First Lord Aberdare was the son of Mr John Bruce Pryce Bruce, of Duffryn, St. Nicholas Cardiff Glamorgan. In his youth he spent six years in France, and returning to England in 1827, he entered Swansea Grammar School. In 1837 he was called to the bar, and from 1847 to 1852 he was police magistrate at Merthyr Tydfil and from 1852-1868 he represented Merthyr in Parliament.
In 1869 he was elected for Renfrewshire, and later wasunder-secretary at the Home Office from 1862-1864, subsequently, until July, 1866, was vice-president of the Committee of Council on Education.
In 1868 he took office under Mr Gladstone as Home Secretary, and in 1873, when he was appointed Lord President of the Council; he was raised to the peerage. In Wales he will always be remembered for the interest he took in the promotion of higher education, and it was he who presided over the Royal Commission, whose report led to the foundation of the University Colleges of North and South Wales. He also took a deep interest in the welfareof the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth, and filled the office of President of the Board of Governors.
He wrote a “Life of General Napier” (1864), “National Education” (1866), and published his Napier” (1864), “National Education” (1866), and published his “Speech on the Education of the Poor Bill” in 1867