The Frasers originated from Anjou in Normandy and accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066. Sir Simon Frazer held a portion of the lands of Keith in East Lothian and donated the church at Keith to the Abbey of Kelso in 1160. A later Simon Fraser supported William Wallace in his bid to liberate Scotland from the English. At the Battle of Roslin in 1302, he defeated three divisions of the English army in one day. He was later captured by Edward I and executed with great cruelty. His cousin, Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie, and married King Robert's sister Mary after the death of her first husband, Sir Neil Campbell.
In 1375, Sir Simon's cousin, Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie obtained the castle of Cairnbulg and the lands of Philorth through marriage to Joanna, daughter of the Earl of Ross. His descendant, Sir Alexander Fraser of Philorth was granted a Charter by James VI to create the Burgh and Free Port of Fraserburgh. From the younger brother of Sir Simon's cousin, Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie, Chamberlain to Robert I, descend the Frasers of Lovat.
Sir Alexander Fraser of Philorth had also intended to create a university at Fraserburgh, but ran into substantial financial problems which ultimately forced him to sell the castle of Philorth which was eventually bought back 300 years later, but soon after destroyed by fire. Sir Alexander, 9th of Philorth, married the heiress to the Abernethy lords Saltoun, a title created in 1445. In the Celtic tradition of inheritance through the female line (in the absence of an immediate male heir), their son became the 10th Lord Saltoun
The 10th Lord Saltoun fought at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and was badly wounded. His kinsman, Sir Alexander Fraser of Durris, was physician to Charles II. The 16th Lord Saltoun commanded the Light Companies of the First Guard on the morning of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The 19th Lord Saltoun was a prisoner-of-war in Germany during World War II. His daughter, the wife of Captain Alexander Ramsay of Mar, a great grandson of Queen Victoria, became Chief on her father's death in 1979.
In 1633, Alexander Fraser of Muchals was raised to the peerage with the title Lord Fraser. It was he who finished the work on Castle Fraser, begun by his father. Sir William Fraser (1816-98) produced over forty volumes on Scottish noble families. His bequests founded the Chair of History at Edinburgh University. Alexander Fraser (1827-99) was born near Linlithgow and specialised in painting Scottish landscapes. Peter Fraser (1884-1950) was born in Ross-shire, emigrated to New Zealand and was prime Minister of that country from 1940-49.
Places of Interest:
Touch, Stirlingshire. This was held by Bernard Fraser, Sheriff of Stirlingshire in 1234. It was known as Touch-Fraser, but passed to the Setons in the 16th century.
Cairnbulg Castle, near Inverallochy, Aberdeenshire. This was a Comyn stronghold acquired by the Frasers and renovated in the late 19th century. It remains the Seat of the Chief of Clan Fraser.
Castle Fraser, Kemnay, Aberdeenshire. Built by Michael Fraser (d.1588) and his son. Today Castle Fraser belongs to the National Trust for Scotland.
Surname distribution within Scotland: The highest concentrations of the Fraser name are in Highland (includes the historic counties of Caithness, Inverness-shire, Nairnshire, Ross and Cromarty and Sutherland), Shetland (Zetland), Aberdeenshire (includes all of the historic counties of Aberdeenshire, Kincardineshire and part of Banffshire) and Moray (Elginshire).
Associated family names (Septs):Abernethy, Bisset, Bissett, Brewster, Cowie, Freser, Frazer, Frazier, Frezel, Frisell, Frizelle, Gilruth, Grewar, Gruar, Gruer, MacGrewar, MacGruer, MacIlriach, Macimmey, MacKim, MacKimmie, MacSimon, MacSymon, MacTavish, Oliver, Sim, Sime, Simon, Simons, Simpson, Sims, Simson, Sym, Syme, Symon, Symons, Twaddle, Tweeddale, Tweedie.