This Information regarding the Bruce Institution is an extract from:


Ciloft, Alfred Croft. (2013). pp. 310-1. Review of Education in India in With Dial Special Reference to the Report of the Education Commission, 1888. London: Forgotten Books. (Original work published 1888)

256. The Bruce Legacy.

Reference has already been made to this munificent bequest. Miss Sarah and Miss Mary Ann Bruce were the daughters of Mr. Alexander Bruce, who had amassed a large fortune as an indigo planter in Bengal. Miss Sarah Bruce died in 1878 and her younger sister in 1880, after making wills expressed in identical terms. The trusts created under these wills were that the bequests should be applied for or towards the foundation and endowment of an institution at Calcutta or at any place within 50 miles thereof for the education and maintenance of half-caste or Eurasian female children, whether legitimate or otherwise, and in particular orphans  or those deserted by their parents, such children to be admitted only between the ages of 5 and 10 years, and to be maintained until they can be provided  for in some respectable and useful station in life. The amount of the legacies was about 1-5,000, to be increased hereafter by a further sum of ,"2:2,000 on the cessation of certain life interests; altogether about "67,000. Transferred to India, with additions on account of interest, the first portion of the legacy produced a sum of B6,45,900, now invested in Government securities and yielding an annual income of R25,836.

The question, what was an " institution " within the meaning of the wills, was keenly debated. Was it necessary to build and maintain a separate home and school; or would it be sufficient if the girls to be benefited by the trust were placed in one or more existing institutions having similar objects? The latter course, if only it was consistent with the trust, would allow of the funds being more economically applied and spread over a wider area; while it would also solve the religious difficulty which now began to loom large. The wills made no reference to religious distinctions, made poverty and necessity the sole grounds for admission to the benefits of the trust; but it was quite clear that if religious distinctions were ignored, the necessary result would be to deprive the majority of the class for whom the trust was devised from any share in its benefits. The majority of Eurasians in Bengal were Roman Catholics; and in matters of education the Roman Church claimed absolute control over both the secular and the religious instruction of pupils professing that creed. Hence, if the school was established on an undenominational basis, with permission to the ministers of different denominations to impart religious instruction at stated times, no Roman Catholic child would be permitted to join it. It was finally decided that the question should be settled by the High Court, and a friendly suit (the Advocate General of Bengal versus the Secretary of State for India) was instituted for the construction of the wills and for the framing of a scheme for administering the trust. By a decree of the High Court, dated the 28th August 1886, a scheme was sanctioned giving an extended meaning to the term " institution." It was declared that " an institution shall be established for the " purpose of carrying out the trusts for the benefit of half-caste or Eurasian " female children, contained in the wills of Miss Sarah Bruce and Miss Mary " Ann Bruce, and of administering the funds provided for that purpose. The " institution shall be called the Bruce Institution," and " shall be under the " management of twelve governors ....

The governors shall provide an office in Calcutta at which the business of the institution shall be carried on ....  The girls to receive the benefits of the institution shall be elected by the Governors ...

Each girl who has been elected shall be educated and maintained by the governors at such suitable boarding school as they may from time to time select. In selecting from time to time the school at which the girls shall be educated and maintained, the governors shall take into account the religious denomination of the school and all other circumstances which they may deem material. By this felicitous interpretation all difficulties were removed. The religious difficulty disappeared; and no portion of the funds being spent upon buildings, the benefits of the trust could be more widely extended, while the schools selected by the governors would themselves benefit by the increase in their income, and thus be made capable of greater usefulness.

The governing body consisted of five ex-officio governors, and seven others nominated in the first instance by the High Court for a term of three years, and thereafter to be appointed by the Local Government. The ex-officio governors were the Chief Justice of Bengal, the Bishop of Calcutta, the Surgeon General for Bengal, the Chairman of the Calcutta Municipality, and the Director of Public Instruction. The members nominated by the High Court represented partly the chief religious denominations, and partly the community mainly interested. The first election of girls to the benefits of the foundation took place in March 1887. It was estimated that after the cost of a small clerical establishment had been provided for, the income of the institution would suffice to maintain 150 children. But it was considered undesirable to appoint anything like that number to begin with; for if the full number were elected at once, no, or but few, further elections could take place for several years. At the first election therefore 69 girls were elected to the foundation, a number subsequently increased to 78. Elections are to be held annually.