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Articles by Marie Fraser of Canada
Augustin Fraser [c1734-1779]


Augustin Fraser is a name not easily forgotten.  During the World Scottish Festival, held in conjunction with the 350th anniversary of Montreal in 1992, a visitor to the Clan Fraser/Fraser Highlanders tent at Ile Ste-Hélène produced a pedigree chart tracing her ancestry to the Fraser Highlander who, she told us, had fought at Québec in 1759 and married a French woman when the regiment was disbanded in 1763.  Since then we have collected a mountain of information on the 78th Fraser Highlanders and Augustin Fraser, but his name cannot be found in the muster rolls.

In 1967 the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Samuel V. Fraser, 612 Carl Avenue, Salina, Kansas 67401, U.S.A., compiled   "A Genealogy of the Fraser Family of Beaumont, Province of Quebec, Canada".  In this 50 page booklet, produced for family members, he described the children of Augustin Fraser [1770-1861], in particular Fabien Fraser [1812-1863] who moved from Cap St-Ignace, QC to Bourbonnais, IL in 1848.  Fabien raised a family of sixteen, and his descendants have spread all over the U.S. and Canada.

Augustin Fraser's descendants have long speculated on his real name.  The challenge was to solve the mystery of Augustin’s Scottish name and to locate documentary evidence of his status in Fraser’s Highlanders.

Michel Fragasso, an author versed in the history and the genealogy of many Scotch and Irish families, is descended from Augustin Fraser.  The following extract is taken from the English version of the original series published in French, entitled "Our French Canadian Ancestors", Vol. XXIII, p. 59-60, edited by Thomas J. Laforest:

   Hundreds of the members of the army were named Fraser.   Were they all related?  Not necessarily.   Several persons, bearing Gaelic names in the 1740s and 1750s, were offered food by Lord Simon on the condition that they change their name to Fraser.
   On 29 December 1739, Thomas Fraser married Elizabeth Fraser at Inverness, in Scotland.    Ancestor Augustin Fraser was established as being their son.  In order to confirm this fact, in the civil registry the mother was called Elizabeth Fraser, while in the contract of the notary Fortier they spoke of Elizabeth Bowl.
   It is not necessary, however, to think that Augustin Fraser was the only ancestor of the Frasers in Québec, there were several of them, but he was one of the most important, notably in the region of Québec.  Augustin Fraser was a soldier, responsible to Malcolm Fraser, lieutenant of General Hugh Cameron, under the leadership of Colonel Simon Fraser.
   A detachment of the 78th Regiment of Fraser Highlanders spent the winter of 1760-61 at Beaumont, very probably to gather wood for the garrison of Québec.   At that place, lived Marie-Françoise Adam, daughter of the notary René Adam and of Marie-Josephte Maupas.  Augustin undoubtedly met the latter while his army was staying at Beaumont.   They were married at Beaumont on 14 November 1763; the pastor mentioned the following phrase: "…the said Fraser having had the permission of his excellency Messire Murray according to the letter which I have secured…"
   They spent their first years at Beaumont.  However, Augustin decided to do business in the Lower-Town of Québec.  Since he spoke impeccable French, he had no difficulty in acquiring a good clientele.   One thing is certain, he was a person who loved to compromise.  In all the contracts consulted, he was defined as a "dealer, merchant, inn-keeper, etc."

According to the Inverness OPR: Thomas Fraser and Elspet Fraser in Abriachin were contracted to marry November 30, and were married December 29, 1739.  Moreover, Augustin Fraser died October 21, 1779 [written 1799 in error]  and was buried on the 22nd  in St-Étienne de Beaumont, aged forty and some years [quarante et quelques années].   Augustin’s age at his death casts doubt on the reliability of the 1739 marriage, not on the identity of his parents.  He was probably born between 1734-36.

Hugh Cameron [c1730-1759] was not a general, but a captain in command of a detachment of the 78th Regiment (Fraser's Highlanders), with Malcolm Fraser [1733-1815], a lieutenant who kept a detailed journal of the winter of 1760-61 at Beaumont.   In a book on Beaumont, Pierre-Georges Roy makes the statement: "It is highly probable that Augustin Fraser, who settled soon after in the parish and founded the clan of Frasers, was a soldier in the company of Captain Hugh Cameron."   However, in Captain Hugh Cameron’s Company, three Frasers were disbanded in Canada: Corporal Roderick, Private John, and Private William.

Unfortunately, the best document on the origin and military service of Augustin has probably been lost.  According to the church record, the letter of Mr Gramaché, secretary of James Murray, sent to the curate of Beaumont for the 1763 marriage, was in the hands of Mr le grand vicaire, secretary of the Bishop of Québec.  A letter to the Archives of the Bishop generated a negative response.

There is little doubt that Augustin met his future bride at Beaumont.  A son named Augustin was born in November 1763, at the time of the marriage of his parents.  Although the record of his baptism has not been found, he was buried 25 May 1764, in St-Étienne de Beaumont, aged about seven months.  Another copy, not dated, notes the child is the son of Augustin Fraser and Marguerite Adam, but this is a mistake [Marguerite was Françoise’s sister].

According to a qualified researcher, familiar with early Quebec archives, the assumption that the Scottish name of Augustin was Hugh is based on the fact that a priest had changed the name of Hugh Blackburn to Augustin Blackburn when he became Catholic.  Although the priest's decision to substitute "Augustin" for "Hugh" may seem arbitrary, a more acceptable explanation is that the name that appears as "Hugh" in English was spelled "Uisdean" or something similar in Gaelic.  This would sound like "Augustin" to French ears, which is probably a natural explanation about how "Augustin Fraser" got his French name.   The researcher found a contract drawn up by notary Antoine-Jean Saillant, dated 2 May 1767, between Charles Chrétien and Augustin Fraser, stating that Augustin Fraser, merchant, residing at Beaumont, was part of this contract, which was signed in two places by Hugh Fraser.

