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The Black Knee Chronicles

Volume 3

A Note on Archibald Frazer - Part 3

by Wilson Ray Frazer (1874-1963)

The story so far finished with Simon Lovat suppressing the possibility that the young Archibald (his son from his St Germain wife) whom he had brought with him from France to England, might be the heir to Lovat title and estates, because of the political pressures of the day.

But a presentable heir had to be found if the titles and estates of Lovat for which Simon had fought so desperately were not in the end to fall into the maws of the Murray and Mackenzie wolves. To this end then, towards the close of 1716, though not without some head-shaking about the marriage with the Dowager, Simon married Margaret a daughter of the influential house of Grant of Grant. During the next ten years Margaret gave birth to two daughters only, but in 1726 she had a son, Simon (later General Sir Simon), and then in 1729 a second son, Alexander, in giving birth to whom she died, to the intense grief of Simon.

It is time now to recount two incidents which may, or may not, be relevant. Personally I am inclined to think that the boy in each case was the boy thought to have been born in Paris 1703-4.

The first incident occurred when Simon was very ill in London in 1718. On the 5th April in that year he addressed a very long letter to the gentlemen of the Clan, and in a postscript he says "Not being able to write myself, I did dictate the above letter to the little French boy who is my servant."

In the History of the Frasers by Alexander Mackenzie, a letter from Simon is quoted which contains the words "William Fraser who was once my servant in France and was since Sir Peter Fraser's servant". To this passage the author appends a note, "That these gentlemen were not servants in the ordinary sense of the term is abundantly clear from the account of Lord Simon's career given in the body of this work and the nature of the services rendered by them". They were in fact more like confidential secretaries. They were always, so far as I can ascertain, sons of some gentlemen of the Clan.

To resume, Simon, in his memoirs, when relating his escape from Saumur in mid-October 1714, says that "he took leave of Saumur attended by Major James Fraser and two servants". Clearly I think the two servants were his. A few days later he records that his "servant who was a Scotchman" found an English ship due to sail for England in 5 or 6 days. Again clearly I think the the words "servant who was a Scotchman" (a translation from the original French manuscript) indicate that the other servant was not a Scotchman, and it seems not unlikely that the other "servant" was the "little French boy" of some years later.

The party ultimately reached London at the end of October 1714. Then until the end of July 1715 Simon had to stay in London while his friends, especially the Duke of Argyl and Lord Islay, worked to secure his safe return to Scotland. He complains of the great expense this delay entailed "with his brother, his two kinsmen and three servants". His brother John had come down from Edinburgh to meet him. The two kinsmen were James Fraser and Alexander Fraser, his London solicitor who met him at Dover, and the extra 'servant' no doubt came with brother John. At last in July 1715 a pass to Scotland was secured. No pardon from the King had yet been secured, so the party had to go incognito - James Fraser, John Fraser and two servants, one of whom was Simon's, the other being no doubt John's. We know that Simon left the "Scotchman" behind in London, for the man caused Simon considerable trouble by laying information before the Marquis of Montrose, The other 'servant' of the two, the French boy, was presumably also left in London.

The "Scotchman" had become estranged by his conduct, and when Simon returned to London in 1716, the French boy presumably returned to Simon's service and remained in it until April 1718 at any rate.

This brings me to the the second interesting incident.. In a letter dated 31 June 1720 the Marquise de la Frezelliere, widow of the Marquis who had been a great friend to Simon, wrote to Simon congratulating him on his marriage to Margaret Grant, and contained the following passage.

"Revenous au Sieur Bernierd, à qui j'ai remis en main votre lettre, mon cher Mylord. Je lui ai reproché ses graves fautes à votre égard; d'ailleurs il a eu soin, à ce qu'il m'assure, et aura à l'avenir, de l'enfant baptisé sous votre illustre nom. Il m'assure qu'il est très blond et a de votre air. Souvent ces enfants de l'amour sont aimables et ont du mérité. J'avoue que je ne l'attendais pas pour fruit de votre sagesse. Mais l'homme est foible, malgré le directeur de l'oratoire." ( 1 )

It is most unfortunate that this is all of the letter available. The rest of the letter should have thrown light on le Sieur Bernierd and his standing, and if the letter bore an address, it would indicate where le Sieur Bernierd and the child lived, as it was near enough to the Marquise' dwelling for the letter to go by hand. The date of the Marquise' letter is strange seeing that Simon was married in 1716.

Though until we know more about Le Sieur Bernard, it is impossible to say what kind of tutelage he exercised over the boy, it is evident that Simon was anxious that the upbringing of the boy (who if he was the son of the Paris wife of 1703 would be about 16) and desirous that he should be kept informed of his progress. This care for his upbringing and the fact that he had been baptised in Simon's "illustre nom" suggest that the boy had a special significance for Simon beyond any natural feeling for an "enfant de l'amour".

What I suggest is that the boy was none other than the "little French boy" of 1718, and that some time in 1718 or 1719 Simon sent the boy back to France into the care of le Sieur Bernard. Supposing the boy was Archibald, what happened to him between 1720 and 1746 is unknown, but I suggest that when he left the tutelage of le Sieur B, it was arranged for him to be taken into the family of some married couple, the father being a younger son of one of the cadet houses of the Clan, who had left Scotland and gone to live in England or Ireland, probably more likely Ireland.

Further light on the puzzle might be obtained:-

(1) from the information laid against Simon before the Marquis of Montrose, ????.

(2) by a search among the Passu 1716-1719 for any pass issued to a Fraser or Bernierd going to France, or to anyone taking back a French boy to France.

(3) by the Marquise de la F's letter of 31 June 1720.

(4) by an examination of Simon's last will to study ??? if any, were made ??? to ??? of the Clan.

(5) Of course, by an attempt to trace the baptism of this child in the name of Fraser.

(6) Police reports.

This is the last of Wilson's notes on the St Germain wife of Simon Lovat. This was his finally favoured theory of the parentage of Archibald. Previously, Simon Fraser of Brea was favoured as the missing ancestor. More of this at a later time.


  1. Roughly Translated:- "Coming back to Sieur Bernierd, to whom I have delivered your letter by hand, my dear Lord. I reproached him concerning his grave faults toward you; however he has taken care of the child baptised under your illustrious name, and assures me that he will continue to do so in the future. He tells me that he is very fair and resembles you. Often such children of love are good natured and capable. I must admit that I had not expected it from what you had told me. But the man is unreliable, despite being the Director of the Oratory." (Back)

    This translation simply proved the weakness of my French, which was ably corrected by Cousin Ian, see Volume 4.


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