Katherine Preston. He may have attended St Andrews University in 1637–1638, which would suggest that his birth date was as early as 1625. The Bruces were a well-connected Episcopalian family, strongly loyal to the king, and descended from Thomas Bruce, a cousin of King Robert II, who had been granted lands in Clackmannan and Fife. Bruce rose to become a member of Parliament, and briefly sat on the Scottish Privy Council. After the death of Charles Two Bruce lost political favour, and later, following the accession of William and Mary, he was imprisoned more than once as a suspected Jacobite. He is recorded as having a house and a mistress in La Rochelle, and may have had a son Normand by this mistress since in 1672 he figures as a witness to the baptism of a William Bruce, son of Normand Bruce, mason.
In 1675 he built his own Palladian mansion at Kinross. His patrons included John Maitland, the 1st Duke of Lauderdale, the most powerful man in Scotland at that time. His most significant work was Thirlestane Castle, and Prestonfield House, which he built in 1660s. He died in 1675, and was buried in Kinross in 1678. He had a daughter, Mary, who married the Earl of Kincardine in 1680. The couple had two sons, William and Alexander, who were both born in Scotland in 1640s and 1655. William Bruce was also a merchant, based in the Scottish community inRotterdam, but traveling widely. He owned a ship with Alexander Bruce and John Hamilton of Grange, and involved in the trade of wine, coal, and timber between Norway, France, England, Scotland and the Low Countries. He and Alexander traveled together from Bremen overland to Maastricht to meet Moray in 1658, and it is likely that architecture featured in their discussions, particularly in the new town hall in MaastRicht that Moray had recently advised on. The nature of their communications is not known, although it would appear that the task was to persuade Charles II to march to London. Sir Robert Moray stated that Bruce was selected for the task before the distress of Scotland, and that it appears that the messages he brought from Charles Monck persuaded him to return to Holland.