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The Great Historic Families of Scotland
The Frasers of Lovat


My thanks to Marie Fraser, Genealogy/Newsletter Editor, Clan Fraser Society of Canada for taking time to read this account and make some corrections to it.

AS previously stated, Sir Gilbert Fraser’s eldest son, John Fraser (d. ante 1263), was the father of Sir Richard Fraser of Touch-Fraser, Vicomes of Berwick, whose son, SIR ANDREW FRASER of Touch-Fraser (d. ante 1297), Vicomes of Stirling, had four sons, namely, Sir Alexander Fraser (k. 1332, Dupplin), progenitor of the Frasers of Philorth, Lords Saltoun [for whom, see The Frasers]; Sir Simon Fraser (k. 1333, Halidon Hill, Berwick), progenitor of the Frasers of Lovat, Lords Lovat; Sir Andrew Fraser (k. 1333); and Sir James Fraser, first of Frendraught (k. 1333), whose line ended with his great grand-daughter Mauld Fraser who married Alexander Dunbar of Moray. Another son of John Fraser (d. ante 1263) and the younger brother of Sir Richard Fraser, was SIR ALEXANDER FRASER, first of Corntoun, progenitor of the Frasers of Corntoun, Kinmundie & Muchalls, Lords Fraser, now extinct [for whom, see The Frasers].

SIR SIMON FRASER, progenitor of the Frasers of Lovat, Lords Lovat, was a younger brother of Sir Alexander Fraser who married Robert the Bruce’s widowed sister, Lady Mary, and in 1319 was appointed Chamberlain of Scotland.

Sir Simon obtained a large estate in the north through his marriage with Margaret, one of the co-heiresses of the Earl of Caithness, and became the head of a powerful clan, who, after the manner of the Celtic race, assumed the name of MacShimie, or son of Simon, the favourite name of the Frasers of Lovat. He fell at the battle of Halidon Hill (19th July, 1333). Several generations later, Hugh Fraser of Lovat (d. 1501) was created a Lord of Parliament as first Lord Lovat, about 1460. He was a son of Thomas Fraser of Lovat (d. 1455) by his wife Lady Janet Dunbar, daughter of Thomas, Earl of Moray.

While thus laying down their lives in their country’s cause, the Frasers also took their full share of clan feuds and battles, in their own district. In the sanguinary contest of Blar-na-parc with the Macdonalds of Clanranald, fought in July 1544, owing to the heat of the weather, the combatants threw off their coats and fought in their shirts, whence the field received the designation of ‘Blair-lan-luni,’ the Field of Shirts. The whole of the Frasers engaged in the fight, four hundred in number, including Hugh, third Lord Lovat, the Royal Justiciary, and his eldest son Hugh, Master of Lovat (with the exception of one of the dunniewassals, Fraser of Foyers, and four of the clan), were killed, while of the Macdonalds only eight survived.

The style of life kept up by the chiefs of the Lovat Frasers, and their liberal hospitality, may be understood from the abundance shown in the household expenditure of Simon, sixth Lord Lovat. The weekly consumption included seven bolts of malt, seven bolls of meal, and one of flour. Each year seventy beeves were consumed, besides venison, fish, poultry, lamb, veal, and all sorts of feathered game in profusion. His lordship imported wines, sugars, and spices from France in return for the salmon produced by his rivers. When he died, in 1631 [1633], his funeral was attended by four thousand armed clansmen, for all of whom entertainment would be provided.

The heads of the clan continued in uninterrupted succession to enjoy the state and authority of great Highland chieftains, resisting their adversaries, and protecting their vassals and friends, without incurring the disapprobation of the sovereign, down to the time of the notorious Simon Fraser of Beaufort, who expiated his numerous crimes, of which treason was by no means the worst, on the scaffold in 1747. The memoirs and letters of the day abound with anecdotes respecting his villanies, his hardihood, and his wit, which did not forsake him even on the scaffold. The incidents of his life would be thought highly coloured if they had been narrated in a romance. He alternated between the lowest depths of poverty and misery, and the summit of high rank and immense power. He had been by turns an outlaw from his own country, a proscribed traitor, a prisoner for years in the Bastille, in France, a Roman Catholic priest, a peer, and the chief of one of the most powerful Highland clans.

