Fraser of Lovat

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The Frasers of Lovat are a Scottish chiefly family

©Gaelic Themes Ltd


The Frasers of Lovat share an origin with the Frasers of Saltoun- with the families diverging in the fourteenth century. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 142</ref>The name Fraser probably originates in Anjou in France. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144</ref>The name may derive from Fredarius, Fresel or from Freseau. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 142</ref> Although there is no known placename in France that corresponds with it, the French surname "Frézelière" or "de la Frézelière" or "Frézeau de la Frézelière", apparent in France to this day, corresponds with Scottish version in spelling and traditional area of origin. Indeed, apparently while in exile in France, Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat "entered into a formal league of amity" and "declared an alliance" with the French Marquis de la Frézelière and claimed common origin from the "les seigneurs de la Frézelière". Whether this refelects a historical truth is uncertain- but it is of noteworthy that Lovat and Frézelière considered the connection to be valid.

The theory of the ancient connection with Anjou is described in detail in the 18th century document La Dictionnaire de la Noblesse. This document states that a Simon Frezel was born to the knightly Frezel family from Anjou and, sometime after the year 1030, established himself in Scotland. It also states that Simon Frezel's descendants multiplied and eventually became known as Frasers. <ref> </ref> This would also explain the prevalence of the name Simon throughout clan history, as all Frasers would have the knight Simon Frezel as a distant but common ancestor. 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>

It is thought that Sir Simon Frazer- brother of Sir Alexander Fraser, chamberlain to Robert the Bruce- married the heiress to the Bisset lands around Beauly, near Inverness. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144</ref> The first certain record linking the lands of Lovat to the Frasers is 1367, when Hugh Fraser is styled 'Lord of Lovat and Portioner of Ard'. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144</ref> The Gaelic patronymic of the Lovat Frasers is 'MacShimi' meaning 'son of Simon'. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144</ref>

Around 1442 the Frasers acquired lands at Stratherrick by Loch Ness together with part of Glenelg. Some time between 1456 and 1464 Hugh Fraser was raised to the peerage as Lord Lovat or Lord Fraser of Lovat. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144</ref> Around 1511 the chiefs established their seat at Beaufort Castle. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144</ref>

Clan Warfare

The Lovat Frasers were known for their feuds and battles, particularly against the MacDonalds of Clanranald in 1544.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144</ref> The chiefship of Clanranald was disputed and Lord Lovat was the uncle of one of the claimants, whose side he took. Lovat joined forces with the Earl of Huntly, the Lieutenent of the North to crush the MacDonalds and make his nephew, Ranald, chief. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144</ref> The combined force marched to Inverlochy in Lochaber and established Ranald's control of Moidart by taking Castle Tirrim. Huntly they split his force from the Frasers and returned to Aberdeenshire. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144</ref> Lovat led his men up the Great Glen for the return journey, perhaps assuming the MacDonalds were no longer a threat, which was a miscalculation. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144 </ref>The MacDonalds took advantage of their now greater numbers and surprised the Frasers to the north of Loch Lochy. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144 </ref> The battle became known as the 'the field of shirts' due to the hot day, which forced highlanders to fight without their plaids. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144 </ref> Lovat faught a pitched battle and was killed along with his son, with the MacDonalds claiming victory. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144 </ref>In the 16th century a battle took place between the Clan Fraser (with help from the Clan MacRae) and the Clan Logan at Kessock, where Gilligorm, the Chief of the Clan Logan, was killed. <ref> Clan Logan. Electric Scotland. Retrieved 12 March 2007.</ref>

The family expanded into cadet branches which included the Frasers of Reelig with their castle at Moniack, Inverallochy and many others.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144 </ref> The ninth Lord Lovat had four daughters but no son. His widow arranged a marriage for Amelia, the heiress, to the Master of Saltoun, later Lord Saltoun. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 144 </ref> Amelia's uncle, Thomas Fraser of Beaufort and his son, Simon, kidnapped Lord Saltoun and threatened him with death if the marriage was not abandoned. Simon Fraser, eleventh Lord Lovat was famous as the 'old fox' of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion who plotted intrigues with both sides depending on where he saw advantage. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 145 </ref> He was captured by Hanoverian forces after Culloden and taken to London, where he became the last person to be beheaded on Tower Hill in 1747 with his titles and estate declared forfeit. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 145</ref>

Contemporary illustration of Simon Fraser, eleventh Lord Lovat, known as 'The Fox'

Military Service

His son, Simon was pardoned by George II and raised Highland regiments. The 78th Fraser Highlanders fought with General Wolfe at Quebec and the 71st Fraser Highlanders fought in the American War of Independence. He left no legitimate heirs and in 1837 the title 'Lord Lovat' was restored to a cousin, Thomas Fraser of Strichen, who was descended from the fourth Lord Lovat. In 1899 Lord Lovat raised the Lovat Scouts to fight in the Boer War. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, updated text</ref> The Scouts saw service in the First World War and in the Second, where Mac Shimidh became a distinguished commando leader, being awarded both the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross. He died in 1995 shortly after tragically losing two of his sons in accidents within a matter of months of each other. He was succeeded by his 18-year-old grandson, Simon Fraser, but the great Lovat estates, including Beaufort Castle, were sold to pay inheritence tax. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, updated text</ref>

Beaufort Castle

Beaufort Castle is located near Beauly in Inverness-shire, northern Scotland. The present castle is a nineteenth century Baronial style mansion, but incorporates older building work. There has been a castle on the site since the 12th century- mention of a castle on the site is made during the reign of Alexander I (d.1124). The previous castle was known as Castle Downie, it was seized and blown up by Oliver Cromwell, and again destroyed after the Battle of Culloden by the army of the Duke of Cumberland. <ref></ref>


The current clan chief works as a banker and businessman. He is active in clan activities whenever possible and has declared an intention to buy back the family castle, which is now owned by controversial transport tycoon Anne Gloag.<ref></ref>