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Articles by Marie Fraser of Canada
The Northern Meeting

Established at Inverness in 1788, the Northern Meeting is known today for its annual piping competitions held in October. However, few students of Highland history are aware that the purpose was to promote "social intercourse" in the aftermath of the tragic events at Culloden and the depressing conditions faced by those living in the north during that era. Formed in the year that Prince Charlie died, it was intended to bring together, for a week of social activities, the families of the Northern Highlands, regardless of which side they had supported in the ’45 Rising.

The Northern MeetingIn The Northern Meeting 1788-1988, Lieutenant Colonel Angus Fairrie has traced the fascinating history of the Society. Included are the names of every winner of the Highland Society of London and Northern Meeting pibroch competitions since 1781 and every member of the Northern Meeting since its formation.

The Highland Society of London had been the driving force behind the Repeal in 1782 of the Disarming Act of 1747, and the subsequent revival of Highland dress and music. As public Highland Games began to feature piping and dancing, it was inevitable that the Piping competitions, in order to survive, would be transferred from Edinburgh to Inverness. Col. Fairrie notes: "The links between the two societies were already there. The 5th Duke of Richmond, who had succeeded to the Presidency of the Highland Society of London in 1840, was already a Patron of the Northern Meeting. The 16th Lord Saltoun, who had been Permanent Steward of the Northern Meeting since 1818, also held the office of President of the Highland Society in 1831; from office bearers down, the membership of the two societies overlapped to a considerable extent."

A prime mover in establishing the Northern Meeting was the famous Jane Maxwell, 4th Duchess of Gordon (1749-1812) whose son George, 5th Duke of Gordon (8th Marquis of Huntly) served as a Patron and Permanent Steward from 1812 to 1836… "In 1853 the Northern Meeting lost a respected leader with the death of Lieutenant General Lord Saltoun, KT. The Chief of the name of Fraser had served with the 1st Foot Guards at Waterloo. He brought invaluable continuity to the Northern Meeting over the years, while his tact and wise moderation frequently restrained an impulsive committee from precipitate action when feelings ran high. Luckily, in Lord Lovat there was an eminently suitable replacement available to succeed him as Permanent Steward."

The 79 original applicants for membership included most of the land owners in the counties of Inverness, Ross, Elgin and Nairn, as well as the Provost and Baillies of Inverness, and a number of lawyers, doctors, bankers, merchants and excise men from the town. An early resolution was that members should appear at the balls in their own uniform which was specified as: "…a Grass Green Coat, with Buff Edging, A White Metal Button, Black Velvet Cape with four Silver Embroidered or Vellum Button Holes, Buff or Fancy Waistcoat, and Buff or Black Silk Breeches. The Button to have the letters NM in Cypher." The uniform was modeled on what the well-dressed man-about-town was wearing in the Assembly Rooms of the south. Paradoxically the Highland Society of London at the time was encouraging members to attend meetings in London dressed in the full Highland kit whenever possible.

Northern MeetingCounties of Elgin and Nairn:

#1 His Grace The Duke of Gordon; #2 Sir James Grant of Grant, Bart. (1738-1811); #3 James Brodie of Brodie; #4 Alexander Penrose Cumming of Altyre; #5 Col. Hugh Grant of Moy; #6 Alexander Brodie, MP; #7 Miss (Anne) Brodie of Lethen; #8 Willing King of Newmiln; #9 Robert Cumming of Logie; #10 William Brodie of Milltown; #11 Capt. George Brodie, 21st Regt; #12 Capt. Robert Innes, 21st Regt; #13 James MacGregor of Ballimore.

