Origin of Name Fraser
There are many stories about the origin of the name Fraser. Alexander Fraser, 17th [now 18th] Lord Saltoun, in The Frasers of Philorth, Lords Saltoun  clearly rebuts two fanciful stories of the origin of the Fraser family, that of Pierre Fraser migrating from France to Scotland in the time of Charlemagne, and that of Julius de Berry serving a dish of strawberries to the King of France. According to Clan Fraser: A history celebrating over 800 years of the Family in Scotland  by Flora Marjory Fraser, 20th [now 21st] Lady Saltoun: The truth of these stories is unknown but it is generally believed that the name Fraser traces its origins to the French provinces of Anjou and Normandy. The French word for strawberries is fraises. The Fraser arms are Argent (Silver) strawberry flowers on an Azure (Blue) field. Only the Chief is entitled to use these arms plain and undifferenced.
Beginning of Clan Fraser
The history of Clan Fraser has been so badly distorted in the past that it is worthwhile to clarify a few points. The first generation on record included Simon Fraser in Keith, Gilbert Fraser, and Bernard Fraser in East Lothian, although it is not known if they were brothers or otherwise related. The Frasers moved into Tweeddale (now Peebleshire) in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and from there into the counties of Stirling, Angus, Inverness and Aberdeen. The second generation on record, believed to have been the sons of Gilbert Fraser in East Lothian, were Oliver Fraser, Udard Fraser, and Thomas Fraser, whose posterity is unknown. Oliver Fraser built Oliver Castle (no longer in existence), but died without issue. Udard Fraser, alive in 1200 AD in East Lothian, from whom the Frasers are thought to be descended, was the father of Sir Bernard Fraser, 1st of Touch-Fraser, whose daughter became a nun; Sir Gilbert Fraser, 1st of Oliver Castle; and Adam Fraser, 1st of Drumelzier & Hales, progenitor of a large number of Frasers who later settled in Inverness-shire and followed Lovat, although they were not descended from Lovat, but from Drumelzier. These were the Frasers of Fruid, Tain, Munlochy, Phopachy (Mr. James Fraser, author of the Wardlaw MS), Dunballoch, Newton, Kingillie and Fanellan.
Sir Gilbert’s eldest son was John Fraser (d. ante 1263), who was the father of Sir Richard Fraser of Touch-Fraser, whose son Sir Andrew Fraser of Touch-Fraser (d. ante 1297) had four sons, namely, Sir Alexander Fraser (k. 1332, Dupplin), Sir Simon Fraser (k. 1333, Halidon Hill, Berwick), Sir Andrew Fraser (k. 1333) and Sir James Fraser (k. 1333). Another son of John Fraser (d. ante 1263) and the younger brother of Sir Richard Fraser of Touch-Fraser, was Sir Alexander Fraser, 1st of Corntoun, progenitor of the Frasers of Corntoun, Kinmundie & Muchalls, Lords Fraser (now extinct).
Sir Gilbert’s second son, Sir Simon Fraser of Oliver Castle (d. ante 1283), was High Sheriff of Tweeddale 1263-66. His son Sir Simon Fraser (d. 1291) was the father of Sir Simon Fraser [the Patriot] who was captured fighting for Robert the Bruce and executed with great cruelty by Edward I in 1306. The patriot’s line ended with two co-heiresses: the elder daughter married Sir Hugh Hay, ancestor of the Earls of Tweeddale, and the younger daughter married Sir Patrick Fleming, ancestor of the Earls of Wigton.
Sir Andrew Fraser of Touch-Fraser, cousin of the patriot, was the father of Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie, progenitor of the Frasers of Philorth, Lords Saltoun; Sir Simon Fraser, progenitor of the Frasers of Lovat & Strichen, Lords Lovat; Sir Andrew Fraser, and Sir James Fraser who married the heiress of Frendraught, whose line ended when his great grand-daughter, Mauld Fraser, married Alexander Dunbar of Moray. Sir Alexander Fraser was killed at the Battle of Dupplin in 1332 and his three younger brothers were killed at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333.
Families descended from the early Frasers were of Touch-Fraser, Drumelzier and Hales, Oliver Castle, Cornton, Fruid, Frendraught, Cowie and Tulifour. From the family of Fruid descended the Frasers of Daltullich, Dunballoch, Fanellan, Kingillie, Munlochy, Newton, Phopachy and Tain.
Although a Lowland family, the Frasers of Philorth, Lords Saltoun, are Chiefs of the name of Fraser. Lord Lovat is the chief of the very numerous Highland clan Fraser of Lovat, based in Inverness-shire. « With the death of the 19th [now 20th] Lord Saltoun on August 31, 1979, the Chiefship of Clan Fraser passed to his daughter, first lady to head the clan. » – Clan Fraser, The Chief is a Lady , by William F. Rannie, 1980.
Frasers of Philorth [Lords Saltoun]
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The senior line is descended from Sir Alexander Fraser, who married Robert the Bruce’s widowed sister, Lady Mary, who had been imprisoned in a cage by Edward I. Sir Alexander was Chamberlain of Scotland in 1319-26, and his seal appears on the letter dated 6 April 1320 to Pope John XXII, seeking recognition of the country’s political independence under the kingship of Robert Bruce, known as the Declaration of Arbroath.