Simon Fraser was the son of Thomas Fraser of Beaufort (d. 1699), next male heir to the house of Lovat and to the chieftainship of the Frasers of Lovat, after the death in 1696 of Hugh, ninth Lord Lovat, without male issue. Simon was born in 1667, and was educated at King’s College, Old Aberdeen. In 1694, before he had completed his studies, he obtained a commission in the regiment of Lord Murray, afterwards Earl of Tullibardine, son of the Marquis of Athole, to whom he made himself specially obnoxious by his quarrelsome behaviour. On the death of Lord Lovat, Simon Fraser of Beaufort assumed the designation of Master of Lovat, and his father laid claim to the Lovat title and estates. The late lord, however, had left a daughter only eleven years of age, and Simon concocted a scheme, which nearly proved successful, to strengthen his claim by marrying the young girl. As his character was notoriously bad, her mother and friends were strongly opposed to the match, and Tullibardine was alleged to desire that she should marry one of his own sons. As they were mere boys, however, this scheme, if it was ever really entertained, could not be carried out, and the Master of Saltoun, son of the 11th Lord Saltoun, head of the senior line of the Frasers, was proposed as a more suitable husband for the young heiress. Meanwhile, Simon had tried to get the girl into his power by the assistance of one of his associates, Fraser of Tenechiel; but after conducting her out of the house one winter night in such haste that she is said to have gone barefooted, Tenechiel, either through fear or a fit of repentance, restored her to her mother’s keeping. Being thus made aware of the danger to which the girl was exposed, Lord Saltoun and Lord Mungo Murray, the dowager Lady Lovat’s brother, hurried northward in order to arrange for conveying the heiress to a place of security. But Simon was on the alert, and having collected a body of his clansmen for the purpose, he seized Lord Saltoun, the father of the intended bridegroom, and his friend at the wood of Bunchrew, and carried them prisoners to the house of Fanellan. A gallows was erected before the windows of the apartment in which they were confined, in order to intimidate them into submission to Simon’s demands, and a summons was issued to the clan to come to his assistance. About five hundred men assembled in the course of a week, and Simon, putting himself at their head, with flags flying and bagpipes screaming, marched to Castle Downie, taking his prisoners with him. The heiress, however, had by this time been transferred to a secure place of refuge in her uncle’s country of Athole, where she was afterwards married to Mr. Mackenzie of Prestonhall, who assumed the designation of Fraser of Fraserdale.

Simon, though baffled in his attempt to obtain possession of the young lady, found her mother, the dowager Lady Lovat, in the family mansion, and at once resolved to marry her, in order to secure through her jointure some interest in the estate. He first set at liberty his two prisoners, in order that they might not witness his proceedings, but he made Lord Saltoun bind himself, under a forfeiture of eight thousand pounds, not to ‘interfere’ again in his affairs. The three female attendants of Lady Lovat were then forcibly removed. One of them, on being brought back to take off her ladyship’s clothes, found her sitting in a fainting state on the floor, while some of Simon’s men were endeavouring to divest her of her raiment. A marriage ceremony was hastily performed between her and Simon by Robert Mure, the minister of Abertarf. The dress of the outraged lady was cut from her person by a dirk, and she was subjected to the last extremity of brutal violence, while the bagpipes played in the apartment adjacent to her bedroom to drown her screams. Her attendant found her, next morning, speechless and apparently out of her senses.

When the news of this shocking outrage reached Lady Lovat’s relations, her brother, Lord Tullibardine, obtained letters of fire and sword against Simon Fraser of Beaufort [he was not Master of Lovat] and his accomplices, and marched with a body of troops to Inverness-shire, for the purpose of rescuing his sister out of the hands of the ruffians by whom she was kept a close prisoner. On the approach of the troops, Simon conveyed the lady to the isle of Aigas, a fastness in the midst of the Beauly river where he was safe from pursuit. On quitting this place of refuge he seems to have shifted from place to place throughout the Lovat territory, dragging about with him the poor lady whom he had so shamefully outraged, and occasionally coming into collision with the troops sent to apprehend him. At length, in September, 1698, he and nineteen of his chief accomplices were tried in absence before the High Court of Justiciary, for rape and other atrocious crimes, which were held as treasonable—a decision the legality of which was denied at the time. They were found guilty and condemned to capital punishment, and their lands were confiscated. Simon made his escape, however, and according to one account he fled to the Continent, where he obtained access to King William, who was then at Loo. It is doubtful, however, whether he went farther than London. This much is certain, that through the influence of the Duke of Argyll, who was probably induced to move in the matter from hostility to the Marquis of Athole, the King was persuaded to pardon Simon’s other offences, but he declined to remit his outrage against Lady Lovat. On his return to Scotland he was summoned to answer for this crime at the bar of the Justiciary Court, on the 17th of February 1701. It is asserted that he fully intended to stand his trial, protected by a strong body of his clansmen, in the hope that he would thus overawe the Court. But on the morning of the day appointed for his trial, having learned that the judges were hostile to him, he fled at once to England, and was in consequence outlawed.

