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Articles by Marie Fraser of Canada
Love and Marriage


Through the ages, it has been an acknowledged fact that marriages were often arranged between families, especially when the preservation of land and property was at stake. In other words, marriageable daughters almost always came with dowries of land, property and money.

There is confirmation by Robert (Bruce) King of Scots of the Charter of William Fraser to Roger son of Fynlaw of Twedyn dated at Glasgow, 12th June, 19th year of reign (1325). Witnesses: Bernard Fraser, Abbot of Arbroath, Chancellor; Walter, Steward of Scotland; James, Lord Douglas; Alexander Fraser, Chamberlain of Scotland, Knights. Thus, the Barony of Drumelzier was granted to Roger by Sir William Fraser, whose daughter became the ancestress of the Tweedies of Drumelzier for "a pair of guilt spurs or 12 pennies if asked".

Sometimes, these contracts or indentures went a bit further, as in the contract matrimoniall betwixt Hugh Rose 4th of Kilravock and Joneta de Chesholme, daughter of Sir Robert Chesholme, Constable of the Castle of Urquhart, who was also Chesholme of that Ilk.

On Thursday, the 2nd of January, in the year of grace 1364, after mention of the land and money…. It is also fully agreed that if the said Hugh and Janet shall live beyond a complete year after marriage, the said Hugh shall brook the said land for his lifetime, but in case the said Hugh shall decease (which God forbid) without heirs of his body begotten between him and the said Janet, and in that case, the said lands shall return into the hands of the said Sir Robert and his heirs, after the decease of the said Hugh. The lady’s father also agrees to keep and entertain his daughter from the date of her marriage "for three years in meat and drink" while her husband is only to "find and keep her in all needful garments and ornaments" during the same period.

Janet brought with her extensive lands at Strathnairn. Unfortunately, her son, Hugh Rose 5th of Kilravock, lost all the family’s writs and charters when Elgin Cathedral, where they had been placed for safe keeping, was burned by the Wolf of Badenoch. His son John was forced to reconstruct the family’s titles to their landholdings, and obtained charters from James I, the Earl of Ross and the Chisholm.

In 1635 the Inverness Presbytery recorded the marriage of Mary Fraser, oldest daughter of Hugh Fraser 7th Lord Lovat (1591-1645) by his wife Isobel Wemyss (1598-1636), to David Ross 12th of Balnagowan, an event involving a sharp exercise of ecclesiastical discipline by the Bishop of the Diocese. It was found that Mr. John Houston (d. 1659), minister of Wardlaw, had married the couple upon two proclamations, instead of three, as was required by the rules of the church, whereupon Mr. Houston was summarily suspended by the Bishop. My Lord Bishop, in administering so severe a censure for a minor fault, stated that he acted with the knowledge that critical eyes were looking on, and it was better he should censure the minister than that he himself should be censured by the Presbyterians, "now a very prevaileing (sic) party in the Kingdom." It may be of interest to note the sequel as it affected the minister of Wardlaw. Mr. William Fraser (d. 1665), minister at Kiltarlity, was appointed to intimate the Bishop’s sentence at Wardlaw, but when he arrived at the Church there was no beadle, no bell-ringing, nor was book or sandglass to be found. Mr. Houston was not at first disposed to acknowledge any fault in the matter, but eventually confessed and craved pardon. The Presbytery rebuked the delinquent, but was satisfied if the Bishop and Synod were complaisant. It may also have helped Mr. Houston’s case that his wife was a sister of Mr. William Fraser, minister of Killearnan (d. 1659) and that another brother-in-law, Thomas Fraser, of Phopachy, was married to a daughter of Rev. William Fraser (d. 1665), minister at Kiltarlity.

The Rosses were royalists in the civil war, and David Ross, the twelfth chief, led almost a thousand of his clansmen against the forces of Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. The royalists were defeated, and Ross and many of his men were taken prisoner. The chief was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1653, while many of his clansmen were transported to the colonies in New England. His son, David, succeeded to the chiefship when he was only nine years of age.

Captain Simon Frazer of Bewfort (sic) used a different approach. Robert Munro, minister of Abertarff had married him in an extraordinary manner in 1697, to Lady Amelia Murray "while the Lady was under restraint by an armed force." Lady Amelia Murray (1666-1743) was the widow of Hugh Fraser 9th Lord Lovat (1666-1696) whose young daughter Amelia Fraser (1686-1763) had previously been saved from Simon’s clutches. Major James Fraser of Castle Leathers (1670-1760) was present and described the event in Major Fraser’s Manuscript: "The Lady not yielding willingly, there was some harsh measures taken, a parson sent for, and the bagpipe blown up. The ceremony being used by the parson….a double guard being kept in the house, and thereabouts, for the space of eight days. Thereafter (to my certain knowledge) whatever new light the Lady had got, desired her husband to send for Mr. William Fraser (d. 1710), minister of Kilmorach, in order to make a second marriage (not thinking the first valid) before a select number of gentlemen; which was accordingly done." Simon was then 29, the recently widowed Lady Lovat about 31 and the mother of four young daughters. The lady was subsequently sent back to her family, the Murrays, and Simon Fraser escaped to exile in France.

Hogarth’s "Marriage Contract"
Hogarth’s "Marriage Contract" betroths a reluctant lass with large
dowry to vacuous young gentleman with family tree but no money

In his Antiquarian Notes [1897] Charles Fraser-Mackintosh comments on the great sensation caused towards the end of January 1744, by the abduction of Miss Jean Fraser, only daughter of the deceased Baillie William Fraser of Inverness and of Mrs. Jean Kinnaird, by William Fraser, then a merchant in Fort-Augustus and later a vintner in Inverness, and a member of one of the most respectable families in Stratherrick. It would appear that Lord Lovat [a.k.a. Captain Simon Fraser of Beaufort] was applied to by William Fraser and his friends, but his Lordship absolutely declined, and the postscript from his letter, dated 25th January 1744, to Hugh Fraser, younger of Foyers, shows his views of abduction in old age, different probably from what he would have written fifty years earlier. "As to the letter which it seems the advertisement for the Matrimonial Magazinegirl has wrote to Inverness, in order to ‘appease the Magistrates’, I can assure you neither that nor all the declarations that she can make, while her liberty is restrained will avail or better the case a single farthing. These proceedings can have no other effect but to aggravate the crime and to inflame the resentment to it and nothing but sending the girl immediately to Inverness, whether married or unmarried, can save every man that has been in this affair from ruin and destruction, the whole name of Fraser from eternal shame, and my person and family from hurt and trouble."

By the 1800s young ladies were free to choose their husbands, an increasingly larger number had something to say about their suitors, and they were determined to be sought. Many men were sadly unprepared for their new roles as winners of hearts, rather than bargainers for wives. So, the nineteenth century was ushered in with how-to-woo-and-win books. Victorian ladies were determined to pick and choose.

In the century of science and progress, it was inevitable that science should eventually discover love.


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