13 October 2010

Frasers: Part 10 (Perthshire)

A post of agony about the Frasers of Perthshire, to be tolerated with kind empathy. Especially by those searching for equally frustrating families like Smith and Jones. I noticed that I’d been spelling Killin in Scotland as Killean half the time so changes were made for consistency. They sound the same to me. For a long time I lived in an Ontario township where communities were named after places in Perthshire ... Crieff, Badenoch, Aberfoyle, Killean [sic] ... some kind of pre-ordained Scottish omen, I suppose. So I say Killeeeeeeen however it’s spelled.

My post about the town of Killin lamented the surprisingly (to me) scant number of Frasers in South Perthshire burials recorded by the Scottish Genealogy Society (SGS). I said: Why am I getting this sinking feeling that gt-gt-gt-Duncan’s grandfather may have drifted into Killin from Inverness-shire where the Lovat Frasers were concentrated? He would have been the age to be young and healthy at the time of the Battle of Culloden.

 We’ll have to scrap that romantic notion because not one Duncan Fraser appears in No Quarter Given, a work that took years of research by many scholars and may never be definitive.[1] There were plenty of Frasers who fought for Prince Charles Edward, most notably among Lord Lovat’s clansmen of Inverness-shire. Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, is the one who was executed after Culloden for his support of the controversial Young Pretender. Don’t get me started.

As for the “missing” gravestone of Janet Fraser and husband Alexander MacFarlane in South Perthshire Monumental Inscriptions, which I had viewed in person, cousin Lizzie rightly pointed out that the SGS was concentrating on pre-1855 inscriptions. (Self: I knew that, didn’t I?) Because from 1855 onward, Scotland has official registrations of deaths, along with births and marriages.

A research plan is needed. What do we know about our earliest ancestors?
➢Duncan Fraser was baptized 24 July 1783 at Killin. His marriage to Catherine Robertson took place at Killin on 18 July 1807. Duncan died 15 February 1867. His parents were:
➢John Fraser, baptized 17 June 1751 at Killin. His marriage to Janet Buchanan before 1783 has not been found; they had five children born after Duncan. John’s parents were:
➢Duncan Fraser and Margaret McKeracher. The couple had three other children later than John, but neither baptism nor marriage for Duncan has been found. A burial index at Stirling Archives indicates a Duncan Frazer of Luib (another nearby hamlet) was buried at Killin 7 January 1787. The date would fit this particular Duncan—if there had been a gravestone, it’s no longer visible.

Most of the above is based on parish register searches as indexed at FamilySearch.org. Parish extractions  for all of Scotland have not produced a “likely” Duncan married before 1751. Here is where we lose our thread, stalled at 1751.

It’s not as if the information is there and Duncan has somehow failed us. The available records do not include marriages at Killin which are missing 1699-1708 and 1720-1782. Um, yes, have we not heard this problem before? ... in other parishes and other families. Does anyone tell us why they are missing, or does the answer really matter? The records have disappeared through some kind of neglect or misadventure or might never have been written at all. So we have to suck it up.

Genealogists and family historians call this a brickwall or a roadblock problem. One strategy then, perhaps the only strategy, is the attempt to reconstruct every contemporaneous Fraser family in the area (SIGH). Say from 1700 to 1800 in this case. Tracking the available (Self: SO regretting over-usage of this word!) existing Fraser baptisms, marriages, and gravestones in and around Killin is the main way to do this.
At the same time, adjacent parishes and place names need to be kept in mind while searching databases and records. Additional monumental inscriptions need studying (but can’t expect volunteers to have recorded every burial ground in the country). Contact with local family history societies is essential—they have members’ interests, query pages, or copies of compiled family histories. Someone out there, in Wazoo, Australia, or Bottomley-on-Sprye, England, could have a missing link for me. I haven’t given up on the notion that Killin Kirk Sessions might have references to pertinent Fraser individuals (especially if they were naughty) because they do exist from 1723-1762.

Why did Duncan’s descendant Dr William Fraser (1810-1872), brother of my gt-gt-grandfather John, name his third son William Lovat Fraser? Did the doctor know from oral family lore something we don’t know? Oh no. Am I ultimately facing the complicated parish records of Inverness-shire? Complicated, because in that region the name Fraser is the equivalent of the dreaded Smith everywhere else.

Lizzie, our work is cut out for us. The next batch of monumental inscriptions is on its way to me.

1 comment:

CallieK said...

Oh those pesky Frasers! I still have never figured out where my Elizabeth Fraser appeared from although she became a lot less pressing once I found out she was actually Archibald McVicar's second wife.

I am envious of your trips to far away places to search in person. Maybe next year I'll finally make it out of Canada to go looking for ancestral clues.