Simon appears, however, to have speedily returned to his own district, for in February 1702, he is represented as living openly in the country, ‘to the contempt of all authority and justice.’ ‘He keeps,’ it was said, ‘in a manner his open residence within the lordship of Lovat, where, and especially in Stratherrick, he further presumes to keep men in arms attending and guarding his person,’ and levying contributions from Lady Lovat’s tenants, who were in consequence unable to pay her any rents. For this offence letters of intercommuning were issued against him on her ladyship’s petition. In these circumstances Simon Fraser of Beaufort, now calling himself Lord Lovat, his father Thomas Fraser of Beaufort, having died in 1699, deemed it expedient to take refuge in France. Simon took with him a general commission, which he declared he had received from a number of Highland chiefs and leading Jacobites in the Lowlands, authorising him to engage that they would take up arms in the cause of the exiled family. Armed with this authority he proceeded to St. Germains, and submitted to the exiled court a project for raising an insurrection against the reigning sovereign of Great Britain, by means of the Highland clans. The Chevalier de St. George and the French ministers were aware of the infamy of Fraser’s character, and distrusted his schemes, but Mary of Este was disposed to put confidence in him, and he was sent back to Scotland with a colonel’s commission in the Jacobite service. He is said to have had interviews on the subject of his mission with Cameron of Lochiel, Stuart of Appin, and other Highland chiefs. If so, his object must have been to entrap them into some treasonable action, for he immediately disclosed the whole proceeding to the Duke of Queensberry, who was then at the head of affairs in Scotland. The Duke of Hamilton and some other influential noblemen who were included in Simon Fraser’s accusation, affirmed that his statements were utterly devoid of truth, and even went so far as to assert that the plot was a mere pretext devised by the Duke of Queensberry himself. Simon was sent back to France in order to obtain additional information for the Government respecting the conspiracies of the Jacobites, but his double treachery had by this time become known, and as soon as he appeared in Paris he was arrested and sent to the Bastille. He is said to have passed ten years in prison, partly in the castle of Angoulême, partly in Saumur, where he is alleged to have taken priest’s orders. All his efforts to induce the French Government to set him at liberty were unsuccessful, but he at length succeeded in making his escape, with the assistance of his kinsman, Major Fraser, who had been sent to the Continent by the clan to discover where he was. Simon Fraser reached England, after a dangerous passage across the Channel, in November 1714, but he was still under the sentence of outlawry, and in the following June he was arrested in London, at the instigation of the Marquis of Athole. He was set at liberty, however, on the Earl of Sutherland, John Forbes of Culloden, and some other gentlemen, becoming bail for him.

When the Jacobite insurrection of 1715 broke out, Simon Fraser set out for Scotland, no doubt with the intention of joining the party that should appear most likely to promote his own interests. He alleges that he was arrested at Newcastle, Longtown, near Carlisle, Dumfries, and Lanark, which would seem to show that his character was generally known, and that his intentions were as generally distrusted. He was allowed, however, in the end to prosecute his journey. On reaching Edinburgh he was instantly apprehended by order of the Lord Justice-Clerk, and was about to be imprisoned in the castle, when he was set at liberty through the interposition of the Lord Provost of the city. He made his way by sea from Leith to Inverness-shire, and found that Mackenzie of Fraserdale had led a body of five hundred men of the Fraser clan to the standard of the Earl of Mar. Three hundred of them, however, had disobeyed his orders and had remained at home, and putting himself at their head, Simon Fraser concerted a plan, with Duncan Forbes of Culloden, for the recovery of Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, which had been garrisoned by Sir John Mackenzie of Coul, with four hundred of his clan. He also sent a message to his clansmen who had joined the rebels, ordering them immediately to quit Lord Mar’s camp. Though there is every reason to believe that their own predilections were in favour of the exiled Stewart dynasty, and they were under the command of the husband of the heiress of their late chief, they at once abandoned the Jacobite cause, and set out on their march to place themselves under the command of Simon Fraser. Strengthened by this important accession to the force under his command, and by a body of auxiliaries furnished by the Munros, Grants, and Rosses, who had always adhered to the Whig side, Simon Fraser proceeded to carry into effect the plan which Duncan Forbes and he had devised for obtaining possession of Inverness. On their approach the garrison abandoned the town, and dropping down the river in boats, during the night of November 13th, they made their escape to the northern coast of the Moray Firth.

