ITS EARLY HISTORY
The ancient origins of the Frasers are obscured in the mists of time, some say they descend from the tribe Friselii, in Roman Gaul, whose tribal badge was a strawberry plant and/or there's a connection to Charlemagne. The name Fraser probably derives from Fresel or Freseau and there is a connection with, la Frezelière (that means "house of Frezel"), in the parish of Loigné-sur-Mayenne. The French word for Strawberry is fraise and the plants are called fraisiers as well as, possibly, the pickers themselves, thus the connection with the name. The truth of these stories and connections is generally unproven, but the name Fraser does seem to have its origins in the French province of Anjou and possibly Normandy and Strawberry flowers feature on both the arms of The Lady Saltoun and Lord Lovat.
The Roll Leopold de Lisle, or Compagnion de Lisle de Conqueror, is a Roll of those who supposedly came over with William the Conqueror and possibly, fought at the Battle of Hastings. It is interesting the number of names that are now Scots families, of great note. There was a Richard Fresle and with mediaeval spelling it is likely this name could be what we now know as Fraser but from that point in time little is known of our Clan History till a Simon Fraser. Simon Fraser made a gift of a church at Keith in East Lothian to the monks at Kelso Abbey, around 1160 and this seems to be their first appearance in Scotland. The Frasers moved into Tweedale, in the Scottish borders in the 12th and 13th centuries and then into the counties of Stirling, Angus, Inverness and Aberdeen. Around five generations later, the Patriot, Sir Simon Fraser, was captured fighting for the cause of Robert the Bruce, he was held at the Tower of London and was executed with great cruelty by Edward I on 7th September, 1306. His head was then put on display at London Bridge beside the head of Sir William Wallace, the Patriot's line ended in two co-heiresses. Sir Andrew Fraser of Touch-Fraser (d.1297), a close relation of the Patriot, was the father of Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie (ancestor of the Frasers of Philorth) and Sir Simon Fraser (ancestor of the Frasers of Lovat), Sir Andrew Fraser and Sir James Fraser. 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 but despite these disasters and many more in later times, Clan Fraser survives as one of Scotland's greatest Clans.
FRASERS OF PHILORTH - LORDS SALTOUN
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. 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). 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.
FRASERS OF LOVAT - LORDS LOVAT
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.
BATTLE CRY Webmaster
As far as I'm aware Clan Fraser doesn't have a battle cry/slogan, as such but the junior and more numerous Fraser of Lovat has two. I've always believed that the old battle cry A'mhorfhaich meant a marsh, swampy plain or sea field but not speaking Gaelic I can't substantiate that. However, Lovat means something similar and in the Highland Council Archives there are letters from Oighreachdan A' Mhorfhaich or the Lovat Estates, (they're about squirrel hunting), so this could explain why the clan would charge into battle shouting "Lovat" and not "up the bog" as I always thought. However, I've also read the clan would assemble on a big enclosed field in front of the old Lovat Castle and this was called "A mhorfhaiche", Gaelic for a big assembly field or maybe great field and the slogan came from that. It was believed to be next to a marshy area and the Castle was home to the Lovats, so whatever the actual origin, there is a very close connection to both versions. Later the Clan seat moved to Castle Dounie, near the present Beaufort Castle, now Lovat Castle is hard to find in its ruinous state and at some point Caisteal Dhuni became the cry.
Visit Clan Fraser Society of Scotland and UK's website for more information on the later history of the Clan and all things Fraser, or go to the Links Page where you'll find links to many other Fraser sites. The Society also has its own Facebook page.
SEPTS OF CLAN FRASER
Are you a member of Clan Fraser? In addition to Fraser, many other surnames are associated with the clan and are known as Septs. A surname can be associated with more than one clan, depending on the area in which they lived but historically, nearly all of these are purely Fraser. These names include those on the following list, with many variations in spelling.
BISSET, BREWSTER, COWIE, FREW, FRIZELL, MacGRUER, MacKIM, MacKIMMIE, MacSIMON, MacTAVISH, OLIVER, SIM, SIMON, SIMS, SIMPSON, SYME, TWADDLE, TWEEDIE.
Septs are a difficult subject but the Clan Fraser site (see links for CFSSUK) is trying to clarify this with an article on Tweedie and another, to come, on Simpson and MacKimmie.