My Fraser ancestors were crofters and farm servants from near Hatton, parish of Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire.

GGG Grandfather William Fraser 1805-1877

The furthest I can get back is William Fraser born in 1805. There is a fascinating entry in the Parish Register for Cruden which says “27 May 1805, John Sangster in Burnthill presented a child to baptism begot in fornication by William Fraser (as the mother Janet Sangster affirms). The child was baptised and named William. Witnesses John Davidson and William Sangster.” I assume this was my ggg grandfather as there is no other baptism entry that could be him, although one always has to be open to the fact that the baptism record you’re after may not exist. However, the date fits in with the ages given for ‘my’ William at various events in his life, and ‘my’ William farmed Mosside croft, which is a mere hop, skip and jump across a couple of fields from Burnthill croft.

I have been able to trace his mother, Janet Sangster. She was born in 1783 and baptised in Cruden, the daughter of John Sangster and his wife Elizabeth Matthews. She gave birth to William in 1805, and then in 1812 she married William McWilliam. He died before 1841, but they had at least six children. In the 1841 census Janet is living at Nether Kinmundy, which is just a few field away from where William Fraser had settled at Mosside croft. There are clear links between William and his family and the children of Janet McWilliam nee Sangster, which indicates that William most probably grew up with them.

I have my suspicions about who William’s father was but there’s not enough evidence to treat it as proven. There was a William Fraser born in Cruden in 1778, the son of Donald Fraser. He can be found in the 1841, 1851 and 1861 census living with his brother just south of Peterhead, which is just up the road from Hatton. He was an army pensioner and his service record is online: he was with the 92nd Highland Regiment, which he joined in 1807. He was discharged in 1816 as he was badly wounded at Waterloo. H|is father, Donald Fraser, was also a soldier with the 92nd Regiment.

One thing that intrigues me is that when William Fraser born 1805 died in 1871, the informant was one of his younger sons who knew his father was named William Fraser but wasn’t able to name his mother. It makes me wonder whether William knew who his father was and knew about his war time exploits, telling the story to his children who therefore were able to name him.

Ggg grandfather William probably worked as a farm servant from his early teens. He married Christian Hutcheon on 17 January 1828 in the parish of Longside. Christian had an illegitimate son in 1823 named John Bisset. The children of William and Christian were baptised mostly in Cruden parish. In the 1841 census the family are resident at Mosside croft, which not far from the village of Hatton and is now in ruins (or at least was when I last saw it in 2000). William remained at Mosside for the rest of his life and can be tracked through the census. In 1841 he is described as a farmer, in 1851 a shoemaker, in 1861 the croft is called Mossnook and he is a farmer of 2 acres and in 1871 farms 2 acres arable. Christian Fraser nee Hutcheon died 31 August 1874 at Mosside, and William Fraser died 17 June 1877 at Mosside at the age of 72.

GG Grandfather Alexander Fraser 1838-1911

The sixth child of William and Christian Fraser was born 6 January 1838 when “William Frazer in Hardslacks by his wife Christian Hutcheon had a son born and baptised 18th March named Alexander. Witnesses Thomas Sangster and John Pirie” (OPR entry). He lived with his parents at Mosside until some time after 1851. In the 1861 census he can be found at Whiteside Inn, Slains, the home of brothers James Sangster carrier and George Sangster innkeeper, their widowed mother Ann Sangster, and a servant dairymaid called Ann Sangster. Alexander Fraser is an unmarried servant ploughman. Four visitor travellers also spent the night there.

Alexander married Mary Logan on 2 May 1864 at the Manse of Ellon. He was a farm servant of Mosside, Cruden and she was a domestic servant of Drumwhyndle, Ellon. Their son William was born in 1865 when Alexander and Mary were living at Oldtown of Aquarney, Cruden, and when their daughter Mary Ann was born in 1867 they were living at Collieston, Slains. Alexander appears to have worked as a farm servant on a number of farms in the area.

His wife Mary died in August 1867 of tuberculosis at Mosside, leaving him a widow with two small children. It’s therefore no surprise that he married again, in June 1868, to Margaret Booth at Lenabo, Longside. Alexander was a farm servant of Firkendry, Longside and Margaret Booth was a domestic servant. In 1869 Margaret gave birth to twin daughters, one of whom died five days later. By then they were living in the parish of Savoch, which is where they can be found in the 1871 census at Fortrie.

Shortly after the census they moved to Aberdeen, as in 1872 when a son was born, Alexander was a labourer mason of 1 Spital, Old Aberdeen, but by 1876 when a daughter was born he was an agricultural labourer of Govan Brae, Causeway End, Aberdeen. However, on the death of his father in 1877 he took over Mosside croft, as he was living there when all his other children were baptised.

The 1881 census has the family at Mosside with Alexander a crofter of 3.5 acres, and he is still there in 1891 and 1901. Alexander died on 22 February 1911 of inflenza and cardiac failure at the age of 72. In the 1911 census Mosside is the home of his widow Margaret, a daughter and four grandchildren.

