Walter BRUCE (1839–1899)
His first wife Mrs Lydia Elizabeth BRUCE, née Smith (1838–1875)
St Paul (St Barnabas) section: Row 18, Grave E17

Lydia Bruce


The headstone of the Bruce grave
grave in the St Paul section
of the cemetery is broken and lost,
but the distinctive initials and the
date on the footstone makes the
the name very easy to identify


L. E. B.



Walter Bruce’s initials have not been
been added to the footstone, but
as he is known to lie in this
cemetery, he is almost certainly
buried here with his first wife


Walter Bruce was born at Plantation Road, Oxford on 3 March 1839 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 10 March. He was the son of John Bruce (a whitesmith born in Edinburgh in c.1808) and his wife Elizabeth Claridge (born in Watford in c.1800), who were married at St Thomas’s Church in Oxford on 4 February 1833. Their first three children were born at St Bernard’s Road (then St John’s Road or Horse & Jockey Lane) and were also baptised at St Giles’s Church: Robert (1834), Amelia (1835), and William Thomas (1837). Walter’s younger sister Maria was born at Plantation Road in 1840.

Lydia Elizabeth Smith was born in Marylebone in 1838, the daughter of Henry Smith, an engineer and his wife Elizabeth. The only birth of a child with this name recorded in the St Pancras registry office was in the fourth quarter of 1840, but Lydia is consistently described as being two years older, so she may be the Elizabeth Smith registered in the first quarter of 1841. She had five siblings: Sarah (1845), Thirza (1845), Henry (1848), Hannah (1850), and Jane (1857). At the time of the 1851 census Lydia (described as 13) was living at 4 Camden Place, Kensington with her parents and her next four siblings Thirza, Henry, Hannah, and Jane.

On 21 August 1871 at St Paul’s Church in Hammersmith, Walter Bruce (32) married Lydia Elizabeth Smith (33), and her youngest sister Jane was one of the witnesses.

Lydia came to Oxford to live in the Jericho home of Walter Bruce, and they had the following children:

  • John Henry Bruce (born at 38 Jericho Street on 3 June 1872 and baptised at St Paul’s Church on 22 November)
  • Elizabeth Hannah Bruce (born at the Nelson public house at 37 Wellington Street in 1873 and baptised at St Paul’s church on 23 November)
  • Thirza Elizabeth Bruce (born in Oxford on 21 December 1874 and privately baptised at St Barnabas’s Church on 3 August 1875); died in Kensington aged about six months in June 1875.

Lydia died of puerperal fever just ten days after giving birth to Thirza:

† Mrs Lydia Elizabeth Bruce née Smith died at Wellington Street at the age of 36 on 2 January 1875 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 6 January (burial recorded in the parish register of St Barnabas’s Church).

It looks as though Walter Bruce stayed in London for a while after his wife’s death, probably with her family, as their baby daughter died there in 1875 at the age of six months. The baby was brought back to Oxford to be buried in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery, probably with her mother, on 10 June 1875, and the family’s address was still given as Wellington Street.

At Oxford Registry Office on 6 November 1876, Walter Bruce (38) married his deceased wife’s younger sister, Jane Smith (19). Jane, who was then working as a domestic servant at 37 Cardigan Street, Oxford pushed her age up to 23, and was six months pregnant with Walter’s child. They had the following children:

  • Walter Bruce (born in Oxford on 4 February 1877, with baptism at St Barnabas Church postponed to 22 December 1881 when he was nearly four)
  • Joseph Bruce (born in Jericho on 26 May 1879 and baptised at St Barnabas Church at the same time as his elder brother on 22 December 1881, when he was 2½)
  • Thomas Bruce (born in Jericho on 10 June 1885 and baptised at St Barnabas Church on 27 June)
  • Robert Henry Bruce (born in Summertown on 1 January 1889, and baptised there on 6 March; reg. as Henry Robert)
  • Albert Edward Bruce (born in Summertown in 1895 and baptised there on 30 August)

At the time of the 1881 census Walter was living at 19 Albert Street, Jericho with his wife Jane and four of his children: John (8) and Elizabeth (6) from his first marriage, and Walter (4) and Joseph (2) from his second.

In 1891 Walter and Jane were still living in Albert Street: Walter was still working as a whitesmith, and Jane was now a charwoman. As well as Jane’s own first four children her stepson John (19), who was a gas-fitter, was still living with them.

Walter Bruce died in 1899 and was buried with his first wife:

† Walter Bruce died at 1 Albert Road, Summertown at the age of 60 in February 1899 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 15 February (burial recorded in the parish register of St Barnabas’s Church).

In 1901 Jane (42) was still living at 1 Albert Road with her stepson John (29) and four of her children: Walter (24), who was a carrier; Thomas (15), who was a gas-fitter like his stepbrother; and Robert (12) and Albert (6)

By 1911 Jane Bruce had moved back to Hammersmith and was living at 44 Hart Street, Notting Hill with three of her children: Thomas (25), who was a porter; Robert (22), who was a bus conductor; and Albert (16), who was a printer’s assistant.

She may be the Jane Bruce whose death at the age of 72 was registered in the Hendon district of London in the first quarter of 1929.

Children of Walter Bruce’s first marriage to Lydia
  • John Henry Bruce (born 1872) remained at 1 Albert Road in Summertown with his stepmother after his father’s death in 1909. He married Ethel Mary Nicholls at St John the Baptist Church in Summertown on 31 March 1902 and they had five children: Doris Ethel Bruce (1902–1978), Roy John Bruce (1905–1981), Marion May Bruce (born 1906), Arthur Walter Bruce (1909–1987), and John Bruce (1913–1972). John Henry Bruce died in Oxford on 21 October 1925.
  • Elizabeth Hannah Bruce (born 1873) was working as a general servant for the family of John C. Gray at Suffolk Villa, Blackhall Road, north Oxford in 1891. She married William Richardson in the Derby district in 1897 and they had four children: William Joseph Richardson (1899), George Albert Richardson and Doris Elizabeth Richardson (1906), and Frances Ethel Richardson (1910). At the time of the 1901 census the family was living at 55 Freehold Street, Derby and Elizabeth’s husband was a railway inspector; and in 1911 they were at 53 Uttoxeter Old Road, Derby. Elizabeth died in Derby at the age of 75 in 1948.

Additional information supplied by Robert Bruce, great-grandson of Walter & Lydia Bruce



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