Stanley Melbourne Bruce

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Stanley Bruce's father, John Munro Bruce, was born in 1840 to Scottish parents George Williamson Bruce and Mary Munro in Brooklawn, Mohill, County Leitrim, Ireland, was schooled in Scotland and immigrated to Australia in 1858 at the age of 18. His mother, Mary Ann Henderson, was also from County Leitrim and had married her cousin John after immigrating to Australia in 1872 at the age of 24. John Bruce was a talented businessman with "a flair for buying and selling’ which would secure him a partnership in an established Melbourne importing firm that in 1868 became known as Paterson, Laing and Bruce. As his wealth grew, John Bruce became influential in colonial Victoria's social and political life. An avid golfer, he was one of the founders of the Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

SM as he preferred to be called was born and educated in Melbourne he then went on to study at Cambridge University and spent his early life tending to the importing and exporting business of his late father. He served in the Gallipoli Campaign in World War I and returned to Australia wounded in 1917, becoming a spokesperson for government recruitment efforts. He gained the attention of the Nationalist Party and Prime Minister Billy Hughes, who encouraged a political career. He was elected to parliament in 1918, becoming treasurer in 1921 and then prime minister in 1923, at the head of a coalition with the Country Party. His first act as prime minister was to open the Ainslie Primary School.

After his political career SM had a long and influential diplomatic career as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (1933–1945) and chairman of the Food and Agriculture Organization (1946–1951).

In fact he was probably better known in Europe then Australia.  SM was the first Australian to captain the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in 1954 and frequently appeared at public events both big and small in Australia and in England but despite his lack of public recognition in Australia, peers and historians have long recognised the abiding impact SM had both as prime minister and internationalist, his successor as Chancellor of the Australian National University Sir John Cockcroft  concluded in 1962 that Bruce was "probably the outstanding Australian of our time”. The Melbourne Sun agreed with the assessment, stating upon his death that Bruce was "probably the least remembered but the most extraordinary of our Prime Ministers".


Stanley Melbourne Bruce : institution builder / David Lee

National Library of Australia:  N 994.040922 AUS

Stanley Melbourne Bruce : Australian internationalist / David Lee

National Library of Australia:  N 2010-5543

[Personal Papers of Prime Minister Bruce] [Correspondence between Stanley Melbourne Bruce and External Affairs Liaison Officer (London), RG Casey, on various topics including international relations, British-Dominion relations, the League of Nations, international treaties and protocols, trade, Imperial defence and British politics]:   NAA: A1420, 1

  • Frankston Manor, Victoria - childhood home
    Frankston Manor, Victoria - childhood home
  • First hole at St Andrews, Scotland
    First hole at St Andrews, Scotland
  • Viscount Bruce Coat of Arms
    Viscount Bruce Coat of Arms
  • Opening of Parliament House in Canberra
    Opening of Parliament House in Canberra
  • SM Bruce Montreux Conference
    SM Bruce Montreux Conference
  • Lodge Gardens, Canberra
    Lodge Gardens, Canberra