Great grandfather William Fraser (Bill) 1865-1948

William (or Bill as he was known) was born 8 February 1865 at Oldtown of Aquaharney, Cruden, the eldest child of Alexander Fraser and Mary Logan. His mother died when he was two and a half years old, after which he was brought up by his stepmother Margaret Booth. In the 1871 census he is with his family at Fortrie, Ellon but is not with them at Mosside in 1881. He is probably the William Fraser age 16 who is a farm servant at Teuchan in Cruden, a farm of 140 acres. William would no doubt have worked as a farm servant on various farms as the custom was for farm servants to move farms regularly.

On 29 November 1889 William married Helen Hay at Mosside. He was a farm servant at Mains of Elrick and Helen Hay was a domestic servant working at a nearby inn. In the 1891 census they are at Mains of Elrick, with a baby daughter. Their next two children were born at Aitkenshill, Foveran, followed by a daughter born at Waterton, Ellon. In the 1901 census the family are at Mill of Brogan, Slains, where William was head cattleman. Another daughter followed.

Tragedy struck in May 1903 when Helen Hay died from chronic enteritis. Inevitably William married again, although it seems his second wife Helen Morgan was first his housekeeper “with benefits”, as they would say today, as she gave birth to their son 18 days before they married in 1907 at their home in Hatton village. Helen Morgan already had a daughter called Chrissie, who was one of the witnesses at her mother’s marriage.

Two more children followed but then, in 1911, his father Alexander died. Not long after William Fraser took over Mosside croft, and it is there that his two youngest children were born. In the 1915 Valuation Roll it is called a croft and house of Hardslacks, estate of Yonderton, where tenant William Fraser pays £6 yearly rent. During the 1920s and early 1930s my mother remembers spending her summer holidays at Mosside croft.

In 1938 Helen Morgan died at the age of 72. William remained at Mosside during the war, as my mother remembers him writing to her when she was in the army. According to the Monumental Inscription at Cruden Parish Kirk, William died on 23 June 1948 at the age of 81 (though he would actually have been 83) but oddly I’ve been unable to track down his death certificate.

A member of the family, now deceased, told me that he was known as “Bill the bull of Buchan” due to his propensity for extramarital liaisons! I never passed that story onto my mother.

Grandfather James Fraser (Jim) 1895-1971

My grandfather James Fraser was born on 9 May 1895 at Aikenshill, Foveran, where his father was a farm servant. His mother died when he was very young. In the 1911 census he was working as a farm servant horseman at Turner Hall Farm, Blindburn (north of Ellon). He said he also worked as a golf caddy at Cruden Bay golf course.

On 15 September 1914 he joined the Gordon Highlanders and went to Bedford for training. On 3 May 1915 he landed at Boulogne, and his company were formed into the 153rd Brigade of the 51st (Highland) Division. He remained in France until, in November 1916, he was shot in the left wrist at Beaumont Hamel during the Battle of the Somme. He was repatriated to Beckett’s Park, Headingley, Leeds ( a teacher trainiing college converted to a hospital during the war). Once recovered and on being discharged, he went on a government funded training course to become a painter and decorator, and found lodgings in Kirkstall, Leeds. Living round the corner was young Clara Green, who he married in 1919 and never went back to Scotland apart from holidays.

James Fraser and Clara Green had two daughters, one of whom was my mother. They lived in Kirkstall all their married lives with James, known as Jim, becoming president of the local working men’s club. He spent many years as a painter and decorator for John Smith’s Brewery and died in Leeds in 1971 at the age of 75.

17 responses to “Fraser

  1. I love the summation here, Judy, and your blog in general. I wish I had found your blog earlier! It seems we do have an overlapping interest, in that I too am researching Fraser genealogy and blogging about it, although I’ve researched more than I’ve written, so my online ‘presence’ is still rather thin. I don’t think there’s any overlap in our families, however, or at least if there is it must be much farther back in time than either of us has gone so far. My Frasers came from Perthshire, from Moulin and Kirkmichael primarily. My GGG-grandfather James Fraser was born in Moulin in 1766. His grandson Robert Fraser emigrated to New Zealand in 1865, and that’s where I was born in 1964 (I emigrated with my parents to the United States in 1969).

    • Thank you Matt, and welcome to my blog – especially as you’re a Fraser. Who knows, there may be a connection hundreds of years ago! My blog only been going since earlier this year so you can easily catch up. I also have researched more than I’ve written up here, and this is really helping me get to grips with all my research and explore it properly. I have lots of ancestors who migrated to New Zealand and the United States – the Scots were really good at migrating. I’ll have a good look around your blog now I know about it.

  2. K Fraser Westmaas

    #1. My grandfather’s name: John Fraser (Jr.) — Born: Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh (just blocks from Edinburgh Castle), 1883.
    #2. His Brother: William Fraser — Born Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh, 1885.
    #3. My great-grandfather’s name: John Fraser (Sr.) — tank man & merchant. Born: May 16, 1863
    #4. My great-grandmother’s name: Annie Fraser — domestic servant. Born: October 22, 1861
    Note: John (Sr.) and Annie were 1st cousins / Married at Pleasance Free Church in Edinburgh / 7 Sept 1882 / Within 3 years immigrated to Bancroft, Ontario, Canada / the “Bancroft Frasers” (#1, 2, 3, 4) had no further contact with their Scottish relatives. Three (3) sons and 1 daughter, Anna, are born in Canada. Only John (#1) and Anna marry and have children.

