Perth Stuff > People > Edward Bruce (1884-1940)

brucenedEdward Bruce

PERTH NAMES. Ned of Nedlands. By Cygnet.

NED of Nedlands was that Edward Bruce, son of Colonel John Bruce who was from 1854 to 1870 Military Commandant of Western Australia, and on two occasions (in 1862 and again in 1868) acting Governor of the Colony. Colonel John Bruce belonged to the 16th Regiment and had been formerly stationed at Tilbury as staff officer to the troops. He came to Western Australia in the same capacity and as their commander in 1850 when the convict system was instituted. He inaugurated the volunteer movement in Western Australia and as acting Governor had the privilege of entertaining H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh on his visit here in 1869. A further privilege that fell to his lot was the inauguration of the electric telegraph in the colony, an event which was commemorated last year by a brass tablet affixed to the Town Hall. It was his gift to his son, Ned, of the lands which now embrace Nedlands which led to the location being called "Ned's Lands," a cumbersome appellation which soon gave way to "Nedlands."

Ned Bruce was a growing lad when he came to Perth with his father in 1850. They lived first in the Cloisters but afterwards removed to a more commodious house, later demolished to make room for Foy and Gibson's frontage to St. George's-terrace. Colonel Bruce had another son Urban (who entered the Colonial Civil Service and died at Singapore), and five daughters. These were Mrs. Vigors, Mrs. Galbraith, Mrs. Anthony O'Grady Lefroy, Mrs. Hyley, and Miss Caroline Bruce. Colonel John Bruce died in Perth in 1879. His only descendants in the State today are the Lefroys.

NED BRUCE'S first stay in the Colony was of short duration for he was soon sent to Ireland for schooling, after which he passed to the military college, Wellington. From there he was drafted into a British cavalry regiment, but later exchanged into the Indian Army, going to the 15th Bengal Lancers. His first commission was dated 1868, and in 1894 he was a lieutenant colonel. Practically the whole of Colonel Edward Bruce. Help Colonel Edward Bruce. his career was spent on active service, for petty wars were ever recurring in India. But there was large scale fighting too, and he took part in Lord Roberts' historic march to Kandahar, was mentioned in dispatches, promoted brevet major, and awarded two medals. Later he commanded the operations in the Chitral, and was again commended tor his services. He retired in 1901 and died in 1917 in England. Until the years immediately prior to the Great War Nedlands remained derelict, but the example of Messrs. Robertson and Copley at Mt. Lawley apparently awakened ideas in regard to this area and at the instigation of Mr. Arthur Williams (who had married a Miss Lefroy) the estate was made ready for settlement. With commendable spirit the owners of the estate had the tramway extended at their own expense, and only in later years was it taken over as a public utility. At the outset Nedlands bade fair to become a popular suburb, but almost at once the Great War broke out and the sales dropped practically to nil. It must, however, have proved a blessing in disguise, for financially the Nedlands of yesterday does not compare to the Nedlands of today.

Though the Bruce family thus parted with Nedlands they left their mark in it in numerous street names. There is Bruce-street, one of its most important thoroughfares; Edward-street (the Ned of Nedlands); Webster-street named after the maiden name of Ned Bruce's wife, and Thomas-street named after their second son: while Stanley street and Tyrell-street are pathetic reminders of the fact that their younger sons, Stanley and Tyrell, were both killed In the Great War. There was a John-street, named after the present Colonel John Bruce, eldest son of Ned Bruce, but this was changed to Archdeacon-street many years ago after a member of the Road Board. There was also a Johanna-street which commemorated Ned Bruce's mother, the Dutch wife of Colonel John Bruce, the old Commandant, but this was changed to the present Florence-street. Williams road in Hollywood hands down the name of the Arthur Williams already mentioned, who suggested the subdivision and sale of Nedlands.

NED BRUCE married Christian Webster, daughter of his commanding officer, General Webster. They had two daughters and four sons. The eldest daughter, Marguerite, is still living in England; the younger, Christian, was accidentally burnt to death as a young woman. The eldest son was John who joined the Bengal Lancers, retired as a Colonel, and lives in England. The second son Thomas resides in Canada. The third son Tyrell went from Halleybury to East Africa where he took the field against the Germans, but was later invalided to England. Recovering somewhat he went across to France, was almost immediately wounded, and died as a result of his wounds. The youngest son, Stanley, went from Wellington to the Indian Army. He took his Gurkhas to France, but the cold was too much for these intrepid little warriors, and he had to remove them to Mesopotamia. But towards the end of the war Stanley was transferred to the North-West Frontier of India where he was killed in action about May, 1918.

I have named the children of the elder Colonel John Bruce. His wife was a Dutch lady, the daughter of a judge in Trichinopoly, India, and she rejoiced in the names of Johanna Jacoba. It may be some consolation for her removal from the Nedlands map that she still remains on the North Fremantle map where Johanna-street adjoins John-street and Bruce-street, monuments to her husband to whom Western Australia owes much.

References and Links

Cygnet [Cyril Bryan], 'Perth Names. Ned of Nedlands', West Australian 18 March 1939: 7.

Nedlands street names.


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