CAN-NS-ANTIGONISH-L ArchivesArchiver > CAN-NS-ANTIGONISH > 2002-02 > 1012939726
From: "Hugh Niven" <>
Subject: [Antigonish] Frasers of Culbokie and Guisachan
Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2002 15:12:23 -0800
History of the Frasers of Lovat
William Fraser, Eighth of Guisachan
By Alexander MacKenzie, 1896
William Fraser, eighth of Guisachan, who had already when quite young received a charter of the lands from Alexander Fraser of Kinnerries on the 6th of April, 1706, as formerly stated. He therefore naturally, though his father lived for many years after this, took a most active share in the management of what remained of the family estates. He was one of the heads of families who in 1714 signed the well-known address from the Highlands to George I. He redeemed a wadset which John Chisholm, II. Of Knockfin, had over Mid-Guisachan and which had come by progress to Alexander Fraser of Kinneries, from whom he obtained his charter of the Guisachan and othet remaining family possessions, and he subsequently acquired the lands of Fanellan, the property of the same Alexander Fraser, who, as also his only son Hugh, was dead by 1741, when the male line of Kinnerries became extinct.
William, who acted as judicial factor in the ranking and sale of the remainder of the Kinneries estates, is excused from accounting for the rents of Fanellan and the quarter lands of Kiltarlity for 1744 and 1745 on the plea that "the multures of the miln of Fanellan were during the time of the late rebellion for the last two years, as well as the haill rents, carried off and destroyed."
His son William is included as "Younger of Culbokie" in the list of insurgents to be prosecuted after the Forty-five, the charge against him being that he served as ' Captain of the Frasers under Inverallochie" at the battle of Culloden, but he was afterwards pardoned under the Act of Indemnity (20 Geo. II.,cap 52) passed on the 15th of June, 1747. The Mansion house had, however in the meantime been set fire to and burnt by Cumberland's troops, although its occupant, old Culbokie, had kept out of the Rising, and both for a time became fugitives to save their lives.
He married Margaret, daughter of John MacDonell of Ardnabi, by his wife Mary, a daughter of Glengarry. She was well known for her poetical talents, her accurate knowledge of Gaelic and of Highland music, and made a prominent figure in the Ossianic controversy of the time.
Bishop John Chisholm, a native of Strathglass, in reply to queries addressed to him by Sir John Sinclair regarding the Douay Gaelic MS., refers to her as follows :-
" Mrs, Fraser of Culbokie spoke of the manuscript to me on my return to Scotland and told me she had taught Mr. Farquharson (the compiler of it) to read the Gaelic on his arrival in Scotland, in which his progress in a short time exceeded her own. She likewise had a large collection of which she read passages to him when he could scarcely understand the Gaelic, and which escaped his memory since; the manuscript was in fine large Irish characters, written by Mr. Pter MacDonell, Chaplain to Lord MacDonell of Glengarry after the Restoration, who had taught Mrs. Frasers and made such a good Gaelic scholar of her; she called this collection a Bolg Solair."
The Rev. Father Farquharson, who lived for thirty years in Strathglass, scarcely knew any Gaelic when he went there, but he was greatly assisted in acquiring a knowledge of it by Mrs. Fraser, who was accounted the best Gaelic scholar in that part of the country. She taught him the language grammatically, learnt him to read and write it; and gave him a very high opinion of Gaelic poetry by the many excellent compositions in that language with which she made him acquainted. She came of a handsome race and was herself a lady of extreme beauty, known in her youth as "the pride of Glengarry." Her manuscript collections of Gaelic poetry and music were carried away to America in 1773, by her son, Captain Simon, who had similar tastes of his own. He took part in the War of Independence as a Loyalist, in the course of which his house was wrecked and the manuscripts forever lost.
William had issue, nine sons and five daughters-
1.. Hugh, who died, unmarried, before his father, in 1745.
2.. William, who succeeded his father.
3.. Captain Simon, described as "in Crochel in 1746, and one of the witnesses of his sister Margaret's contract of marriage in 1751. He held a commission in the Glengarry Fencibles and subsequently in 1774, went to America, settled near Bennington, and fought in the War of Independence as a loyalist.
