FRASER, Hon. William (1691-1727), of Fraserfield, Aberdeen.
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Family and Education
b. 19 Nov. 1691, 2nd s. of William, 12th Lord Saltoun [S] of Abernethy, by Margaret, da. of James Sharp, abp. of St. Andrews. educ. adv. 1713. m. 25 Oct. 1724, Lady Katherine Anne Erskine, da. of David, 9th Earl of Buchan [S], 1s. Bought estate of Balgownie from Lord Gray and called it Fraserfield 1721.
On 20 Oct. 1722 Lord Finch wrote to his father, Lord Nottingham:
I have this day heard and seen what I never expected to have met with i.e. that I should sit in a House of Commons that could be convinced by the debate and turned by the eloquence of any one man who was not in authority. But there is a Scotch gentleman, one Mr. Fraser, a friend of my Lord Aberdeen’s, who is returned for the burghs of Elgin, Banff, Cullen, and Inverurie, against whom Col. John Campbell, Mrs. Campbell’s husband, petitions. This Mr. Fraser was in the rebellion, not long since pardoned that he might plead at the bar in Scotland. The House was as much set upon bringing in Jack Campbell as we were in the last Parliament, when I moved to have the return tried before the merits of the election against James Murray, now secretary to the Pretender at Rome, and had Mr. Fraser been silent he had met the same fate, and left to petition, as Mr. Murray was. When he began to speak, the usual compliment of silence was paid to him as a new speaker but if the question had been put when he began, he would not have had 50 votes, for I don’t believe he had ever seen five gentlemen of England that were of the House till the first meeting of the Parliament nor did he know the half of his own countrymen. But when he had done, Mr. Campbell’s friends did not think fit to divide, for if they had I don’t believe there would have been 50 for John Campbell with all the advantage of his acquaintance and friendship with the greatest part of the House. In short Mr. Fraser said everything that was necessary to enforce his cause, to convince his judges, and to persuade their favour, and not one word more than was necessary.1
The same day Knatchbull noted in his parliamentary diary:
Mr. Fraser, the sitting member, made a most handsome speech in his own defence and turned the whole House that seemed prepossessed against him.
Pending the decision of the elections committee, to whom the petition was referred, Fraser was active in the House on matters relating to Scotland, such as the malt tax and the alleged frauds on the customs by the Glasgow tobacco merchants, observing that ‘it was necessary to keep the thing as much as possible off from a national footing, for then we were sure to lose it’.2 However, on 10 Dec. 1724, when the committee of ways and means were debating the malt tax, he
insisted it was a breach of the Union in this point, and said he was one that protested against it as such. This being an unusual expression in the House of Commons, the attorney general first took notice of it and after Mr. Walpole saying it was such an expression he had never heard there, and if the person that used it had considered the consequence or knew it, he thought he would not have done it, but as he was a young member he would not insist on the consequence, only he could not let it go unobserved, and advised those gentlemen to acquiesce for though they were a minority to the English yet they would not put them in the case they had put themselves in in this debate, and that this way of raising money due from them was an indulgence to them since we took now not above £20,000 for £60,000 and they had behaved themselves as if they were a separate nation when now we are all one, so the question put and no division.3
Next month the elections committee decided against Fraser, who was unseated. Unsuccessful for Linlithgow Burghs at a by-election in April 1725, he died 23 March 1727.