County of Inverness:

#14 The Hon. Archibald Fraser of Lovat (1736-1815)…

County of Ross:

#56 Francis Humberston Mackenzie of Seaforth, MP (1754-1815)…

Frasers played a prominent role in the activities of the Northern Meeting from the outset. The 16th [now 17th] Lord Saltoun (1785-1853) assumed the role of Permanent Steward from 1818 to 1853, and was succeeded on his death by Thomas Alexander Fraser of Strichen and Lovat (1802-75), who became 14th Lord Lovat in 1857, and served from 1853 to 1875. The first Convener from 1842 to 1845 was Affleck Fraser of Culduthel, who continued as Joint Convener with John MacKenzie from 1845 to 1851. Major Charles Ian Fraser of Reelig served as Convener from 1946 to 1951.

Of the original 79 subscribers in 1788, eight were Frasers: #14 Hon. Archibald Fraser of Lovat (1736-1815), #20 James Fraser of Belladrum (1732-1808), #21 James Fraser of Culduthel (1756-1816), #22 Edward S. Fraser of Reelig (1751-1835), #23 Lt. Col. Simon Fraser of Bruiach (1738-1813), #24 Simon Fraser of Farraline (1754-1810), #27 Capt. Simon Fraser of Fannellan (c1719-1793) and #32 Capt. Thomas Fraser of Leadclune (1750-c1818).

From 1788 membership was by ballot of the existing members, with an average of nine new admissions each year. Members admitted from prominent Fraser families included the following:

