Web Site Hugh Frazer Family History Traditions

The Black Knee Chronicles

Volume 6

Research by Wilson Frazer, c 1930

Archibald Frazer, Trooper

Archibald is said to have been about 80 when he died and if that is so, he was born somewhere in 1715 or 1716. [Handwritten note: "My father, however, gave his age as 90 or over"]

Nothing is at present known of his birthplace nor of his early education and social contacts. Tradition says that he was known as "the french man" - presumably among his neighbours in Queen's County since a frenchman in an English cavalry regiment of this period was not remarkable - and this suggests, if not a birthplace or education in France, at least an upbringing in close contact with a community predominantly french. This accords well enough with another tradition associating him with the huguenots. Not improbably his early years were passed at least in a huguenot atmosphere, probably because his mother was of french origin and huguenot sympathies. Possibly also it was not a mere coincidence that he found himself in a regiment traditionally huguenot and commanded then and for many years afterwards by huguenots.

There is absolutely no information giving any sort of a lead in the matter of Archibald's birthplace. The statement, however, in Aunt Ruth's Chronicle that Archibald and his brothers "came to Ireland indicates that Ireland at any rate was not the place of birth, though it does not of course preclude an early migration of the family to Ireland. The field of search thus left is almost hopelessly wide. But taking as a basis the two traditions, the one that the family came to Ireland, and the other that Archibald showed definite traces of french upbringing, a start has been made on the registers of the huguenot churches in the British Isles and in Holland and of the parishes adjoining some of the chief huguenot centres in England. Presbyterian churches also have not been overlooked, and the records of a few, notably those of the church at Lisburn in Ireland, have been examined. Very much more remains to be done, even on these limited lines. Further likely areas are the southwest of Scotland and Cumberland, where some unavailing search has been made. Beyond that search becomes quite haphazard.

Tradition has it that Archibald held some kind of commissioned rank in the Army, and this tradition is supported by the earliest record about him, which has come to light. In the Entry Books of Warrants and Passes there occurs the following:-

Adjt Frazer's Pass:
Pass for Adjt Frazer of Gen. Ligonier's Horse and Ensign Tottenham of Gen. Bragg's dated the 5th September 1747 from Dover to Flushing.

Again, in the Pipe Rolls, that is the Declared Accounts of Army expenditure, there is recorded the payment under a warrant of half pay to the Adjutant of Ligonier's Regiment of Horse for the period 11th July to 24th December, 1747. The name of the Adjutant is not recorded.

Ligonier's was one of four Regiments of Horse which were transferred permanently to the Irish Establishment in 1714, and had already won a high reputation when Ligonier took command of it in 1720. The personnel of Ligonier's regiment, perhaps of all the Regiments of Horse on the Irish Establishment, was unusual. In a old MS., which was first published the Dublin Penny Journal of 3rd November 1832, Captain Holt Waring, the Captain in Ligonier's and De Grangues' troops during Archibald's last years in the Regiment and later Major in place of Francis Stuart, gives the following account of the Regiment. "This long period of thirty years (i.e. 1714-1743)" he writes "naturally brought the corps to be composed almost entirely of Irish; and I do not recollect at any time more than two or three private men in it of any other country. It was in general composed of the younger branches of old and respectable families: nor was it uncommon to give from 20 to 30 guineas to become a trooper." Waring's statement about the composition of the Regiment is confirmed by an official abstract of 1755 from which it appears that of the officers 3 were then English, 2 Scotch and 22 Irish, while of the men 5 were English, 1 Scotch, and 131 Irish. Under what nationality Archibald was entered in the Musters in his day, we shall never know now.

In 1742 the Regiment was ordered immediately to England for the war with France, and Capt. Holt Waring tells the following story about this occasion. The order came, it appears, just before the Regiment were to have received new uniforms and outfit, of which they were badly in need, and while their horses were still at grass. There was no time to wait, and the Regiment in their worn-out uniforms and their horses brought straight from grass were hurriedly embarked and sent over. Directly they arrived, a review was held by the King on Hounslow Heath, and Ligonier's were stationed between two smart and jeering regiments and cut rather a sorry figure. Ligonier was peeved, but the King, who had an eye for a soldier said: "Ligonier, your men have the air of soldiers: their horses indeed look poorly - how is it?" To which Ligonier replied: "Sire, the men are Irish and gentlemen: the horses are English." However, the laugh was on the other side when the following year Ligonier's distinguished themselves so greatly at the battle of Dattingen that even the London Gazette recorded that "Ligonier's Regiment of Horse gained great reputation." In fact the Regiment had won the fame of being the finest cavalry regiment in Europe; and Ligonier, himself knighted on the field and the last man ever to be so, wrote to the Secretary-at-War in loud praise of the "young gentlemen serving in the Regiment."

