The Birth of Clan Fraser of Lovat in the Highlands & Clan Feuds

From the early 1300s, then, Frasers established themselves in what has ever since been recognised as the Lovat Fraser homeland – Beauly and the Aird.

The first document linking a Fraser with these lands of Lovat and the Aird is dated, 12 September, 1367. Hugh Fraser is styled Dominus de Loveth et portioarius de le Ard – the Lord of Lovat and guardian of the Aird. The tombstones of Fraser of Lovat lairds dating from this period can still be seen in Beauly Priory.

As decades and centuries pass, the Frasers root into native, Celtic clan society. The Lords of Lovat take on the identity and role of clan chiefs. The family become a clan. They speak Gaelic. Their social structure is clannish and they begin to intermarry with neighbouring Gaelic clans – or they begin to feud with them. Everyone is land and power hungry.

The bottom line of clanship is captured in the Gaelic word dion meaning ‘protection’ (pronounced jee-un), with the implication of offering sanctuary to those in danger.

Showing your ability to call out your fighting men to defend your people and see off predators commands respect from neighbouring clans. Strength at the top allows the clan to prosper without the continual threat of raids, feuds and depradations from clans smelling weakness – and an opportunity.

The clan also involved itself in national conflicts. They came out for the Crown to support Mary, Queen of Scots at the Siege of Inverness in 1562. The most famous historian of his era, George Buchanan recorded that ‘as soon as they heard of their sovereign’s danger, a great number of the most eminent Scots poured in around her, especially the Frasers and Munros, who were esteemed the most valiant of the clans inhabiting those countries in the north.’ The Frasers and Munros took and held Inverness for Mary, Queen of Scots.

The Fraser chiefs needed their strong arm and strong fighting men, since feuds and warfare plagued the clans until the end of the 1600s.

Author: Sarah Fraser, Clan Fraser Historian