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Articles by Marie Fraser of Canada
A Family of Merchants


The family of John Fraser and Marjory Robertson has intrigued their descendants and many other researchers. According to Inverness-Kirk Session Records 1661-1800, the minutes as well as the register of baptisms, marriages and burials from 20 Jan 1704 to 15 April 1707 were destroyed by fire, so it is unlikely that a marriage record can be found for John Fraser and Marjory Robertson.

Anyone who has researched 18th century practices has come to realize that the network of Scottish merchants spread far beyond the borders of Scotland.

Inverness Chapel Yard #1092 – Here lays Mr John Fraser, merchant of Inverness, who died May 1749; and his spouse Marjory Robertson, who died February 1753.

John Fraser & Marjory Robertson had the following issue, baptized at Inverness:

William [#1]    14 Apr 1708; died before 1720

Duncan      24 Oct 1709; died 14 May 1781

John 12 Feb 1712; died 17 Aug 1795

James 29 Oct 1713

Alexander 16 Dec 1714

Margaret 10 July 1716

Janet 07 Sept 1717

Simon [#1] 08 Dec 1718; died before 1727

William [#2]    09 Dec 1720

Donald 05 Nov 1722

Hugh   17 Feb 1724; died 01 Nov 1774

Simon [#2] 04 Feb 1727; died 19 May 1810

Duncan Fraser (1709-1781) –

Inverness Chapel Yard #1093 {Slab} Here lays Mr Duncan Fraser, merchant of Inverness, who died the 14th May 1781.  Here lays Ann Fraser, his spouse, who died

Duncan Fraser Merchant married Anna, lawful daughter to David Fraser late Baillie [David Fraser 1st Fairfield], by whom he had the following issue, baptized at Inverness:

John 21 May 1743

David 27 Oct 1744

Duncan 25 July 1746; died 07 Nov 1800

Alexander 05 Feb 1750; died 12 Nov 1806

John Fraser (1712-1795) –

John Fraser, of Borlum, W.S., was admitted to the Society of Writers to the Signet 29 June 1752, having apprenticed with William Fraser of Balnain, W.S.  He died 17 Aug 1795, aged 84, having married Jean, daughter of David Brown of Golf Hall, merchant, burges in Edinburgh.  Their children, baptized in Edinburgh, included:

John 21 Oct 1748

Margaret 02 Jan 1754; died Oct 1797

Jean 23 Jan 1757

Simon 29 Oct 1758

Marjorie 18 Dec 1761

Anne 02 Jun 1763

Jean Fraser married Rev. Robert Walker, minister at Cramond, in Edinburgh 29 Apr 1778. For anyone interested in genealogy, Rev. Robert Walker (1755-1808) has become known as “the skating Minister” and his image has been reproduced numerous times.

Anne Fraser married John Rae, surgeon, in Edinburgh 28 Aug 1783.

Hugh Fraser (1724-1774) –

Inverness Chapel Yard #1094 {Slab, broken} To the memory of Mr Hugh Fraser, merchant in Inverness, who died the 1st Novr 1774, aged 55 [sic] years; and Janet Willison, his spouse, who died the 2nd January 1775, aged 50 years.  Here also repose the remains of his second daughter Marjory, re[lict of the late] Lieut Alexander Mactavish, 71st Regt, who departed this life February 11th 1828, aged 70 years.  John Mactavish (now of Baltimore in the United States of America) consecrates this tablet to the sacred memory of a mother whom he loved and honoured, February 17th 1829.

[Ed: Marjory Fraser married Alexander Mactavish (c1753-1788), youngest brother of Simon McTavish (c1750-1804) co-founder of the North West Company.]

Hugh Fraser Merchant married Janet, daughter of John Willison, and had the following issue, baptized at Inverness:

John 17 Oct 1754; died 08 Sep 1780

Simon 16 Sep 1755

Jannet 30 Sep 1756

Samuel Sep 1756 [twin, died before he could be baptized]

Marjory 06 Jan 1758; died 11 Feb 1828

Margaret [#1]  12 Mar 1759; died before 1763

Alexander [#1] 27 Sep 1760; died before 1771

Duncan 19 Oct 1761; died 21 Jan 1844

Margrat 12 Mar 1763

Jean 28 Feb 1765

Hugh 04 Jun 1766

William 24 Aug 1769

Alexander [#2] 17 Feb 1771

Simon Fraser [#2] (1727-1810) –

Simon Fraser purchased from the Government (acquired after 1745), Borlum, Kinchyle etc., from the Ness Castle estate and after his son’s death bought Tyrie, Cardno etc., sold by former proprietors of Philorth.  Simon Fraser Sr became the head of a West India mercantile firm in London and a very wealthy man by 1784.  As noted by Professor Harry Duckworth, there is no indication that he traded to Canada, but he had some interest in Dominica, and may have been part of the web of West India trade that involved the two Simon Frasers of Quebec.

At Gibraltar Simon Fraser married Miss Wilson (whose sister married John Markett Esq of Menoncourt Lodge, Kent, then a captain in the 3rd Buffs) and his family consisted of two children. 

