FRASER, John Simon Frederick (1765-1803), of Lovat, Inverness and 2 Hare Court, Middle Temple.
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Family and Education
Capt. 1 (Strathspey) fencibles 1793; capt. Fraser’s fencibles 1795, col. 1797-1802.
Fraser, known as ‘Young Lovat’, was the grandson of the Jacobite Lord Lovat who was executed in 1747. He read for the English bar, practised on the home circuit in the 1790s and in 1791 published Reports of Proceedings in Cases of Controverted Elections during the first session of the 1790 Parliament. He wrote in the preface:
In order to fill up that interval which usually takes place between a call to the bar and an introduction to business, it has been recommended to young men to apply themselves to some particular branch of the law; and deemed not altogether unpardonable in them, sometimes to lay the result of their enquiries before the public. It was this motive that led the compiler ... to attend the committees of the House of Commons ... He hopes the nature of the undertaking may afford an excuse for offering his notes to the perusal of the public; as to report the arguments of others, is a task which, at the same time that it may deserve the praise of utility, requires little more than a competent share of industry to execute.
A second volume appeared in 1793, when Fraser expressed a hope (p. xiii) that his treatment of Scottish cases might
be thought to contribute, though in a small degree, to settle the election law of that part of the island. A spirit of reform in particular seems to prevail there, which it will be difficult either to indulge or to repress. Perhaps the qualification of voting in the county of Sutherland, where the right of election is infinitely more extended than in the rest of Scotland, though from particular circumstances the voters may be few in number, might furnish a hint for a moderate constitutional reform in other counties.
In 1797 he produced an annotated sixth edition of Burn’s Ecclesiastical Law.
The question of his eventual succession to the Inverness-shire seat played an important part in the bargaining between his clan, the Duke of Gordon, Norman Macleod* and Henry Dundas before the election of 1790, and Macleod was returned on the understanding that he would hand over to Fraser for the next Parliament. A self-professed ‘decided friend to the present administration’, he was duly returned with Dundas’s blessing in 1796, and gave general support to Pitt’s ministry, voting with them on the loyalty loan, 1 June 1797, and the triple assessment, 4 Jan. 1798. Shortly after his election, he wrote to Pitt with critical comments on the Scottish army and navy augmentation bill, which was a source of grievance in Inverness-shire.2 He expounded his views on the inequitable operation of the bill as between counties, as a result of the quotas being based on outdated statistics, in a maiden speech, 4 Nov. 1796. He opposed the Quakers relief bill ‘as tending to throw odium upon the established church’, 24 Feb. and 6 Mar. 1797.
Late in 1797 Fraser became colonel of a regiment of fencibles, which he commanded in Ireland until it was disbanded in 1802. His absenteeism made him unpopular in Inverness-shire, where he was challenged in 1802 by Charles Grant of Waternish. Dundas remained neutral and Fraser was defeated by four votes. He contemplated a petition, but gave it up at the end of the year, having ascertained that he could only hope to force a new election, which ‘would ill suit my precarious state of health’.3
Fraser, like all his brothers, predeceased his father, dying at Lisbon, 6 Apr. 1803.