His grandson, Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie, acquired the Castle (now Cairnbulg) and lands of Philorth by marriage with Lady Joanna, younger daughter and co-heiress of the Earl of Ross in 1375. Eight generations later, Sir Alexander Fraser, 8th laird of Philorth, founded Fraser’s Burgh by royal charters obtained in 1592, and also built Fraserburgh Castle, now Kinnaird Head Lighthouse Museum. His son, the 9th laird, married the heiress of the Abernethies, Lords Saltoun, and in 1669 their son, Alexander Fraser, became the 10th [now 11th] Lord Saltoun. The present Chief of the Name and Arms of Fraser is Flora Marjory Fraser, 20th [now 21st] Lady Saltoun, who is an active member of the House of Lords. The family seat is Cairnbulg Castle, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.
The crest is a strawberry plant on a mound and the motto is « All my hope is in God ». Families descended from the Philorth line are of Ardglassie, Durris, Findrack, Forest, Forglen, Fraserfield, Hospitalfield, Lonmay, Memsie, Park, Quarrelbuss, Rathilloch, Techmuiry, Tornaveen and Tyrie.
Frasers of Lovat & Strichen [Lords Lovat]
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The Frasers of Lovat, a major branch of Clan Fraser, descend from Sir Simon Fraser [younger brother of Sir Alexander Fraser, the Chamberlain], who married Lady Margaret, sister 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. Beauly was founded in about 1230 by John Bisset, who also built Lovat Castle. About 1460 Hugh Fraser, laird of Lovat, became the 1st Lord Lovat. [ The Charters of the Priory of Beauly, with notices of the Priories of Pluscardine and Ardchatten and of the Family of the Founder John Byset, edited by Edmund Chisholm Batten, 1877]
Several generations later, Hugh Fraser, 9th Lord Lovat, who had four daughters but no son, willed his estates to his grand-uncle, Thomas Fraser of Beaufort [fourth and only surviving son of Hugh, 7th Lord Lovat] instead of his eldest daughter Amelia. 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 was beheaded on Tower Hill in London in 1747, following which the Lovat title was attained and the estates were forfeited to the Crown. In 1774, some of the forfeited lands were granted to his eldest son, Simon Fraser of Lovat, by then a major general, in recognition of his military service to the Crown, but the title remained attainted. The original line ended on the death in 1815 of the general’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 United Kingdom, and the Scottish title having been released, in 1857 he became 14th Lord Lovat, but for the attainder. With the death of the 17th Lord Lovat in 1995, aged 83, his eldest son and heir having died the previous year, his grandson, Simon Fraser, born in 1977, became the 18th Lord Lovat and 25th MacShimidh in descent from Sir Simon Fraser (k. 1333, Halidon Hill, Berwick) and the chief of the Highland clan Fraser of Lovat, based in Inverness-shire. Castle Dounie was home of the chiefs of Lovat from 1511 until it was burned following Culloden. The current Beaufort Castle, built in the 1880s, was sold in 1995. The Lovat family seat is Beauly, Inverness-shire.
The name Lovat means a swampy plain. The crest is a buck’s head with the motto « Je suis prest » – French for « I am ready « .
Families of the Lovat line are of Aberchalder, Abersky, Achnagairn, Ardochy, Balnain, Balloan, Belladrum, Boblanie, Bochrubin, Brae, Bught, Castleleather, Cleragh, Clunevackie, Culbokie, Culduthel, Culmiln, Dromdoe, Erchitt, Errogie, Eskadale, Fairfield, Farraline, Fingask, Foyers, Golford, Gortuleg, Guisachan, Inverallochy, Kiltarlity, Kinneries, Knock, Kyllachy, Leadclune, Moniack, Muilzie, Reelig, Ruthven, Strichen, Struy and Teanakyle.
Frasers of Muchalls [Lords Fraser]
In 1366 Thomas Fraser, a descendant of Sir Alexander Fraser of Cornton [brother of Sir Richard Fraser of Touch-Fraser], exchanged the lands in Petyndreich, Stirlingshire for those of Kinmundy, Aberdeenshire. His grandson Thomas exchanged the estate of Cornton for Stonywood and Muchalls in Aberdeenshire. His descendant, Andrew Fraser, who was created Lord Fraser in 1633, completed Castle Fraser in 1636. The title became extinct following the premature death in 1716 of Charles, 4th Lord Fraser, a Jacobite who, while trying to escape from Government troops, fell over the cliffs at Pennan, near Peterhead. Castle Fraser near Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, has been under the care of the National Trust for Scotland since 1976.
Gathering at Castle Fraser
castle.jpg (42976 bytes)There is no doubt that the people who attended the 1997 Clan Fraser Gathering, in the presence of Lady Saltoun and Lord Lovat, will have memories to share for a lifetime.
Great credit goes to the National Trust for Scotland for hosting the event at Castle Fraser from August 14-17, 1997 and to the dedicated staff and volunteers who were hard pressed to handle the huge turnout, estimated at 30-40,000 over the four days. Trevor Croft, then Director of the Trust, which owns and operates the castle near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, acknowledged that the Fraser Gathering was the biggest event ever staged by the National Trust, a charity founded in 1931, which now has more than a hundred properties in its care.
The highlight of the Gathering had to be the March Past on the final day, attended by Frasers from 21 countries, with Lady Saltoun and Lord Lovat taking the salute. Alex Shand of Fraserburgh was one of the many journalists covering the event: « It was a moving ceremony which left a lump in the throat and a tear in the eye – and not only amongst those with links to the Fraser Clan. »
This Feature Page was updated Feb. 3, 2005. Reviewed and approved by The Lady Saltoun, Chief of Clan Fraser.
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