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Articles by Marie Fraser of Canada
Dalcattaig & Portclairs - Glenmoriston vs Lovat

The progenitor of the Grants of Glenmoriston was John Mor, natural son of John Grant, second laird of Freuchie. John Mor Grant received a Crown charter of the lands of Glenmoriston in 1509. He married first, Elizabeth or Isobella, daughter of Walter Innes, and grand-daughter of Sir Robert Innes of that Ilk. By her he had one daughter, but divorcing his fist wife, he married, secondly, by papal dispensation, in 1544, Agnes, daughter of William Fraser, and grand-daughter of Thomas, Lord Lovat (1460-1524), by whom he had a son Patrick who succeeded him in his estates. He had also three natural sons. John Grant of Culcabock died in Sept 1548. – The Chiefs of Grant (1883) by Sir William Fraser (1816-98).

In his Antiquarian Notes (1897), Charles Fraser-Mackintosh (1828-1901) comments on the dispute between Glenmoriston and Lovat with respect to the ownership of these lands:

That Dalcattaig and Portclairs, really forming for several miles one side of the Glen, prominent and imposing from all quarters, did not originally form part of the Glenmoriston estate, seems so surprising and unnatural that various accounts are given for the anomaly. I will first give the version told me in the Glen many years ago, and follow it up by narrating the real history, with some account of the long continued struggle on the part of the Grants to acquire these lands.

The popular tradition is that the lands were of old really part of Glenmoriston, that on one occasion on a windy stormy day [Hugh Fraser 9th Lord] Lovat and [John Grant 5th] Glenmoriston were out hunting, having, as they started, their plaids fastened, as was customary, with valuable brooches. Lovat was prudent, and carried a large common pin in reserve. As the wind increased Lovat, afraid of losing his brooch, took it off, substituting the pin. Glenmoriston, unfortunately, lost his brooch, which, in consequence of the high wind and storm, could not be found. Starving with cold and labouring under the inconvenience of carrying his plaid, now merely an encumbrance, he begged Lovat to lend him his brooch. Lovat, who had a particular regard for his brooch, was unwilling to do this and wished to be excused. At length, under importunity, he gave the brooch to Glenmoriston, and to impress due caution said, "If you lose my brooch, you must replace it by Dalcattaig and Portclair." This Glenmoriston in his need agreed to, and alas by and bye, a furious gust striking him, the fastening gave way, and the brooch disappeared for ever, although searched and searched for, for months; and thus the lands were lost to Glenmoriston.

Now for the real state of matters, as these have come under my observation. In 1691, when the Cess Roll was made up for Inverness-shire, John Doun 5th of Glenmoriston (c1635-1703) [s/o Patrick Grant, by Margaret Fraser, of Culbokie], is entered in the parish of Boleskine and Abertarff, as heritor of Dalcattaig and Portclair. In 1693, when Iain-a-Chraggain, 6th of Glenmoriston (1657-1736) [s/o John Grant, by Agnes Fraser, of Struy], accompanied by Donald Macdonell of Lundie, his friend and supporter, came to Dunain, courting Janet Baillie, sister of William Baillie, then of Dunain, Iain, with consent of his father, agreed to settle upon her seven hundred merks per annum of a jointure out of his lands of Inver and Glenmoriston, and of Dalcattaig and Portclairs. But it would appear the last mentioned lands at these periods were only held in wadset of Lovat. [Ed: John Grant 6th of Glenmoriston married (ctr 1696), as his first wife, Janet Baillie, who only survived one year; he then married, about 1698, Janet, d/o Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel.]

Grant of Glenmoriston Succession Chart

Patrick Grant 7th of Glenmoriston (1701-86) after the death of his elder brother John [3 Dec 1734], in 1735 entered into a submission with Simon Lord Lovat (c1668-1747), regarding the lands of Meikle Portclair. The paper now has no date, but it would have been prepared between 1735 and 1745.