Such important services rendered at this critical period were not likely to remain without a liberal recompense. Simon Fraser received first of all a royal pardon for his crimes. Mackenzie of Fraserdale was obliged to leave the country on the suppression of the rebellion, a sentence of attainder and outlawry was passed against him, and his forfeited life-rent of the estate of Lovat was bestowed on Simon by a grant from the Crown (23rd August, 1716). The Court of Session, in July 1730, pronounced in favour of his claim to the title. But the judgment was regarded as given by an incompetent tribunal, and to prevent an appeal to the House of Lords a compromise was made with Hugh Mackenzie, son of the baroness, who had assumed the title. On payment of a considerable sum of money he consented to cede to Simon Fraser his claim to the Lovat family honours, and his right to the estate, after the death of his father. Having thus obtained the family titles, property, and chieftainship, Simon had full scope to indulge his evil passions, and to pursue his own selfish ends. ‘He was indeed,’ says Sir Walter Scott, ‘a most singular person, such as could only have arisen in a time and situation where there was a mixture of savage and civilized life. The wild and desperate passions of his youth were now matured into a character at once bold, cautious, and crafty; loving command, yet full of flattery and dissimulation, and accomplished in all points of policy excepting that which is proverbially considered the best, he was at all times profuse of oaths and protestations, but chiefly, as was observed of Charles IX of France, when he had determined in his own mind to infringe them. Like many cunning people, Simon seems often to have overshot his mark; while the indulgence of a temper so fierce and capricious as to infer some slight irregularity of intellect frequently occasioned the shipwreck of his fairest schemes of self-interest. To maintain and extend his authority over his clansmen, he showed in miniature alternately the arts of a Machiavelli and the tyranny of a Czesar Borgia. His hospitality was exuberant, yet was regulated by means which savoured much of a paltry economy. His table was filled with Frasers, all of whom he called his cousins, but he took care that the fare with which they were regaled was adapted not to the supposed equality, but to the actual importance of the guests. Thus the claret did not pass below a particular mark on the table; those who sat beneath that limit had some cheaper liquor, which had also its bounds of circulation; and the clansmen at the extremity of the board were served with single ale. Lovat had a Lowland estate, where he fleeced his tenants without mercy, for the sake of maintaining his Highland military retainers. He was a master of the Highland character, and knew how to avail himself of its peculiarities. He knew every one whom it was convenient for him to caress: had been acquainted with his father, remembered the feats of his ancestors, and was profuse in his complimentary expressions of praise and fondness. If a man of substance offended Lovat, or, which was the same thing, if he possessed a troublesome claim against him, and was determined to enforce it, one would have thought that all the plagues of Egypt had been denounced against the obnoxious individual. His house was burnt, his flocks driven off, his cattle houghed; and if the perpetrators of such outrages were secured, the gaol of Inverness was never strong enough to detain them till punishment. They always broke prison. With persons of low rank less ceremony was used, and it was not uncommon for witnesses to appear against them for some imaginary crime, for which Lovat’s victims suffered the punishment of transportation.’

