James Bruce (1670-1735)
Яков Вилимович Брюс
There were many British military men who defended our Fatherland throughout the history of Russia. Surprisingly, or maybe not quite so surprisingly, many of them were of Scottish origin, the Scots being famous for their long military tradition and remarkable bravery. Sometimes there were whole families that bravely served Russian tsars. One of such families was the Bruce family.
The first Bruce to come to Russia was officer James Bruce, who in 1647 decided to go abroad in order to escape from ‘the troubles of Oliver Cromwell’. He was the founder of the Russian Bruce branch, served under tsar Alexey Mikhailovich as a major and died near Azov in 1695.
His son, Colonel and later Major General William Bruce fully assimilated into the Russian culture and raised his sons Roman and James as Russians. He died in 1680.
Lieutenant-General Roman Vilimovitch Bruce (1668-1720) participated in the Azov campaign and in the Siege of Schlüsselburg. He was commandant of St.Petersburg and built the Fort of St.Peter and St.Paul, where he is buried.
His younger brother Field Marshall James Bruce (better known as Yakov Vilimovitch Bruce) (1670-1735) participated in the Crimean and Azov campaigns, as well as in the Great Northern War against Sweden. After Peter the Great’s army was defeated by the Swedes near Narva in 1700, it was James Bruce who improved the Russian army, which eventually led to its victory over Sweden in 1709. In 1721 Peter I made him Count. James Bruce had a house in the centre of Moscow, and later in the 18th century the street where his house was located was named after him and his cousin who inherited it: Brusov pereulok.
My name is Elena Rafaelevna Watson, I have been teaching English as a foreign language for over 25 years now. I have also been translating and interpreting (English/Russian) for over 20 years.