Fraser

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Clan Fraser is a Scottish chiefly family

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Origins

The name Fraser probably originates in Anjou in France. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 142</ref> The name may derive from Fredarius, Fresel or from Freseau. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 142</ref> The depiction of a strawberry plant (fraisier) later adopted as the clan's armorial device is a pun on their surname. <ref> David Doward, Collins Dictionary of Scottish Surnames, 103 </ref> It has also been suggested that they descend from a tribe called Friselii in Roman Gaul, whose badge was a strawberry plant. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 142</ref> The first Frasers are noted in Scotland around 1160, when Simon Fraser held lands at Keith in East Lothian. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 142</ref>

Middle Ages

Five generations later Sir Simon Fraser was captured by Edward I of England and executed for supporting Robert the Bruce. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 142</ref> His cousin, Robert Bruce's chamberlain was the elder brother of another Sir Simon Fraser and the ancestor of the Frasers of Lovat. He married Mary, sister of Robert the Bruce, who was for a time imprisoned in a cage hung from the walls of Roxburgh Castle. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 142</ref> One of Simon Fraser’s grandsons was Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie and Durris.This Alexander Fraser acquired a castle now called Cairnbulg Castle and the lands of Philorth by marriage to Joanna, younger daughter and co-heiress of the Earl of Ross in 1375. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 142</ref>

Frasers of Philorth

Sir Alexander Fraser of Philorth (d.1623)

In 1592 Sir Alexander Fraser of Philorth received charters from James VI creating the village of Faithlie, which he developed into a royal burgh called Fraserburgh, in Aberdeenshire. He was also authorised to found a university in the town, but this fell victim to the religious troubles of the times. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 142</ref> When Aberdeen was hit by plague in 1647, staff and students from King's College evacuated to Fraserburgh for two years, although all that now remains of this university is a street name and some lettering carved on a wall. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 142</ref> The eight Laid of Philorth also built Fraserburgh Castle, later the Kinnaird Head Lighthouse, and in doing so bankrupted himself, leading to the loss of the family's Castle of Philorth for over three hundred years. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 143</ref> The ninth laird married the heiress of the Abernethy Lords Saltoun and their son became the tenth Lord Saltoun. He was seriously wounded at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 but was saved by his servant, James. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 143</ref> In 1666 he built a grand house outside Fraserburgh called Philorth House, where the family lived until it was destroyed by fire in 1911. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 143</ref>

Kinnaird Head Lighthouse, previously Fraserburgh Castle

Sir Alexander Fraser of Durris (d.1681) was personal physician to Charles II, having accompanied the king during his unsuccessful 1650 campaign and earned the hostility of the more extreme covenanters because of his progressive scientific opinions. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 143</ref> After the Restoration in 1660 he sat in the Scottish Parliament although he was still prominent enough in court to feature in the diaries of Samuel Pepys. The family did not take part in the Jacobite rebellions. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 143</ref> The sixteenth Lord Saltoun was present at Waterloo and drew Wellington's attention to the location of the French Imperial Guard<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 143</ref>. The nineteenth Lord Saltoun (d.1979) was a prisoner of war in Germany for most of the First World War, later becoming a member of the House of Lords and active in promoting the Royal National Lifeboat Association.

Frasers of Muchalls

Andrew Fraser of Muchalls was made a peer in 1633 with the title 'Lord Fraser'. He completed Castle Fraser which is located near Inverurie. The castle resembles a French chateau and is now conserved by the National Trust for Scotland. This peerage fell dormant during the eighteenth century.

Today

The Saltoun title is currently held by Marjorie Flora Fraser, 21st Lady Saltoun (b. 1930). She is currently the only female holder of a lordship of Parliament who has a seat in the House of Lords as an elected hereditary peer, the only male being the Lord Reay. Lady Saltoun is the Chief of the Name and Arms of Clan Fraser since 1 May 1984, by decree of the Court of the Lord Lyon. Through her marriage to a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, Captain Alexander Ramsay of Mar (d.2000) she is furthermore regarded as a member of the extended British Royal Family. <ref>http://www.fraserchief.co.uk/history.html</ref> She maintains a website and Fraser Clan association and is an active member of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs. <ref>http://www.fraserchief.co.uk/index.html</ref>

References

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