The families listed below are either of Fraser descent or are descended from the dependents of the Frasers. Fraser and Frizell (in its various spellings) are thought to be variants of the same name by most sources and there is evidence of this in old charters. The spelling of names, and in fact of all words, was a very haphazard affair in olden times (and often still is!), and different spellings of Fraser, Frizell, MacKimmie and Simon should merely be regarded as different ways of indicating on paper the same name or the same sound.
Simon is the preferred Christian name for the Chief of Clan Fraser of Lovat, certainly in modern times, but is very common in most branches of the family at all times throughout history.
So, illegitimate children of Lovat Chiefs, or indeed any Fraser whose name was Simon might well be given Simon, MacSimon, Sim or Simpson or one of their variants as a surname. But then one has to remember that the Christian name Simon was not exclusive to the Fraser family! A certain amount would depend on what part of the country the family came from, that is to say that a Simpson from the area round Beauly in Inverness-shire would be much more likely to descend from a Fraser of Lovat than one from some other part of the country.
All in all it is impossible to be precise as to who is or is not of Fraser descent, for, apart from anything else, so many records have been lost, and so many cannot prove their descent. But if someone greets Lady Saltoun or Lord Lovat as the head of their family, they do not tell him to produce his pedigree and prove it! They welcome him as a kinsman, whether his name be Fraser or Tweedie of any of the others on that list, which does not include all known spellings of those names.
List of Septs
Clans, Families and Septs
By Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw Bt.,
13th August 2001.
The difference between clans, families and septs is the
source of many questions as is the question phrased in one
way or another, which asks, "to which clan do I belong". There
are many definitions of clans and families as there are people,
but this article will try to indicate how these matters are
viewed in the Lyon Court.
It should first be recognised that a clan or family is a
legally recognised group in Scotland, which has a corporate
identity in the same way that a company, club or partnership
has a corporate identity in law. A clan or family is a ''noble
incorporation" because it has an officially recognised chief
or head who being a nobleman of Scotland confers his noble
status on the clan or family, thus making it a legally and
statutorily recognised noble corporation often called "the
Honourable Clan…" A name group, which does not have a chief,
has no official position in the law of Scotland. The chiefs
Seal of Arms, incorporated by the Lord Lyon's letters Patent,
is the seal of the corporation, like a company seal, but only
the chief is empowered by law to seal important documents
on behalf of his clan. A clan as a noble incorporation is
recognised as the chief's heritable property - he owns it
in law and is responsible for its administration and development.
So far the words clan and family have been used interchangeably
in this article and this is the position. There is now a belief
that clans are Highland and families are Lowland but this
is really a development of the Victorian era. In an Act of
Parliament of 1597 we have the description of the "Chiftanis
and chieffis of all clannis...duelland in the hielands or
bordouris" thus using the word clan to describe both Highland
and Lowland families. Further, Sir George MacKenzie of Rosehaugh,
the Lord Advocate (Attorney General) writing in 1680 said
"By the term 'chief' we call the representative of the family
from the word chef or head and in the Irish (Gaelic) with
us the chief of the family is called the head of the clan''.
So it can be seen that all along the words chief or head and
clan or family are interchangeable. It is therefore quite
correct to talk of the MacDonald family or the Stirling clan,
although modern conventions would probably dictate that it
was the MacDonald clan and Stirling family. The Lyon Court
usually describes the chief of a clan or family as either
the ''Chief of the Name and Arms" or as "Chief of the Honourable
Clan - -"
Who belongs to what clan is of course, a matter of much difficulty,
particularly today when the concept of clan is worldwide.
Historically, in Scotland a chief was chief of "the cuntrie".
He was chief of his clan territory and the persons who lived
therein, although certain of his immediate family, would owe
him allegiance wherever they were living. The majority of
his followers and in particular his battle relatively to a
neighbouring chief, they would switch their allegiance to
the other chief. Thus we find that when Lord Lovat took over
a neighbouring glen to his clan territory for the donation
of a boll of meal to each family, the family was persuaded
to change their name to Fraser and owe him allegiance - to
this day they are called the "boll meal Frasers". Another
example is a migration of a family of the Macleans from the
West Coast to near Inverness and on moving to Inverness they
changed their allegiance from the Maclean chief to the chiefs
of the Clan Chattan. Thus the Macleans of Dochgarroch and
their descendants and dependants are properly members of the
Clan Chattan and not members of the Clan Maclean even though
they bear a common surname.
A chief was also entitled to add to his clan by the adoption
of families or groups of families to membership of his clan,
a good example being the "boll meal Frasers". Equally, a chief
has and had the power to expel or exclude particular persons
from membership of his clan and this included blood members
of his family. It was his legal right to outlaw certain persons
from his clan. This is accepted in the modern sense to mean
that a chief is empowered to accept anyone he wishes to be
a member of his clan or decree that his clan membership shall
be limited to particular groups or names of people. All persons
who bear the chief's surname are deemed to be members of his
clan. Equally, it is generally accepted that someone who determines
to offer their allegiance to the chief shall be recognised
as a member of that clan unless the chief has decreed that
he will not accept such a person's allegiance, Thus, if a
person offers his allegiance to a particular chief by joining
his clan society or by wearing his tartan, he can be deemed
to have elected to join that particular clan and should be
viewed as a member of that clan unless the chief particularly
states that he or his name group are not to be allowed to
join the clan.
It should also be said that the various Sept lists, which
are published in the various Clans and Tartan books, have
no official authority. They merely represent some person's,
(usually in the Victorian eras) views of which name groups
were in a particular clan's territory. Thus we find members
of a clan described, as being persons owing allegiance to
their chief "be pretence of blud or place of thare duelling".
In addition to blood members of the clan, certain families
have a tradition (even if the tradition can with the aid of
modern records be shown to be wrong) descent from a particular
clan chief. They are, of course, still recognised as being
members of the clan.
Historically, the concept of "clan territory" also gives
rise to difficulty, particularly as certain names or Septs
claim allegiance to a particular chief, because they come
from his territory. The extent of the territory of any particular
chief varied from time to time depending on the waxing and
waning of his power. Thus a particular name living on the
boundaries of a clan's territory would find that while the
chiefs power was on the up they would owe him allegiance but
- if his power declined retrospectively at some arbitrary'
date which the compiler of the list has selected. Often the
names are Scotland-wide and so it is difficult to say that
particular name belongs to a particular clan. Often surnames
are shown as potentially being members of a number of clans,
and this is because a number of that name has been found in
each different clan's territory. Generally speaking, if a
person has a particular sept name which can he attributed
to a number of clans, either they should determine from what
part of Scotland their family originally came and owe allegiance
to the clan of that area or, alternatively, if they do not
know where they came from, they should perhaps owe allegiance
to the clan to which their family had traditionally owed allegiance.
Alternatively, they may offer their allegiance to any of the
particular named clans in the hope that the chief will accept
them as a member of his clan. Equally, as has already been
said, with the variations from time to time of particular
chiefly territories, it can be said that at one particular
era some names were members of or owed allegiance to a particular
chief while a century later their allegiance may well have
been owed elsewhere.
In summary, therefore, the right to belong to
a clan or family, which are the same thing, is a matter for
the determination of the chief who is entitled to accept or
reject persons who offer him their allegiance.
© Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw Bt