"Information for Patrick Grant of Glenmoriston -

"The deceased John Grant of Glenmoriston, grandfather to the said Patrick Grant did settle seven thousand merks in the hands of the deceased Hugh Lord Lovat, for which he got the lands of Dalcaitag and Portclairs in wadset, by which wadset right Glenmoriston was obliged to pay off a surplus duty as the customs of the said lands eighty pounds Scots or thereby yearly to the family of Lovat as ye said wadset right in itself more fully purports. Some years after obtaining the said wadset, these customs did run on unpaid; and for recovering of the same the deceased Thomas Fraser of Beaufort, being then a young valiant and forward gentleman, was appointed and commissioned to march with two or three hundred men in order to take possession of a part of the said wadset lands violently, if no other accommodation could be made with Glenmoriston in friendly manner to that effect, which accordingly he did, and after coming to those bounds with the foresaid number of men, he and Glenmoriston did meet, and after a long communing it was unanimously agreed that the town of Meikle Portclair should be always sequestrate and allow’d in the possession of the family of Lovat during the non-redemption of the said wadset for making full payment and satisfaction of the said customs and superplus duty, to prevent any further demur or disorder that might arise in case of any bad payments of this subject matter in time coming, and to that effect there was a settlement made in writing twixt the said Beaufort and Glenmoriston; but among other misfortunes in the year 1689 the castle of Invermoriston, being the house of Glenmoriston’s residence, was burnt by the Earle of Sutherland, where all Glenmoriston’s papers with everything else were entirely destroyed, excepting his charters and other rights, which were hid under ground, among which this agreement and writing was cut off, so that it cannot now be further evidenced, whereby the attestation of some old honest men who are yet living in the country, and knows the premises to be all of verity, and further can attest that alwayes since the commencement of the said wadset right, anterior to the above agreement, Glenmoriston has been in possession of the said lands of Meikle Portclair.

"The late Mr John Grant, younger of Glenmoriston, brother to the said Patrick Grant did purchase the said lands of Dalcaitag and Portclair with the rest of the estate of Glenmoriston (which were forfeited) from the hands of the publick, and to pay off the price of his estate, was obliged to borrow money from this present Lord Lovat, for which he did renounce his right of the said lands of Dalcaitag and Little Portclair, but always excepted in the renunciation the lands of Meikle Portclair on which the former wadset right stands good for two thousand merks, being the balance unpaid of the moneys settled in that manner with the family of Lovat, and as this Lord Lovat through ignorance that Glenmoriston was ever in possession of the said town of Meikle Portclair and that consequently he believed Glenmoriston had no just title or right to the two thousand merks unpaid, on that account and to remove all disputes twixt them, to be determined by the final sentence and decision of Evan Baillie of Abriachan and Alexander Munro, Commissary of Inverness, arbitrators, but ere anything was or could be done in relation to the said submission, Glenmoriston died. But now with the same view the like submission is renewed betwixt my Lord Lovat and the said Patrick Grant of Glenmoriston, to be determined by the decision of Mr Robert Craig and Mr William Grant, advocates, arbiters mutually chosen by the said parties who are to have their instructions from this information and other writs herewith given."

Patrick Grant was anxious to have a commission to examine aged witnesses, many of whom were 90 years of age and upwards, as to his grandfather’s originally possessing Meikle Portclair. The proceedings fell to the ground, however, in consequence of Lord Lovat’s forfeiture, and seem to have dropped thereafter.

Iain-a-Chraggain having been forfeited for his accession to the Rising of 1715, his estates fell under charge of the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates. Glenmoriston was sold at a public roup on 24th November 1730, and was purchased by Ludovick Colquhoun of Luss for the sum of £1086 sterling, and under burden of paying all wadset moneys thereon. In a minute of sale, dated 3rd December 1730, Sir John Clerk, Baronet, George Dalrymple, and Thomas Kennedy, Esquires, Barons of Exchequer, declared that they sold to Ludovick Colquhoun, all and haill the lands of Glenmoriston, and "also the lands of Dalcattaig with its parts and pendicles as the same were possessed by John Grant, late of Glenmoriston, and his predecessors heretofore," as also all other lands and estates, though not named, which might have belonged to the said John Grant. The purchase was a friendly one, and in course of time Colquhoun and his successors resold at different times the property and superiority of Glenmoriston to the Grants. Luss did not convey Dalcattaig and Little Portclair included in the sale to him, because, as mentioned in Patrick Grant’s memorial, Lovat lent money to Patrick, on condition of being allowed to have these lands, but first John Grant, and thereafter his brother Patrick Grant, claimed from Lovat Meikle Portclair, as I have said, in virtue of the old wadset moneys not having been fully paid. Simon Lord Lovat, thus became interested in the lands of Dacattaig and Little Portclair though sold by the Forfeited Estate Commissioners to Luss, as is more fully set forth in the application by Colquhoun in 1750, making a claim on Lord Lovat’s estates. After narrating the sale to him in 1730, Colquhoun of Luss, then Sir Ludovick Grant of Grant, states:

