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It is generally believed that the name Fraser traces back to origins in the French Provinces of Anjou and Normandy. The name is said to derive from the French word for Strawberry (“Fraises”) and the Fraser arms are silver strawberry flowers on a field of blue.


They first appear in Scotland around 1160 when Simon Fraser made a gift of a church at Keith in East Lothian to the monks at Kelso Abbey. These lands eventually passed to a family who became Earls Marishal of Scotland after adopting Keith as their name. The Frasers moved into Tweedale in the 12th and 13th centuries and from there into the counties of Stirling, Angus, Inverness and Aberdeen. About five generations later, Sir Simon Fraser (the Patriot) was captured fighting for Robert the Bruce, and executed with great cruelty by Edward I in 1306. The Patriot’s line ended in two co-heiresses; the elder daughter married Sir Hugh Hay, ancestor of the Earls of Tweedale, and the younger married Sir Patrick Fleming, ancestor of the Earls of Wigtown. Sir Andrew Fraser of Touch-Fraser [d.1297], cousin of the Patriot, was the father of Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie [ancestor of the Frasers of Philorth], Sir Simon Fraser [ancestor of the Frasers of Lovat], Sir Andrew Fraser and Sir James Fraser of Frendraught. Sir Alexander was killed at the Battle of Dupplin in 1332 and his three younger brothers were killed at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333.


The senior line is descended from Sir Alexander Fraser, who took part in the victory at Bannockburn in 1314. In 1316 he married Robert the Bruce’s widowed sister, Lady Mary, who had been imprisoned in a cage by Edward I. Sir Alexander was appointed Chamberlain of Scotland in 1319, and his seal appears on the letter to the Pope dated 6th April, 1320, known as The Declaration of Arbroath, seeking recognition of the country’s political independence under the kingship of Robert Bruce [see p.3 of this edition of the Nessie] . Sir Alexander’s grandson, Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie and Durris, acquired the Manor Place (later to become Cairnbulg Castle) and lands of Philorth by marriage with Lady Johanna, younger daughter and co-heiress of the Earl of Ross. According to a prophecy of Thomas the Rhymer: “While a cock craws in the north, there’ll be a Fraser at Philorth”. Several generations later, Sir Alexander Fraser, 8th laird of Philorth [c.1536-1623] founded Fraser’s Burgh by Royal Charters obtained in 1592 and built Fraserburgh Castle (now Kinnaird Head Lighthouse; this was highlighted in the last edition of The Nessie). His eldest son, Alexander Fraser, 9th laird of Philorth [c.1570-1636) married in 1595 Margaret, heiress of the Abernethies, Lord Saltoun. In 1668 their son, Alexander Fraser, 10th of Philorth [1604-1693] also became 10th Lord Saltoun. The present Chief of the Name of Fraser is Flora Marjory Fraser, 20th Lady Saltoun, who is an active member of the House of Lords.


The Frasers of Lovat descend from Sir Simon Fraser [brother of Sir Alexander the Chamberlain] who married Lady Margaret Sinclair, daughter of the Earl of Caithness. Documents dated 12th September, 1367, connect a Fraser with the lands of Lovat and the Aird. Among the lands acquired by the Lovat Frasers, the prominent ones were in Stratherrick, which was very dear to the hearts of the Lovat chiefs, the church lands of Beauly Priory in Inverness-shire, part of the south shore of Beauly Firth and the whole of Strathfarrar.  About 1460 Hugh Fraser, 6th Laird of Lovat [c.1436-1501] became the 1st Lord Lovat. Several generations later, Hugh Fraser, 9th Lord Lovat [1666-1696] who had four daughters but no son, willed his estates to his grand-uncle, Thomas Fraser of Beaufort, instead of his eldest daughter, Amelia [1686-1763]. Thomas Fraser’s second son, Simon, later 11th Lord Lovat, had planned to marry the Lovat heiress, Amelia, but the plan failed, and in retaliation, Simon forcibly married her mother, the dowager Lady Lovat (the marriage was later annulled.) The 11th Lord Lovat “The Fox” plotted with both Government and Jacobite forces, and was the last nobleman to be beheaded on Tower Hill, London, in 1747. The Lovat title was attained by an Act of Parliament, and the estates forfeited to the Crown. In 1774 the forfeited lands were restored to his eldest son, Lt. General Simon Fraser, Master of Lovat, but not the title. The original line ended with the death in 1815 of the Master’s younger half-brother, Archibald, without legitimate surviving issue. The estates passed to the nearest collateral heir-male, Thomas Alexander Fraser, 10th laird of Strichen, Aberdeenshire, who in 1837 was created Baron Lovat in the Peerage of the U.K, and the attainder of the Scottish title was reversed in 1857, when he became 14th Lord Lovat. With the death of the 17th Lord Lovat in 1995, aged 83, his grandson, Simon Fraser, born in 1977, became the 18th Lord Lovat and 25th MacShimi, the Chief of the Clan Fraser of Lovat [Simon Fraser joined our tent at the Charleston Games in 2005].

Adapted from Clan Fraser Society of Scotland and the UK by Jim Oliver.

Clan Fraser Society of North America
Clan Fraser Society of North America
Clan Fraser Society of North America

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