Clan Fraser of Lovat

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Date: 3 Aug 2018 [unknown]
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Surnames/tags: Fraser of Lovat Scottish_Clans
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Scotland Project > Scottish Clans > Clan Fraser of Lovat


Welcome to Clan Fraser of Lovat

Clan Fraser of Lovat Team
Team Leader TBD
Team MembersMark Sutherland-Fisher, Michael Thomas, Rosemary Maclean
Clan Chief: Simon Christopher Joseph Fraser, 16th Lord Lovat and 5th Baron Lovat. 25th MacShimidh, Chief of the Clan Fraser of Lovat. Succeeded his grandfather in 1995.
Crest: A buck's head erased Proper
Motto: Je suis prest (I am ready)
Slogan/War Cry: A Mhor-fhaiche" (The Great Field) OR "Caisteal Dhuni" (Castle Dounie/Downie)
Region: Highland
Historic Seat: Beaufort Castle (Castle Dounie)
Plant badge: French fraisse (Strawberry)
Pipe music: Lovat's March
Gaelic name: Clann Frisealach

Clan Team

Team Goals

The focus of this team's work is to identify, improve and maintain profiles associated with the Lairds and Chiefs of Clan Fraser of Lovat together with members bearing the name Fraser, the related families and those recognised as septs of Clan Fraser of Lovat.

Team To Do List

This list will be developed by the Team. If you are working on a specific task, please list it here:

  • promoting the entries of those bearing the name Fraser on Wikitree.
  • ensuring entries appearing on Wikitree are as accurate as possible, correcting mistakes once spotted.
  • encouraging interest in and study of Clan Fraser of Lovat.


Bissett, Brewster, Cowie, Frew, Frissel, Frizell, MacCimmie, MacGruer, MacKim, MacKimmie, MacSimon, MacShimes, MacTavish, McCoss, M’ktaus, Oliver, Sim, Sime, Simon, Simpson, Simson, Sims, Syme, Symon, Twaddle, Tweedie

Clan History

Clan Branches

Chiefs of Clan Fraser; Frasers of Inverallochy; Frasers of Strichen

Other Names Associated with the Clan

Frasers of Muchalls; Frasers of Philorth

Allied Clans

Clan Munro, Clan Forbes, Clan Grant

Rival Clans

Clan Macdonald of Clanranald, Clan Gordon, Clan Logan

Clan Research and Free Space Pages

Eugene Quigley's site on Wikitree - Fraser of Lovat

See also: Frazier Name Study

Source Material

Image Credits and Acknowledgements

The information below this line should be incorporated into the Team page or moved to a separate team research page.

Clan Fraser of Lovat

  • Image:Fraser of Lovat.jpg

Adapted from

Clan Fraser of Lovat (Scottish Gaelic: Clann Frisealach, French: Clan Fraiser) is a Highland Scottish clan. The Clan has been strongly associated with Inverness and the surrounding area since the Clan's founder gained lands there in the 13th century. Since its founding, the Clan has dominated local politics and been active in every major military conflict involving Scotland. It has also played a considerable role in most major political turmoils.

'Fraser' remains the most prominent family name within the Inverness area. The Clan's current chief is Simon Fraser, the 16th Lord Lovat, and 26th Chief of Clan Fraser.

Origins of the surname

The exact origins of the surname 'Fraser' can not be determined with any great certainty, although there is little doubt that it came from France.

The first reputed record is that of "Frysel" (vowels were at the time often interchanged), recorded on the Battle Abbey Roll – supposedly a list of William the Conqueror's companions, preserved at Battle Abbey, on the site of his great victory over Harold. However, the authenticity of the manuscript is seriously doubted.

The first definite record of the name in Scotland occurs in the mid-12th century as "de Fresel", "de Friselle", and "de Freseliere", and appears to be an Angevin name. Although there is no known placename in France that corresponds with it, the French surname "Frézelière" or "de la Frézelière" or "Frézeau de la Frézelière", apparent in France today, corresponds with the Scottish version in spelling and traditional area of origin – Anjou.