Simon, Lord Lovat was twice married after his return to Scotland in 1715, first to Margaret, fourth daughter of Ludovic Grant of Grant, by whom he had two sons, Simon and Alexander, and two daughters. His wife died in 1729 and he married, in 1733, Primrose, fifth daughter of John Campbell of Mamore, brother to the Duke of Argyll, who bore him one son, Archibald. Lovat is said to have overcome her reluctance to take him for a husband, by a most disgraceful trick, very worthy of the man. There is good reason to believe that he sought to make this lady his wife with the hope that he would thereby secure the friendship and support of the powerful family of Argyll. 'Finding himself disappointed in this expectation, he vented his resentment on the poor lady, whom he shut up in a turret of his castle, neither affording her food, clothes, or other necessaries in a manner suitable to her education, nor permitting her to go abroad or to receive any friends within doors.’ Rumours as to the treatment she was receiving from her brutal husband got abroad, and a lady who was deeply interested in Lady Lovat’s welfare made a sudden visit to Castle Downie for the purpose of ascertaining her real situation. Lovat compelled his wife to dress herself in proper apparel, which he brought her, and to receive her visitor with all the appearance of a contented and respected mistress of the mansion, watching her so closely all the while that she could not obtain an opportunity of exchanging words with her apart. But the visitor was satisfied from her silence and constraint that all was not well, and took active, and in the end successful, measures to obtain a separation from her savage husband, whom she long survived.

Lovat, notwithstanding all his professions of loyalty, was at heart a Jacobite, and never relinquished the hope of the restoration of the Stewarts. He obtained from the Government the command of one of the independent companies, termed the Black Watch, organised at this time to put down robbery and theft, which afforded him the means, without suspicion, of training his clansmen by turn to military discipline, and the use of arms. Some purchases of arms and ammunition, however, which he made from abroad alarmed the Government respecting his intentions, and his commission was withdrawn in 1737. His indignation at this treatment no doubt contributed to strengthen his alienation from the Hanoverian dynasty. He was the first of the seven influential Jacobite leaders who subscribed the invitation to the Chevalier in 1740; but when Prince Charles arrived, in 1745, without the troops, money and arms, which they had stipulated as the condition of their taking the field in his behalf, the wily old chief showed great hesitation in repairing to his standard. He had been promised a dukedom and the lord-lieutenancy of Inverness-shire, and while the Prince lay at Invergarry, Fraser of Gortuleg, Lovat’s confidant, waited upon him and solicited the patents which he had been led to expect, expressing at the same time his great interest in the enterprise, though his age and infirmities prevented him from immediately assembling his clan in its support. The Prince and his advisers were very desirous that Lovat should declare himself in favour of the attempt to restore the Stewart family on the throne, as, besides his own numerous and warlike clansmen, he had great influence with the M’Phersons, whose chief was his son-in-law, the M’Intoshes, Farquharsons, and other septs in Inverness-shire, who were likely to follow the cause which he should adopt. It appears that the original patents subscribed by the Prince’s father had been left behind with the heavy baggage, but new deeds were written out and sent by Gortuleg to the selfish and cunning old chief.

Lovat still hesitated, however, to repair to the Jacobite standard, and with his usual double-dealing, he continued to profess to President Forbes his determination to support the reigning dynasty. On the 23rd of August he wrote, ‘Your lordship judges right when you believe that no hardship, or ill-usage that I meet with, can alter or diminish my zeal and attachment for his Majesty’s person and Government. I am as ready this day (as far as I am able) to serve the King and Government as I was in the year 1715, when I had the good fortune to serve the King in suppressing that great Rebellion, more than any one of my rank in the island of Britain. But my clan and I have been so neglected these many years past, that I have not twelve stand of arms in my country, though I thank God I could bring twelve hundred good men to the field for the King’s service, if I had arms and other accoutrements for them. Therefore, my good lord, I earnestly entreat that, as you wish that I would do good service to the Government on this critical occasion, you may order immediately a thousand stand of arms to be delivered to me and my clan at Inverness.’ On the following day he wrote, ‘I hear that mad and unaccountable gentleman [Prince Charles] has set up a standard at a place called Glenfinnan, Monday last.’

It is amusing and instructive to contrast these letters to President Forbes with a communication addressed in September to the chief of the Camerons :—

‘DEAR Lochiel,—

‘I fear you have been ower rash in going out ere affairs were ripe. You are in a dangerous state. The Elector’s General, Cope, is in your rear, hanging at your tail with three thousand men, such as have not been seen heir since Dundee’s affair, and we have no force to meet him. If the Macphersons would take the field, I would bring out my lads and help the work; and, ‘twixt the twa, we might cause Cope to keep his Xmas heir; bot only Cluny is earnest in the cause, and my Lord Advocate (Duncan Forbes) plays at cat and mouse with me. But times may change, and I may bring him to the Saint Johnstoun’s tippet [the gallows rope]. Meantime look to yourselves, for we may expect many a sour face, and sharp weapon in the south. I’ll aid you what I can, but my prayers are all I can give at present. My service to the Prince; but I wish he had not come here so empty-handed: siller will go far in the Highlands. I send this by Ewan Fraser, whom I have charged to give it to yourself, for were Duncan to find it, it would be my head to an onion.

