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Articles by Marie Fraser of Canada
The Fraser-Ramsay Connection

The senior Fraser line is descended from Sir Alexander Fraser, who took part in the victory at Bannockburn in 1314, was appointed Chamberlain of Scotland in 1319, and whose seal appears on the letter dated 6th April 1320 to Pope John XXII, seeking recognition of the country’s political independence under the kingship of Robert Bruce, which became known as the Declaration of Arbroath. Sir Alexander Fraser (k. 1332 at Dupplin), by his wife, Lady Mary Bruce, was progenitor of the Frasers of Philorth, Lords Saltoun. His descendant, Alexander Arthur Fraser now 20th Lord Saltoun (1886-1979), was succeeded as Chief of Clan Fraser by his daughter, Flora Marjory Fraser 21st Lady Saltoun.

Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland (1994) offers the following explanation of Scotland’s early tribal organisation:

“Each social system borrowed from the other so that, in Professor T.C. Smout’s definition, Highland Society was based on kinship modified by feudalism and Lowland society was based on feudalism tempered by kinship. The difference is most clearly shown by the feudal insistence on succession by the eldest son as opposed to the ancient Dalriadic system of tanistry; amongst the clans the latter continued to be invoked long after general acceptance of primogeniture, thus affecting both Highland heraldry and ‘official’ chiefly pedigrees. Historians, though, are cautious about juxtaposing a national ‘clan system’ with the feudal system since this would suppose an ethnic homogeneity which history emphatically denies. Dalriadic Scots, later Irish, Picts, Britons, Norsemen and English all held sway at different times and, along with Normans and Flemings, are represented in the progenitors of the various clans. Thus, the Grants and the Frasers are among those of Norman origin, while the Sutherlands and the Murrays are among those of Flemish origin…”

Clan Fraser, A history celebrating over 800 years of the Family in Scotland, by Flora Marjory Fraser (Edinburgh: Scottish Cultural Press, 1997), provides a simple explanation for the confusion as to the relative positions of Lady Saltoun and Lord Lovat.

“People who are of Fraser blood are her kin. But Lord Lovat, who is descended from a younger brother of Sir Alexander Fraser, the Chamberlain, is Chief of Clan Fraser of Lovat, and many of the names associated with Clan Fraser, such as Sim and MacKimmie probably owe their allegiance in the first instance to him rather than to her, particularly if they are descended from boll o’ meal Frasers, that is, people of other names who took the name of Fraser in return for land and food given to them by Lord Lovat. But then they or their descendants must, in many cases, have married people who were Frasers by blood.”

We are indebted to our Chief, The Lady Saltoun, for sharing her collection of photos from the Montreal St Andrew’s Ball in 1961 when she and her late husband, Captain Alexander Ramsay of Mar, were guests of honour. [Captain Ramsay, who was born at Clarence House 21 Dec 1919, died 20 Dec 2000, one day before his 81st birthday.]

By coincidence, the president of the Montreal St Andrew’s Society was J. Alasdair Fraser (1914-1988), which no doubt added to their enjoyment of the occasion. The ladies will appreciate the comparison between the formality of men in white tie and tails in 1961 and the event celebrated 40 years later when many of the men wore the kilt. [The Guests of Honour at the Montreal St Andrew’s Ball in November 2001 were John and Pattie Cleghorn, and John, by coincidence or design, wore the Ancient Hunting Fraser tartan in honour of his grandmother who was a Fraser.]

Scotland’s Day Celebrated [The Gazette, Saturday, November 25, 1961]
[Click on picture to get larger copy]


Among those attending were: The Hon. Mrs. Alexander Ramsay, in a Worth gown of pale blue silk embroidered with diamante and chenille, and wearing a diamond and blue topaz tiara, and a sash of Ramsay tartan;

Mrs. J. Alasdair Fraser, wearing a sheath gown of ivory and gold Indian brocade, and a sash of Ancient Fraser tartan;

Mrs. J.F. Macfarlane, gowned in Italian antique gold brocade, having a fitted bodice and a sheath skirt fashioned with back fullness, falling into a slight train, and wearing a sash of Macfarlane tartan;

Mrs. Keith Hutchison, O.B.E., in a Norman Hartnell model of yellow matte jersey, and wearing a sash of MacDonald tartan;

Mrs. Alexander Archibald in a gown of silver lame, having a softly draped bodice and a skirt with back fullness, and wearing matching accessories, and a sash of Rose tartan;

Mrs. W.C. Leggat, gowned in indigo blue satin, having a fitted bodice and a sheath skirt, fashioned with a bow at the back falling into a slight train, and wearing a sash of Wallace tartan;

Mrs. Robert S. Aiken, wearing a gown of cream and gold satin brocade, having a fitted bodice and a sheath skirt, and wearing matching accessories, and a sash of MacGregor tartan.

