Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/257

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Fraser
Fraser
245

premature death, which took place at his own house, Easter Moniack, Inverness-shire, on 21 Jan. 1754 (Scots Mag. 1754, p. 51).

Fraser married in London, in 1742, Mary, only daughter of Edward Satchwell of Warwickshire, by whom he had issue one son and three daughters. A portrait of him is still in the possession of his descendants at Reelick House. James Baillie Fraser [q. v.] and William Fraser (1784?-1835) [q. v.] were his grandsons.

Fraser's book is entitled 'The History of Nadir Shah, formerly called Thamas Kuli Khan, the present Emperor of Persia; to which is prefixed a short History of the Moghol Emperors' (London, 1742). It contains a map of the Moghul empire and part of Tartary. It was the first book in English treating of Nadir Shah, 'the scourge of God.' It is important not only as a first-hand contribution to the history of contemporary events, but also for the number of original documents which it alone has preserved.

At the end of his book the author gives a list of about two hundred oriental manuscripts, including Zend and Sanskrit, which he had purchased at Surat, Cambay, and Ahmedabad. His claim that his 'Sanskerrit' manuscripts formed 'the first collection of that kind ever brought into Europe' appears to be valid, though single Sanskrit manuscripts had reached England and France even earlier. After his death his oriental manuscripts were bought from his widow for the Radclifte Library at Oxford; they were transferred to the Bodleian on 10 May 1872. One of Fraser's manuscripts, containing 178 portraits of Indian kings down to Aurengzebe, found its way directly into the Bodleian as early as 1737, in which year it was presented to the library by the poet Alexander Pope, its then possessor. Fraser's Sanskrit manuscripts, forty-one in number and all post-Vedic, were the earliest collection in that language which came into the possession of Oxford University: the first Sanskrit manuscript, however, which the Bodleian acquired was given to it in 1666 by John Ken, an East India merchant of London. It was in order to inspect Fraser's Zend manuscripts that the famous French orientalist, Anquetil Duperron, visited Oxford in 1702, when brought a prisoner of war to England.

[Preface and appendix to Fraser's History of Nadir Shah; manuscript notes, written about 1754 by S. Smalbroke (son of Dr. Richard Smalbroke [q. v.], bishop of Lichfield and Coventry) in a copy of that work now in the possession of W. Irvine, esq.; Note on James Fraser in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1899, pp. 214-20, by W. Irvine; Burke's Landed Gentry; Macray's Annals of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 1890, pp. 216, 372, note 1; Aufrecht's Bodleian Sanskrit Catalogue, pp. 358, 403-4.]

A. A. M.

FRASER, Sir WILLIAM (1816–1898), Scottish genealogist and antiquary, was born in Kincardineshire in 1816. He came to Edinburgh to be clerk in a lawyer's office, and in 1851 was admitted a solicitor before the supreme courts. In the following year, however, he gave up his practice as solicitor on being appointed deputy-keeper of sasines, an office he held until 1880, when he received the appointment of deputy-keeper of the records. In 1882 he obtained the degree of LL.D. from the university of Edinburgh, in 1885 he was made C.B., and in 1887 he was advanced to the dignity of K.C.B. In 1892 he was compulsorily retired, by the age limit, from the office of deputy-keeper of the records, and he died at 32 Castle Street, Edinburgh, on 13 March 1898.

By his elaborate compilations on Scottish family history Sir William Fraser has placed subsequent students of Scottish history under permanent obligations to him. Undertaken at the expense of the representatives of the historic families whose fortunes they chronicle, their aim is circumscribed, and their tone, as well as many of their conclusions, more or less biassed by their special purpose; but through his free access to charter chests and family papers of all kinds he obtained the means of shedding new light on at least many minor points of general Scottish history; and if his views do not always commend themselves to the impartial student, the industry of his research is undeniable. His method was dry-as-dustish, even when it need not have been so, his narrative is cold and tame, and on strictly historical matters he is frequently weak and commonplace; but by the aid of assistants, whose labours he directed and utilised, he has placed within the reach of the general student of Scottish history a large amount of new and well-authenticated information. The volumes are also of great interest for their illustrations : family portraits, representations of old seals, facsimiles of old documents, &c.

The earliest of Fraser's incursions in genealogy are 'Genealogical Table of Lieutenant-General Sir T. M. Brisbane,' 1840, and 'Genealogical Tables of the Families of Brisbane of Bishopton and Brisbane, Macdougall of Makerstoun, and Hay of Alderstoun, from Family Title-deeds,' 1840. In 1872 he edited 'Registrum Monas-