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Mystery of Bruce Bible

Fifty years ago, Tom Forsyth was working at Waygateshaw House. During a tea break, he was given permission to explore the old mid-sixteenth century tower which was part of the newer mansion. He found a Bible wrapped in brown paper and string in a loft. The owners gave him the Bible and he has kept it ever since. It was printed by John Robertson, Saltmarket, Glasgow in 1774.


Two pages were stuck together at the end of the Old Testament but Tom managed to steam them apart. A piece of paper had been glued to the empty space at the bottom of the page. It bore the following dates:


John Bruce Born March 24th 1795

James Bruce Born May 14th 1796 and Died March 20th 1800

Cathrine(sic) Bruce Born March 24th 1798

William Bruce Born Feb 27th 1800 and Died Jan 17th 1802

Margeret(sic) Bruce Born Jan 2nd 1802 and Died Jan 4th 1803

Jean Bruce Born June 9th 1804

So the mystery was - what was the connection between the Bible and Waygateshaw House? Consultation of records in Dr Rankin’s book showed nothing. A search of the old graveyard DVD had no suitable Bruces. However, entering a search for the children in Scotland’s People website gave a match for Dundee. This seemed unlikely but as each child was checked, the results showed each one baptised in Dundee. Unusually, the OPR gave additional information on the family.

The parents are listed as Charles Bruce, tobacconist and Isabell Spence. The last column says “Name- Fathers and Mothers” and seems to give the person after whom the child is named. For example William, baptised on 2nd March, was called after his grandfather, William Spence.

John Baptised 29th March 1795

James Baptised 16th May 1796

Catharine(sic) Baptised 1st April 1798

Margaret Baptised 10 Jan 1802

Jean Baptised 11th June 1804

Two other children have been found.

Charles Bruce Born/baptised on 15th June 1806

Colin Bruce Born/baptised on 9th January 1814

A Dundee Street Directory reveals that Charles Bruce Senior was still alive in 1829 and that he owned the tobacconist’s shop in the Overgate, Dundee. There is a strong possibility that his wife Isabella was still alive in 1841. Their youngest son, Colin, became a confectioner and ran his business from the Overgate until his death.

The link between the Bruce family and Waygateshaw House is Charles and Isabella’s daughter Jane, born in 1804. It would appear that she married Mr. William Steel, whose family owned Waygateshaw. For most of their married life Jane and William lived with their family of 5 girls and 1 son – Susan Mure Steel, Catherine Anna Steel, Mary Porteous Steel, Jane Bruce Steel, Jessie Ann Marion Steel and Gavin William Steel – in Cheshire but, following the death of William’s brother Samuel on 13th January 1863, they relocated to Waygateshaw. Samuel Steel’s only child, Jane Samueleta-Ann-Mary was born two months after her father’s death and would eventually inherit the house and lands of Waygateshaw.

Helping to confirm all this is the fact that Jane’s unmarried sister Catherine was living with them in 1861.

Both William and Jane died in Cheshire in 1882, possibly while visiting some of their family.

Presumably, at some point, Jane became the owner of the Bible.

Researched by CW and ML, November 2016

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Last Updated on Jan-23-2017