The following extracts relate to Augustin Fraser's involvement during the blockade of Quebec by the American rebels:

15th March 1776 : - Two Canadians sent to town in a canoe by Hugh Fraser, at Beaumont, came to town and brought letters from Fraser and others to the General.  They bring favorable accounts of the people below.   The Rebels expect a thousand men and have sent provisions to meet them.
17th March 1776 : - The men from Beaumont inform that the Rebels have spread a report that the Plague is in town, and that we die in great numbers…The two men from Beaumont returned with letters, gazettes and instructions to some of our friends below.  700, or thereabouts of the Rebels seen in two bodies.  Our men cautioned not to get in liquor—this being St. Patrick’s day.  [Journal of the siege and blockade of Québec by the American rebels, in Autumn 1775 and Winter 1776, p. 17, attributed to Hugh Finlay].

Samedy 6 juillet : - Appellé et complimenté Augustin Fraser sur son zèle, affection et fidelité pour le service du Roy en l’assurant que si le metier de cantinier qu’il tient n’était incompatible avec la charge d’officiers du Roy il en aurait été digne.  [Reorganization of the Militia, at Beaumont, p. 475-76, published in Rapport de l’Archiviste de la Province de Québec pour 1927-28].

Augustin Fraser was congratulated for his zealous and loyal service to the King, and assured that he could have been an officer but for his profession of tavern-keeper which was incompatible with the charge.

At the marriage of Angélique in 1799, she is described as daughter of the late Augustin Fraser, cabaretier.  A list of persons who have taken out licences at the secretary’s office, for retailing Spirituous Liquors &c. December 4th 1766 [ Québec Gazette, 15 Dec 1766] includes William Fraser, Parish of St. Pierre’s, South River; Alexander Fraser, St. John’s near Québec; Hugh Fraser, St. Michel. The list of August 18th 1769 [ Québec Gazette, 24 Aug 1769] includes Hugh Fraser, St. Michel. The list of April 27th 1779 [ Québec Gazette, 13 May 1779] includes Augustin Fraser, Beaumont.

Augustin (Hugh) Fraser [c1734-1779] and Françoise Adam [1742-1828] were married at St-Etienne de Beaumont on 14 Nov 1763. Their children were: Augustin #1 [1763-1764]; Joseph (Jean) [1765-1844]; Françoise 1767-1848]; Augustin #2 [1770-1861]; Genevieve [1773-1858]; Angélique [1775-1842]; Simon [1777-1855] & Thomas [1779-1863].  Augustin Fraser #2 [1770-1861], by his first wife, Marguerite Kirouac, had Ephrem [1799-1802]; Anselme [1801-1884]; Hubert [1803-1872]; Euphemie [1805-1843]; Frederick [1807]-1893]; Desanges [1809-1883]; Augustin #1 [1811-1811]; Fabien [1812-1863] & Augustin #2 [1814-1862].

The family tree of Augustin Fraser gives the date and location of birth, baptism, marriage, death and burial of his children and grandchildren, illustrating the benefits of diligent research.  One of his descendants has confirmed that these recent discoveries coincide exactly with the handwritten family genealogy he has, dated 1876 & 1897.  There is a legend, passed down through Augustin’s eldest son Joseph Fraser [1765-1844], that he and other descendants of Augustin Fraser would be warned of the day and hour of their death.

In the morning of October 21, 1779, Augustin and his son Joseph went to get their horses to plough their fields.   Augustin decided not to plough that day and the two men returned to the house where Augustin announced that he only had a few hours to live: he would die when the sun set.  He put his affairs in order; he asked for the parish priest (M. Descheneau).   Just before sunset, Augustin got up from his bed, looked through the window at the setting sun, then went back to bed saying: "I only have a few minutes left."   Just as the sun disappeared below the horizon, he died.

Joseph’s son, Alexandre Fraser [1803-1877], was a contemporary of John Fraser de Berry [1816-1876], the grandson of Malcolm Fraser of Mount Murray who was instrumental in the establishment of the Clan Fraser in Canada in 1868.  A brief biography describes Alexandre Fraser : notaire commissionné en Octobre 1830.  Il habita la paroisse St-André, Comté de Kamouraska, comme notaire, marchand et cultivateur jusqu’à l’année 1861 auquel temps il alla se fixer à Québec.  Following the death of his first wife, Julie Chassé, in 1838, Alexandre was married in 1841 to Angélique Poncy, who survived him by two years.

In "Our French Canadian Ancestors," reference is made to Angélique Fraser, who married Joseph Baucher dit Morency [widower of Elizabeth Bell]:

The daughter of the latter, Sophie Baucher dit Morency, married Étienne-Paschal Taché, who became first Minister of Lower Canada, fellow candidate of the Taché-Macdonald government and father of the Confederation. She was the mother of Eugene-Etienne Taché, author of the motto of Québec:  Je me souviens…I remember.

Benjamin Sulte noted the arrival of the Scots in Canada with a candid observation: "The Scots conquered us, but the Canadian women conquered the Scots."

Source: CFSC Canadian Explorer – June 1969

Article by Marie Fraser, Clan Fraser Society of Canada www.clanfraser.ca 


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