He received a classical Education, and cultivated the taste, which he inherited from his mother for Gaelic poetry and music. In course of the war he was taken prisoner, had his house broken into and wrecked, and the family manuscripts which he had taken along with him from his home in Strathglass were destroyed. He was placed in a dungeon in Albany Jail where he soon after died. Captain Simon married Isabella Grant, daughter of "Daldreggan", and had several sons- William, Angus, Simon, and another, and five daughters, with whom their mother after their father's death crossed into Canada and settled in the county of Glengarry. Many of their descendants occupy good positions in the Dominion at the present day. Simon, the youngest of the boys, who ultimately gave his name to the Fraser River, became the most distinguished of the family. He was sent to school at Montreal, where he resided with his uncle, John, then Chief Justice of that district. The following account of his ca!
reer is taken from the Clan Fraser in Canada, recently issued by Alexander Fraser of the Toronto Mail:-
" In 1792, at the age of sixteen, he became an articled clerk with MacTavish, Frobisher & Co., to the North-West Fur Trading Co., which had its headquarters in Montreal. In 1802 he became partner, and subsequently went out to the far North. In 1805 he came down from Fort Athabasca to Fort-William, and was then nominated to cross the Rocky Mountains, to extend outposts and form trading connections with the Indians. He responded at once to the call. He said he would undertake the expedition provided they gave him a sufficient outfit. This the Company were only to glad to do. It was a very hazardous undertaking. He crossed the mountains with thirty men-clerks, guides, and interpreters. He soon found himself in a wild and desolate region. As he went on he built block houses and took possession of the country in the name of the King. In 1806 he discovered the river which takes its name from him. He discovered many rivers and lakes which he named after different members of the Co!
mpany. He traced the Fraser River to its source, and met many different tribes of Indians, some friendly, others hostile. At one time they met different tribes who were very friendly and made a great feast for them; they killed their fattest dog for him, which of course he feigned to eat; but at the same feast the chiefs held a council and decided to put him to death, which the interpreter, who understood their language, told him, and they stole quietly away. He first named the river, now known as the Fraser River, the "Great River", and called the place New Caledonia. Here he left some of the party, and crossed westerly into the open country, and built another house near a lake which he called Fraser's Lake. He was now with four men in the midst of Indians who had never before either seen or heard of the 'Pale Face'. On the border of this lake he witnessed an Indian ceremony. He was brought by the Indians to where they had a large burying-ground, where one of the chiefs of !
their tribe was being buried. An immense number of warriors were assembled, and after a most solemn ind impressive ceremony, Fraser was invited by signes to approach the grave. He did so, and gave immense satisfaction by engraving his name on a post which had been planted over the remains of the departed warrior. In July, 1807, he received fresh supplies from the North-West Company, who at the same time urged him to trace with all possible speed the 'Great River'to the sea. Mr. Fraser built another trading house on the 'Great River' in 1807, and reached the ocean in July, 1808. He remained but a short time there on account of the hostility of the Indians. Returning, he again met numerous large bodies of Indians speaking several different languages. They assembled to see the wonderful pale faces who had come among them. An idea of how they regarded white men may be formed from the fact that when hundreds of them were congregated together, at the discharge of a single rifle th!
ey would fall prostrate on the ground, so great was their astonishment. Had it not been for Fraser's wonderful energy and enterprise there would not be a railroad to-day from ocean to ocean over British territory."
Simon Fraser the son, lived to the ripe old age of 86 years and died at St. Andrews, Canada, in August, 1862. his wife dying a few hours after him. Both were buried in the same grave. The freeholder, a newspaper published in Cornwall, Ontario, in a long article from which these particulars are taken, says-
" In Mr. Fraser the country not only loses one of its most respectable and honoured residents, but one of the most illustrious men who ever settled within its borders. One of the few survivors of the fine old 'North-Westers,' Mr. Fraser's name, as the discoverer and first explorer of the golden stream which bears his name, will be remembered with honour long after the most of his provincial contemporaries have been forgotten. Mr. Fraser was the youngest son of Simon Fraser, who emigrated to the State of New York in 1773. He purchased land near Bennington; and upon the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, he attached himself to the Royal cause, and served as Captain at the battle of Bennington, where he was captured by the rebels. He died in Albany Jail about thirteen months afterwards, his end being hastened by the rigorous nature of his imprisonment. He was married to Isabella Grant, daughter of Daldreggan, and had issue- four sons and five daughters. The widow with her c!
hildren came to Canada after the peace of 1783."