"Simon, late Lord Fraser of Lovat, being desirous to purchase that part of the estate of Glenmoriston called Dalcattaig, and Little Portclair, which would not be separately sold by the Barons of Exchequer, did prevail with him to grant an obligation whereby, upon payment of 5500 merks with interest from the time of attaining possession, he, Grant, became bound to grant a sufficient and solid disposition of the premises to Lord Lovat and his heirs male, or to any person or persons he should appoint by a writing under his hand. That the obligation if extant was supposed to be among the other writings of the said Simon, late Lord Fraser of Lovat. That Lord Lovat, by obligation signed by him at Edinburgh, on 24th November 1730, before William Drummond of Balhaldie and John Macfarlan, Writer to the Signet, bound himself to pay Grant the sum of 5500 merks, with interest from the date of his being put in possession of Dalcattaig and Little Portclair. But Lord Lovat, without paying the price, or demanding a disposition of the lands, did at his own hand assume and enter upon possession of the lands, and continued therein until his death, without making any satisfaction either of principal or interest. That after Lord Lovat’s death and forfeiture, his estates were surveyed, and amongst other lands those of Dalcattaig and Little Portclair were included, but in reality they formed no part of the Lovat estates, as he, Grant, had never been denuded thereof."

Grant entered claim upon Lord Lovat’s estates for the sum of 5500 merks, with annual rent since 1731, if the Crown desired to keep the lands, and merely claim the annual rent, in satisfaction for the period he was out of his lands. Land was rising rapidly in value, so the Crown kept these lands, and they remained as part of the estates of Lovat which were restored to General Simon Fraser. [Ed: In 1774 Simon Fraser, then a major general, in recognition of his military service to the Crown and the payment of some £20000, was granted some of the forfeited Lovat lands. When he died, his finances were in a terrible state, and it was left to the executors of the late Lieut-General Simon Fraser of Lovat (1726-82) to settle his estate. The executors were Alexander Fraser of Strichen in the County of Aberdeen in North Britain; Simon Fraser of Farraline; James Fraser of Belladrum; Simon Fraser of Bruiach, Lieut-Colonel in his Majesty’s late 71st Regiment of Foot; and James Fraser of Gorthleck, one of the clerks in his Majesty’s Signet, all in the County of Inverness.]

It was necessary for the trustees of General Fraser to sell lands and superiorities to pay off debts, and having procured an Act of Parliament to effect this, the trustees proceeded to a cognition and sale, scheduling lands and superiorities as the most convenient for disposal and least hurtful to the estate of Lovat generally. Amongst others the 11th lot was "the lands of Wester Eskadale and Wester Main, lying in the parish of Kiltarlity, and in the district called Strathglass. These lands lie detached at the other extremity of the estate; being adjacent to the property of Captain [Hugh] Fraser of Eskadale (1765-1841), there is reason to believe he will give a suitable price." Objections were called for by any of the heirs of entail, and inter alia Captain Simon Fraser of Foyers and Major Archibald Fraser, late Glengarry Regiment of Fencibles, appeared and stated inter alia "that certain parts of the estate of Lovat called the lands of Dalcattaig and the two Portclairs, lying in the parish of Abertarff, or Stratherrick, and on the north side of Loch Ness are not included in the condescendence of the pursuers. The reasons given for the sale of Eskadale apply with far greater force to these lands, as they lie discontiguous to the estate of Lovat, under the Act of Parliament. The lands of Dalcattaig and Portclairs lie contiguous to Glenmoriston, and there is every reason to suppose he will give a suitable price for them, and indeed he has already signified his intention of offering fifty years’ purchase for them, and will readily give the full value of the same, when the real value is ascertained and made known." This was in 1798, and no doubt [Simon Fraser of] Foyers (c1760-1842), who had married one of the Glenmoriston ladies [Elizabeth, d/o Patrick Grant 8th of Glenmoriston], was put in motion by that family. However, it was unsuccessful, for the Lovat trustees declined to consent, and the matter again fell to the ground.