Apparently while in exile in France, Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat "entered into a formal league of amnity" and "declared an alliance" with the French Marquis de la Frézelière and claimed common origin from the "les seigneurs de la Frézelière". The first annual gathering of the Clan Fraser in Canada in 1894 also recalls this connection.

This ancient connection with Anjou is also described in detail in the 18th century document La Dictionnaire de la Noblesse. This document states that a Simon Frezel was born to the knightly Frezel family from Anjou and, sometime after the year 1030, established himself in Scotland. It also states that Simon Frezel's descendants multiplied and eventually became known as Frasers. This would also explain the prevalence of the name Simon throughout clan history, as all Frasers would have the knight Simon Frezel as a distant, but common, ancestor.

Another tradition claims derivation from a Frenchman called "Pierre Fraser, Seigneur de Troile", who came to Scotland in the reign of Charlemagne to form an alliance with the mythical King Achaius. Pierre's son was then to have become thane of the Isle of Man in 814.

Yet another explanation for the surname is that it is derived from the French words fraise, meaning strawberry (the fruit), and fraisiers, strawberry plants. There is a fabled account of the Fraser coat of arms which asserts during the reign of Charles the Simple of France, a nobleman from Bourbon named Julius de Berry entertained the King with a dish of fine strawberries. De Berry was then later knighted, with the knight taking strawberry flowers as his Arms and changing his name from 'de Berry' to 'Fraiseux' or 'Frezeliere'. His direct descendants were to become the lords of Neidpath Castle, then known as Oliver. This origin has been disputed, and seen as a classic example of canting heraldry, where heraldic symbols are derived from a pun on similar sounding surname: (strawberry flowers – fraises).

Early Frasers

Around the reign of William the Lion (r.1165–1214), there was a mass of "Norman" immigration into Scotland. Thomas Grey, a 14th-century English knight, listed several "Norman" families which took up land during William's reign. Among those listed, the families of Moubray, Ramsay, Laundells, Valognes, Boys and Fraser are certainly or probably introduced under King William.

The earliest written record of Frasers in Scotland is in 1160, when a Simon Fraser held lands in East Lothian, at Keith. In that year, he made the gift of a church to the Tironensian monks at Kelso Abbey. The Frasers moved into Tweeddale in the 12th and 13th centuries and from there into the counties of Stirling, Angus, Inverness and Aberdeen.

Wars of Scottish Independence

During the Scottish Wars of Independence, Sir Simon Fraser, "the Patriot", fought first with the Red Comyn, and later with Sir William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Sir Simon is celebrated for having defeated the English at the Battle of Roslin in 1303, with just 8,000 men under his command. At the Battle of Methven in 1306, Sir Simon Fraser led troops along with Bruce, and saved the King's life in three separate instances. Simon was allegedly awarded the 3 Crowns which now appear in the Lovat Arms for these three acts of bravery. He was however captured by the English and executed with great cruelty by Edward I of England in 1306, in the same barbaric fashion as Wallace.

At the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, Sir Simon's cousin, Sir Alexander Fraser of Touchfraser and Cowie, was much more fortunate. He fought at Bannockburn, married Bruce's sister, and became Chamberlain of Scotland. The Frasers of Philorth who are chiefs of the senior Clan Fraser, trace their lineage from this Alexander. Alexander's younger brother, another Sir Simon Fraser, was the ancestor of the chiefs of the Clan Fraser of Lovat. This Simon Fraser was killed at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333, along with his younger brothers Andrew and James.

15th and 16th century clan conflicts

As most Highlanders, the Frasers have been involved in countless Clan wars, particularly against the Macdonalds. Two Gaelic war cries of the Frasers have been generally recognized. The first, "Caisteal Dhuni" (Castle Dounie/Downie) refers to the ancestral Castle and Clan seat, which once existed near the present Beaufort Castle. The second is "A Mhòr-fhaiche" (The Great Field).

According to some accounts, the Frasers under Lord Lovat supported the Munros at the Battle of Bealach nam Broig in 1452, which was fought against Clan Mackenzie. There are also accounts of Fraser Lord Lovat supporting the Munros at the Battle of Clachnaharry fought two years later in 1454.