Mrs. A. Norton Francis, in a gown of French silk brocade in shades of elf green and Jamaica yellow on a cream background overlaid with gold, and having a flowing panel;

Mrs. Alexander Hutchison, gowned in blue poult de soie, having a fitted bodice and a full skirt caught at the back with a bustle, and weaning a sash of MacDonald tartan;

Mrs. C.J.G. Molson, wearing a gown with a fitted velvet bodice, and a bouffant skirt of pink satin overlaid with tiers of black and blue net caught at the back by a large velvet bow, and wearing a sash of Davidson tartan;

Mrs. W.K.G. Savage, in a gown of emerald green satin, having a fitted bodice and a slim skirt fashioned with back fullness;

Mrs. J.W. Knox, gowned in rose and green printed taffeta;

Mrs. N.C.D. Mactaggart, in a sheath gown of green and gold Italian brocade, fashioned with back fullness, and wearing a sash of Mactaggart tartan;

Mrs. W.A. Wood, jr., in a gown of candlelight silk, having a bodice beaded with silver beads and crystals, and wearing a sash of Lindsay tartan;

Mrs. A.D.D. Tree, gowned in emerald green silk moire, caught at the back with a bustle falling into a slight train, and wearing emerald jewellery, and a sash of Douglas tartan;

Mrs. Egan Chambers, in a gown of black velvet, having a strapless bodice and a skirt fashioned with back fullness falling into a slight train;

Mrs. H.A. Darney, wearing a gown of sea green poult de soie, with a fitted bodice having a scoop neckline and a slim skirt with back fullness, and a sash of Campbell tartan;

Mrs. Ian Roberts, gowned in blue silk, having a fitted bodice with a round neckline and a full skirt, and wearing a sash of Campbell of Argyll tartan;

Mrs. Frederick W. Cowie, in a model gown of jade green softly draped French chiffon;

Miss Joan Francis, in a frock of sapphire blue velvet, fashioned with a matching jacket lined with white poult de soie;

Mrs. R.J. Thompson, wearing a gown of blue poult de soie;

Mrs. John B. Merriman, gowned in blue poult de soie, fashioned with a pleated bodice and a full skirt;

Mrs. James H. McMahon, wearing a gown of emerald green poult de soie, having a fitted bodice and a sheath skirt, fashioned with back fullness;

Mrs. D.A. McIndoe, in a gown of pink and silver satin brocade, having a fitted bodice and a bell-shaped skirt;

Miss Dale Perry, in a frock of blue satin, having a beaded bodice of iridescent sequins;

Mrs. W.R. Vogan, wearing a sheath gown of printed matte jersey, and wearing pearl jewellery;

Mrs. John G. Davies, gowned in black silk, fashioned with light blue floating panels;

Mrs. W.G. Buchanan, in a gown of gold and silver brocade, having a fitted bodice trimmed with pink silk;

Mrs. J. Seguin, gowned in black tulle over poult de soie, and wearing pink accessories;

Mrs. John Lynch-Staunton, in a gown having a ruby red velvet bodice with a matching stole, and a bell-shaped skirt of pale amethyst shantung;

Mrs. B.E. Gaynor, wearing a gown of black velvet having a fitted bodice with a high neckline and a skirt falling into a slight train;

Mrs. W.R. MacBrien, in a gown of peach silk, having a fitted bodice and a full skirt having a front panel embroidered with sequins;

Mrs. James Ward, gowned in gold poult de soie, having a ruffled bodice and a full skirt, and wearing gold and pearl jewellery.


Mr. J. Alasdair Fraser is president of St. Andrew’s Society. Committee chairmen were: honorary chairman, Mrs. Keith Hutchison, O.B.E., chairman, Mr. James F. Macfarlane; men’s committee, Mr. Robert S. Aiken; ladies’ committee, Mrs. James F. Macfarlane; debutante committee, Mrs. A.N. Francis; vice-chairman, debutante committee, Mrs. F.W. Cowie; finance committee, Mr. N.C.D. Mactaggart; floor committee, Mr. G. Alex Hutchison; public relations committee, Mr. William G. James; ticket committee, Mrs. William Redpath; co-chairman, decorations committee, Mrs. A.D.D. Tree; co-chairman, decorations committee, Mrs. William Pah; reels committee, Capt. H.A. Darney, Mrs. C.J.G. Molson….[end of newspaper clipping]

According to The Montreal Star, Saturday, November 25, 1961:

Traditional Scottish colors and emblems were used to decorate the St. Andrew’s Ball held last night at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

Columns in the foyer were encased in panels gaily decorated with thistle designs and Highland dancers, as well as the St. Andrew’s Cross. Heraldic standards were placed against the walls and in the grand ballroom the orchestra played against a mural depicting Edinburgh Castle. The Ramsay Coat of Arms supported by standards of St. Andrew were on view in the supper room in honour of the guests of honour, Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Ramsay, of Wester Tarbat, Kildary, Ross-shire.

Again, the ladies and their dresses were described in minute detail. It seems that the ladies got much better press in the good old days, when men wore traditional Penguin suits and white tie - with the exception of Captain Ramsay, who knew better! J

Where were you 40 years ago?

Court Circular, Sandringham, Norfolk

January 29 [2001]: The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were represented by The Princess Royal at the Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of Captain Alexander Ramsay of Mar which was held in St Peter’s Episcopal Church, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, this afternoon.

The Times, Tuesday, January 30, 2001 reported as follows:

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were represented by the Princess Royal, accompanied by Commodore Timothy Laurence, RN, and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by the Duke of Fife at a service of thanksgiving for the life of Captain Alexander Ramsay of Mar, great grandson of Queen Victoria, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Scottish Life Boat Council and Vice-Patron of the Braemar Royal Highland Society, held yesterday at St Peter’s Episcopal Church, Fraserburgh…

© Article by Marie Fraser, Clan Fraser Society of Canada

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