Euphemia Bruce

Personal data
Born 1743
Died 1827
at Leith
Biography

Daughter of James Bruce (1719-1790), overseer at Auchinleck, and Jean White (1717-1783). Sometime chambermaid to the Boswells at Auchinleck. On September 28, 1769, she married Thomas Edmonson, who had been James Boswell's personal servant since 1766, following which they moved to Edinburgh.

Life with Boswell

On April 28, 1766, Boswell wrote in a letter to William Temple that "the gardener's daughter, who was named for my mother and has for some time been in the family as a chambermaid, is so very pretty that I am entirely captivated by her. Besides my principle of never debauching an innocent girl, my regard for her father, a worthy man of uncommon abilities, restrains me from forming the least licentious thought against her. And therefore, in plain words, I am mad enough to indulge imaginations of marrying her."1

Love, however, didn't last for long, and just a few weeks after having written about his infatuation with Euphemia, on May 17, he wrote to Temple from the spa town of Moffat that he was "already so free of the charming chambermaid", and on March 30, 1767 that he was "totally emancipated from [...] the gardener's daughter, who now puts on my fire and empties my chamber-pot like any other wench; and yet just this time twelvemonth I was so madly in love as to think of marrying her."

  • 1.  Boswell goes on about his thoughts about Euphemia for several paragraphs. The letter is published in it's entirety in Boswell in Search of a Wife.