In 1544, the Frasers fought a great clan battle, the Battle of the Shirts against Clan Macdonald of Clanranald, over the disputed chiefship of Clan Ranald. The Frasers, as part of a large coalition, backed a son of the 5th Chief, Ranald Gallda "the Stranger", which the MacDonalds found unacceptable. The Earl of Argyll intervened, refusing to let the two forces engage. But on their march home, the 300 Frasers were ambushed by 500 MacDonalds. Only five Frasers and eight MacDonalds are said to have survived the battle. Both the clan chief, Hugh Fraser, 3rd Lord Lovat, and his son were among the dead and were buried at Beauly Priory.

At the Siege of Inverness in 1562, Clan Fraser of Lovat supported Mary, Queen of Scots: Scottish historian George Buchanan, a contemporary, wrote that when the unfortunate princess went to Inverness in 1562: "as soon as they heard of their sovereign's danger, a great number of the most eminent Scots poured in around her, especially the Frasers and Munros, who were esteemed the most 'valiant of the clans inhabiting those countries in the north.' " These two clans took Inverness Castle for the Queen. The Queen later hanged the governor, a Gordon who had refused her admission.

In the 16th century a battle took place between Clan Fraser (with help from Clan MacRae) and Clan Logan at Kessock, where Gilligorm, the Chief of Clan Logan, was killed.

17th century and civil war

In 1645, at the Battle of Auldearn, in Nairnshire, the Clan opposed the Royalist leader, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, and fought under a Fraser of Struy (from a small village at the mouth of Glen Strathfarrar). The battle left eighty-seven Fraser widows.

In 1649, Clan Fraser of Lovat, under Colonel Hugh Fraser, assaulted Inverness Castle for a second time, this time during a royalist rising, along with John Munro of Lemlair, Thomas Urquhart and Thomas Mackenzie of Pluscardine. They were opposed to the authority of the current parliament, assaulted the town and took the castle in what is now known as the Siege of Inverness (1649). They then expelled the garrison and raised the fortifications. However, on the approach of the parliamentary forces led by General Leslie, the clans retreated back into Ross-shire.

Over the next year, several skirmishes took place between these parties. During the Siege of Inverness (1650) the Covenanter Frasers of Lovat under Sir James Fraser of Brea successfully defended Inverness Castle against the royalists. In 1650, at the Battle of Dunbar, Clan Fraser fought against the forces of Oliver Cromwell, however the Covenanters were defeated. In 1651, Clan Fraser joined the army of Charles II at Stirling. They fought at the Battle of Worcester where the King's army was defeated by Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army.

In 1689, the Glorious Revolution deposed the Roman Catholic King, James VII, as monarch of England, replacing the King with his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband and cousin, William of Orange. Swiftly following in March, a Convention of the Estates was convened in Edinburgh, which supported William & Mary as joint monarchs of Scotland. However, to much of Scotland, particularly in the Highlands, James was still considered the rightful, legitimate King.

On 16 April 1689, John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount of Dundee, later known as Bonnie Dundee, raised the royal standard of the recently-deposed King James VII on the hilltop of Dundee Law. Many of the Highland clans rallied swiftly to his side. The chief of Clan Fraser, Thomas Fraser, tried to keep the members of his clan from joining the uprising, to no avail: The Clan marched without him, and fought at the Battle of Killiecrankie. In 1690, Thomas gave in and joined them.

18th century and Jacobite risings

Jacobite rising of 1715

During the Jacobite rising of 1715, Simon Fraser "the Fox", 11th Lord Lovat, Chief at the time, supported the British Government and surrounded the Jacobite garrison in Inverness. Clan MacDonald of Keppoch attempted to relieve the garrison, but when their path was blocked by the Frasers, Keppoch retreated. The Inverness garrison surrendered to Fraser on the same day the Battle of Sheriffmuir was fought, and another Jacobite force was defeated at the Battle of Preston. In 1719, the British General, Joseph Wightman, passed through Fraser country enroute to the Battle of Glen Shiel and gathered with him Fraser of Lovat's men as he went.

