Bruce, Michael (1634/5–1693), presbyterian minister, was born probably in Newtown, Stirlingshire, son of Patrick Bruce and Janet Bruce (née Jackson); he was related to many noble families of Scotland. He graduated from Edinburgh University (MA 1654) and, recommended to the congregation of Killinchy, Co. Down by its former minister John Livingstone (qv), was ordained there (October 1657). In 1658 the commonwealth granted him an annual salary of £100. After the restoration Bruce and other ministers were deprived of their parishes for refusing to accept episcopal reordination, but he continued to preach and administer sacraments in what were called ‘conventicles’, often outdoors and at night. The authorities regarded his activities and his many supporters with great suspicion, and for defying Bishop Jeremy Taylor (qv) he was outlawed along with John Crookshanks of Raphoe on 23 June 1664, by which time both men seem to have taken refuge in Scotland. Bruce was denounced as a rebel, and in 1668 was arrested in Stirlingshire; severely wounded, he was conveyed to Edinburgh Tolbooth and appeared (2 July) before the privy council, which sentenced him to banishment, probably to Virginia. A royal warrant (9 July) committed him to the gatehouse of Westminster Palace, London; he expected to be exiled to Tangiers. However, petitions supported by the king's mistress Lady Castlemaine were successful, and he was allowed to choose his own banishment; he suggested the apparently exotic ‘Killinchie in the woods’. His kinsman Robert Bruce, earl of Elgin, intervened; Bruce was completely exonerated and returned to his congregation (April 1670). The new bishop of Down and Connor, Roger Boyle (qv), took further proceedings against him, but the lord lieutenant, John Berkeley (qv) and the Church of Ireland primate, James Margetson (qv), protected him, in line with the greater toleration shown to presbyterians after 1670. He dissociated himself from the Scottish covenanters’ rising (1679), and was forced to flee to Scotland when the Williamite wars broke out. There he remained as minister at Anworth, Wigtownshire, till his death in 1693, though he presided at the general synod of Ulster in 1691. He married (1659) his cousin Jean Bruce of Kinnaird, whose father had been killed at the battle of Naseby; they had three children who died young and a son James (qv) (d. 1730). The family's importance in presbyterianism and in Ulster continued for six generations or more; descendants include Michael Bruce (qv) (d. 1735). Bruce published nothing; some sermons survive in manuscript.
DNB; Burke, Peerage (1912), 309, 308, 696; Burke, LGI (1912), 79; McConnell, Fasti, 7; T. H. Mullin, The kirk and lands of Convoy since the Scottish settlement (1960), 90, 96; ODNB