When Colonel John Grant [9th] of Glenmoriston died [1801], he left considerable means, part of which was invested in the name of Patrick, Colonel Grant’s eldest son, in 1804 in the purchase of the Estate of Scotus forming portion of the Barony of Knoydart. Ranald Macdonell of Scotus, had married one of the Glenmoriston ladies, which may have led to the purchase, for it was never in itself a success, being detached from Glenmoriston, and scattered through the remainder of Knoydart. Glengarry gave much trouble in the matter of boundaries, marches, access, etc., and finally be bought Scotus, which was again re-incorporated with Knoydart, and so continues till this day. Scotus was sold in the time of James Murray Grant (1792-1868), who had succeeded his elder brother Patrick (c1790-1808). The late Glenmoriston, who was long a prominent man in the North, took great interest in county and public affairs, filled the offices of Convener and Vice-Lieutenant, and being a constant resident, had a thorough knowledge of his family history, and a just pride in its honourable traditions. The family was the first to support the Charles Grants for the representation of the County, and adhered to father and son to the last. When Thomas Alexander Fraser of Strichen/Lovat (1802-75) attained his majority, he also became a leading supporter, and it might be said that no two gentlemen were more intimate or disposed to favour the other. After the passing of the Reform Bill, when the suffrage was thrown open to tenants paying £50 and upwards, Charles Grant the younger’s position became weaker in the County, until at length his defeat became inevitable, and he took refuge in a Peerage, the Government desiring to appoint another to his office… [Ed: Charles Grant (1746-1823), who was born at Aldourie, became one of the most distinguished directors of the East India Company. In 1770 he married Jane Fraser, of Balnain. Their son Charles Grant Lord Glenelg (c1772-1866) died unmarried.]

I have however wandered from Dalcattaig. No laird felt the annoyance of vicinity so much in his younger days as the late laird, all his frontage to Loch Ness being comprised within the river Moriston and the burn of Ault Sigh. He knew he could not purchase the lands, as they were under strict entail, but he naturally thought that his most intimate friend would oblige him without hesitation by agreeing to an advantageous exchange.

Fraser of Lovat Succession Chart

The lands of Knockie and Dalchapple, being in the market, were purchased by Glenmoriston (1792-1868) [James Murray Grant] with the view of exchange with Dalcattaig and Portclairs. Knockie lay convenient to Lovat’s Stratherrick estates, but on being approached, Lovat positively declined to negotiate; and so Knockie remains with Glenmoriston of no particular value to him except that it stretches out pleasantly in view of Invermoriston House on the other side of the Loch.

[Ed: Knockie had previously been sold (1727) by the Strichen family to Hugh Fraser of Balnain (1702-35), merchant in Inverness. Hugh was succeeded by his younger brother, William Fraser, W.S. (1703-75), who in 1754 acquired the estate of Aldourie from Captain Daniel Barbour. As an Edinburgh lawyer, William had a good deal to do with the affairs of Simon Lord Lovat. It should also be remembered that Col. Thomas Fraser of Balnain (1784-1859) was convinced that his grandfather, Thomas (1726-60) of Antigua was not a son of old Alexander Fraser of Balnain, but a grandson, child of a daughter, the father being John Fraser, younger brother of Simon Lord Lovat of the ’45. If this could be proved Col. Thomas would have been the rightful heir to the Lovat estates - not Strichen. Col. Thomas Fraser did not venture into the courts, as others did.]

Miss Maria H. Grant in one of her charming novels alludes to one of the pleasures of life at Invermoriston, consisting of the frequent visits paid to and received from Knockie while tenanted by a worthy but tedious soldier, now deceased, known as the "Great Bore," the mutual invitations being through smoke raised by the lighting of fires on particular eminences.

