43753: The Bruces of Cromore

by Angus M Smith, October 1998

Two schoolmasters called Bruce – and presumably brothers – taught at Cromore School.

William Bruce was born to William Bruce and Williamina Sutherland of Kildonan, Sutherland on 21 December 1861. He was married on 28 February 1888 at Free High Church manse in Inverness to Agnes E Armstrong, daughter of John Armstrong and Esterina Ormiston of Upper Borgue, Berriedale, Caithness. She was born in 1864 and died in 1965. Their children were as follows:

1 Walter Armstrong 11:3:1889 – 20:6:1915. Unmarried. A teacher in Dunbar. Served with the 5th Batt. Royal Highlanders in WWI. Killed in action.

2 John Armstrong 28:9:1890 – 3:8:1929. Lived at Inch, Edzell, Brechin. Served as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Machine Gun Corps in Grantham, England, he married Annie S Mctavish of Auchnafauld, Union Street, Hamilton at Auchnafauld on 18:12:1918. Emigrated to the USA where he lived at 621 Pioneer Drive, Glendale, California. Died at 121 Hill Street, Glasgow.

3 William Ellington Christian 5:7:1893 – ?

William Bruce taught in 1891-2 at Cromore School, and went to Keose (Knockiandue) School from Cromore in December 1892. He does not seem to have had a very happy time at Keose. On the one hand he seems to have been a very able teacher, as can be seen from this report on religious instruction states in July 1894:

…the progress made in this school within a year is such as seldom falls to be recorded. The revision is good, singing is excellent, repetition clear, distinct and accurate, while the children answered questions put at random from different parts of the Bible, with an ease and accuracy that is simply surprising. This school taken as a whole, fully deserves being placed in the highest grade.

He seems to have fallen out with the local community however, after an alleged beating of a pupil that required the attention of a doctor. It caused quite a stir in the area, and the case going to court and the houses of Parliament. Although he escaped with a severe reprimand, he must have felt that he had to get away. He left in September 1894, but where to is not known.

On May 19th 1902, Hector Bruce CM began at Cromore School. Sixteen years later, an article appeared in both the local Stornoway Gazette and the Highland News in June 1918:

…A deputation waited on Mr Bruce, past Headmaster of Cromore Public School, and presented him with a substantial sum of money on the eve of his departure from the district. The gift was subscribed for by the parents of the district – a number of the school children also subscribing – and apart from its intrinsic value, is much appreciated. The deputation, consisting of the boys in the supplementary class, begged Mr Bruce to accept this small present in the name of the district, as a mark of the esteem and appreciation of his long and valued services in their midst. Mr Bruce meanwhile takes up residence in Inverness and although retiring from the teaching at Cromore, still intends to lead an active life and continue doing a good work as long as health and strength permit.

He also taught Latin to local pupils after school.

Hector was born c1853 in Helmsdale or Kildonan to William Bruce (master tailor) and Williamina Sutherland – making him the brother of his predecessor at Cromore, William. Hector was residing in Sandwick in Orkney when he married Margaret Anderson from Golspie in Golspie on 12 October 1882. Margaret was the daughter of Alexander Anderson (also a tailor) and Ann Gordon. She was born in c1855. They had seven of a family, four daughters and three sons.

A daughter, Charlotte, was a teacher in Cromore School for a time. Her daughter Margaret JB Smith from Pickering, North Yorkshire has since visited Cromore.

Hector died at 15 Midmills Road, Inverness on 21 May 1933 aged 80 years. Margaret died on 25 July 1947 aged 92.

This is his obituary as it appeared in the Highland News of 27th May 1933:

We regret to announce the death of Mr Hector Bruce, retired school teacher, 15 Midmills Road, Inverness, which took place on Sunday. Mr Bruce, who had reached the ripe old age of eighty years, was well known in Skye, Lewis and the North. His primary and advanced education he received in the Free Church School of his native parish of Helmsdale, and he afterwards became a pupil teacher there under the late Mr Macmillan, who was the last headmaster before the Act of 1872, when Board schools took the place of the old Free schools. Following this, Mr Bruce taught in the Breakish School, Skye and retired some years ago from the Cromore School in Lewis. Mr Bruce was a bright and large-hearted man, living a life of trust and goodness, and always eager to help in the promotion of the Kingdom. Mr Bruce was a most interested member of the Inverness Brotherhood, regarding whose success he was most enthusiastic. Our deepest sympathy is extended to his sorrowing widow and family in their great loss.


Record Type:
Story, Report or Tradition
Record Maintained by: