Fraser, Simon (d.1777) (DNB00)

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FRASER, SIMON (d. 1777), brigadier-general and lieutenant-colonel 24th foot, is described as the youngest son of Hugh Fraser of Balnain, Inverness-shire, by his wife, a daughter of Fraser of Forgie. Anderson likewise states that he entered the Dutch service and was wounded at the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom in 1748 (Account of Frisel or Fraser, pp. 195–6). The war department records at the Hague for this period are imperfect, but the name of Simon Fraser appears in the ‘Staten van Oorlog’ (or war budgets) of 1750–7 as a pensioned subaltern of the regiment of Drumlanrig, two battalions of the Earl of Drumlanrig's regiment of the Scots brigade in the service of Holland having been reduced to one in January 1749 (information supplied through the British Legation at the Hague). On 31 Jan. 1755 Fraser was appointed lieutenant in the 62nd royal Americans, which afterwards became the 60th royal rifles. This corps was then being raised by Lord Loudon, and Fraser's name appears in an order dated 23 March 1756, wherein he is described as a ‘second lieutenant from the Dutch service,’ and which directs the newly appointed officers to repair to their posts at New York and Philadelphia without delay (London Gazette, 9569). In January 1757 he became captain-lieutenant in the 2nd highland battalion, afterwards 78th or Fraser highlanders, commanded by the Hon. Simon Fraser, Master of Lovat [q. v.], in which regiment he was promoted captain 22 April 1759. He fought in the regiment at the siege of Louisburg, Cape Breton, and under Wolfe at Quebec, where a namesake, one of many in the regiment, Captain Simon Fraser, described by Stewart as of Inverallochy (Scottish Highlanders, vol. ii.), was killed. Fraser is said to have subsequently served on the staff in Germany. He was made brevet-major 15 March 1761, and on 8 Feb. 1762 was appointed to a majority in the 24th foot in Germany, with which regiment he afterwards served in Gibraltar and in Ireland, and of which he became lieutenant-colonel in 1768. When in Ireland Fraser served as first and principal aide-de-camp to the Marquis Townshend, then lord-lieutenant, and appears to have been repeatedly sent over to England to furnish the ministry with confidential information on Irish matters (Cal. Home Office Papers, 1766–9, under ‘Fraser, Simon’). In one letter he is described as an ‘intelligent and prudent man’ (ib. p. 493). In 1770 he was appointed quartermaster-general in Ireland in succession to Colonel Gisborne. Several papers in the home office records testify to the active and intelligent interest he took in his profession (ib. 1770–2, p. 454). In 1776 Fraser accompanied his regiment to Canada, and was appointed to the command of a brigade, composed of the 24th foot and the grenadier and light companies of the army, which was posted on the south side of the St. Lawrence. As brigadier he accompanied General Burgoyne [see Burgoyce, John, 1722–1792] in the pursuit of the American troops retreating from Ticonderoga, and gained a victory over them at Hubbardton, 7 July 1777. He was present at the battle of Stillwater, near Saratoga, 19 Sept. 1777, and was mortally wounded by a rifle-ball in the action which took place on the same ground, sometimes called Behmus, or Behmise Heights, on 7 Oct. 1777. He died at eight o'clock the following morning. Madame Riedesel, wife of the Hessian brigadier with Burgoyne's troops, has left a painful narrative of his last hours, to which the American historian, Bancroft, makes ungenerous allusion. Burgoyne refers in touching terms to his death, and afterwards inscribed an ode, ‘To the Spirit of Fraser.’ He was buried in one of the British redoubts, and much feeling was caused at the time by the Americans, in ignorance of what was going on, opening a heavy fire on the work (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. ix. 161, 431). A large painting of the event by J. Graham, afterwards engraved by Nutter, is preserved at Farraline House, Stratherrick (ib. 6th ser. xi. 134, 238). Landmann states that the grave could just be traced at the end of the last century (Recollections, i. 221).

Fraser married 14 Oct. 1769 Mrs. Grant, of Percy Street, London (Scots Mag. xxxi. 558), who appears to have been a relative of Colonel Van Phran, then Dutch commandant at the Cape (Cal. Home Office Papers, 1770–1772, p. 278), and by that lady left issue.

[Anderson's Account of the Family of Frisel or Fraser (Edinburgh, 1825, 4to); London Gazettes; Army Lists; Stewart's Sketches of the Scottish Highlanders (Edinburgh, 1822); Knox's Hist. Memoirs (London, 1769); Calendars Home Office Papers, 1766–9, 1770–2; Bancroft's Hist. United States, vol. vi.; Beatson's Nav. and Mil. Memoirs (London, 1794), vols. iv–vi.; Burgoyne's Orderly Book, ed. Dr. O'Callaghan (Albany, N.Y., 1870); Gent. Mag. xlvii. 398, 455, 549, 576 et seq.]

H. M. C.