The Black Knee ChroniclesVolume 4
Extract from the Anonymous "Memoires of the Life of Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat", Published in Edinburgh, 1747.
. . . he was committed prisoner to the Bastille where he remained for several years . . .
He had upon his coming to St Germain embraced the Roman Catholic religion, and thereby recommended himself to the Pope's Nuncio. . . . he formed a resolution of entering into holy orders, and communicated his intentions to some of the clergy, and got them to inform his old friend the Pope's Nuncio of his pious resolution. . . . By the inter-position and friendly assistance of the Pope's Nuncio and of some other clergymen, he procured his releasement from the Bastille in the year 1708, and in a short time thereafter was admitted to the holy order and profession of a Jesuit. In that capacity he resided and had a living at St Omer for several years . . ."
Major Fraser of Castle Leathers sought him out and persuaded him, in view of Queen Anne's death "of which he proposed to take advantage". Another thing too that greatly contributed to incline our Jesuit to abandon his sacerdotal office, was an apprehension that some of his lascivious pranks at St Omer would come to light, in regard that in his amorous intercourses he had not used that caution and secrecy that was necessary to prevent a discovery that might be attended with fatal consequences to one of his character. . . .
The Jesuit had been recommended to one Monsieur M-n, a gentleman of some rank within a few miles of St Omer, as a father confessor; and by his grave and devout deportment gained his esteem and friendship. This he improved to his no small advantage; for he insinuated himself into the affection of Monsieur M-n's lady, who was young and agreable in her person, and obtained criminal favours of her: she likewise made him considerable presents, as marks of her love and esteem. Like other fine gentlemen of his age, he makes no scruple of boasting of this piece of gallantry, in contempt of his sacred function and all the laws of honour and gratitude; and he often relates, with no small ostentation, an account of his debauching, about the same time, a beautiful young lady of good family, to whom his religious character gave him frequent opportunities of access. According to his own account he first practised on the maid; she fell an easy, willing conquest, and by her means the young lady soon after became a sacrifice to the brutal lust of our Jesuit; he ravished her in presence of her maid. This vile creature, who had assisted him by procuring a favourable opportunity, was an accomplice in the crime, by stifling the cries of her betrayed mistress. He had no sooner gratified his base desire, than the maid, conspiring with her lover, endeavoured to reconcile her to the Jesuit. She represented the crime as of a venial nature, for which the holy father could give her absolution; and conjured her, for her own sake, to keep it concealed, to prevent the shame and reproach that would attend her, if the thing were known. She went further, and threatened, in case she made a discovery to accuse her to her relations, with having, in a most indecent and lascivious manner, endeavoured to tempt the virtue of the good father. She no sooner perceived, that her base arguments began to work on the tender mind of her young mistress, than, to reconcile her move to the crime, she threw herself on the bed, and lewdly invited the Jesuit to her embraces. Our holy father was not wanting on his part, he caressed her accordingly; and in a little time after gave the young lady repeated marks of his fondness and affection for her. This infamous commerce continued for some months. The Jesuit was likewise under a necessity of sometimes visiting Madame M-n; and as he frequently boasted, he had at that time, business enough upon his hands to employ the whole Society of Jesus.
This is pretty awful stuff; and who would want an ancestor like this? But on some reflection, it is clearly a classic bit of yellow gutter press. Even the author is "Anonymous". Clearly designed to sell copy rather than stand the scrutiny of rational debate.
Simon Lovat suffered several character assassinations during his life. At the time of his trial for treason he was viewed by many as almost an embodiment of the devil. But the reason for his execution was much more that he still had a huge loyal following in the Highlands, where he is still held in respect to this day.
He tried to defend his life with legal argument and reason and died with dignity. His body was prevented from being returned to Scotland for fear of uprising.
While by no means being a saint, he struggled long and hard to protect his clan, and were it not for his efforts, the Lovat Frasers would now be at most a sept of the Murray.
There are those that say he was the last of the great chieftains, who considered the clans lands to be held in trust, rather than his personal property and held himself responsible for the welfare of all his people.
But to anyone living away from the Highlands, he would be an ancestor to be hidden with shame.
The next Chronicle, available at the August reunion, will deal with safer matters, the theory that Simon of Brea is our illusive ancestor. This is the theory that has been accepted by most of the family since the 1930's at least, and it certainly remains a good possibility.
But he was such a nice chap that there is a little devil in me that wonders how one could ever be ashamed of him . . .