Select Fraser Miscellany



Here are some Fraser stories and accounts over the years:

Fraser Origins

Although the Fraser name was first associated with the district of Tweeddale on the Scottish borders, its exact origins remain undetermined.  The early recorded spelling forms included de Fresel, de Friselle, and de Freseliere, which would indicate a French locational origin, possibly in Anjou.  But there was and is no place in France corresponding to any of these names.

Some Fraserologists nevertheless see a French connection.  During the 18th century, Simon Fraser, while in exile in France, declared an alliance with the French Marquis de la Frezeliere and claimed common origin from "les seigneurs de la Frezelieres."

Fraser may be derived from the French fraise, meaning strawberry, and fraisier, strawberry plant.  The story goes that a nobleman from Bourbon named Julius de Berry entertained the King with a dish of fine strawberries.  De Berry was later knighted and took strawberry flowers on his arms and adopted the name of Fraiseux or Frezeliere.  A descendant of his was said to have been the lord of Neidpath castle in Scotland.    

Fraser, however, may in fact not be French at all.  The word fraisse heraldically describes a strawberry and it is known that the early lands of the clan included an area at Neidpath in Tweeddale where strawberries would grow prolifically.  The clan were then known as "strawberry bearers" from their coat of arms.



The Frasers of Philorth

The Frasers of Philorth have long maintained that they are the senior line of Frasers.  In his book The Frasers of Philorth, published in 1879, Alexander Fraser of Philorth, the 18th Lord Saltoun, stated:

"A Fraser branch, which also held lands in Forfarshire, obtained large possessions in the districts around Inverness, became very numerous, and originated or formed the Highland clan of the name.

But the senior line, which continued to have their principal seat in the Lowlands and those of the surname who remained in that section of Scotland where Teutonic institutions prevailed and whence the patriarchal system of clans and clanship had long been banished, had nothing to do with the origin or formation of the Highland clan and never belonged to it."

Flora Fraser, a subsequent Lady Saltoun, repeated this view in her 1997 Clan Fraser: A History.

The Wine Tower at Fraserburgh

The Wine Tower is an old three storey quadrangular building standing on top of a cave, rising from a rock which overhangs the sea some 50 yards east of Fraserburgh castle.  The only entrance is to the second floor, a vaulted chamber, by ladder. 

The tower is best known for one of the region's most sinister tales.  According to folklore, in the late 1500's Sir Alexander Fraser, the 8th Laird of Philorth, was so enraged by the love affair between his daughter Isobel and a piper that he had the hapless suitor chained in the sea cave beneath the tower.  The piper drowned and the laird's distraught daughter is said to have killed herself by jumping onto the rocks below. 

Some say the piper can still be heard playing at the tower on stormy nights.  


Persifor Frazer and The Start of His Revolutionary War

Persifor Frazer and Polly Taylor married in 1766 and lived a decade later with their four young children on a farm in a hilly district a few miles from a lazy creek called the Brandywine.  The land had come through her family.  But it was Persifor who farmed it and it was he who mixed with Anthony Wayne in the local politics that resisted a growing Crown power.

When Pennsylvania formed its troops for the Continental Army in early 1776, Frazer was elected captain of a company in the Fourth Battalion, which had Wayne for its colonel.  He already was in uniform when the Declaration was signed.

The war came home for these people on September 11, 1777, when the British marched up from Delaware bound for Philadelphia, and George Washington tried to stop them at the Brandywine.  The little Frazer girls were at school in Thornbury that day.  They heard the gunshots and cannon firing on the hot fall day.  Sally, the oldest, was eight then.  The teacher went out and listened for a while, then returned and said: "There is a battle not far off, children.  You may go home."

"As we returned, we met our mother on horseback," Sally wrote years later, "going over towards the place of action, knowing that ... our father must be in the midst of the affray."

The Americans held the river crossing.  But the British pulled off a daring move and, relying on loyalist guides to take them over the upstream fords, dropped a third of their army on Washington's right.  Washington had had confused reports all day from this quarter, some saying the British had a force headed in that direction. The most authoritative reports from his officers reported no enemy in front of them.

However, a local farmer maintained that a large redcoat attack was looming on the right.  He added: "If you doubt my word, put me under guard until you can ask Anthony Wayne or Persie Frazer if I am a man to be believed."  The names of Frazer and Wayne prompted Washington to send reinforcements to his right, just in case.  These reinforcements arrived just in time for most of Washington's army to escape the British trap.