Simon the younger, left a son and two daughters. The son was a Colonel in the British Army, and was Military Secretary to the Duke of Manchester when his grace was Governor of Jamaica.
He married a West India Lady, and died in Jamaica, leaving issue- a son, John, and two daughters. John held the rank of Captain in the British army, married and left a son, William.
4. John, described in the entail of 1774 as captain John Fraser, having served with that rank under Wolfe at the capture of Quebec, and afterwards became and was for many years Chief Justice of the Montreal district. He died before 1797. (Simons Uncle who he lived with)
5. Alexander, who went to the West Indies, served in General Caird's army, and perished in the Black Hole of Calcutta in 1756.
6. Peter, a Physician, who died at Madras, also unmarried.
7. Roderick, a Lieutenant in the Austrian army. He also died unmarried in Germany.
8. Donald, who was born in 1746, and was in his cradle only a week old when, by the orders of the Duke of Cumberland, Guisachan House was set fire to and razed to the ground. His mother commemorates both events in one of her beautiful Gaelic poems. He also was a Lieutenant in the Austrian army, and was killed in battle in Germany, when his mother composed a touching elegy on his death. He died unmarried.
9. Archibald, a Lieutenant in the Fraser Highlanders, who also served under Wolfe. He was subsequently a Major in the Glengarry Fencibles, served in Ireland during the rebellion of 1798, and died at Guisachan, unmarried.
10. Anne, who married Thomas Fraser of Achnacloich, with issue, among others- Hugh Fraser, VIII. of Eskadale, who married Anne, only child of Captain Hugh Fraser, VII. of Eskadale, with issue.
II. Margaret, who in 1751 (marriage contract dated at Guisachan the 23rd of August in that year) married Robert Fraser, Younger of Muilzie and Aigais, among the witnesses being Hugh Fraser his brother, son of Hugh Fraser of Muilzie, and Simon Fraser son of Culbokie. In 1767 Robert was tenant of Wester Muilzie. But he had also a wadset from James Fraser of Belladrum of Easter Muilzie and Muilzie-reach, which had been redeemed in the previous year. He perished in a great storm which occured in February, 1768. His effects when sold at a public sale fetched 400 pounds, of which 1 pond 17 shillings went to the undertaker for his funeral ! 6 pounds 16s 2d "in wine and other necessaries"; and 12 pounds 6s 8d for spirits, bread, and cheese. The interment took place on the 18th of the month named. Robert's father was Hugh Fraser of Muilzie, second son, and the eldest by the second marriage, of Hugh Fraser of Aigais, known as "Old Father Aigais," to a daughter of Fraser of Teanacoille.
three other daughters died young and unmarried.
William died before July, 1755, when he was succeeded by his eldest son,
IX. William Fraser, ninth of Guisachan, who, as has been already seen, took part in the Rising of 1745, but was pardoned under the Indemnity Act of 1747. He was served heir male of line and of provision in general to his father William Fraser, late of Culbokie, on the 1st of July, 1755. On the 10th of December, 1756, he received a Crown Charter- his former superiors, the family of Lovat, being now under forfeiture- of the lands of Guisachan, Lurg, and Bridaig, in the Parish of Kiltarlity, upon which he was enrolled as a freeholder. Between 1755 and 1760 he built the very substantial mansion-house which preceded the present modern residence at Guisachan, much admired at the time, and the home for many years of a very large and talented family.
He is named in General Simon Fraser's entail in 1774 immediately after Alexander Fraser of Struy and his brother Hugh.
William married Margaret, daughter of Stuart of Achnilly, with issue-
1. William, born 16th April, 1762, and died the same day.
2. William, his heir and successor.
3. Alexander, born 15th August, 1767. He went to the West Indies, where he died on the 19th of October, 1794.
4. John, who was born on the 8th of January, 1771, and was drowned at sea on his passage from London to Inverness in 1804, unmarried.
5. Simon, born 9th December, 1775. He was Captain in the Glengarry Fencibles, and died, unmarried, October, 1798.
6. Anne, celebrated for great beauty and personal accomplishments, who, born on the 25th of June, 1759, married in 1788, Aeneas Ranald Macdonell, VI. of Scotus, with issue, among others- Aeneas Ranald, whose son, also Aeneas Ranald, became heir male and representative of the MacDonells of Glengarry on the extinction of the direct line in 1868. She died on the 13th of July, 1818.
