Clan Fraser | History, Tartan and Crest | Highland Titles
Become a Lord or a Lady Now
  • Set Currency:
  • Login
  • (0) Item(s) £0.00

Clan Fraser: Origins, History and Battles

Written by: Stewart Borland
Published: 12th October 2018

Proud, loyal and reliable in battle: Clan Fraser originated in the Scottish Lowlands, but soon grew to become one of the most formidable forces in the Scottish Highlands. With a long military history, Clan Fraser continues to capture imaginations and appear in popular culture today.


The Fraser Name: Origin and Survival

There are two theories on where the name Fraser comes from. The first theory is that the Frasers came from France and the name is derived from the French names Fresel, Freseau or Fredarious. The second theory is that the name Fraser comes from a Roman Gaul tribe whose badge was a strawberry plant – fraisier in French. Either way, the history books show the first Fraser in Scotland lived in Keith in East Lothian around 1160.

During the Wars of Scottish Independence, the Fraser fought alongside Robert the Bruce, and Alexander Fraser of Cowie even married Bruce’s sister. It was during the 14th century when Clan Fraser split into two separate clans – the Lowland Frasers of Philorth, and the Frasers of Lovat – which are today recognised as two separate clans with common ancestry.

Clan Fraser of Philorth are led by the Lords Saltoun, and they had their seat in Cairnbulg Castle, close to the nearby town and burgh that is today known as Fraserburgh.

Cairnbulg Castle. Photo by Astrid Horn. / CC BY-SA 2.0


Fraser Tartan

Clan Fraser Tartan

There are four main incarnations of the Fraser tartan, including the mostly red Fraser Dress tartan, the dark hues of the Lovat tartan, the colourful Green Fraser Gathering tartan, and the Fraser tartan from the Vestiarium Scoticum.

The most common one, and the one listed in the Vestiarium Scoticum, is the mostly red Fraser tartan, with thick navy and green stripes and thinner white stripes.

Photo by Celtus / CC BY-SA 2.5


Fraser Family Crest

Clan Fraser Crest Badge

The clan’s crest was a symbol of allegiance, used by clan members to show allegiance to their clan chief. The Clan Fraser of Philforth crest features a strawberry plant, with ripe strawberries hanging from its stalks. It also bears the clan motto “All My Hope is in God”.

Photo by George Way / CC BY-SA 2.0


Clan Fraser: Feuds and Fighting

The Fraser clans are known for their fighting spirit, and unsurprisingly the Frasers fought in many wars and even continue to serve today. Throughout history, Clan Fraser clashed with the Macdonalds and the Mackenzies. However, they found allies in Clan Munro and often fought side by side.

One of the most notorious battles involving Clan Fraser occurred in 1544 in the Great Glen at the northern end of Loch Lochy. In a dispute over chiefship of the Macdonald clan, Hugh Fraser 3rd Lord Lovat brought four hundred of his best men and had planned to team up with Clan Gordon. But the head of Clan Gordon decided to return his men to their own territory when no battle materialised, however, the MacDonalds had been stalking Clan Fraser waiting for the opportunity to attack. Without Clan Gordon’s support, Clan Fraser was outnumbered and, despite their determination, hundreds of men were slaughtered. It is reported only five Frasers and eight MacDonalds survived the bloody fight. The battle is often referred to as the Battle of the Shirts, since it is believed to have been such a warm day that the warriors had to remove their heavy plaids in the heat and fight only in their shirts.

At the Siege of Inverness in 1562, Clan Fraser fought valiantly for Mary, Queen of Scots, alongside Clan Munro. Together they took Inverness Castle for the queen.

Inverness Castle, Scotland

Inverness Castle. Photo by David Ilff / CC BY-SA 3.0

During the Jacobite Rebellion, the Stewart monarchy reached out to the Highland Clan Fraser of Lovat for their assistance in regaining the throne. While the Lowland Fraser’s clan chief Thomas Fraser was hesitant to get involved in the Jacobite Rebellion, his men marched into the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 regardless.