‘Farewell,
‘Your faithful friend,
‘L0VAT.’

The crafty old chief continued his underhand intrigues, pretending great zeal in promoting the plans of President Forbes, while he was in reality doing all in his power to counteract them. His object was to unite his own clansmen with the M’Phersons, the M’Intoshes, Farquharsons, and the Macdonalds and Macleods from the Island of Skye, and thus to form an army in the north which he could afterwards employ in support of the strongest side for his own advantage. But his selfish design was seen through by the chiefs of the Skye men, and they were induced by President Forbes first to remain neutral in the contest, and afterwards to take up arms in support of the Government. There can be little doubt that if Lovat had declared at the first in favour of the Jacobite cause, the Macleods and Macdonalds would have done so too, and their united forces would have added greatly to the Prince’s chance of success. But he hesitated so long as to the course which he should adopt, that when he did ultimately take up arms in behalf of the Stewarts, his adhesion did no good to them, and brought ruin upon himself. He carried out to the last his dissimulation and selfish cunning. When the news of the victory at Prestonpans reached him, a Jacobite emissary who was with him at the time urged him to ‘throw off the mask.’ He then, in the presence of a number of his vassals, flung down his hat and drank success to the Prince and confusion to the White Horse (the Hanoverian badge) and all his adherents. He still, however, resolved that his own personal share in the insurrection should, as far as possible, be kept secret. He, therefore, sent his clan to join the insurgent army, under his eldest son, Simon, Master of Lovat, a youth of nineteen, whom he recalled for the purpose from the University of St. Andrews, whilst he himself remained at home. It was clearly proved on Lovat’s trial that the youth was strongly averse to the step, which he was compelled to take by his father’s threats and arguments, and that he was still more disgusted by the duplicity which the arrangement displayed.

Lovat pretended that his clan had joined the rebels against his positive orders, at the instance of his ‘unnatural and disobedient son.’ On the 6th of November, 1745, he wrote to the Lord President:- ‘Foyers and Kilbokie, whose familys always used to be the leading familys of the clan on both sides, were the maddest and the keenest to go off; and when they saw that I absolutely forbid them to move or go out of the country, they drew up with my son, and they easily got him to condescend to go at their head. Though I had ten thousand lives to save, I could do no more in this affair to save myself than I have done; and if the Government would punish me for the insolent behaviour of my son to myself, and his mad behaviour towards the Government, it would be a greater severity than ever was used to any subject! The Lord President, however, was not deceived by these transparently false representations, and told the crafty old dissembler, in courteous but explicit terms, when the affection of his clan and their attachment to him in the year 1715 and downward were remembered, it would not be easily believed that his authority is less with them now than it was at that time. ‘It will not be credited,’ he added, ‘that their engagements or inclinations were stronger against the Government when the present commotions began than they were thirty years ago, when the clan was at Perth.’

The movement of the Frasers was so long delayed, that the march of the Prince into England had taken place before the Master of Lovat commenced his journey southward. He, in consequence, halted at Perth, where a body of the Jacobite troops had been stationed under Lord Strathallan. The Frasers afterwards joined the main body at Stirling on their return from England.

In his flight from Culloden, Prince Charles, attended by a small body of his officers, proceeded to Gortuleg, where Lord Lovat was then residing, and where they met for the first and last time, in mutual anxiety and alarm. Sir Walter Scott mentions that a lady, who was then a girl, residing in Lord Lovat’s family, described to him the unexpected appearance of Prince Charles and his flying attendants at Gortuleg, near the Fall of Foyers [not Castle Downie, as Sir Walter erroneously supposed]. The wild and desolate vale on which she was gazing with indolent composure, was at once so suddenly filled with horsemen riding furiously towards the castle, that, impressed with the belief that they were fairies, who, according to Highland tradition, are visible only from one twinkle of the eyelid to another, she strove to refrain from the vibration which she believed would occasion the strange and magnificent apparition to become invisible. To Lord Lovat it brought a certainty more dreadful than the presence of fairies, or even demons. Yet he lost neither heart nor judgment. He recommended that a body of three thousand men should be collected to defend the Highlands until the Government should be induced to grant them reasonable terms. Mr. Grant of Laggan says that Lovat reproached the Prince with great asperity for declaring his intention to abandon the enterprise. ‘Remember,’ he said, ‘Robert Bruce, who lost eleven battles and won Scotland by the twelfth.’ But this judicious advice was unheeded.