1788 – #82 Capt. Thomas Fraser of Dunballoch (1758-1838); 1789 – #93 John Fraser of Auchnagairn (1742-1825), #99 Alexander Fraser of Torbreck (1744-1821), #101 Simon Fraser, Younger of Foyers (c1760-1842); 1790 – #108 Mr. Fraser of Gortuleg (Gorthleck); 1792 – #129 John Fraser of Ballindown (c1750-1798); 1793 – #141 Mr. Hugh Fraser of Jamaica; 1798 – #152 James Fraser, Younger of Belladrum (1766-1834), #153 Col. Hugh Fraser of Knockie; 1799 – #160 Simon Fraser, late of Dominica, #161 William Fraser of Culbokie (1763-1843); 1800 – #172 William Fraser-Tytler, Younger of Balnain (1777-1853), #174 Hugh Fraser, Kingilly (1767- ? ); 1802 – #182 Mr. John Fraser, Wine Merchant in Inverness, #184 Simon Fraser of Demerara; #186 John Fraser, Younger of Farraline, Advocate (c1780-1838); 1803 – #191 Simon Fraser, Younger of Errogie (1773-1852); 1805 – #200 Hugh Fraser of Eskadale (1765-1841); 1808 – #213 Duncan Fraser of Fingask (1756- ? ); 1809 – #219 Alexander Fraser of Inchcoulter (1759- ? ), #221 John Fraser, Banker, Inverness; 1812 – #241 Hon. William Fraser of Philorth (1791-1845), #243 Robert Fraser, Younger of Torbreck (1782-1844); 1814 – #248 Capt. Edward Fraser of Gortuleg (1780-1827), #252 Lord Saltoun (1785-1853), #253 Charles Fraser of Inverallochy & Castle Fraser (1792-1871); 1819 – #286 Alexander Fraser, at Phoineas; 1820 – #296 Mr. Fraser of Abertarff (1791-1884), #297 Affleck Fraser of Culduthel (1787-1862); 1822 – #304 Thomas A. Fraser of Lovat (1802-1875); 1824 – #313 Capt. J. Fraser of Balnain (1792-1864); 1825 – #326 James B. Fraser of Gorthleck (1778-1831); 1832 – Northern Meeting cancelled owing to cholera outbreak; 1835 – #349 Sir Hugh Fraser, Redcastle; 1837 – #357 Hugh Fraser, Younger of Newton (1797-1843); 1845 – #387 Captain Alexander Fraser; 1849 – #404 Hon. Simon Fraser, Master of Lovat (1828-1887); 1854 – #415 John Fraser of Bunchrew (d. 1876); 1855 – #420 Capt. (William) Fraser-Tytler of Balnain (1815-1878); 1858 – #434 Lt. Col. Hon. Alexander Fraser, Scots Fusilier Guards; 1859 – #435 William Fraser of Culbockie (1827-aft 1896); 1862 – #445 Charles Fraser-Tytler of Burdsyards (1816-1881); 1865 – #453 Rt. Hon. Lord Saltoun (1820-1886); 1868 – #478 Mr. (Charles) Fraser-Mackintosh of Drummond (1828-1901); 1874 – #496 J. G. Fraser, Merlewood, Inverness, #501 James Fraser of Reelig (1820-1888); 1877 – #511 Capt. (John) Fraser of Balnain (1822-1892); 1879 – #519 Hugh Fraser of Achnagairn (c1835- ? ); 1881 – Affleck Fraser of Reelig (1845-1918); 1882 – #532 E. G. Fraser-Tytler of Aldourie (1856- ? ); 1891 – #579 Col. (Edmund Lomax) Fraser of Bunchrew; 1894 – #586 Lord Lovat (1871-1933); 1903 – #620 Sir Keith Fraser, Bart., of Inverinate (1867-1935); 1908 – #637 Mrs. Fraser Mackenzie of Allangrange; 1914-1917 – No members elected; 1919 – #667 Major Neil Fraser-Tytler, DSO (1889-1937); 1920 – #681 Major James W. Fraser of Leckmelm (1862-1943); 1921 – #692 Robert Scarlett Fraser-MacKenzie of Bunchrew; 1924 – #710 Charles Ian Fraser of Reelig (1903-1963); 1925 – #716 Hon. Mrs. Justice (Ethel Mary) Fraser of Stromeferry (1864-1949); 1926 – #723 Major Hon. Alistair Fraser, DSO, of Moniack (1877-1949); 1933 – #759 Col. Henry Francis Fraser, CMG, DSO, Ballindarroch, Scaniport (1872-1949); 1938 – #790 Lord Lovat (1911-1995); 1940-1944 – No members elected; 1947 – #836 Lt. Col. Sir Kerr Fraser-Tytler KBE, CMG, MC (1886-1963); 1950 – #880 Sqn. Ldr. Alasdair Fraser (1905-1980); 1951 - #891 Malcolm Robert Fraser; #893 Major Alistair H. Fraser, MC (1919-1986); 1956 – #922 Major Hon. Hugh Charles Patrick Fraser, MBE, MP (1918-1984); 1959 – #952 Colin L.A. Fraser-Mackenzie; 1961 – #974 Capt. A.A.A.D.M. Ramsay of Mar (1919-2000); 1962 – #978 Hon. Simon Fraser, Master of Lovat (1939-1994); 1963 - #984 Euan H.A.E. Fraser; 1968 – #1040 Col. James A. Fraser, MC (1921-1999); 1969 – #1050 Mrs. Hazel Fraser-Mackenzie; 1973 – #1085 Alastair Fraser; 1974 – #1099 P. J. Fraser; 1976 – #1126 Leopold T. Fraser-Mackenzie; #1127 Simon O. Fraser-Mackenzie; 1979 – #1152 Donald James Fraser; 1982 – #1179 Lt. Col. Ian M. Fraser OBE; #1180 Hon. K.I.M. Fraser; 1987 – #1220 Christopher Fraser.

The Northern Meeting also had an unofficial role as match-maker. Wing Comd. Michael Constable Maxwell recalled: ‘It was in the mid 1860s that my grandmother and her mother Mrs Weld Blundell were asked to join Lord and Lady Lovat’s party for the Northern Meeting. Unfortunately, when the gentlemen went stalking after the Balls up at Brawlen, Strathfarrar, the Master of Lovat found that he had sprained his ankle and could not go with them. Instead of stalking, he and Alice Weld Blundell attended Mass at Eskadale and then walked back four miles through rough wooded country, and by the time they got home they were engaged. And my grandfather’s sprained ankle was better too!"

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