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FRASER SEPT NAMES

IClan Fraser: A history celebrating over 800 years of the Family in Scotland [1997], Lady Saltoun explains that, in addition to Fraser, many other surnames are associated with our clan, known as Septs.  A surname can be associated with more than one clan, depending upon the area in which they lived.  The same person’s name may appear in early records spelled several different ways.  Spellings of the name could vary significantly in the same family, from one generation to another, either because of the penmanship of the individual or the official recording the event.

In  The Surnames of Scotland, George F. Black describes  Sept as a Scots word meaning sub division of a clan, and explains the origin, meaning and history of some of these  Sept names and variations in spelling thereof, as follows:

Bisset  -  A diminutive of bis, for ‘rock dove".  From the English Biseys, brought by William the Lion in 1174, to seek their fortune in the Scottish Court.  Henricus Byset witnessed a charter by William the Lion granted before 1198, and his son, John Byset, obtained from the king the grant of lands in the north. In 1242 Walter Byset, lord of Aboyne, after being worsted by the young earl of Atholl in a tournament at Haddington, burned the house in which the earl slept, and the earl with it.  For this crime, Walter Byset and his nephew, John Byset (founder of the Priory of Beauly in 1231) were exiled, their property devolving to others of the family.

In  The Charters of the Priory of Beauly with notices of the Priories of Pluscardine and Ardchattan and of the Founder John Byset [1877], Edmund Chisholm Batten explains how the Lovat portion of these estates passed to the Frasers through marriage with a Byset co-heiress, and refers to the Beauly charters, transcribed between 1734-38.  "The charter of 1231 is a grant by William Byset, his brother John and the officials of the church of Moray being witnesses... The seal has the arms of Byset,   on a shield plain, a bend.  The transcriber adds,  no crown, the opinion then prevailing that the crowns quartered in the Fraser of Lovat coat were the arms of Byset; whereas they are the arms of Grant."

Brewster  -  From ‘brewer’ or ‘brewster’ - originally a woman’s occupation.  Thomas le Breuester in the county of Lanark rendered homage in 1296.  Johannes dictus Brouster held land in Aberdeen in 1382, Robert Brewester, a Scot, received letters of denisation in England in 1480, another Robert Broustar was burgess of Glasgow in 1487, William Broster held land in Arbroath in 1513, Thomas Brouster was curate to Sir John Swinton of that Ilk in 1515, and Duncanus Broustir appears in Murthlac in 1550. In the north, this name is a translation of Macgruar (brewer’s son).

Cowie  -  Pronounced Cooie or Ku-ie. From the ancient barony of Cowie in Kincardineshire.  Sir Alexander Fraser, 1st of Cowie, was Chamberlain of Scotland (1319-26). Herbert de Cowy witnessed a charter by Nicholas de Dumfres in 1394.  John Cowy was admitted burgess of Aberdeen, 1505.   Janet Cowie or Cui was a witch in Elgin in 1646. A family of the name was long associated with Newburgh, Fife, and John Colwye, bailie of Newburcht, is recorded in 1617.

Frew  -  Derived from lands in the district of Menteith, known as the Fords of Frew.  Alexander Frew witnessed a bond of friendship, 1581, David Frew was reader at the Kirk of Dunrossness, 1624, Robert Frew was portioner in Gattonsyde in 1693, a pension was paid to Elizabeth Frew in Edinburgh, 1735, and James Frew was tenant in Shankhead of Kilsyth in 1795.

Frissell, Frizell  -  Old forms of Fraser.  Walter Freselle had a safe conduct into England, 1424.  David Frysaille witnessed resignation of lands of Walle in 1474.  John Fresall was parson of Douglas in 1482, dean of Lestalrig and canon of Glasgow, 1491-93.  Alexander Frizell is recorded in Milhill of Wandale, Lanarkshire, 1734.

Grewar, Grewer  -  Shortened from MacGruar, who appear to have settled in Kindrocht (now known as Braemar) in the 15th century.   John Grewyr was tenant in Fortour c.1520, and Thomas Growar, burgess freeman of Glasgow, 1628.

Mackim  -  Gaelic MacShim, ‘son of Sim’, diminutive of Simon.  Ranald McKym was tenant in part of Cullychmoir, Delny, in 1539.

Mackimmie  -  Gaelic MacShimidh, ‘son of Simon’.  Probably derived from the Simon Fraser killed at Halidon Hill, 1333.

Macsimon  -  ‘son of Simon’. The Lovat chiefs are  Mackimmies.

Mactavish  -  From Gaelic  MacTámhais, a form of  MacThamhais, ‘son of Tammas’ the Lowland Scots of Thomas.   Mactavishes are numerous in Argyllshire. The Craignish MS says the Mactavishes or Clan Tavish of Dunardarie descend from Tavis Corr, second illegitimate son of Gillespick, son of Callen moir math, ‘good bald Coline’ (SHSM, iv, p.207).  The Mactavishes of Stratherrick are considered a sept of the Frasers.

Oliver  -  From old French  Olivier, ‘fabricant ou marchant d’olive’.  Olyver, son of Kyluert, was one of the followers of the earl of March at the end of the 12th century.  Oliver Fraser built Oliver Castle, a stronghold of the Frasers in Tweeddale.  William Olover was burgess in Dumfries in 1542, Robert Olifeir was burgess of Northberwyk in 1546, and Robert Oliphir was bailie of the burgh of North Berwick and of Haddington in 1557.  John Olifer was burgess of Jedburgh in 1680.

Sim, Sime, Sym, Syme  -  Diminutives of Simon, Simeon.  Sim is not always representative of Clan MacShimidh and is a common English name as well.  John Syme was a friend of Robert Burns, and surgeon James Syme (1799-1870) was born in Fife.

Simon  -  The personal name of the Frasers of Lovat.  In Gaelic with ‘Mac’ prefixed,   MacShimidh, it is pronounced  Mackimmie.

Simson, Simpson, Symson  -  ‘son of Sim’.  William Symsoun was burgess in Edinburgh, 1405. David Sympsone was elected common councillor in Aberdeen, 1477.  Weillie Symsone was a tenant of the abbot of Kelso, 1567.  Andrew Symson, ‘Printer to the King’s most excellent Majesty’ was an Episcopal minister prior to the Revolution in 1688, when the bigotry of Presbyterianism deprived him of his living and he turned printer.

Twaddel, Twaddle  -  From Tweeddale, where the Frasers moved from East Lothian in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Tweedie  -  From the lands of Tweedie in the parish of Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, but it is also a very old name in Peebleshire.   The Tweedies had the reputation of being a savage race and were always ready to misuse their strength to dominate their neighbours.