Tuesday, November 5, 2019

52 Ancestors - RICH MAN: Richard Bruce

After struggling to find a “rich” ancestor, I gave up and decided to write about one named Richard. The irony is that he might actually have been “rich” after all.

My 5X great-grandfather Richard Bruce was born to George Bruce and Elizabeth Quinn in Albemarle County, Virginia, in 1754. He was surely old enough to have served in the militia during the Revolutionary War, but I have found no evidence of that on Fold3. However, his brothers served and received pensions. 

Richard must have come from a family of some means. His grandfather Darby Quinn left a will. Had he been a poor man, there likely would have been no will or estate to probate. Darby Quinn left a 400 acre estate to his son Richard Quinn. In addition, he stipulated that his personal estate be divided equally between his son Richard and daughter Elizabeth Bruce.

Without some wealth, Richard could not have become the educated man he was. He earned the respect of his family and neighbors. In fact, he was asked to seek the aid of Thomas Jefferson in settling a military claim: 

Albemarle 12th Dec 1791
Having repeatedly experienced favors of this kind from you it emboldens me still to intrude further on your goodness. David Owings & David Wood have got some military claim sent on by the Assembly to Congress to have them settled. And they have wrote to Mr. Madison to lay them separately before Congress. And as I was in some measure the instigation of their not being paid as you will see by the papers therefore beg you to be so good as to try to get them settled when they come to hand [not sure that’s what it says] and write me word their fate.
I am Sir your most obt [obedient] servant
Richd Bruce

Richard might have been a lawyer. In 1794, Richard’s brother William and his wife Ann Nancy, who were residing in North Carolina, appointed him to be their attorney to sell 300 acres of land in Albemarle County, Virginia [Deed Book 1, p. 34].

The many deeds and documents showing Richard Bruce as a grantor, grantee, or merely a witness suggest Richard was probably among the richest of my ancestors.

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. So his name did end up to be associated with richness.


  2. Wow, did not remember that we had Bruces in the family tree. 
    So interesting that he wrote to Thomas Jefferson. I wonder if TJ kept it?  hahaha.

  3. I'm still pondering this topic, but may have to go off on a tangent, as I really can't think of any wealthy people on my tree.

  4. I couldn't even find a Richard or Rich on my tree. I also looked for money, gold, silver.....and still nothing.