Alexander Bruce, 6th Lord Balfour of Burleigh

Alexander Hugh Bruce, 6th Lord Balfour of Burleigh, KT, GCMG, GCVO, PC, JP, DL (13 January 1849 – 6 July 1921) was a Scottish Unionist politician, banker and statesman, who took a leading part in the affairs of the Church of Scotland. He was Secretary for Scotland between 1895 and 1903.

The Lord Balfour of Burleigh

Secretary for Scotland
In office
29 June 1895  9 October 1903
MonarchQueen Victoria
Edward VII
Prime MinisterThe Marquess of Salisbury
Arthur Balfour
Preceded bySir George Trevelyan, Bt
Succeeded byAndrew Murray
Personal details
Born13 January 1849 (1849-01-13)
Kennet, Clackmannanshire
Died6 July 1921 (1921-07-07) (aged 72)
Cadogan Square, London
Political partyUnionist
Spouse(s)Lady Katherine Gordon
Alma materOriel College, Oxford


The son of Robert Bruce, at one time Tory Member of Parliament for Clackmannan, he was born in Kennet in that county and educated at Loretto, Eton and Oriel College, Oxford.[1] In 1868, four years after his death, Robert Bruce's claim to the peerage was recognised by the House of Lords, and so his son became sixth Lord Balfour of Burleigh on the reversal of the title's attainder by Act of Parliament in 1869.

Political career

In 1876 Balfour was elected a Scottish representative peer. Six years later, he was made an Education Commissioner for Scotland, and in 1887 he entered Lord Salisbury's administration as a Lord-in-waiting. The following year, Lord Balfour became Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, a position he held until the Liberals returned to power in 1892, and for three years he chaired the London Water Supply Commission until his return to government as Secretary for Scotland in 1895. Appointed a Knight of the Thistle in 1901, Balfour resigned office two years later with the split that occurred in the Conservative and Unionist Party over Joseph Chamberlain's campaign for tariff reform, a campaign which he opposed.

Banking career

Balfour was Governor of the Bank of Scotland from 1904–1921.

Other public appointments

Balfour was appointed Lord Rector of Edinburgh University (1896–1899), and elected Chancellor of St Andrews University in 1900, a post he held until his death. An active figure in the Church of Scotland, he was President of the World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh in 1910, and was an important negotiator in the discussions on church union in Scotland which came to fruition in the 1920s. In 1916 he was appointed as chairman of the Committee on Commercial and Industrial Policy by Lloyd George and the economisers in the Cabinet in acknowledgement of his free trade credentials. In 1917 he was appointed convener of the Carnegie trust for the universities of Scotland. He became Lord Warden of the Stannaries in Cornwall and a member of the Council of the Prince of Wales in 1908.


In June 1901 he received the honorary degree Doctor of Laws (DLL) from the University of Glasgow,[2] and later the same year he received the Freedom of the City of Glasgow ″for his services in facilitation legislation for the city″.[3] The following May, he was at Carnavon to receive the honorary degree LL.D. (Legum Doctor) from the University of Wales during the ceremony to install the Prince of Wales (later King George V) as Chancellor of that university.[4] In July 1902, he received the freedom of the city of St Andrews, ″in testimony of his great services to the Scottish nation in many capacities, and especially of the conspicuous abilities with which he had discharged the onerous duties of Secretary for Scotland, and the deep interest he had shown in the cause of education and in promoting the welfare of the country.″[5]

He was appointed a Knight of the Thistle (KT) in March 1901, and invested by King Edward at Marlborough House on 18 March 1901.[6] He was appointed a GCMG in 1911, and GCVO in 1917.

History of Presbyterianism

Balfour wrote An Historical Account of the Rise and Development of Presbyterianism in Scotland, published in 1911 by the Cambridge University Press as part of their series Cambridge manuals of science and literature.


Balfour married Lady Katherine Eliza, youngest daughter of the George Hamilton-Gordon, 5th Earl of Aberdeen, in 1876. They had two sons and three daughters. His eldest son, Robert Bruce, Master of Burleigh, was killed in the First World War. After his death the heir to the lordship transferred to his second son, George John Gordon Bruce, 7th Lord Balfour of Burleigh (1883–1967).[7] His eldest daughter, Hon. Mary Bruce, OBE, married Sir John Augustus Hope, 16th Baronet Hope of Craighall.[8]

Lord Burleigh of Balfour died at Cadogan Square, London, in July 1921, aged 72. He was buried in Clackmannan Churchyard. Lady Balfour of Burleigh died in February 1931, aged 78.


  1. Eccleshall, Robert (1990). English Conservatism Since the Restoration: An Introduction and Anthology. Routledge. p. 166. ISBN 978-1134997756.
  2. "Glasgow University jubilee". The Times (36481). London. 14 June 1901. p. 10.
  3. "Court circular". The Times (36532). London. 13 August 1901. p. 7.
  4. "The Royal visit to Wales". The Times (36759). London. 5 May 1902. p. 10.
  5. "The Freedom of St Andrews". The Times (36824). London. 19 July 1902. p. 14.
  6. "Court circular". The Times (36406). London. 19 March 1901. p. 8.
  7. Arthur Charles Fox-Davies (1895). Armorial Families: A Complete Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage, and a Directory of Some Gentlemen of Coat-armour, and Being the First Attempt to Show which Arms in Use at the Moment are Borne by Legal Authority, Part 1. Great Britain: Jack. pp. 59–60. Retrieved 13 August 2017. Balfour
  8. "Men and Women of To-Day; Hospital Workers". Dundee, Scotland: The Dundee Courier and Advertiser Newspaper. 26 July 1928. A sister of Lord Balfour of Burleigh, Lady Hope was left a widow four years ago, the baronetcy of Craighall, Fifeshire, passing to her 12-year-old son, Sir Archibald Philip Hope. Lady Hope is an O.B.E., awarded in 1920, and is a J.P. for Midlothian.
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Onslow
Succeeded by
The Viscount Torrington
Preceded by
The Earl of Onslow
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade
Succeeded by
Thomas Burt
Preceded by
Sir George Trevelyan, Bt
Secretary for Scotland
Succeeded by
Andrew Murray
Court offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Ducie
Lord Warden of the Stannaries
Succeeded by
The Lord Clinton
Academic offices
Preceded by
Baron Robertson
Rector of the University of Edinburgh
Succeeded by
Marquess of Dufferin and Ava
Preceded by
The Duke of Argyll
Chancellor of the University of St Andrews
Succeeded by
The Earl Haig
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
Robert Balfour
Lord Balfour of Burleigh
Succeeded by
George Bruce
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