2016 Honored Clan
Clan Fraser of Lovat
Many Highland clans were founded in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries,among these was the Clan Fraser of Lovat. The rapidity of its growth is notable, and is largley due to the good fortune and intelligence of its chiefs, who did not come to the Highlands as conquerors, or refugees, but as the legal heirs to former rulers in an established society. They were careful to maintain good relations with the Crown, and to extend their territory by legal methods. The boundaries of this soon became the clan “country”, and underwent a number of alterations in the course of time, nor was the whole of the land in it exclusively and invariably possessed by Frasers. The chiefs too sometimes owned lands beyond the clan country . The extent of these in East and Central Inverness-shire remained fairly constant from 1422 until 1746.
The first name of Fraser, and the early spellings vary greatly, it undoubtedly came from France, though precisely when is not known. One story is that the progenitor of the Frasers was a Frenchman named Julius de Berry who in 916, regaled the King of France with dishes of ripe strawberries. In consequence, he received a royal command to change his name to Fraise, and to adopt three stalked strawberries for his family arms. Whatever their origin, or the precise spelling of their name, Frasers appear as landholders in England during the 12th and 13th Centuries. In Scotland , the first recorded is one Simon Fraser, who in 1160 gave a large tract of land to the monks of Kelso. This family seems to have spread quickly through Tweeddale and the Lothians, and then through Stirling, Angus and later , to Inverness-shire. One of them, Sir Simon Fraser was a prominent adherent of William Wallace and Robert The Bruce. He was captured by the English in June 1306 at Methven, taken to London, and there executed. A second Sir Simon Fraser fought in the Scottish army at Bannockburn in 1314, to be slain with two of his brothers. His elder brother Sir Alexander Fraser, was an intimate friend of Robert The Bruce, and 2 years later married The Bruce’s sister, Lady Mary.
It has been claimed that yet a third Sir Simon Fraser, who died in 1287 was the progenitor of Lord Lovat’s family, and that, having married a Bisset heiress, received a charter of their lands in the present Inverness-shire in 1254. The first authentic document connecting a Fraser with the lands of Lovat and the Aird is dated 12th September 1367, where one Hugh Fraser is styled ” Dominus de Loveth et portioarius de le Ard”. From his time the pedigree of the House of Lovat is proved and Gaelic was used as the second tongue.
The Lovat “country” is divided into two parts by the River Ness and the great Glen of Albyn. The word “Lovat” is supposed to mean ” a swampy plain”. Many early Lords of Lovat are buried near Beauly at the ruins of an old Priory founded in 1230 by John Bisset and Beaufort Castle, inhabited by the Lovat chiefs since 1511 stands nearby. It is almost on the same site as the Castle Downie burned by the Hanoverian soldiers in 1746 and which superseded earlier strongholds, one of which was destroyed by an English army in the War of Independence. Just west of the present castle is the Field of Downie. Here the Fraser clan mustered in 1745, and here, as recently as 23rd June 1951, at their chief”s invitation, 700 Lovat clansmen paraded, together with past and present members of the Lovat Scouts regiment, raised by Lord Lovat in 1900.
The political history of a clan prior to 1746 is really a military history. The people of the Fraser of Lovat served Scotland well in the days of Wallace and The Bruce, but by 1513 it was as a clan that they were present in the Scottish army at Flodden. The 78th Regiment ( Fraser’s Highlanders), they fought valiantly against the French in North America, and were largely responsible for General Wolfe’s victory at Quebec in 1759. It is said that Wolfe, mortally wounded at the moment of victory, died in the arms of a Fraser Highlander. The regiment was disbanded in 1763, but a number of them were, at their own request, discharged in Canada, and given grants of land there. It is good to remember that Frasers are among the earliest British settlers in that great country.
In 1900 the 14th Lord Lovat, in the true spirit of the earlier chiefs raised a regiment named the Lovat Scouts, which distinguished itself in South Africa, and which as a Territorial Army unit has since fought in two world wars, and is still in the British Order of Battle. The son of its founder, the fifteenth Lord Lovat, served in the Scots Guards and The Lovat Scouts, and was best known as an outstanding Commando Leader in the 2nd World War in which he won D.S.O and M.C.
Simon Fraser, the present 18th Lord Lovat and 25th MacShimidh was educated at Harrow School and at Edinburgh University.
Following his graduation, he started his career in investment banking at Cazenove and today works as a commodity analyst for a large French Asset Management company. This involves much traveling, visiting mines and oil companies all over the world and, at this stage in his career, leaves him little time to return to his homelands.
Simon became Clan Chief at the age of 18 on the death of his grandfather, Shimi Lovat.
The same year the family found they had to sell the Clan seat, Beaufort Castle, to cover death duties following the death of his father. Since then, over a period of 20 years, whenever possible he has been buying back Lovat lands and has clearly stated that, one day, he would like to buy back the castle.
There exist many different forms of the name Fraser, such as Frazer, Frazier, Frissell, Frizell. The following names: Macimmery, MacKim, MacKimmie, MacShimes, MacSimon, MacSiymon, Sim, Sime, Simpson, Simson, Syme, Symmer, Symon, MacGruer, MacTavish, Tweedie derive from Simon ( Gaelic Shimidh) always a favourite Fraser name.
Cumha MhicShimidh, or Lord Lovat’s Lament- attributed to David Fraser ( 1724-1812), piper to Simon, 11th Lord Lovat.
Spaidsearachd MhicShimidh, or Lord Lovat’s Marth- played in 4/4 time, and often at funerals as a slow march. The tune may be the “Lovat’s March” known to have been played by pipers of the Campbell Militia at the capture of Simon, 11th Lord Lovat at Loch Morar on 7th June 1746.
Morair Sim, or Lord Simon – played either as a march or a Strathspey; in 2/4 time it is now the regimental march of The Lovat Scouts. Gaelic verses were sung to it, and it is sometimes called ” Lord Lovat’s Welcome”. Composed in 1716 by Ewen MacGregor.
Tha’Biodag air MacThomasis or Thomson’s Dirk- a reel, to which some derisory Gaelic verses have long been sung. There is a tradition that about 1692 one of the sons of Thomas Fraser of Beaufort was so offended by the playing of this tune that he killed the musician!
The Lovat Scouts- A modern march, played in 2/4 time. Composed in honour of the regiment about 1903 by J.Scott Skinner.