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Articles by Marie Fraser of Canada
(Lady) Margaret Fraser (1748-1792)

Over the years we have recorded over 600 descendants of (Deacon) Thomas Fraser (1749-1813) and his wife, (Lady) Margaret Fraser (1748-1792) who emigrated to Pictou, Nova Scotia in the late 18th century. In 1834 their grandson, the Rev William Fraser, D.D. (1808-1892) was sent to the Province of Canada [now Quebec & Ontario], where he served his congregation in a log cabin, which was replaced about 1841 with a log building, before a third structure of brick was erected in 1881. Dr. Fraser officiated at all of them and, because the church had its origin in the home of James Ellison, for sixty years it was known as Ellison’s Church. In 1891, in honour of the first minister who laboured so vigorously in the interests of the congregation, the name was changed to the Fraser Presbyterian Church, located in Tottenham, Ontario [the place, coincidentally, where Simon Fraser of Lovat’s illegitimate daughter’s grandson settled after emigrating from Ireland in the early 19th century].

On May 10, 1784, two of the church elders at Kirkhill, Inverness-shire, namely, Thomas Fraser (1749-1813), in Englishtown, and Simon alias Bain Fraser, in Kirktown (1736-1787), informed the session that they were going to America and wished to have their burying ground registered in the Session Book, which was approved by Alexander Fraser, Session Clerk. They sailed with their wives and families for Pictou, Nova Scotia on the "John" in June, arriving at Halifax in August 1784, before proceeding to Pictou. When the James Church was organized on September 17, 1786, the minutes of the Associate Session of Pictou noted: "Thomas Fraser and Simon Fraser, Elders from Kirkhill and Alexander Fraser, Elder from Kilmorach, in Scotland, were unanimously received by the congregation of Pictou as elders, to rule over them, in the Lord." Alexander Fraser, known as Alexander Fraser (McAndrew), died shortly thereafter.

Several years ago we received an interesting letter from a gentleman in California, who had inherited a genealogical chart prepared in the 1930s that has obviously been widely distributed among descendants of this Fraser family.

"My mother (d. 1984) used to tell me that we were descended from the Lord Lovat who was beheaded after betraying both sides in the ’45. (That statement needs a good deal of qualification, no doubt; but that would be an ancestor worth having.) But the records were lost in a church fire… The fact that (Deacon) Thomas Fraser’s wife is shown as (Lady) Margaret Fraser lends a little bit of credibility to this. I know that the peerage was abolished when the wicked/unfortunate Lord Lovat was attainted and beheaded, and not re-granted until 1837. Hence the parentheses around ‘Lady’? Mind you, the courtesy title of ‘Lady’ would be given to the daughter of an earl or better, whereas Lord Lovat was only a baron before his condemnation. As she was born in 1748, a year after Lord Lovat’s demise, she would have had to be his granddaughter, at the closest.

"The connection seems unlikely, but whoever made up the chart years ago must have had something in mind. Perhaps the lady in question had admirable table manners, and in those rough-and-ready days it earned her a nickname. I wonder if Deacon Thomas was really a deacon; you’d think it would have been a matter of public record in a Presbyterian community, so why the parentheses? He was preachy, and she had fine manners, and so their neighbours gave them both nicknames…"

A healthy skeptic, perhaps? Margaret Fraser is reported to have been born in Beauly on 20th August 1748. The register of baptisms for the parish of Kilmorack, Inverness-shire for August 21st 1748 shows "Simon ffraser in ffarley had a Daughter called Margret". She was the eldest of five children born to Simon Fraser & Elsie McCrae. According to the register of marriages for March 17th 1747, "Simon Fraser in Kirkhill & Elsie McCrae in ffarley did promise to marry each other, accordingly were proclaimed & being married." Simon Fraser in Farley was recorded as holder of Pew #30 in 1756. So, in the absence of evidence to prove that Simon was an illegitimate son of Simon Fraser 11th Lord Lovat, it appears that his daughter Margaret was unlikely to have been a member of Lord Lovat’s family.

Aren’t family legends wonderful?

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