The adjoining lands of Innisnacardoch and Achterawe would have changed hands years ago, unless prevented at great cost by the late [Thomas Alexander Fraser of Strichen &] Lovat, which would have left Dalcattaig and Portclairs isolated from other Lovat lands. In these changing times it would be rash to say that there is no chance of their ever becoming part of Glenmoriston. – C F-M

Simon FraserThe "Great Bore" was no doubt Simon Fraser (1773-1852), tenant of Knockie, s/o John Fraser of Errogie (c1734-1810) by his wife Anna, d/o Thomas Fraser of Gortuleg. In The Northern Meeting 1788 - 1988 by Lt-Colonel Angus Fairrie, Captain Simon Fraser of Knockie is described by a contemporary violinist, Captain MacDiarmid: ‘I have never heard anyone make the fiddle speak Gaelic so beautifully’. Born in 1773 at Ardachy, Fort Augustus, he held a commission in the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment, and later in 1816 he was to publish his famous ‘Airs and Melodies peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland’, a collection of 230 Highland tunes for fiddle and pianoforte. His name appears in the roll of members elected in 1803 as ‘Simon Fraser, Younger of Errogie’, and it was at Errogie that he edited his famous book; although he is usually referred to as Captain Fraser of Knockie where he became the tenant. His collection includes several tunes specifically connected with the Northern Meeting.

Captain Simon Fraser is credited with ‘Airs and Melodies peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland’ published 1816; a 2nd edition was published in 1874 by his son Angus. The fiddle music was originally compiled by Simon’s Predecessor, and grandfather, Angus Fraser of Errogie, and later by his father, John Fraser, a lieutenant during the Seven Years War in Canada (1757-63) who was an acknowledged singer of songs. It is interesting how Simon makes reference to the fact that the tunes had pro-Jacobite sentiments, while he, his father and grandfather had been loyal supporters of the Government. Simon was a Captain in the Black Watch and his Predecessor had been one of the original members of the 42nd Regiment. S. Fraser’s ‘Letter and Prospectus’ refers obliquely to his paternal grandfather, maternal grandfather, and to his father [Lieutenant John Fraser] as the individual officer who scaled the heights of Abram (sic) in 1759, with his relative [Captain, later Brigadier-General] Simon Fraser who fell afterwards at Saratoga in 1777, and to whose sister the original Compiler of these Melodies was then married. Simon doesn’t actually say that Jane Fraser, of Balnain (1722-68), then married (1759) to his paternal grandfather Angus, was the mother of John (c1734-1810), and thereby Simon’s paternal grandmother, as various writers have mistakenly assumed, by implication, based on notes attributed to Captain Fraser of Knockie.

According to The Fraser Highlanders by Colonel J.R. Harper: "In the leading boat with General Wolfe sat Captain Simon Fraser and Captain Donald Macdonald of the Fraser Highlanders, both French-speaking officers, with other staff officers." Harper goes on to say that it was Captain Simon Fraser who replied to the sentry. "Then and there the agile Highlanders led by Captain Simon Fraser of Balnain and Captain Donald Macdonald began their perilous ascent."

Not wishing to appear unduly prejudiced, I consulted The Life and Letters of Wolfe, which states that it was "the younger Simon Fraser [ygr of Balnain], who spoke excellent French" who had the exchange with the sentry, before being permitted to pass. Quebec and Beauport were on the brink of famine; men who brought the army supplies of food were welcome indeed. After scanning the heights: "As they neared the top the enemy’s piquet was aroused and Captain Macdonald, a Highlander, began a fresh parley in French. But the troops were too impatient, and before many shots were exchanged, put them to fight."

The interpretation of history by anyone who was not an eye-witness to the event, can become an exercise in wishful thinking. Take the charming story that General Wolfe died in the arms of a Fraser, perpetrated by the Benjamin West painting. It is clearly proved by reference to Captain John Knox’s Journal of the Campaign in North America that only four men were present at the death of Wolfe, and that West’s picture is altogether fancy and unhistorical. The Life and Letters of Wolfe includes a sketch "drawn in 1760 from materials supplied by an eye-witness".

Therefore, it seems fair to conclude that Simon Fraser, ygr of Balnain was in the lead boat with Wolfe; but not John Fraser, ygr of Errogie. See death notice for Captain John Fraser below, no doubt supplied by his son Simon.

Extract from the "Inverness Journal"


April 20 – Died, at Errogie, on the 14th curt., in the 76th year of his age, Captain John Fraser; a most respectable and worthy character. He served as a Light Infantry officer during the whole of the immortal Wolfe’s campaigns, with whom his activity made him much in favour. He also witnessed his glorious death.

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