Died, on Saturday the 19th May, in New Cavendish Street, London, Simon Fraser, Esq of Ness Castle, in the 84th year of his age [Inverness Journal, 1 June 1810].  He wished to be buried with his wife “in the family vault built by myself in Bunhill Fields, London, near my much loved wife”. 

Mrs Fraser died 8 Jan 1800, but no one knew her first name, until Tracy Martin received information extracted from the interment order books of Bunhill Fields burial ground (Guildhall Library Ms 1092/3) for 11 Jan 1800 - Margaret Fraser (sic), age 72, brought from King’s Arms Yard, Coleman Street, for burial in open vault.

The Will of Simon Frazer of Blackheath Esquire mentions his Daughter The Right Hon’ble Lady Saltoun, eldest Grand Son The Right Hon’ble Alexander George Lord Saltoun, Grandsons The Hon’ble Simon Frazer and The Hon’ble William Frazer, Granddaughters The Hon’ble Margaret Frazer Spinster and The Hon’ble Eleonora Frazer Spinster or any of their Children born in the life time of his said Daughter Lady Saltoun, and various other relations.

By Margaret Wilson, Simon Fraser had a son Simon and a daughter Marjory

Simon ca 1752; died 06 Aug 1793

Will of Simon Fraser, of Dominica, made Aug 6, 1793, proved PCC May 20, 1794 [PROB 11/1245]. “I bequeath all my Estate and money in India Stock and Government Security to the Daughters of my Sister Lady Saltoun…” – Harry Duckworth

Marjory ca 1754; died 15 Nov 1851

9 June 1784 St Stephen’s - The Rt Hon Alexander Frazer, Lord Saltoun of the Parish of Frazerburgh Philorth in the District of Buchan, Aberdeenshire, North Britain, and Margory Frazer of this Parish, were married in this Church by Special License at S. Frazer’s, Esqre, by me, Anthy Webster, LLD, in presence of Richard Atkinson, Colin Mackenzie.

Lord Saltoun died while visiting his wife’s parents at Baldwins in Kent.  They had five children:

Alexander Geo.          22 Apr 1785; died 18 Aug 1853

Simon 31 Jul 1787; died 10 Feb 1811

Margaret 29 Aug 1789; died 14 Aug 1845

William    12 Oct 1791; died 21 Mar 1845

Eleanor 13 Jun 1793; died 26 Sep 1852

Christian Watt wrote that Lady Saltoun was about 100 when she died.  On her coffin plate her age was recorded as 92.  Her son (Lord Saltoun), with his nephew, looked at this the day before the funeral, and said, “Ninety-two!  But I have reason to know, from some papers I have seen since her death that my mother was at least five years older than that.”  It was suggested that the inscription might be altered, but he said, “No, it doesn’t matter, ninety-two is old enough.” – The Christian Watt Papers ed. General Sir David Fraser

The second son of Lord & Lady Saltoun was very dear to Simon Fraser of Ness Castle.

8 Aug 1787 Fraserburgh – Was baptized at Philorth House by the Reverend Dr. Laing of Peterhead, Simon Fraser, Second son of the Rt Hon Alexander Lord Saltoun, born on Tuesday the 31st of July.  Present, the Rt Hon Eleanora Lady Dowager Saltoun, Simon Fraser of Ness Castle, Esqre, and Simon Fraser of do., junr. Esqre.

18 Feb 1811 Bunhill Fields – Honble Simon Fraser, 24 years, brought from St Marylebone, was buried.

Died, at the house of his mother, Lady Saltoun, in New Cavendish Street, London, on the 10th February, the Hon Simon Fraser, proprietor of Ness Castle.  Mr Fraser had completed his 23rd year.  The property of Ness Castle devolves on his younger brother, the Hon William Fraser. – Inverness Journal, 22 Feb 1811

July 5, 2002

Dear Marie,

Since learning of your exciting discovery about the parentage of Marjory Fraser, Lieut. Alexander McTavish’s wife, I’ve been trying to find out more about Simon Fraser, and re-read an email you sent in September 1998. You quoted extensively from The Frasers of Philorth, Lords Saltoun by Alexander Fraser, 17th/18th Lord Saltoun.  From this I am reminded that you had mined the IGI for the family of John Fraser, merchant of Inverness, and his wife Marjorie Robertson(e), and extracted some baptismal entries for the children of Hugh Fraser and Janet Willison.  I have only two further bits of information to offer about this family.

First, I think that Hugh Fraser, merchant of Inverness (1724-1774) was in partnership with James Fraser, baillie of Inverness (father of John Fraser of Achnagairn) and Duncan Fraser in exploiting the salmon fishery on the River Beauly in the 1740s & 50s.  They began as agents for Lord Lovat, and, after the forfeit of his estates, they got a lease of the fishery from the Commissioners.  There are various references to this operation in A.H. Millar’s “Forfeited Estates Papers” (Scottish History Society, vol. 57, 1909).  In one reference (p. 315), dated Feb 5 1756(?), John Fraser, W.S., is making a claim on the estate of Lovat, in right of Duncan and Hugh Fraser, for 88-5-10 sterling, with Interest from Whitsunday 1745.  This John Fraser must be Hugh (and Simon’s) brother.  So we find members of Simon Fraser of Ness Castle’s family in business with members of the Achnagairn family by 1756. 

