Alexander Fraser of Lovat By Neil Summers
The historical Scottish Alexander Fraser of Beaufort was of the House of Lovat, the Fraser clan prominent around Loch Ness. He was born around 1663 and was educated at Kings College, Aberdeen from 1678 to 1683. In 1689 he led a branch of the Fraser clan in the Jocobite’s campaign against the King’s force.
In 1692 Alexander attended a ball where a bagpiper antagonised him by playing the tune ” The biotag air Mac Thomas” which was disparaging to the Fraser clan. In a fit of anger Alexander stabbed and killed the piper. Because of this incident and his position as a Jocobite leader, Alexander decided to flee his homeland.
Some controversy exists over these dates as according to some reports Alexander was killed at the Battle of Claverhouse in November 1689 and was buried at Kirkall. Other reports suggest that the burial record was a cover for his flee from Scotland after killing the piper a few years later.
Alexander Fraser was said to have been given sanctuary and employment by the Marquis of Powys. Over the following year’s Fraser became knowledgeable in his Lordship’s mineral interests and became a prospector in both north and south Wales.
The Welsh Alexander Fraser is first recorded as working in the mines of Penrhyn Du in 1733 He married in south Wales in 1738. If this was the same Alexander Fraser as that born around 1663 he would have been 75 years old.
In 1761 the Welsh Fraser persuaded Sir Nicholas Bayly to start to prospect for copper at Parys Mountain. In 1762 with the assistance of Jonathon Roose and Roland Puw a large quantity of ore was found near Cerrig y bleddia This eventually lead to the development of the Mona and Parys mines.
At this time Fraser was said to be almost illiterate and it is difficult to reconcile this with the years that the Scottish Fraser is known to have spent at Aberdeen University.
Fraser was employed at the mines until his death in 1776. (Aged 113 ?!) His sons continued to work at the mines.
The advanced age of marriage and death suggest the possibility that two different Alexander Fraser were somehow involved in this tale.
From the time that copper was discovered until his death Fraser remained in hiding in Anglesey. He did not pursue any claim to his father’s estates, as he was still wanted for murder in Scotland. Although it is said that local people new of his background and often referred to him as Lord Lovat or Lord Fraser.
In 1761 a letter from William Morris and another from Robert Griffiths in 1800 referred to him as Lord Lovat. It was recorded by the Reverend Owen Jones that he first visited Amlwch in 1830 and was told of ” a strange old gentleman working in the mines that everyone said was a nobleman in disguise and a fugitive from justice. There was something superior in his behaviour and he would never enter a miner’s hut without taking off his hat”
Elizabeth Roberts was born in 1788 and in 1884 she recalled seeing John Fraser as a superintendent in the iron pools. She always knew him as Lord Lovat.
Even the Managers of the mine gave due regard to the Welsh Fraser. Thomas Williams the mine manager is said to have shown respect when some buildings in which Fraser was living were not destroyed during mine development.
It was also recorded that John Sanderson the Marquis accountant and general manager agent used the title “My Lord Fraser” and showed the man due respect. As did the chief mine captain James Treweek. This respect was based on the attitude of the marquis’s family itself. From the first records in 1733 to the court case in the House of Lord in 1885 they supported the Welsh Fraser’s claims.
The Welsh Fraser had four sons. His eldest, called John went to Inverness in 1812 to try and progress his claim. The same claim was pursued by successive generations until in 1885 John Fraser (IV) had his case turned down in the House of Lords.
The House of Lord found it is difficult to reconcile the dates of birth and deaths with the same man. One likely possibility is the Welsh Fraser’s may have been descended from a, possible illegitimate son, of the original Alexander Fraser of Lovat.
(Based on an article in TAAS)
From: Ann Rhys Wiliam, Denbighshire
I read with interest the piece about Alexander Fraser on the Parys Mountain site. I wondered whether you would be interested in some of the research I have done on the elusive Alexander Fraser.
