Fraser

NA FRIOSALAICH THE FRASERS.

Of the Norman descent of this clan it is asserted there can be no doubt whatever, and the Roll of Battle Abbey is cited as evidence that the knight from whom the whole Frasers are descended came over in the army of William. the Conqueror, 1066. The exact period when the posterity of this warrior obtained a settlement in Scotland is not spoken of with so much confidence, but the convenient cir¬cumstance of David 1. having married an English princess, is found sufficient to infer the establishment of numbers of her countrymen on the lands of the native Scots. This is the assumed origin of many families, but no record is found, decisive of this opinion, respecting the origin of the Frasers; the name of the reputed founder of this clan, as it stands on the Norman Roll, is Frisell, and we find the Latin and Saxon chroniclers presenting the various orthographies of Frazier, Freshele, Fresale, Frizil, &c. The first “who is supposed to be found in charters is Gilbert de Fraser, who lived in the time of Alexander I;” and Sir Andrew, who appears about 1290, is the first who occurs as a Highland proprietor. It is from his brother and successor Simon, that the chiefs have taken the well known patronymic “Mac Shimi.”

We have formed an opinion on the origin of this clan, as on the Siosalich, or Chisholms, and venture to think that as the first person mentioned in Scottish record is named Fraser, it may be an appellation nowise synonymous, or related to the Norman Frisell, and that Fraser itself is most probably a corruption of the Gaelic Friosal, of which a reasonable etymon can be given: Frith a forest; siol, a race, the th being quiescent. Thus the clan inhabiting the woods with which the country was then overspread, were distinguished as “ the race of the forest,” and in traditions in the lower parts of the county, detailing forays by the inhabitants of the Aird, they are deno¬minated Cearnaich na coille, or warriors from the woods. This conjecture may not be held tenable, but the clan must, we should think, be pleased with an attempt to prove it an indigenous Gaelic tribe.

Hugh Fressel is the first chief who is styled “Lord of the Aird and the Lovet,” in an indenture, dated 1416, and he is said to have been created a lord of Parliament in 1431. The succession of the chiefs was carried on through considerable troubles until the death of the unfortunate Simon, who having engaged in the rebellion of the preceding year, was beheaded at the age of eighty, on Tower Hill, 1747, when the estate and honours were forfeited. His eldest son had the estates restored; which, by the failure of direct issue, went into the possession of Thomas A. Fraser, of Strichen, who, in 1837, was created Baron Lovat by patent.

The military exploits of Clan Friosal have been numerous and brilliant, for Mac Shimi had a “good number of barons of his name in Inverness and Aberdeenshire.” In 1544 was fought the battle between this clan and the Mac Donalds of Clan Ranald, the parti¬culars of which are more fully related in our second Number, a conflict maintained with such obstinate resolution as to threaten the annihilation of both parties, four only of the Frasers escaping, and seven of the Mac Donalds. When the arrows were spent, the combatants used their two handed swords, and stripping their upper garments, the battle, which took place on the margin of Loch Lochy, was called Blar nan lein, the battle of the shirts.

The Frasers opposed Montrose, but when King Charles arrived in Scotland 1650, they joined his forces with 800 men; they also swelled the army of Viscount Dundee, and reinforced Prince Charles with a body of 600. When the royal troops were rashly engaged at Culloden, in the absence of so many of the clans, one battalion of the Frasers effected a junction the morning of the day of battle, and, having behaved during the sharp but short action with characteristic valour, when the Highlanders were forced to retreat, the clan marched off with banners flying and pipes playing in the face of the enemy. Simon, the eldest son or master of Lovat, obtained his pardon for having commanded the clan in this rising, it having been shown that he acted by the order of his father, when he entered the service of government, and raised 1,800 Frasers in 1757, who covered themselves with glory in the American war.

Old Lovat was a remarkable personage; his life was checquered by circumstances of unusual occurrence. By an entail he was ex¬cluded from the property, but he claimed the chiefship, protesting that nothing on earth should induce him to sell his birthright. Lords Saltoun and Mungo Murray, with a body of men, proceeded to bring the refractory captain to reason; but, sending abroad the fiery cross, he quickly raised 300 clansmen, with whom he surprised his adver¬saries in the wood of Bunshrive, and took the two noblemen pri¬soners, whom he kept closely confined in Fanellan castle, until he obtained their promise never again to enter his country! He was outlawed for this offence, but he maintained his position, and the claim was at last legally decided in his favour.

The Aird, or country of the Frasers, lies west of Inverness, and, as the name imports, is an elevated district, stretching along the bank of Loch Ness, and bounded on the north by the firth of Beauly and river Farar. The ancient castle of Lovat was succeeded by one built near its site, which was designated Beaufort. It was rased to the ground after the battle of Culloden, but rebuilt in the same beautiful position, near the river Beauly.

The ARMORIAL BEARINGS of Fraser of Lovat are quarterly, first and fourth azure, three cinquefoils, argent, second and third argent, three antique crowns, gules. Crest, a stag’s head erased, or, attired argent. Supporters, two stags' proper. Motto, “Je suis prest," which of old was usually given in English, “I am readie,” but an ancient emblazonment in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, has “Se je puis.” The CATH GHAIRM battle shout, or rallying cry, is Caisteal Dowinie, the last word being Duna, a camp or fortified dwelling, anciently it was Morfhaich the ”great field” of meeting. The SUAICHEANTAS, or Badge, worn in the bonnet, is Iubhar, the Yew tree, Taxus baccata.

The PIOBAIREACHD, Cruinneachadh, or Gathering, is Spaid¬seareachd mhic Shimi, and Cumhadh mhic Shimi is an affecting Lament for the death of Lord Simon in 1747.

The only peculiarity in this illustration is the hair: the prints in Birts's “Letters from the Highlands,” 1725, represent the Gael of that period, wearing it much in the fashion here shown. The bonnet is called “a Glengarry;” it is a form not more than forty years old, and has been adopted by many as an improvement, but is only an imitation of the lateral cock of the flat bonnet carried round, with a slit behind for convenience to pull it forward. The badge and two feathers denote a person of consequence: the kilt and ample shoulder plaid have been given in former figures. The hose are knit, and are gartered low, which gives a smartness to the leg.



MW Fraser, Anc Htg

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