One of the more infamous Frasers was the 11th Lord Lovat, a man called Simon Fraser. The Jacobite, known as The Fox, was notorious for his feuding and switching his allegiances. He caused widespread outrage, when he kidnapped the sister-in-law of his enemy John Murray, Earl of Tullibardine, and forced her to marry him, then raped her. Facing prosecution, The Fox fled to France where he lived as a Jacobite spy, until he was eventually caught. Simon Fraser’s execution was as violent as his life. A timber erection collapsed under the weight of the crowd that had gathered to witness the beheading, instantly killing nine people. This caused great amusement to Fraser, who could barely contain his laughter… giving life to the idiom to ‘laugh your head off’.

Clan Fraser’s organised regiment, the Independent Highland Company fought at the Battle of Culloden in 1745, and to this day a grave marker stands at the site where many of Clan Fraser’s men gave their lives.

Clan Fraser has a long military history – a history which came full circle when the 17th Lord Lovat landed on a Normandy beach in June 1944 at the head of a Commando Brigade. Upon the realisation he had landed back where the Frasers had come from, Lord Lovat ordered his personal piper to pipe the unit ashore. This could have spelled disaster for the Commandos, however, the nearby German soldiers reportedly did not fire on the group because they thought their leader, Lord Lovat, was mad.

 Photo of Clan Fraser's gravestone located on the site of the Battle of Culloden

Photo of Clan Fraser’s gravestone located on the site of the Battle of Culloden. Photo by Canaen / CC BY-SA 2.5


Scottish Clan Map: The Clan Fraser Territories

Clan Fraser of Lovat’s main territory was around the Black Isle and the Beauly Firth in Inverness-shire. From the 13th century on, Dounie Castle was the seat of Clan Fraser. However, during the Jacobite Rebellion, the castle was seized and destroyed. In its place, Beaufort Castle was built, which would eventually be put up for sale in 1995 by Lord Lovat to cover mounting family debts.

Loch Ness’ only island, Cherry Island, was once the site of a Fraser castle and according to legend was home to a spirit called a brownie which came out at night to help with household and farming chores.

Other Fraser castles in Beauly include Moniack Castle, which today produces wines, liqueurs and preserves, and Erchless Castle, which can be rented as holiday accommodation. The Frasers of Reelig also continue to live in Beauly, in Reelig House.

Clan Fraser of Philforth laid claim to lands around East Lothian and Aberdeenshire. Castle Fraser in Aberdeenshire was home to the Fraser family for 400 years and it now owned by the National Trust for Scotland and open to the public. With hidden doors, secret staircases and spy holes, it’s a fascinating piece of Clan Fraser history to explore.

Castle Fraser in Aberdeenshire

Castle Fraser in Aberdeenshire. Photo by Karora / Public Domain.


Clan Fraser Descendants

Today large populations of Clan Fraser live in Canada and the United States, with other Frasers found in Australia, New Zealand and South America, as well as a strong contingent remaining in Scotland.


A Famous Fraser

Jamie Fraser (Outlander TV Show Character) The popular TV show Outlander has brought Clan Fraser into the hearts and minds of fans all over the world, thanks to one of the main characters, Jamie Fraser, played by Scottish actor Sam Heughan.

Several Frasers are depicted in the show, including Brian Fraser, a character inspired by the notorious Simon Fraser, The Fox.

Photo © Starz.


Frasers with Highland Titles

As of October 2018, there are over 615 plots in the Highland Titles Land Register under the Fraser name.


Accessorise like a true Fraser


Clan Crest Kilt Pins

Kilt Pin


View Product


Clan Crest 6oz Stainless Steel Hip Flask

6oz Stainless Steel


View Product


Scottish Clan Crest Badge

Pewter Clan Crest Badge 40mm


View Product


Highland Titles: A Very Modern Clan

Alike historical clans, our community also share the investment and attachment to the land, our Nature Reserves, and we even have our own tartan and crest. Join the clan by purchasing a plot of land and continue our mission to conserve Scotland, one square foot at a time™!

About the author

Written by: Stewart Borland

Comments on this post

  • Michael Fraser Jarnagin
    15/11/18 - 05:38

    Stewart, you give an interesting representation of the Fraser crest by showing only that of the lowland Frasers. Why was the crest of the highland Frasers of Lovat omitted? Thank you… Mike Jarnagin

  • David frazier
    22/03/19 - 23:21

    Would like to see family breast of the highlands clans

  • Julie Frazier Buchanan
    23/05/19 - 02:26

    I also would like to see the Fraser of Lovat Family Crest.