Alexander Fraser at Sheet Harbour

Alexander Fraser came to Sheet Harbour in Nova Scotia with sixty other members of the garrison in 1784.  He made his home at the bend of the East river on what has long been known as "the Fraser place."

After he had made his home in Sheet Harbour, he set out on a journey through the wilderness from Sheet Harbour to Pictou to marry the girl he left behind in Halifax in 1773.  She was Alice MacGregor and he married her in 1785.   After they were wed, Alexander brought his bride to his new home at Sheet Harbour through the pathless woods, a distance of some 50 kilometers, carrying her over streams and swamps and a great part of the distance on his back.  At the time of their marriage, he was 49 years old and she was 32.

The Frasers raised a family of six children at Sheet Harbour.  Both Alexander and Alice are buried at Church Point Cemetery there.  Their tombstone reads: Alexander Fraser of Scotland, 1785-1830, and Alice MacGregor, 1782-1827. 


Fraser Island

Fraser Island was first called K'gari (or Paradise) by its inhabitants before being discovered by Captain Cook in 1770.   He skirted Fraser Island's eastern shore and supposed it to be a long headland. 

On the night of May 22 1836, the ship Stirling Castle struck a coral reef hundreds of kilometers north of Fraser Island.  On board were eighteen people including Captain James Fraser and his wife Eliza.  The crew launched a longboat, towing behind them the captain and his wife in a separate vessel.  This was eventually cut loose by desperate rowers in an attempt to hasten their boat's progress.

Landing in the vicinity of Waddy Point the crew abandoned their vessel in search of drinking water and were captured by the aborigines.  Stripped of their clothes, they were kept with the aborigines and forced to live a native existence.  They suffered extreme hardship for several weeks.  An aborigine speared Captain Fraser when he was unable to carry wood and he died eight days later (another account has him dying of starvation).   Eliza Fraser did survive and returned to England in 1837.  Her ability to tell a good yarn became highly profitable for her and the much sensationalized account of her ordeal was sold in bookstores all over London.

The ordeal of Captain and Eliza Fraser became legendary and the island, the world's largest island sand mass, was renamed Fraser Island.  The story has continued to fascinate.  Various writers have chipped in with their fictionalized accounts.  The 1976 Australian film Eliza Fraser starred Susannah York.      


Fred and Catherine Fraser, Pioneer Settlers in British Columbia

Fred and Catherine Fraser arrived in British Columbia in 1885.  Fred lived until 1939, Catherine a further fourteen years.  Radio station CFJC Kamloops paid her the following tribute on air soon after her husband had died.

"It is our pleasure to honor several of the real pioneers who played their parts in the history of Revelstoke and the Big Bend Country.  Mrs. Frederick Fraser of Vancouver, we salute you, the first white woman to arrive in Revelstoke.  In you we see the true Canadian pioneer.  In you we see the characteristics and the principles that we cherish most and the spirit that has made Canada the country that it is today.  Much could be written of the part played by you and your late husband from the time you came west with railroad construction and arrived in Revelstoke in 1885."           

That year, 1940, she flew for the first time.  In an interview with the Penticton Herald, she said: "Flying over the Rockies were certainly a far cry from the days when I travelled through the country on horseback, sleighs, handcars, freight trains, and railway locomotives.  I think it was the most wonderful experience I ever had."

On her 90th birthday she flew to Yellowknife to visit her son Fred.  She lived onto ninety seven.


Frasers, Frazers, and Fraziers


The table below shows the current incidence of Frasers, Frazers, and Fraziers.

'000's
Frasers
Frazers
Fraziers
Total
UK
   40
     4

    44
USA
   80
     2
   25
  107
Canada
   35
     1

    36
Australia
   15
     3

    18
New Zealand
    5


     5
 


Reader Feedback - Micajah or James Frazier?

I'm attempting to document my connection to James Aaron Lowe and to Sarah's supposed father Micajah Frazier.  Micajah Frazier married Susanna Hamilton and I would like to add him to my DAR list of Patriots.  I also found a family tree online that said that this Sarah Frazier was born in Spotsylvania, Virginia in 1788 and was the daughter of James Frazier there.  I have no way of knowing which is correct.  My mother was a Frazier but has passed away. 

James A. Lowe, born in 1774, married Sarah Frazier and their daughter Sarah Lowe married Henry Hun who was born in 1822 in Pike county, Kentucky.  I descend through two Frazier lines
.

Fire Babe (imafirebabe@hotmail.com)




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