Written by: Sara Mordzynski
“I come to you as kinsman and as ally. But I give you no vow. For my oath is pledged to the name I bear.”
During the Wars of Independence (1297-1314), the Frasers were staunch supporters of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Sir Simon of Oliver and Neidpath was married to the Bisset heiress which granted him lands around Beauly. Unfortunately, this Simon would be captured and met a gruesome death in London. For his loyal service in the victory at Bannockburn, Simon’s son, Sir Alexander of Touch-Fraser and Cowie is not only the Bruce’s Lord Chamberlain but also his brother-in-law through marriage to Lady Mary (who did the matchmaking for that arrangement? the Millionaire Matchmaker?? oops, did a bit of time travel just now) His grandson will then obtain, (how else?) through a marriage contract with Lady Johanna, the Earl of Ross’ heiress, the estates of Philorth. In the early half of the 17th Century, another Sir Alexander will not only be laird of Pilorth but also Lord Saltoun. This branch of Frasers are a lowland family, separate from the Highland Clan Frasers. Here’s why.
Sir Alexander’s younger brother, Sir Simon married the Earl of Caithness’ daughter, the Lady Margaret Sinclair, heiress of Lovat. He is the MacShimidh as all Fraser chiefs are called. Their traditional territory included Stratherrick, Inverness-shire, Beauly and Strathfarrar. Unfortunately, for this Sir Simon, he was killed in the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333. One of many battles fought in the Second War of Scottish Independence. Even after Robert secured his kingship, followers of the Balliols with their own claim to the throne, as well as discontented Scots and Anglo-Normans who were displaced because they sided with them, waged continual battles to uproot Robert’s successor, David II. In 1458, James I bestows peerage to Hugh Fraser, the first Lord Lovat.
Politically shrewd, at times ruthless, Simon certainly had no problem switching back and forth amongst various rival parties particularly if it suited his own and his clan’s interest. With the passing of Sir Hugh in 1696, Simon’s father, Thomas becomes the 10th Lord Lovat. But the Murray clan called this claim into legal dispute. As uncle and ward to Amelia Fraser, John Murray, reveals a cleverly inserted stipulation in the marriage contract between Thomas and his Murray bride which allowed for an heiress to marry any male provided he would assume the name Fraser (and not requiring an actual blood relation). In a desperate and ruthless act, Simon kidnaps and subsequently marries the dowager Lady Lovat. Although the marriage was annulled, what ensued was a protracted legal battle that often swayed with the political tides.