  • Diane Frasr
    16/06/19 - 11:17

    I live in Australia,and have lived here since i was 4 moved from England in 1970 I would like to find out which clan i come from Lovats or low landers,my brother and I has resemblence to Simon Fraser, my partner and I want to be travel to Scotland and see where my ancestors come from
    Diane Fraser

  • Al Jones
    21/07/19 - 20:41

    My ancestors came from Ayrshire Scotland and I wonder if they are part of the Fraser Clan? My research says yes but I remain uncertain.



  • Sandra POLVERE
    17/08/19 - 17:14

    I am a Fraser. My father was born in Canada, but his father and family were from Arbroath. I am doing my ancestry and have traced the Fraser name back to Clachnaharry in 1700’s. How do I determine if we are highland Frasers or lowland Frasers?
    Thank you.

  • Francis Fraser
    25/08/19 - 12:01

    I would like to get in touch with Frasers from South Africa. My father was born in Beauly Scotland. I live in Cape Town

  • Stephen Ross Walden
    27/08/19 - 00:49

    I too support showing the highland clan crest alongside. It’s useless, otherwise.

  • Becky
    05/09/19 - 07:47

    I would also love to see our clan represented here, and not just by the Lovat tartan. “I am Ready “…

  • Denise perry
    10/09/19 - 11:31

    My Maiden name was Oliver I believe that this is part of the Fraser Clan, I would welcome any information about my ancestry.

  • Norman Fraser
    21/09/19 - 18:42

    Denise Perry, please contact me at [email protected]. I have both Frasers and Olivers in my family tree.

  • Antonia L Mauro
    15/10/19 - 23:30

    Is there actually a motto of “Je Suis Prest” for the Fraser clan? Also, I understood Simon Fraser to be the “fox” not Brian. Am I incorrect? Thanks so much!

  • Wayne Higgins
    04/11/19 - 22:10

    I don’t know much about my family heritage apart from we’re from the Fraser Clan. My dad has passed and there’s only one living auntie who is close to 100 years old. I really want to know more about my heritage and don’t really know where to start I’m a 3rd generation Scott with a middle name Stewart and always thought we came from clan Stewart can anyone help track my heritage please

  • John David Fraser III
    08/11/19 - 03:06

    Hello Antonia. “Je Suis Prest” is the highland, Lovat clan motto. Brian is the name of the tv character. Based on Simon

  • Gilbert A Fraser
    01/12/19 - 22:19

    My Grandfather Errol Fraser and his Brother Donald Fraser where in NYC From the Early 1900’s Until Erroll Fraser Death in 1971.

  • Kevin Fraser
    04/12/19 - 19:33

    While the article is very interesting, there does appear to be a few omissions – namely the Fraser’s in South Africa, some of whom are descendants originally from Shetland Islands. I have yet to establish the link to which Clan they belong to, highlanders or lowlanders. I am busy with my ancestry and be interested to know.

    The crest with motto “Je Suis Prest “ is also not displayed.

    Thanks for the interesting article.

  • Adrian Devine
    08/12/19 - 12:09

    I have a family brooch ( in gold), but cannot find out what it’s history is ?

  • Melvin Wilcox
    05/01/20 - 16:08

    I am a Frazier – mother’s maiden name – and interested in tracing the family to Scotland. My ancestors are from the Alabama and southeastern US area and I wonder if you could share any info you may have tying these Fraziers to one of the clans.
    Thanks for any information.

  • Janette Galton
    09/05/20 - 06:08

    My great-great grandmother was Ann Fraser born on the estate of Lord Lovat 16 May 1840. Her parents were William and Isabella Fraser, of Inverness Scotland. I found a valuation record showing that a William was a tenant farmer in Tomvoit, Boleskine. Ann emigrated to Australia about 1861. Is there any information about how I would go about establishing which branch of the Fraser clan they would belong to? I see on the records there are a few Frasers in the valuation records of the estate but I can’t find any documentation as to relationships.
    Would appreciate any information, photos or hints as to where to go next.
    kind regards

  • Bob Oliver
    26/05/20 - 01:28


  • KleinTraynor
    19/07/20 - 06:27

    My husbands grandfather James Traynor was the son of Isabella Fraser. Her parents was William Fraser and Isabella Ross. And Williams parents was John Fraser and Isabel Douglas. [email protected]

  • Pam Frazer Fields
    21/07/20 - 22:08

    My family on my father’s side are Frazers. It appears that this spelling is not the original, and I would like to know if it would have likely been changed upon their immigration to New York, or if it would have been changed before that. Thanks.

