James Bruce, 8th Lord Elgin died - On this day in Scottish history


20 November 2020
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imports_CESC_0-fwbfgx59-100000_01410.jpg James Bruce, 8th Lord Elgin died - On this day in Scottish history
James Bruce, the 8th Lord Elgin, died on 20 November 1863. ...

James Bruce, the 8th Lord Elgin, died on 20 November 1863. Bruce was a colonial administrator who, during his career, acted as Governor of Jamaica, Governor General of Canada and Viceroy of India. However, his career was overshadowed by the notoriety he gained when in 1860 he ordered the burning of the Emperor of China's Old Summer Palace (which contained priceless works of art) in order to intimidate the Emperor into signing a treaty. More than 3,000 troops fired the palace, which stayed alight for three days whilst its contents were looted, with many goods finding their way to the UK.

As Governor General of Canada, Bruce became the first holder of this office to distance himself from politics - instead, making the role more of a symbolic one. Whilst in the post, he struggled with the issue of high immigration and faced protests when the Rebellion Losses Bill was passed in 1849, compensating French Canadians for losses during the 1837 rebellions.

Several sites are named after Elgin, including Elgin in New Brunswick, Elgin Ontraio and Port Elgin in Canada.