Clan Fraser has two distinct branches, one in the Lowlands and one in the Highlands. Many members of Clan Fraser have distinguished themselves, particularly on the field of battle.
There are several tales about the origins of Clan Fraser, but the name certainly came from France. One of the most romantic legends is that the progenitor of the clan was a Frenchman named Julius de Berry who, in 916, gave strawberries to the King of France, Charles Simplex. So succulent and delicious were these fruits that King Charles granted him a coat of arms of three stalked strawberries and commanded him to change his name to Fraise. Three fraises still adorn the Fraser coat of arms today.
We know that the first Fraser to appear in Scotland’s history books was Simon Fraser, who held lands in East Lothian in around 1160. His family spread quickly through Tweeddale and the Lothians, and then through Stirling, Angus and later to Inverness-shire.
There are two separate branches of the family, each with their own chief. These are Clan Frasers and Clan Fraser of Lovat, who traditionally hold lands in the Highlands. The branches are distantly related, both clans are descended from Lowland Frasers who headed north to Aberdeenshire and Inverness in the 14th century.”
The fighting Frasers
Frasers have been famed as skilled warriors. They have defended Scottish lands against invading Danes and Norsemen, fought in the Scottish Wars of Independence, the Jacobite risings, both World Wars, and they still serve today. In 1900, the 14th Lord Lovat raised a regiment called the Lovat Scouts, which distinguished itself in South Africa and went on to fight in both world wars. It is still in the British Order of Battle. His son, the 15th Lord Lovat, was an outstanding Commando Leader in the Second World War. He led a brigade ashore at Sword Beach during the Normandy D-Day landings, insisting that they were piped onto the beach by his own personal bagpiper, in defiance of army regulations.
The historic novel Outlander by author Diana Gabaldon features the fictional protagonist Jamie Fraser of Clan Fraser of Lovat.
Fraser sights to visit
Start discovering your Clan Fraser connections in Scotland’s ancient capital. Head to Stirling Castle and seek out the fascinating museum dedicated to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Here you will find the Victoria Cross of a brave Fraser, William Davidson Bissett, who showed extraordinary leadership in France during the First World War.
It’s not far from Stirling to the site of the Battle of Bannockburn where, in 1314, King Robert the Bruce routed the forces of King Edward II to win freedom for the Scots from English domination. He was ably assisted in this legendary battle by Sir Alexander Fraser, from whom the senior Fraser line is descended, and his brother Sir Simon, ancestor of the Lovat Frasers.
Sir Alexander Fraser married the widowed sister of Robert the Bruce in 1316, became Chamberlain of Scotland in 1319, and in 1320 was one of the signatories of the Declaration of Arbroath. Stand amid the ancient stones of Arbroath Abbey and learn about this vital moment in Scotland’s history.
Here, you can find connections with many famous Frasers, including Sir Alexander Fraser of Durris who was the personal physician to Charles II; Archibald Simpson, the architect and designer of some of the city’s most iconic buildings; and singer-songwriter Annie Lennox. Do you have connections with the Granite City? Find out for sure at the Aberdeen and North-East Scotland Family History Society.
This beautiful baronial tower house was built by Michael Fraser, the 6th laird, between 1575 and 1636. It’s one of Scotland’s grandest homes and is open to the public. You can while away many a pleasant hour on woodland walks nearby.
This town was founded by Alexander Fraser, the 8th Laird of Philorth, when he erected a new church and extended the harbour originally built by his grandfather in 1546. You can learn more about Fraserburgh and its history at the Fraserburgh Heritage Centre, which is found next door to the enlightening Museum of Scottish Lighthouses.
This 1746 conflict was the final disaster for the Jacobite army. You can imagine the fear and pain the Frasers felt as they stood on the front line and felt the fight going against them.
In the Highlanders' Museum you can learn the story of the Highland Regiments from just after the Battle of Culloden to the present day. Make sure you see the special section dedicated to the Lovat Scouts.
This village, 10 miles west of Inverness, is the heart of Fraser of Lovat country. Pause for a moment’s peace at atmospheric Beauly Priory, where many of the clans’ chiefs were buried.