The Black Knee ChroniclesVolume 2
Deryk Frazer's Legends
Part of the plan with these Chronicles is to record as many of the family traditions as survive. For this reason I particularly ask the more senior members of our family to put pen to paper, or voice to tape, and record their memories. The following is an extract from the memories of Deryk Frazer, which I hope will spark some other memories.
1. Years ago, I was told that about the beginning of this century, V.V. was introduced to Lord Lovat at a party. He didn't know that she had Frazer blood, and in the course of conversation said to her, "Of course, I'm not the real Lord Lovat, the real Lord Lovat is a curate in Kensington." This was at the time when Uncle Joe (Wilson's eldest brother) was curate at St Mary Abbots, and was taken by the family as a sign that the Fraser's of Strichen kept an unobtrusive eye on our line.
2. Some years ago, your father (Simon 1906) and Alastair were at a dance where they were introduced to a lady who picked up her ears when she heard they were Frazers, saying that she also had Frazer blood. Then she added, with pride, "What branch of the Fraser's do you belong to? I am a Fraser of Strichen." Simon and Alastair drew themselves up and replied as one, "We are Frazers of Brea." She went dead white, and refused to speak to them for the rest of the evening. (Apparently there is a legend among the Fraser's of Strichen that some day the Fraser's of Brea will return.)
3. At the Queen's coronation, there were a bevy of equerries, including a Fraser from one of the lesser lines, and a group photo of them appeared in the press. I didn't bother to seek him out, but I ran my eye along the photo and picked him out, he was the dead spit of Alastair, and this after 200 years divergence of lines!
4. What happened to my grandparents (your great grandparents)? He was Joseph "of Dunacliggan" and married Frances Elizabeth Mahoney in 1868. He died in 1908 and she in 1916 (buried in Doncaster and London respectively). Cecily Bennett knew my grandmother in her later years, and said that she had a grievance against the Irish Land Board for evicting them from the farm for not managing it properly. My father's birth certificate shows that he was born in London in 1870 and his father's occupation is shown as "Gentleman". My father used to refer to him as "the poor old guvnor". Why? I understand that he was a cattle dealer. In his last years he lived with Uncle Joe (his eldest son) in the vicarage at Doncaster. Periodically he would disappear and Uncle Joe would rush to the "Times", find that there was a big cattle sale somewhere at the other end of the country, and rush off there to retrieve him!
Had he been evicted from the farm before 1870, or when? And why be based in London as a cattle dealer?
5. Now one for you. Your grandfather was at Oxford in the days of horse-buses, which used to turn around at Magdelene Bridge, then queue up before starting the next run. One day Uncle Wilson leapt on the front one, lashed the horses on and leapt off again; and repeated this two or three times more. He was sent down for it, and being the only 'blue' his small college had had for years, he was accompanied to the station by a brass band. A fine start to a successful career in the civil service!
6. Finally, why do we spell our name with a "z"? I was once told that the z or s were used at will, but that my grandfather or great grandfather asked that all his descendants should use the z. Now, in Ireland, you nowadays see quite a number of Frazers, and also Frizzelles, which is said to be another form of Frazer! An interesting line to pursue?
One of the unexpected joys of living in Australia is that everyone spells one's name with a z, as it should be spelt, being the most common spelling. As far as I have managed to ascertain, the common ancestry is from Irish Protestants who came to Australia in the nineteenth century. Perhaps the z is simply a sign of our family's sojourn in Ireland.