The fugitive Prince and his attendants went on to Invergarry, and Lovat, finding that his vassal’s house at Gortuleg was no safe place of refuge, fled to the mountains, though he was so infirm that he had to be carried by his attendants. Not finding himself safe there, he escaped in a boat to an island in Loch Morar. He was discovered by a detachment from the garrison of Fort William, engaged in making descents upon the coasts of Knoidart and Arisaig. In one of these descents they got intelligence respecting the aged chief, and, after three days’ search, they found him concealed in a hollow tree with his legs swathed in flannel. He was sent up to London and imprisoned in the Tower. His trial did not take place until the 9th of March, 1747, to afford time to collect evidence sufficient to insure his conviction. No one doubted his complicity in the rebellion. Indeed, on one occasion he said of himself that he had been engaged in every plot for the restoration of the Stewart family since he was fifteen years of age; but as he had cunningly kept in the background, and had abstained from any overt act of treason, he would probably have escaped the punishment which he justly merited had not John Murray of Broughton, secretary to the Prince, purchased his own safety by becoming king’s evidence, and producing letters from Lovat to Charles which fully established his guilt. The trial lasted seven days, and though he defended himself with great dexterity, he was found guilty and condemned to be beheaded. When sentence was pronounced upon him he said, ‘Farewell, my lords, we shall not all meet again in the same place. I am sure of that.’ During the interval between his conviction and his execution he displayed the utmost insensibility to his position, and made his approaching death the subject of frequent jests. He was, notwithstanding, anxious to escape his doom, and wrote a letter to the Duke of Cumberland, pleading the favour in which he had been held by George I., and how he had carried the Duke about when a child in the parks of Kensington and Hampton Court; but, finding that all his applications for life were vain, he resolved, as Sir Walter Scott says, to imitate in his death the animal he most resembled in his life, and die like the fox, without indulging his enemies by the utterance of a sigh or a groan. Though in the eightieth year of his age, and so infirm that he had to obtain the assistance of two warders in mounting the scaffold, his spirits never flagged. Looking round upon the multitude assembled on Tower Hill to witness his execution, he said with a sneer, ‘God save us! Why should there be such a bustle about taking off an old grey head from a man who cannot get up three steps without two assistants?’ At this moment, a scaffold crowded with spectators gave way, and Lovat was informed that a number of them had been seriously injured, if not killed. In curious keeping with his character, he remarked in the words of an old Scottish adage, ‘The more mischief the better sport.’ He professed to die in the Roman Catholic religion, and, after spending a short time in devotion, he repeated the well-known line of Horace, singularly inappropriate to his character and fate : —

‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori,’ and laying his head upon the block, he received the fatal blow with unabated courage. Of all the victims of the Jacobite rebellion, no one either deserved or received so little compassion as Lovat; but his execution, 9th April 1747, when on the very verge of the grave, conferred little credit on the Government.

Lord Lovat’s titles and estates were of course forfeited, but some of the forfeited Lovat estates were granted to SIMON FRASER in 1774, by then a major general, in recognition of his military service to the Crown. The eldest son of the rebel lord, who entered the royal army in 1756, ultimately attained the rank of lieutenant-general. At a time when he did not possess an acre of the Lovat estates, he had raised a regiment of fourteen hundred men, called the 78th or Fraser Highlanders, and served at their head with great distinction, and especially under General Wolfe, at the memorable battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. With all his bravery and military skill, General Fraser does not appear to have commanded much affection or esteem. An old Highlander in Glasgow, to whom he had failed to keep his promise, is reported to have said to him, ‘As long as you live, Simon of Lovat will never die.’ And Mrs. Grant of Laggan declared that in him ‘a pleasing exterior covered a large share of his father’s character, and that no heart was ever harder, no hands more rapacious, than his.’

