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Fraser Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: ALL MY HOPE IS IN GOD

Let me share with you the remarkable history of your family, the Frasers, spanning generations and lands both near and far. The Frasers originated from Anjou in France, and their name is believed to have derived from places such as Fredarius, Fresel, or Freseau in the vicinity. There is an old family legend that suggests a connection to the Friselii tribe in Roman Gaul, known for their emblem of a strawberry plant. However, this tale is unlikely, and the use of the strawberry plant in the chief’s arms is merely a heraldic pun, as fraisiers is French for a strawberry plant. The Frasers first made their appearance in Scotland around 1160 when Simon Fraser held lands at Keith in East Lothian.

During these early times, two Frasers, Sir William and Sir Simon, pledged their allegiance to Edward I in the Ragman Roll. However, Sir Simon, who later fought alongside William Wallace, turned against Edward and met a gruesome fate at the hands of Edward I, enduring a cruel execution. Another cousin, Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie, served as Bruce’s chamberlain and was the elder brother of yet another Sir Simon Fraser, from whom the Frasers of Lovat lineage descends. Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie and Durris, through his marriage to Joanna, the younger daughter and co-heiress of the Earl of Ross, acquired the lands of Philorth. In 1592, Sir Alexander received charters from James VI to establish the fishing village of Faithlie, which he transformed into the splendid town known as Fraserburgh. Additionally, he aspired to establish a university in the town, although this endeavor was thwarted by the religious conflicts of the era.

Through subsequent generations, your family saw a blend of notable achievements and alliances. The ninth Laird of Philorth united with the heiress of the Abernethy Lords Saltoun, resulting in their son ascending to become the tenth Lord Saltoun. Unlike their kin, the Frasers of Lovat, the chiefs of your family did not participate in the Jacobite Risings. The nineteenth Lord Saltoun faced captivity in Germany for much of the First World War, dedicating himself afterward to various public endeavors and promoting the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. His daughter, Flora Fraser, assumed the title of The Lady Saltoun in her own right and has authored several works, including a history of Clan Fraser. Additionally, other branches of the family flourished, with Andrew Fraser of Muchalls being elevated to the peerage in 1633 as ‘Lord Fraser’ and overseeing the completion of Castle Fraser, a magnificent architectural gem of Renaissance Scotland.

It is worth noting that the Frasers have a broader ancestral connection that extends beyond Scotland. The Frasers originated from Anjou in Normandy and accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066. Simon Fraser, an early member of the family, held a portion of the lands of Keith in East Lothian and generously donated the church at Keith to the Abbey of Kelso in 1160. Simon Fraser’s descendant, Simon Fraser, lent support to William Wallace in his quest to liberate Scotland from English rule, achieving a remarkable victory at the Battle of Roslin in 1302, where he defeated three divisions of the English army in a single day. Nevertheless, his valiant efforts ultimately led to his capture by Edward I, resulting in a gruesome execution. Another cousin, Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie, married King Robert’s sister, Mary, following the death of her first husband, Sir Neil Campbell.

In 1375, yet another cousin, Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie, acquired the castle of Cairnbulg and the lands of Philorth through marriage to Joanna, the daughter of the Earl of Ross. His descendant, Sir Alexander Fraser of Philorth, received a Charter from James VI to establish the Burgh and Free Port of Fraserburgh. Although he aspired to create a university in Fraserburgh, financial difficulties prevented its realization. However, the family continued to prosper, with Sir Alexander, the 9th of Philorth, marrying the heiress of the Abernethy lords Saltoun, resulting in their son becoming the 10th Lord Saltoun through the Celtic tradition of inheritance through the female line.

Through the ages, the Frasers demonstrated their valor and commitment to their country. The 10th Lord Saltoun fought at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and sustained severe injuries. Another kinsman, Sir Alexander Fraser of Durris, served as physician to Charles II. The 16th Lord Saltoun commanded the Light Companies of the First Guard on the morning of the momentous Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The 19th Lord Saltoun experienced captivity as a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II. Eventually, the chiefdom passed to his daughter, who married Captain Alexander Ramsay of Mar, a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, assuming the role of Chief upon her father’s demise in 1979.

Throughout the Frasers’ history, notable figures emerged in various fields. In 1633, Alexander Fraser of Muchals was ennobled with the title of Lord Fraser. He completed the construction of Castle Fraser, which had been initiated by his father. Sir William Fraser (1816-1898) made significant contributions by producing over forty volumes on Scottish noble families and establishing the Chair of History at Edinburgh University through his bequests. Alexander Fraser (1827-1899), born near Linlithgow, gained recognition for his skill in painting Scottish landscapes. Peter Fraser (1884-1950), born in Ross-shire, ventured to New Zealand, where he eventually became the Prime Minister from 1940 to 1949.

The history of the Frasers is a rich tapestry that spans centuries and continents, embodying courage, achievements, and enduring legacies. From their origins in France to their influence in Scotland and beyond, the Frasers have left an indelible mark on the pages of history.

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Family Crest Motto: ALL MY HOPE IS IN GOD

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