I heard my mother say that he died a very rich man but intestate and that his money went to Chancery! Whatever the truth of the matter of whether he was the “true Lord Lovat” there seems to have been quite a lot of coming and going between Anglesey and Inverness.
Why the interest? My name is Ann Fraser Rhys-Wiliam (nee Owen). My maternal grandmother was Kate (or Catherine Fraser) who was born (16 Sept. 1881) in the Llanerchymedd/Dulas/Llugwy area of Anglesey to Margaret (nee Roberts) and ?? Fraser.
I don’t know her father’s name as that is clouded in mystery – I think he possibly deserted his wife and child and apparently my grandmother was either born at the workhouse in Llanerchymedd or spent some time there as a child before being “adopted”.
However, her father was a Fraser and apparently a direct descendant of Alexander Fraser, son of Thomas of Beaufort and Sibella (Macleod of Kintail). There was I believe a close relationship to the John Fraser who tried to claim the peerage. in 1885.
Apparently Alexander was born in 1667 and fled to Wales after killing a piper at Beauly.
According to Anderson in his Historical Account of the Family of Fraser he died in 1776 at the age of 109, “without male issue”.
He goes on to say that “the incident is given on testimony of Simon Fraser, natural son of Simon Lord Lovat, a nephew to Alexander who was examined judicially before Sheriff Substitute, upon 15th October 1823 on the family pedigree”.
However, “the Court of Sessions decided on the evidence before it that Alexander died without issue and their lordships adjudged the title to his younger brother, the notorious Lord Simon of the Forty-five and this decision, though illegal and of no effect as regards the peerage was subsequently confirmed by formal decision of the House of Lords in 1837.” In 1885, at a trial before the House of Lords, the house of Fraser produced what purported to be a certificate of Alexander’s death in 1689.
Alexander was married on 22 March 1738 to Elizabeth Edwards at Llanddulas, Denbighshire ( he was 61 and she was 34) and they had 4 children:
John ( 1739 – 1828) – he died at Cerrigybleddian
Alexander (1740? – 1815?) – He died in Inverness and was married abt. 1759 to a Miss Cameron.
Some of the Frasers of Nova Scotia claim descent from him through his son the Hon. James Fraser (b.1759) who emigrated to Nova Scotia where he became a leading figure and married Rachel, daughter of Benjamin de Wolfe.
Simon ( b. abt. 1742)
William (b. abt. 1744) [A William Fraser a miner of Minffordd is recorded in 1801 census]
The place of birth of all four children is given as Lovat, Inverness-shire, Scotland
John, the eldest of Alexander’s sons, married Mary Griffiths on 3 October 1773 in the parish of Penmynydd (and one record I’ve seen puts her place of birth as Lovat, Inverness-shire).
They had three sons:
John – born abt. 1780 (again of Lovat, Inverness-shire) and christened on 6th August 1780 (of Lovat, Inverness-shire. He married Ann Davies on 4th August 1801 at Llanwenllwyfo. He died in Amlwch in June 1857
John Fraser (above) was succeeded by his eldest son:
John – born in Holywell, Flintshire in 1802 (any connection with mining there?). He married Elizabeth Williams in 1824 at Llaneilian, Anglesey and they had 4 sons:
William (b. abt.1804 Holywell)
David (b. abt. 1806 Holywell
1 John – born 16th April 1825. (the John Fraser who tried to claim the title in 1885 or was it John above). He married his first wife Catherine – they had one son John (b. 1847).
A “John” (IV or V) married Ellenor Edwards in 1874 and had a son John Alexander (b.1885)
There is also mention of three girls – Ellenor, Catherine and Annie – but I don’t know whether they were from this marriage or whether they were John Alexander’s daughters.
There is also mention of a further 5 children around this period – Robert, William, Richard, David and Elizabeth – who might have been John IV’s children from a second marriage.
There is also mention of a marriage to Augusta Cox (29 March 1888)
And there the trail goes cold!
Unless anyone else can add to this family tree and can explain how “Lord Lovat ” survived until aged 109.