7. Margaret, who was born on the 2nd of March, 1761, and died unmarried on the 9th of Decemeber, 1846, aged 85 years, her affianced Dr. William Fraser, R.N., described "as descended of the family of Culbokie", on board of which he was serving when she blew up and was lost.
8. Jane, born on the 11th of April, 1766, and on the 4th of November, 1792, as his first wife, married John Chisholm, V. of Knockfin, with issue- four sons and a daughter, and died on the 15th of June, 1799.
9. Mary, who was born on the 8th of January, 1769, and died unmarried in March, 1849, aged 80 years.
William, who had been for some years in failing health, died at Guisachan on the 31st of July, 1797, at the age of 74 years, his wife having predeceased him.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,
X. William Fraser, tenth of Guisachan. He was born on the 15th of October, 1763, entered the army, was afterwards in business in the West Indies, and was on his way back to St. Vincent when his father died. Writing on the 8th June 1798, from that place, he says-" You may be sure that I have the utmost anxiety to bid this part of the world adieu. I have now every inducement to incline me to return home, yet, I am sorry to say, I cannot make this out so soon as I expected, without making a sacrifice which my circumstances cannot afford, and which my best friends might censure." A friend of his, Thomas Fraser of St. Vincent, writing home to his cousin Simon Fraser, on the 24th of April, 1801, says that Culbokie took about 10,000 pounds out of the island when he left it. Mr. Fraser-MacKintosh says that " this Culbokie was, perhaps, the best known and had the greatest influence of the family. He was a capital man of business, of active and energetic habits, and I think for some t!
ime Convener of the county." He then gives the rental of Guisachan in 1800 at 444 pounds, as compared with that of 1892-93, which, without having a single tenant in the ordinary sense of the term on the property, had risen in that year to 1596 pounds 8s.
He succeeded in redeeming Kyllachy, a small portion of the estate which, it will be remembered, Hugh Fraser, VII. of Guisachan, gave a lease of to his brother Alexander, on the 15th of March, 1672, in return for money lent him. For an account of certain proceedings in connection with this redemption the reader is referred to the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, vol. xviii.,pp, 322-23
He married in 1797 (marriage contract dated at Guisachan and Belladrum on the 25th and 26th April of that year) Sarah, third daughter of Colonel James Fraser, VII. of Belladrum, with issue-
1. William Fraser, W.S.. who on the 25th of July, 1826, married Margaret, daughter of David George Sandeman of Springland, Perth, with issue- a son William, who succeeded his grandfather in the lands of Guisachan; and a daughter, Anna Jane, who, born on the 13th of March, 1829, married on the 18th of September, 1862, Home John Parker, with issue-Jane Hyde.
2. James Fraser , who entered the H.E.I.C.S. at Madras, and died before his father, unmarried.
The elder son, William Fraser. W.S., having died suddenly, also before his father, at Brighton, on the 6th of January, 1829, William, on his death in July, 1843, was succeeded by his grandson.
XI. William Fraser, eleventh of Guisachan, only son of William Fraser, W.S., who died as above in 1829. He was still a minor. Born in 1827 he was brought up partly abroad and partly in this country. In early life he went to sea, and spent a good deal of his time in America. He entered the army, attained the rank of Captain, and was subsequently Colonel of the Highland Volunteer Artillery. In 1854 he sold Guisachan to the late Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, first Lord Tweedmouth, for 52,000 pounds. In 1855 he bought the estate of Kilmuir, Skye, for 85,ooo pounds from the trustees of Lord MacDonald of Sleat and spent about 40,000 pounds in improvements upon it. He disposed of it in September, 1888, for 110,000 pounds to George Alexander Baird, and now resides at Redheugh, near Nairn.
He married Janet Brown, only surviving daughter of the late Andrew Brown Tosh of Torehouse, H.E.I.C.S., with issue-
1. William, born on the 11th of March, 1871, unmarried.
2. Ethel Jessie.
5.. Margaret Chisholm, who on the 12th of July, 1893, married Captain Ruari Chisholm Gooden, second son of James Chisholm Gooden Chisholm-The Chisholm-33 Tavistock Square, London, with issue- a son, Uilean Hamish MacUisdean, born on the 19th of April, 1894
6.. Janet Elizabeth
7.. Mary Jane.
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