If you ask most people what gender a person called Bruce is, they would answer “male” without so much as a second thought. I would have been the same before I started working on my Unst family Tree project. However, now I am aware of many examples of the name Bruce as a female first name. Bruce is a surname that has had strong links with the island of Unst, what with Laurence Bruce building Muness Castle there. So as a surname it was quite prevalent. Some of the female Bruce’s I’ve come across went onto marry a Mr Bruce, ending up therefore as Bruce Bruce!
I was curious to discover if these female forenames could be attributed to the Bruce surname.
The majority of the examples come with a daughter being named after her mother’s maiden surname. Not something seen that often as a surname doesn’t usually make an appropriate first name. I’ve seen a couple of other examples with Sinclair and Henderson being used as girl’s names.
The remaining examples have the first name Bruce being passed down the generations like any other first name, with a mother called Bruce, naming her daughter Bruce as well.
So ultimately, any Unst girl from these times (1700s and 1800s) named Bruce had some relation to the Bruce surname in her ancestors.
[Note on title, in case anyone isn’t aware, Sheila is an Australian slang term for a woman]