Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fraser, John (1760-1843)

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FRASER, Sir JOHN (1760–1843), general, colonel late royal York rangers, second son of William Fraser of Park, near Fraserburgh, factor to George Fraser, fourteenth lord Saltoun, by his wife, Katherine, daughter of John Gordon of Kinellar, was born in 1760. On 29 Sept. 1778 he was appointed to a lieutenancy in the 73rd highlanders, afterwards 71st highland light infantry, with a second battalion, afterwards disbanded, of which regiment he was on board Rodney's fleet in the actions with the Spanish Caraccas fleet under Don Juan de Langara and at the relief of Gibraltar. He served at the defence of Gibraltar in 1780–2, until the loss of his right leg, his second wound during the defence, compelled him to return home. He was captain of a garrison invalid company at Hull in 1785–1793, and at the outbreak of the French war raised men for an independent company. He became major 28 Aug. 1794, and lieutenant-colonel royal garrison battalion 1 Sept. 1795. He served at Gibraltar in 1796–8, part of the time as acting judge advocate and civil judge. On 1 Jan. 1800 he was appointed colonel of the royal African corps, composed of military offenders from various regiments pardoned on condition of life-service in Africa and the West Indies (see Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. viii. 134). With this corps he served on the west coast of Africa in 1801–1804, and made a very gallant but unsuccessful defence of Goree against a superior French force from Cayenne. The place was compelled to surrender on 18 Jan. 1804, but not before the enemy's loss exceeded the total strength of the defenders at the outset (Ann. Reg. 1804, p. 135, and app. to Chron. pp. 526–8). After his exchange he was appointed to command an expedition against Senegal, which never started. In 1808 he became a major-general, served in Guernsey in 1808–9, and in the latter year was appointed to the staff at Gibraltar. He commanded that garrison until the arrival of General Campbell. He was then sent to negotiate for the admission of British troops into the Spanish fortress of Ceuta on the Barbary coast, and afterwards commanded the British garrison there until his return to England on promotion to the rank of lieutenant-general in 1813. In 1809, in recognition of its distinguished conduct in the West Indies, the royal African corps was reorganised as the royal York rangers, another royal African corps being formed in its place. Fraser retained the colonelcy of the royal York rangers until the regiment was disbanded after the peace. He was made lieutenant-governor of Chester Castle in 1828, and G.C.H. in 1832, and was a member of the consolidated board of general officers. He became general in 1838.

Fraser, who is described by his kinsman, Lord Saltoun, as a brave, chivalrous, upright old soldier, married, first, 15 April 1790, Evorilda, daughter of James Hamer of Hamer Hall, Lancashire, and by her had one son and two daughters, one of whom, Evorilda, married General Francis Rawdon Chesney [q. v.] Fraser married secondly, about three years before his death, Miss A'Court. He died at Campden Hill, Kensington, 14 Nov. 1843.

[Phillipart's Roy. Mil. Cal. (1820), ii. 253; Alex. Fraser, seventeenth Baron Saltoun's The Frasers of Philorth (Edinburgh, 1879, 3 vols. 4to), ii. 155–7 (an excellent engraved portrait of Fraser appears in i. 74 of the same work); Gent. Mag. new ser. xxi. 92.]

H. M. C.