A Naughty Vicar?

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Whilst I was researching the subject of Portlethen I occasionally encountered a local character that stood out a little from the crowd. One of the more charismatic characters that I discovered, and immediately warmed to, was the Reverend William Bruce, who died in 1883, at the age of 48. The Minister first appeared in the Portlethen area in 1868 and stayed in the parish until his death. There are other references to Reverend Bruce in the "Church & Clergy" section - see Key Players, and "Back to School" section - see Old School Board so we will not go into any biographical notes here.

Iím not going to write any tales about my friend here, instead Iíll ask a series of questions, where the answers might lie within the accompanying press clippings (or maybe they donít?).

As well as being charismatic, Reverend Bruce was also controversial and during his tenure at Portlethen Church he managed to ruffle a few feathers amongst local establishment figures Ė he was very popular with the man on the street but he didnít always toe the line when it came to regular community matters.

Here I have a few questions to ask and from these and the accompanying news articles you may begin to understand why I have included Reverend Bruce in the ďMyths and MysteriesĒ section.

Was there a growing whispering campaign against Reverend Bruce, perhaps instigated by the active stance he had taken in his role within the school board that appeared to upset some ďpillars of the communityĒ?

What exactly were the charges against Reverend Bruce that resulted from him being suspended from the ministry at Portlethen?

What was the nature of the rumours against Reverend Bruce that had begun as early as 1871?

What was the nature of the relationship between Reverend Bruce and the widow Mrs. Stevenson?

Were Reverend Bruceís frequent visits to Mrs. Stevenson of a ministerial nature, a medical calling, or had more salacious undertones?

Who was the father of Mrs. Stevensonís child?

Why did Reverend Bruce attempt to conceal Mrs. Stevensonís pregnancy?

What happened to the child after it was born?

What happened at New Deer?

I have attached some of the news articles that I found about the "Portlethen Fama CaseĒ and tried to place them in a sequential manner. Itís now up to you to unravel the mystery of this case, answer the questions I have asked, ask some questions that I havenít asked, and finally become judge and jury in deciding if Reverend Bruce was guilty or not guilty of doing any wrong.

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