How many of us have not been tempted, at some point in
our lives, to claim descent from a famous ancestor? However, what if you
were descended from a famous ancestor, but picked the wrong one? That’s
what happened when James Baillie Fraser of Reelig (1783-1856) had his
ancestry carved in stone, and it may explain the confusion created by the
heirs of his sister, Jane Anne Catherine Fraser of Reelig (1797-1881) who
married Philip Affleck Fraser of Culduthel (1787-1862). The Fraser of
Reelick entry in Burke’s Landed Gentry, 1886 edition (p. 709)
attributed to their eldest son and heir, James Fraser of Reelig
(1820-1888), as well as the entry in 1894 (p. 682) attributed to their
grandson, Philip Affleck Fraser (1845-1918), follows:
Lineage – This family traces its descent from Sir
Simon Fraser, of Oliver Castle, Peebleshire (beheaded 1306), and settled
in the North of Scotland about 1328, in the reign of Robert Bruce, when
Sir John Bisset was attainted and his estates in the Aird (a district of
country in the vicinity of Beauly, Inverness-shire) were confiscated and
given to the Frasers. They bore also the name of Barron from 1430 till
1615 as mentioned in ancient writs, subsequently the name of Fraser only.
EWEN BARRON or FRASER, of Moniack, 1430, was s
by his oldest son, John, to whom s his eldest son, Thomas, who d
1539 (leaving a son, a minor, who d young) and was s by his
sister, Margaret, heiress of Moniack, who m 1551, Thomas Fraser
McHutcheon Vane or Bain, of Wester Aigas, and d 1576.
The entry in the 1925 edition of Burke’s Landed
Gentry by Charles Ian Fraser of Reelig (1903-1963) eliminates any
reference to the earlier ancestry. Even the well-known and highly
respected Charles Ian Fraser, Dingwall Pursuivant of Arms (1939-53) and
Albany Herald of Arms (1953-61), in his matriculation in 1932, got one of
his female ancestors wrong, an error which has since been corrected by his
son and heir, Malcolm Robert Fraser of Reelig, which reads:
Lineage - EOGHAN or EWEN, Baron of Moniack "ex
orientali ripa rivuli de Fechines," living in 1430, had issue, two
Hugh ("Eugenius," or Eoghan).
In 1457 these two brothers divided the lands of Easter
Moniack among them, as also certain lands in Strathnairn. Both m
and had male issue: as will presently appear, these lands, with the
exception of those in Strathnairn, were subsequently re-united after an
interval of over 200 years. John was s by a son, Thomas, 3rd
of Reelig or Moniack, Inverness-shire, sometimes styled "Ewynson," who
d 1539, leaving issue,
- Alexander, of whom presently.
1. Margaret, or Mariota, s her brother.
Contemporary writs shew that Margaret and her father
bore upon their seals a stag’s head cabossed – possibly derived as arms of
patonage from the Thanes of Calder, in respect of their lands in
Strathnairn. Alexander, 4th of Reelig, a minor, d
between 1539 and 1545. He was s by his sister, Margaret, 5th
Lady of Reelig, was styled "nin Thomas McIan vic Ewen, Baronis de Moniack,"
m 1551 Thomas Machutcheon Bhan Fraser of Wester Aigas, whose father
is described in the "Wardlaw MS" as a natural son of Thomas, 2nd
Lord Fraser of Lovat (1460-1524), and d ca 1576, leaving issue…
James Baillie Fraser (1783-1856), who is known for his paintings and
books about his travels in India and Persia, married Jane Fraser Tytler,
but died without issue. His brother William was a senior officer in the
British Army in India, and accompanied James on some of his travels.
William Fraser (1784-1835) lived as a Mughab Nawab and fathered from his
harem "as many children as the King of Persia"; however, none were
legitimate; and he was assassinated while Commissioner of Delhi. Edward
Satchwell Fraser (1786-1813) died in St. Helena, unmarried; and Alexander
Fraser (1789-1816) died in India, unmarried. George Fraser (1800-1842),
who explored Assyria and the Euphrates, married Wilhelmina Moore in Delhi,
India, but died without issue. The family continued through their sister
Jane Anne Catherine Fraser (1797-1881) who married Philip Affleck Fraser
of Culduthel (1787-1862).
James Baillie Fraser is responsible for erecting an elaborate memorial
in the Wardlaw Cemetery, Kirkhill to "the descendants of a son of Sir
Simon Fraser, of Oliver Castle and his wife a daughter of Robert de
Bruce". Actually, Sir Simon Fraser, of Oliver Castle, the Patriot
(executed 1306) left two co-heiresses. James Baillie Fraser’s ancestor was
Sir Simon Fraser (k. 1333 Halidon Hill, Berwick), progenitor of the
Frasers of Lovat & Strichen (Lords Lovat), who was a younger brother of
Sir Alexander Fraser (k. 1332 Dupplin) the Chamberlain who married the
widowed Lady Mary Bruce (sister of King Robert I) and was the progenitor
of the senior Frasers of Philorth (Lords Saltoun) from whom The Lady
Saltoun, Chief of Clan Fraser, is descended.
The progenitor of the Frasers of Reelig was Hugh Bayne Fraser of
Bunchrew, a natural son of Thomas Fraser 2nd Lord Lovat
(1460-1524) through Hugh Ban’s son Thomas who married Margaret MacEwen,
co-heir of Easter Moniack. The fanciful pedigree of the Frasers of Reelig
has been corrected; however, the memorial, carved in stone, remains in
Kirkhill to confound the unsuspecting tourist.