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Bruce, Alexander Low, Deputy-Chairman of William Younger and Company, brewers, 1839-1893



Alexander Low Bruce was born in Edinburgh, educated at the Royal High School and joined the firm of William Younger and Company as a young man of nineteen. He played a major part in the development of his Company from the 1860s, initially in their London office; in 1873 he was entrusted with a major sales tour of North America, and by 1876 he was one of the four partners in the firm, and co-manager with David Younger of the Edinburgh brewery. In 1887 he became Deputy-Chairman of the Company and was a major shareholder. He also had considerable financial interests outside brewing.

Described as a businessman “of great charm and ability”, Bruce had much wider political and philanthropic concerns. In 1875 he married Agnes, daughter of David Livingstone, a connection that may have stimulated interest in Africa and significant involvement with commercial and missionary organisations active on the continent, and with imperialist enthusiasts and movements at home. Bruce embraced his father-in-law’s views on the slave trade and the role of commerce in helping to bring about its demise, and he became friendly and involved with many of the leading figures of his time associated with Africa, notably Sir John Kirk, Sir William Mackinnon, Alfred [later Viscount] Milner and H M Stanley. He was a leading figure, as a director, in both the African Lakes Company and the Imperial British East Africa Company, the former based in Glasgow and both ventures in which Scottish capital and personnel took a leading part.

Bruce had been an active Liberal until the Irish Home Rule crisis in 1886 when he associated himself with the new Liberal-Unionist party. He appears to have become an important backer of the Liberal-Unionist cause in Scotland, having a close association, reflected in extensive correspondence, with George Joachim [later Viscount] Goschen and other leading Liberal-Unionists. Bruce’s sudden and premature death at fifty four, in 1893, cut short a developing public career.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Correspondence of Alexander Low Bruce, master brewer, with some personal and financial papers.

Identifier: Acc.11777/1-41
Scope and Contents

Includes papers concerning Bruce's directorships of the African Lakes Company and the Imperial British East Africa Company, and to Liberal Unionist organisations and activities in Scotland.

The papers, originally contained in a mahogany filing cabinet with alphabetically labelled drawers, is mostly, but not exclusively, Bruce’s personal, rather than his business correspondence, mainly from 1885-1893 and largely concerned with his political and African interests.

Dates: 1858-1893, undated.

Legal papers, 1901-1912, relating to the Trust of Mr Alexander Low Bruce and his African Estates.

Identifier: Acc.13503
Scope and Contents

Legal agreements, 1901-1912, relating to the Alexander Low Bruce Trust, and disposal and legal status of his African Estates.

Dates: 1901-1912

Letters to John Murray, publishers, of correspondents with surnames from Bruce, A. to Bruce, H., 1806-1928.

Identifier: MS.40161
Scope and Contents This manuscript includes letters, 1875-1893, of Agnes and Alexander Low Bruce mostly to John Murray III. Some of the letters concern “The personal life of David Livingstone” by W.G. Blaikie.It also includes letters, 1856-1894, of Henry A. Bruce to John Murray III and John Murray IV. The letters concern works of his including “Life of General Sir William Napier”.All the letters are arranged alphabetically by correspondent and by date under each name. Some of the...
Dates: 1806-1928.

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Archival Object 1
Africa. Continent. 1
Copies. Derivative objects. 1
Correspondence. 1
Financial records. 1
Legal documents. 1