Simon Fraser of Lovat
General the Hon. Simon Fraser of Lovat, 19th MacShimidh (19 October 1726 – 8 February 1782) was a Scottish general in the British Army who raised a number of fighting forces, and served in the war against the French in Quebec, as well as the American rebellion. Simon was the 19th Chief of the Clan Fraser.
Master of Lovat
Simon was born in 1726, and his Clan was a prosperous one. His father, Simon "the Fox" Fraser, Lord Lovat, had recently been pardoned for his role in supporting the Jacobites during The Fifteen. He grew up learning, and became fluent in, Gaelic, French, and English, and probably Latin as well. At the Battle of Culloden, Simon, along with Charles Fraser of Inverallochy, commanded several hundred Frasers, who were front and centre in the Jacobite lines. General Hawley reportedly found Charles lying on the field, and ordered a young James Wolfe to shoot him. Wolfe refusing, Hawley found another common soldier to do his dirty work. Simon, on the other hand, escaped the field complete with life and limb, and went on to serve in the British Army.
78th Fraser Highlanders
Wolfe, mentioned above, was the first to suggest that "two or three independent Highland companies" should prove extremely useful to the British Army. Simon, whose estates, money, and hereditary titles had all been attainted from his father following the Forty-Five, raised 800 men within a few short weeks, and Gentleman friends of his in the district had soon raised another 700, in 1757. Simon was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel Commander of the 2nd Highland Battalion of Foot on 5 January 1757. The Regiment came to about two Battalions, and while they were in New York, it was decided they should be renumbered as the 77th Montgomerie Highlanders and the 78th Fraser Highlanders.
Among the officers commissioned into the of the 78th, 15 were Frasers, five of whom had the name of Simon (three Johns and three Alexanders as well). There were 13 MacDonalds (or MacDonnells), six Camerons, and six Campbells.
Since the Dress Act of 1746, Scots were not allowed to wear the dress of their forefathers, "the Highland Dress," including Kilts, Trews, and other Tartan clothing. However, the act did not apply to those involved in His Majesty's armed forces. The act had been in effect for a full 10 years by the time the 78th was raised, and Simon fought quite hard, on several occasions, to ensure that his men would be dressed in full Highland military garb.
On 1 April Simon was ordered to move his Regiment to Cork, in southern Ireland. They were to assemble in Inverness by 20 April and march to Glasgow, through Fort Augustus, where they would be billetted for one night, and on to Glasgow for final training. On 10 May they were to leave Glasgow for Port Patrick via Ayr, the onto transports to Donaghadee via Larne. From there, they were to proceed down Ireland's east coast to Cork, where they would embark 14 May, though no destination was given in these first orders.
The regiment fought at the capture of Louisbourg in 1758, at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, were present at the capture of Montreal in 1760 and at the capture of St. John's, Newfoundland in 1761. In 1763 at the end of the war, they were disbanded in what is now Canada. Many soldiers remained in the area of Quebec.
71st Fraser Highlanders
In 1775 Fraser's Highlanders were raised again in Inverness, Stirling and Glasgow as the 71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot (Fraser's Highlanders), two battalions were raised. In 1776 both battalions of the 71st Highlanders sailed to New York and took part in the American War of Independence. The 2nd Battalion was captured in Boston in 1776 and reformed in Scotland in 1778 before returning to America. Both battalions fought throughout the war, though the 2nd Battalion was captured a second time at Yorktown in 1781. The 2nd Battalion was disbanded in 1783 and the 1st Battalion disbanded in 1786.
By the time Simon was through with the military, he had risen to the rank of general, bought back much of his father's estate, earned a small fortune, and earned a reputation as a soldier. Upon his death in 1782, Archibald Campbell Fraser of Lovat, his half-brother, succeeded him as the 20th MacShimidh, or Chief of Clan Fraser.
- Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1889). "Fraser, Simon (1726-1782)". Dictionary of National Biography 20. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
Archibald Campbell Fraser