Bruce, Michael (1686–1735), presbyterian minister, was born 27 July 1686, eldest son among ten children of James Bruce (qv), minister of Killyleagh, Co. Down, and Margaret Bruce (née Traill). His brother was William Bruce (d. 1755); they were cousins of the philosopher Francis Hutcheson (qv). Probably educated by his father, he attended Edinburgh University. He was licensed by Down presbytery (27 October 1708) and ordained in Holywood (10 October 1711). Though he had subscribed to the Westminster confession, he became convinced that such man-made formulations of belief should be rejected, and met with like-minded ministers and others in the Belfast Society, later accused of fostering Arianism. After the non-subscription crisis of 1720 Bruce and three other ministers were placed in an effectively separate presbytery of Antrim, though in theory still within the general synod of Ulster. His reputation for scholarship was high, but his congregation dwindled, and he gave fortnightly lectures in the non-subscribing church in Belfast to augment his stipend. One sermon was published, and he helped write an historical account of the non-subscription controversy. He married (1716) Mary Ker; they had three sons, including Samuel (1722–67), presbyterian minister of Wood St., Dublin, and a daughter. He died 1 December 1735.
Witherow, Memorials, i, 295–6; DNB; Burke, LGI (1912), 79; McConnell, Fasti, 91; A. T. Q. Stewart, A deeper silence (1993), 117