Jacobite rising of 1745

In 1725, the British Field Marshall, George Wade, gave instructions that had come to him from George I of Great Britain to re-establish the Independent Highland Companies of soldiers to support the British Government. Chief Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat was appointed Captain of one of these Independent Highland Companies. However Wade complained to George II of Great Britain that the Independent Highland Companies had been infiltrated by Jacobitism and demanded that the king take action. Wade put up Lord Lovat's captaincy as the first to go.

In 1740, George II demanded action and Wade stepped in and stripped Lovat of his company of Frasers, putting them under command elsewhere. Wade also advised the government to remove Lord Lovat from his office as High Sheriff of Inverss-shire. As a result, Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat later gave his support to the Jacobite leader, Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), and when asked why he had engaged with the Prince after receiving so many favours from the government, he replied that "he did it more in revenge to the ministry for having taken away his Independent Company than anything else". Frasers were on the front lines of the Jacobite army at the Battle of Falkirk, and the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

At Culloden, Charles Fraser was mortally wounded and found by General Hawley on the field, who ordered one of his aides, a young James Wolfe, to finish him off with a pistol. Wolfe refused, so Hawley got a common soldier to do it. David Fraser of Glen Urquhart, who was deaf and mute, had, it was said, charged and killed seven redcoats, but was captured and died in prison. John Fraser, also called 'MacIver' was shot in the knee, taken prisoner, and put before a firing squad, but was then rescued by a British officer, Lord Boyd, who was sick of the slaughter. Another John Fraser, who was Provost of Inverness, tried to get fair treatment for the prisoners.

After the battle, the same year, Castle Dounie was burnt to the ground, while Simon Fraser "the Fox", 11th Lord Lovat, was on the run. He was captured, tried for treason, and executed in London on 9 April 1747, and his estates and titles were forfeited to the Crown. The 11th Lord Lovat's son, Simon Fraser, escaped punishment and was pardoned. He later raised a Fraser regiment for the British army which fought in Canada in the 1750s, including Quebec.

Castle Dounie was replaced by a small square building in which the Royal Commissioner resided until 1774, when some of the forfeited Lovat estates were granted by an Act of Parliament to his son, Simon Fraser (1726–1782), by then a major general, in recognition of his military service to the Crown and the payment of some £20,000. Later, two modest wings were added.

On the death of General Fraser's younger half-brother, Colonel Archibald Campbell Fraser of Lovat (1736–1815), without legitimate surviving male issue, the Lovat estates were transferred, by entail, to Thomas Alexander Fraser of Strichen (1802–1875), a distant cousin who was descended from Thomas Fraser of Knockie & Strichen (1548–1612), second son of Alexander Fraser, 4th Lord Lovat (1527–1557). Knockie was sold about 1727 to Hugh Fraser of Balnain (1702–1735).

Frasers in the New World

Seven Years' War

Under the chief, Simon (who had led the Frasers in The '45 as the Master of Lovat) a regiment of Frasers, the 78th Fraser Highlanders, numbering 1,400, were raised and fought the French and Indians in the colonies and Canada from 1757 to 1759. Interestingly, the 78th fought under General Wolfe, who had previously fought at the Battle of Culloden against Simon and perhaps some of the 78th. It was one of the 78th, possibly Simon, possibly one of his men, whose familiarity with the French language saved the first wave of British troops at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which led to the capture of Quebec.

American rebellion

In the fight against American independence, Simon, who was by this time a General, raised 2,300 men, the 71st Fraser Highlanders. He recruited two battalions at Inverness, Stirling and Glasgow. Most of the men were not Frasers, for the number of Frasers had been substantially reduced after the battle of Culloden and the end of the clan system. Fighting on the Continental side was Persifor Frazer, said to be a relative of Simon whose ancestors had left the Highlands before the Jacobite Rising.


Many Frasers settled in Canada and the United States after the war against the French in Quebec. Many others later emigrated to those countries, and to Australia and New Zealand (which have both had a Fraser prime minister). Frasers in the US have continued their proud military tradition, fighting on both sides of the American Civil War. Frasers from both sides of the Atlantic fought in the Great War, and the Second World War.

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