Before their transference to the Irish Establishment in 1714 the four Regiments of Horse, like all the other similar regiments on the British Establishment, had carried Adjutants, but on the transference the Adjutants were abolished. When, however, in l742 Ligonier's Regiment was placed on the British Establishment for the war with France, the necessary office of Adjutant was restored. Capt. Robinson on was first appointed, but he was killed at Dettingen, and Ralph Craigh was appointed in his place by a commission dated 14th July 1743. How long Craigh held the appointment is not known.

To understand the point now at issue it is necessary to explain that towards the end of 1745 Ligonier's Regiment was recalled from France on account of the Jacobite rising in Scotland and took part in the operations against Prince Charlie's army. When the rebellion had been crushed the Regiment was, in December 1746, rather suddenly ordered back to Ireland. The Lord Lieutenant was very apprehensive lest the return to Ireland of the Regiment at full war strength should give rise to "great uneasiness and jealousies"; and an Order was promptly issued requiring the Regiment on landing in Ireland to be reduced to the same footing as the other Regiments there. The Regiment landed at Dublin on 19th February 1747, but the reductions were not completely carried out immediately, and in particular the Adjutant was retained until 11th July when he was put on half-pay. Now, while the Adjutant's pay between 19th February and 11th July was charged on the Irish Establishment, the half-pay was charged on the British Establishment, and this can only mean that the appointment as Adjutant had been made while the Regiment was still on the British Establishment. As mentioned above, the half pay was paid upon a warrant, not a Royal warrant, but the warrant of a general, presumably of Ligonier himself. If Craigh had been the officer concerned, there can be no doubt, as he held H.M's Commission, that he would have been included in the Half-pay establishment by Royal warrant. Seeing that Archibald was in fact acting as Adjutant in September 1747, the explanation seems to be that, Craigh having given up the post, perhaps in 1745 or 1746, Ligonier, as he had full power to do, appointed Archibald as his successor by warrant, and that, when the reduction of the Adjutant as part of the establishment became unavoidable in July 1747, Ligonier issued a further warrant putting him on half-pay. But the story does not end there. Why was the half-pay chargeable on the British Establishment allowed only to the 24th December 1747? The answer seems to be, and the pass to Adjutant Frazer of 5th September 1747 tends to confirm it, that though Archibald was on British half-pay, Ligonier was still employing him as Adjutant and making up the full pay out of his own pocket, and that when this came to light, the charge on the British Establishment was stopped. It was characteristic of Ligonier not to spare personal expense where the efficiency or well being of his Regiment was concerned. During the war he bad provided at his own cost an extra surgeon for the Regiment, and it is said that when a recruit beyond the number authorised by the Establishment once came in, he bad kept him at his own expense until there was a vacancy. In the same spirit Ligonier, knowing that an Adjutant was essential to a Regiment, provided one: and it is interesting to note that within four years all the Regiments of Horse and Dragoons in Ireland had got into such difficulties from want of Adjutants that they were clamouring to have them restored to the Establishment and ultimately carried their point in 1752.

With much less than half the picture to go by, the rest having been destroyed with the other Irish records in 1921, the above seems to be the most likely interpretation which can be put on the available facts. When the Regiment was recalled to England in 1745, Ligonier had not come with it, and he was shortly afterwards appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army in Flanders. The war was still dragging on in 1747. On the 2nd July 1747 a sharp engagement with the French took place at Val, in which the latter had some 10,000 casualties and the British some 8,000. It was a regular melee during which Marshal Saxe, the french commander, and the Duke of Cumberland were both nearly taken prisoners, and Sir John Ligonier himself was, though very soon released on parole. Towards the end of July Marshal Saxe made overtures to Ligonier for the negotiation of a general peace. An exchange of notes took place during August, and on the 2nd September the Marshal suggests that arrangements should be made for the plenipotentiaries of England and France to meet at Liege to discuss preliminaries, and that Ligonier should direct someone to arrange with the Maréchal du Camp at Liège a suitable place for the conference, which should be kept as secret as possible. On the 7th September Ligonier informs the Marshal that the place of conference had been agreed by the Maréchal du Camp "avec une Personne de la part de S.A.R." i.e. the Duke of Cumberland. The conference took place on the 11th September. It would be flattering to think that Archibald was mixed up in these affairs in however minor a capacity, but the dates which appear so apt are in fact against it, because Archibald's pass is dated Old Style and for comparison with the New Style dates of the Saxe-Ligonier correspondence the pass should be regarded as dated 16th September. There seems little doubt, however, that Archibald must have been going to Ligonier, but whether on regimental or other business, it is not at present possible to say.

However that may be, there is no reason to suppose that Archibald did not retain his post as Adjutant until in July 1749 Ligonier left the Regiment and was succeeded by Mordaunt for a short while and then by De Grangues in November, 1749.

