Everyone is doing it. Even if you are not, chances are that one of your parents, siblings or other relatives is digging into your past in search of that elusive ancestor who will add a touch of class, fame or notoriety to the family tree. Actor Mel Gibson, who portrayed Sir William Wallace in the blockbuster Hollywood movie "Braveheart", has discovered that he may have Wallace ancestors. Every family has its share of stories although it is doubtful that you are descended through the male line from Sir Simon Fraser, another Patriot who also was hanged, disembowelled and beheaded in 1306, leaving two daughters.
If my foregoing comments sound familiar, it is because they were copied "word for word" from this web site - which, I suppose, is a subtle form of flattery! For a selection of articles by Marie Fraser, previously published in the Clan Fraser Society of Canada quarterly newsletter Canadian Explorer - see http://www.electricscotland.com/canada/fraser/index.htm
History and genealogy are the main interests of our members. As you have no doubt discovered, the history of the Frasers is rather complicated. Some writers have added to the confusion by trying to define differences between the Lowland and Highland lines, which originated from the same family that first settled in East Lothian, Scotland. Lady Saltoun's great grandfather, the 17th Lord Saltoun who wrote a very scholarly and well researched history of the Frasers of Philorth about 120 years ago, noted that apart from his brothers and his children, his nearest Fraser relations were the Lovats.
A common family tradition among descendants of those who left Scotland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is based on the misconception that the term Lovat Fraser implies a blood relationship to the Lovat family. If the emigrant ancestor was from the Inverness area, living under the protection of a Lovat chief, he would have been regarded as a Lovat Fraser. Some claim descent from a James Fraser, Lord Lovat, who never existed, or from Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, executed in 1747, whose line ended with the death of his youngest son Archibald in 1815, without legitimate surviving issue. There was no Lord Lovat from 1747, when the title was attained, until 1857 when Thomas Alexander Fraser 10th laird of Strichen became 14th Lord Lovat.
Some have spent many years recording hundreds of descendants of their first known ancestors to Canada. Unfortunately, in many cases, finding that link to Scotland is difficult as very few of them left records of where they came from, and they were too preoccupied with building a new life for themselves and their families to leave any useful clues. We have assisted members with their genealogical research, including descendants of 78th Fraser Highlanders who settled in Quebec after the Regiment was disbanded in 1763, and families of the Hector in 1773 and other later arrivals in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario.
In The Surnames of Scotland  George Fraser Black
[1866-1948] notes: "Surnames in the Highlands are of comparatively late date. In
charters and other documents even as late as the first quarter of the 18th century we have
examples wherein a man is designated by his fathers and sometimes by his
fathers and grandfathers names [John McUnlay keaneir for John Mac Fhionnlaidh
mhic Iomhair, i.e. John son of Finlay son of Iver]."
Neils great grandfather Alexander Fraser [1785-1861] married Catherine Gordon [1794-1859], a daughter of Alexander Gordon and Katherine Johnston. They left Fochabers, Morayshire in 1832 with their seven children because the great flood of 1829, which had wiped out the Spey River bridge, had also destroyed the mill where Alexander was a millwright. The family lived for a while with Catherine's brother John Gordon at Lachute before settling in Grenville, Quebec where two more sons were born.
James and Mary Fraser of Breadalbane, Ontario
Gordon with his son George A. and grandson William G. Fraser
Mary and John Fraser of Grenville, Quebec, 1900
son James H.; grandson W. Neil; great grandson Ian R.; and great-great grandson Liam M. Fraser
All you need is patience, and a mixture of diplomacy and ingenuity, in dealing with reluctant members of your extended family, to capture and record their stories for the next generation of family historians. You may also learn which of your ancestors deserves the credit or blame for producing such a multi-talented and fascinating person!
Although CFS of Canada does not have the resources to do ancestral research, we will be pleased to check your family records against our computer database to see if a connection can be found in Canada or Scotland. Members are encouraged to send in copies of their family trees for inclusion in our database. We have over 60,000 names on file including some 81 branches descended from the early Fraser families in Scotland in 1200. We also have extensive records on early settlers in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario, as well as family trees from members across Canada.
Tracing your ancestors is very time consuming if you are going to do it
yourself, but very rewarding, and you can find several helpful books on the subject in
your local reference library. You can also employ a professional researcher and
there are a number of organizations offering to do ancestral research for a price.
© Marie Fraser, Clan Fraser Society of Canada,
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