    #5. John’s (Sr.) father / my g-g-grandfather: William Fraser. He is deceased by 1882
    #6. John’s (Sr.) mother / my g-g-grandmother: Margaret (Wilkie) Fraser
    #7. Annie’s father / unknown / father never identified / her maiden name is ‘Fraser’ on the marriage record (Statutory Marriages 685/05 03461 #346 in the City of Edinburgh)
    #8. Annie’s mother / my g-g-grandmother: Helen Fraser — domestic servant
    Note: From my Father, I know that #5 William Fraser & #8 Helen Fraser were siblings.

    * Looking for birthdates, birthplaces and parents of #5 William Fraser and his sister, #8 Helen Fraser. Would also like to know their Father’s occupation.
    * Would like to know if #5 William and #8 Helen had other siblings
    * Possible that #3 John (Sr.) and #4 Annie were born in Beauly, Scotland
    * Once in Canada, Annie (#3) uses the maiden name, “Vosen”. On John’s (Jr) death certificate, Annie (#4) lists his mother’s name as “Jessie Wilkie”

    • I’m afraid I don’t gave any Fraser ancestors from Beauly or Edinburgh. Mine are from Aberdeenshire, mainly Cruden and Longside parishes. The furthest I can back is a Donald Fraser from the Inverness and Arbroath area but I don’t know who his parents or siblings were.

      • My grandfather John Fraser married Elise Bisland Crawford who was from Beauly. They settled in Inverness and had 3 children, Edith, Ian & Alastair Gordon Fraser, who was my father. Alastair was born in 1933. John Gordon Fraser was in the heirarchy of the Masons and started John Fraser & Son Funeral home which is still in operation today. If you know of any of my relatives, please contact me. Thank you,

      • Hi Carol
        Unfortunately I don’t think there’s a connection between your Frasers and mine, as none of mine had any connection with Inverness. Fraser is quite a common name in north-east Scotland.

  3. K Fraser Westmaas

    Judy, thank you for responding. I appreciate your summary being online. I ran across your ‘William Fraser’ 1805 birth registry, and I might have spent hours trying to determine if he was my g-g-grandfather.

    • It took me years to figure out who the father of William Fraser born 1805 was. I still can’t say with certainty I’ve found the right person, but I feel pretty sure I’m right. I know who all of William’s children and their children were, though, and nothing seems to fit into your tree, I’m afraid.

  4. I don’t suppose you would know a Alastair Fraser or a Valarie Fraser? They were both from my childhood in Cruden Bay

  5. Kay Fraser Westmaas

    I found a Census (July 4, 1861) – 68/505 07/100 005 – Parliamentary Burgh of Edinburgh – Entry #30 – William Fraser is ‘Head of Household’ – age 68. Janet Fraser is ‘Wife’. Margaret Fraser is ‘Daughter’. I also have a photo of a large gravestone listing multiple persons. I can read one entry “Janet, youngest daughter of Luke, Died * Feb *, aged 70 years”. Would be glad to send you this file if you provide me with a Facebook page or email address. – Kay

  6. Judy, thank you for sharing your wonderful blog – It’s amazing. I just found it today. My Grandfather was Thomas Fraser 1886-1974. I’m hoping to go to Scotland in the next couple of years and your information will help me on my Fraser Quest. Thank you.

    Sincerely, your distant cousin….

    Nancy Baldwin

    ps re the May 27th reoccurring date – I have a daughter born May 27. 🙂

  7. Judy, I loved reading your family history.

    My fathe was James Gavin Fraser, born 1925 at Cruden (I believe) I have ordered what I believe is his birth certificate and are anxiously waiting for its arrival. As I am just starting the process of discovery i am finding it very tough! Dad died in 2000 in Australia and as he was the youngest of nine, all of his siblings have passed. Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. Anne Sharpe (née Fraser)

  8. I think we have a connection from way back. William Fraser and Janet Sangster had William Fraser, who with Christian Hutcheon had James Fraser. James Fraser and Margaret Glennie had James Christie Fraser who was my grandfather. James Christie Fraser and Margaret Hamilton had Margaret Hamilton, who with Warren Hotmer had me, Bruce Hotmer. I’d love to know all about relatives in ancient history, but also in the present. I live in Los Angeles, California.

  9. Hi Judy,

    My great-great-grandfather, Robert Park, was briefly an agricultural labourer at Moss-side of Cairnbulg (which I’m guessing is the same Mosside you mention in your blog. He was there in May of 1859, where his daughter Margaret was born. He also laboured at Hillhead of Cairnbulg and Lochlip, before decamping to various locations across Aberdeenshire.

    As an interesting aside, he was already married and a father of 4 (with a 5th on the way) when he got my g-g-grandmother pregnant, in the parish of New Deer. He denied being the father (in writing) and then left town. Now, 160 years later, with the advent of DNA testing and widespread interest in genealogy, we have reasonably definitive proof that he was in fact the father!

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