[ Handwritten note: It seems now pretty clear that his Adjutancy must have come to an end in November-December 1748, when all the Regiments of Horse and Dragoons were reduced, even the Dragoons losing their Adjutants whom they had retained on their Establishments all the way through up to then. WRF 13/6/45]

A sword reputed to be Archibald's is now in the possession of Robin Frazer. Mr. ffoulkes, the Curator of the Armouries at the Tower, to whom some particulars of the sword were sent, writes: "The dating of regimental swords of the type illustrated is almost impossible as the same type appears all over Europe in the early years of the XIX century. It looks like a Dragoon sword, of about 1788 but the hilt is not that of the British weapon. I do not think there was an official issue in the middle of the XVIII century, so that this sword may have been one supplied by the Colonel. I am sorry I cannot trace the mark." The mark referred to is a Crown with some obscure markings underneath, stamped on the metal of the hilt. In the Black Horse Gazette - a regimental paper which ran from about 1895 to 1914 - there is a cartoon, one of the items in which is a crown identical with that on the sword and under it P.R.R. of H. i.e. Princess Royal's Regiment of Horse, the full title of the Regiment. Possibly the markings under the crown on the hilt are the letters P.R. or a monogram of P.R.R.H. or something of the kind: but, taken with the tradition, the crown itself seems sufficient to establish reasonably well the authenticity of the sword as belonging to the 4th Regiment of Horse, and since troopers did not keep their swords on leaving their regiment, it may be taken as reasonably certain that the sword was that worn by Archibald as Adjutant.

During 1748 the Regiment was stationed in Dublin, but in 1749 it went to barracks in Queen's County and Tipperary, and Ligonier's own troop to which no doubt Archibald was attached, and two other troops, were stationed at Donaghmore within a mile of Dunnacliggan. It is impossible to resist the thought that this was the occasion of Archbald meeting Ruth Whitehead who had now been a widow for nearly two years.

The following is a list of the troops of the Regiment, their officers and stations in 1749:-

Col. Sir John Ligonier
Capt. Holt Waring
Cornet Rich. Moore
Q.M. Steph. Moore

Lt-Col. Dan. Webb
Lieut. Tho. Bernard
Cor. Will. Lovett
Q.M. Tho. Webber

Capt. Arthur Graham
Lieut. Henry Gore
Cor. Tho. Harman
Q.M. Tho. Short

Maj. Hon. Francis Stuart
Lieut. Will Conyngham
Cor. John Ford
Q.M. Tho. Hays

Capt. Henry Holnes
Lieut. Edw. King
Cor. Jacques Desbrisay
Q.M. Francis Short

Capt. Hon. Hen. Stuart
Lieut. Matt. Cock
Cor. Francis Heath
Q.M. James Lackie

Chaplain Edmund Hunt
Surgeon Steph. Moore

This list is of course an official list of the officers according to the Establishment, and it is not to be expected that Archibald would appear in it.

The next reference to Archibald in any document is contained in his Marriage Licence Bond dated the 25th February 1749, wherein he is described as "Trooper in Gen. De Grangues' Regiment of Horse and own Troop." Apparently when his appointment as Adjutant lapsed, Archibald, having no home in Ireland and no other occupation, and probably also contemplating an early marriage, took the natural course and volunteered to serve with the Regiment for a short period. There is little surprising in this in the peculiar circumstances of Ligonier's Horse as mentioned above. [Handwritten note: A's M.L.B. is dated 25/2/49]

So, early in 1749 Archibald married Ruth Whitehead and exchanged the pursuit of military glory for a country life; and between this date and 1788 when he made his will, there is not at present a shred of information about him. He died, presumably at Dunnacliggan, early in 1796 and is said to have been buried at Dunkerrin. [Handwritten note: Perhaps in 1795]

It is of interest to note that Major Francis Stuart and his brother Henry were great-great-great grandsons of the Bonnie Earl of Moray who was murdered in 1592 and that Archibald if he were a son of Simon Fraser of Brea would be a great-great-grandson of Jean Stuart, sister of the Bonnie Earl and 2nd wife of Simon 8th Lord Lovat. At the outbreak of the 1715 Francis the father of the two Stuarts in Ligonier's had been arrested but later released.

Notes on Ligonier's Regiment of Horse

The Regiment was first raised in 1688 by the Earl of Devonshire. In 1690 it passed to the younger Schomberg, son of the famous old Marshal. After doing notable service during the reigns of William and Anne it was transferred, while under the command of Sibourg, to the Irish Establishment in 1714. Ligonier took command of it in 1720. The full title of the Regiment was the Princess Royal's Regiment of Horse: but beside being known - in accordance with the practice of the time - by the Colonel's name, it was frequently called "The Black Horse" on account of the black facings of the uniform. In Regimental Order the Regiments of Horse came after the Horse Guards, and from Schomberg's time to 1745-46 the Black Horse were the 10th Regiment of Horse. In those years two regiments were disbanded and three were converted into the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dragoon Guards, so that Ligonier's, after a brief interlude as 8th Regiment of Horse, became the 5th Regiment of Horse. A few years later another Regiment was disbanded, and Ligonier's - or Conway's as it then was - became the 4th Regiment of Horse and so continued until 1787 when the remaining four Regiments of Horse were turned into the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Dragoon Guards. Some 60 years after Archibald's time his grandson, Joshua Dunwoody, was Adjutant of the 7th Dragoon Guards.


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