General Fraser had no issue by his wife, who survived him, and when he died in 1782 he was succeeded by his half-brother, Colonel ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL FRASER, who, like him, was long a member of Parliament for Inverness-shire. He had the misfortune to outlive his five sons, and on his death, in 1815, the male line of the ‘Lovat branch of the Fraser family became extinct, and the estates devolved upon THOMAS ALEXANDER FRASER of Strichen, who was descended from the second son of Alexander, fourth Lord Lovat (d. 1557). He was the twenty-first chief in succession from Sir Simon Fraser (k. 1333), and the rights, both of the Lovat and the Strichen branches, centred in his person, two hundred and twenty-seven years from the time when his ancestor acquired the estate of Strichen in Aberdeenshire in 1591. In 1837 he was created Baron Lovat in the peerage of the United Kingdom, and in 1857 he proved his claim to the Scottish title as 14th Lord Lovat, but for the attainder.

[The attainder is still in effect to this day. Neither Simon Fraser 11th Lord Lovat, nor his father Thomas Fraser of Lovat (d. 1699) ever matriculated arms, and the 11th Lord Lovat’s sons Simon & Archibald were never recognised as 12th or 13th Lord Lovat]

At the time of Strichen’s succession to the Lovat estates, they were heavily burdened, and large portions of them had been provisionally alienated by what is termed ‘wadsets,’ which differ from mortgages in this respect, that they can be redeemed at any time on payment of the sum originally lent upon their security; but the new peer was a man of great ability and activity, as well as of economical habits, and he set himself with praiseworthy energy and zeal to relieve the inheritance of his ancestors from its encumbrances. For this purpose he disposed of his paternal estate of Strichen, and laid out the sum for which it was sold in redeeming the ‘wadsets’ and in improving the Lovat territory, 162,000 acres in extent. Archibald Campbell Fraser of Lovat (d. 1815) had left the unentailed part of the Lovat estate to his grandson, T.F. Fraser of Abertarff, the illegitimate son of John Simon Fraser of Lovat who had died unmarried. On Abertarff’s death in 1884, it passed to the new Frasers of Lovat. This property had recently been added, yielding altogether, including the deer forest, a rental of upwards of £35,000 a year. Lord Lovat died in 1876 [1875], and was succeeded by his eldest son—

SIMON FRASER, the fifteenth LORD LOVAT, and the twenty-second chief of the Frasers of Lovat. He is regarded as the head of the Roman Catholic body in the north. When the Benedictines were expelled from France, in 1876, he presented them with the buildings at Fort Augustus, which he had shortly before purchased from the Government, and gave them also a liberal endowment to assist in supporting the establishment.

A suit was instituted before the House of Lords in 1885, by a person of the name of John Fraser, who contended that his great grandfather, Alexander Fraser, a miner, who died in Anglesea in 1776, was identical with Alexander Fraser of Beaufort, eldest son of Thomas Fraser of Beaufort, whose descendants were the nearest heirs to the Lovat estates in the event of the extinction of the male line of the Lovat family. This Alexander Fraser was said to have fled from Scotland into Wales in 1689, in consequence of having killed a fiddler, and having taken part in the rising of the Highlanders under Dundee in that year. Their lordships, however, were of the opinion that there was no evidence adduced to prove that Alexander Fraser of Beaufort left Scotland in 1689, or that he was identical with Alexander Fraser, the miner, who died in Wales in 1776. The Committee for Privileges therefore decided that, in their opinion, ‘John Fraser has no right to the titles, dignity, and honours claimed in his petition.’

The badge of clan Fraser of Lovat is the yew, and their war-cry was ‘Castle Downie,’ the residence of their chief, which is now termed Beaufort Castle.

The Frasers of Castle Fraser, in Aberdeenshire, are descended in the female line from Sir Simon Fraser of Inverallochy, second son of Simon, sixth Lord Lovat (d. 1633), and in the male line from Cohn [Colin] Mackenzie of Kilcoy, who married Sir Simon’s great-granddaughter, the heiress of the estate. Andrew Mackenzie, the second son of that lady, on succeeding his mother in the estate of Inverallochy, and her youngest [younger] sister in that of Castle Fraser, assumed the additional name of Fraser by royal license.

The Frasers of Leadclune are descended from Alexander Fraser, second son of Hugh Fraser of Lovat (d. 1440), by his wife Janet de Fenton of Beaufort. This lady was a grand-daughter of Sir William de Fenton, by his wife Cecilia Byset, grand-daughter of John Byset, lord of the Aird. A baronetcy was conferred on William Fraser, the head of this family, in 1806.


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