Second, I was looking back at my notes on the sasine of 1760, by which Simon Fraser, merchant of Gibraltar, got his purchase of the lands of Borlum and Cullaird (the Ness Castle estate) recognized. Duncan Fraser, merchant in Inverness, was acting for Simon. Also present was “Alexander McTavish in Cullairds, as Baillie in that part” - who came forward at a critical moment when Simon Fraser was getting control of the estate.  According to other records in the same document, the property had been handed over to Inverness merchants by Shaw Mackintosh, its owner, and then sold by public roup, John Fraser, buying on behalf of his brother in Gibraltar.

A series of deeds referring to Simon Fraser, merchant of London, is recorded in the Scottish Register of Deeds.  On April 1, 1769 Simon Fraser declares that John Fraser, Writer to the Signet, his Brother German, has paid him 3250 for half the Lands &c hereafter named…. This deed shows Simon Fraser as head of the Fraser family that owned (or had lease title to) the lands between Dores and Inverness.  One of the fourteen sasines given by Simon Fraser of Lovat to principal tenants of the Lovat Estate in 1774, is in favour of John Fraser, W.S.  I suspect that this sasine confirmed John Fraser in possession of the lands which he half-purchased from his brother in 1769.

Harry Duckworth, Winnipeg, MB

[Ed: In 1774 Maj-General Simon Fraser of Lovat, in recognition of his military service to the Crown and the payment of some 20000, was granted some of the forfeited Lovat lands.  When he died, his finances were in a terrible state, and it was left to the executors of the late Lieut-General Simon Fraser of Lovat (1726-82) to settle his estate. The executors were Alexander Fraser of Strichen in the County of Aberdeen in North Britain; Simon Fraser of Farraline; James Fraser of Belladrum; Simon Fraser of Bruiach, Lieut-Colonel in his Majesty’s late 71st Regiment of Foot; and James Fraser of Gorthleck, one of the clerks in his Majesty’s Signet, all in the County of Inverness.  It was necessary for the trustees of General Fraser to sell lands and superiorities to pay off debts, and having procured an Act of Parliament to effect this, the trustees proceeded to a cognition and sale, scheduling lands and superiorities as the most convenient for disposal and least hurtful to the estate of Lovat generally.]

[Ed: Hugh Fraser 3rd Balnain (1702-1735), eldest s/o Alexander Fraser 2nd Balnain, merchant in Inverness, purchased Knockie from the family of Strichen.  He married Jean, daughter of Peter Forbes, and sister of Dr Jonathan Forbes, and had 3 daughters [Mackenzie; Warrand says that their only child, Patrick Fraser, died 10 Sep 1741].  Hugh Fraser was killed by two soldiers, off the shore of Nairn, 4 June 1735, and was succeeded by his brother William Fraser, W.S., 4th Balnain (1703-1775). 

By Jean Forbes, Hugh Fraser had 4 daughters and 3 sons, baptized at Inverness.

Lydia 08 Mar 1729

Alexander      06 Feb 1730

Anna 28 Feb 1731

Patrick 21 Aug 1732; died 10 Sep 1741

John 28 Dec 1733

Jean born 1735

Mary 21 Feb 1736

Jean Forbes relict of Hugh Fraser of Balnain Mert who deceased on the fourth day of June anno last had a child baptized by Mr Fraser called Mary. John Hossack Provost Ensign Jonathan Forbes Factor for General Kirk’s Regiment & Mr Wilson Baillie, wits.]

Note:

John Gray 5th Overskibo - Allan P. Gray via Ian McCulloch 11 May 2005

The connections between Ross of Pitkerrie, Fraser of Achnagairn and Gray of Overskibo seem to have at least one common error propagated over time and without attribution.  For example, it is universally maintained that the mother who is common to Alexander Gray of Overskibo (the first Alex of two) and George Ross of Pitkerrie is one Catherine Fraser, daughter of Duncan Fraser of Achnagairn.  But, in Skibo Its Lairds and History, by Peter Gray (Edinburgh and London, 1906), there is a copy of an inscription on a Tombstone lying in the Aisle under the Cathedral Church of Dornoch that reads: J.G. 1754 A.F. – “Sacred to the Memory of John Gray of Over Skibo, Eminent for Piety & Strict Honesty while he lived, and who died of an entire Character, a Loving Husband, Dutiful Parent, and beloved of His Neighbours, upon the fifth June 1742, aged 60 years; as a Testamony of Conjugal affection this Monument was erected in 1754 by His Beloved Spouse, Ann Fraser, Daughter of James Fraser of Achnagairn.”  In other words, John Gray of Overskibo married Anne, daughter of James Fraser of Achnagairn, who was probably married first to the father of George Ross, army agent (1700-1786).

Article by Marie Fraser, Clan Fraser Society of Canada www.clanfraser.ca 
Published in CFSC Canadian Explorer, June 2006


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