  • Donna Lair
    10/08/20 - 03:56

    My Grandfather James Fraser was born in Pollokshaws. I have never been able to find out what Clan he would have belonged to. Any help or research papers would be appreciated.

  • Dawn Frazer
    15/08/20 - 07:09

    Seems there are a lot of similar names but here is my Frazer history if it helps anyone and it is my hope that somehow earlier information can be added like who were Williams Fraser’s parents? His name must have turned to Frazer when he landed in Pennsylvania America.

    William Frazer born around 1749 Invernesshire, Scotland married Anne and at the age of 26 they sailed to America on the ship Clementina that landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 13, 1775. Once in Pennslylvania they gave birth to a son and they also named him William Frazer.around 1784 in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Both William and Anne died in 1797 leaving their son William orphaned. The Orphan court document shows their young William Frazer was then raised by a Scotsman David Bruce of Smith township, Washington County, Pennsylvania.

    Our next record of young William Frazer is found on March 26, 1806 when he makes an agreement with Alexander and Mary Wier to marry their daughter Rebecca Wier of Campbell County. They had a daughter named Katy but she never married. It is assumed Wife Rebecca passed away sometime before 1827.

    William Frazer II married again on February 12, 1835 to Mary Ann Bird-whistle and they had several children Jane 1829, Samuel 1830, my ancestor William Ralph born 1831, then Martha 1837 and Leslie 1839.

    William Frazer II and Mary Ann eventually bought a farm near Latonia Springs south of what is now Covington, Keaton County, Kentucky. And can be found in the 1850 and 1860 census, but we have not found records of their death before the 1870 census was taken.

    Their son William Ralph Frazer married Charlotte Lawrence in 1854 and they moved to Brown County Indiana. William Ralph died on January 12, 1908 and his wife died on November 14, 1914. They both are buried in the New Bellsville cemetery in Brown County Indiana. They had children but I don’t have all the names in front of me at the moment. One of their sons was William Wallace Frazer.

    William Wallace Frazer was born on April 19, 1861 in Kenton County, Kentucky. He married Evaline Cooper in April 1883 in Nashville, Indiana Brown County where they lived for over 57 years. Both died in their log cabin in Brown County Indiana.

    One of their sons was my great grandfather William Walter Frazer who was born August 2nd 1899 in Nashille, Indiana Brown County where he married Thelma Opal Williams on December 2, 1921 and they lived happily until her death on November 13, 1954. They had 4 boys including my wonderful grandfather Lowell Keith Frazer who was born on May 15, 1925 in Nashville, Indiana Brown County.
    William Walter Frazer died August 3rd 1973 in Columbus, Indiana.

    My Grandpa Lowell Keith Frazer married a beautiful young lady Carolyn Lucille Williams of Monroe, Louissiana on March 23, 1945 in Tampa, Florida before he went off to WW2. When Lowell Keith Frazer returned they gave birth to my dad Ronald Keith Frazer born December 12, 1948. And then they had John Douglas, Allen Scott and Brenda Sue.

    Ronald Keith Frazer married my mother Susan Jane Brinkley on Christmas Eve in 1967 and they gave birth to me Dawn Marie Frazer born March 6, 1969 in Indianapolis, Indiana. We moved to Arizona when I was very young. After high school I moved to Texas.

    Then I, Dawn Frazer married Curtis Marshall in Fort Worth, Texas and we gave birth to my firstborn son Keith on September 26, 2000 and then my second son Cody on August 23, 2004. Both my boys were born in Dallas, Texas.

    Sorry if I wrote too much… Proud to be a Fraser

  • Joyce Pena
    17/08/20 - 07:28

    My Grandfather was Robert Alexander Fraser Born in Guyana. His son my Father was Steven Zatone Fraser.

Got something to say? Leave a comment