Highland Scots - Frasers from Inverness & area:
Fraser of Belladrum
Col James Fraser [c1732-1808] of Belladrum [near Inverness, Scotland] was key to the involvement of Highland Scots in the plantations of Berbice, although he is unlikely to have visited the colony himself. He was known in the Highlands as Seumas Eolach (James the Knowing One) [History of the Frasers of Lovat]. His brother Alexander [1738-84] became a merchant in Tobago.
James Fraser was a soldier who served in Germany from 1759-63, during the Seven Years War; in North America from 1777-82, during the American War of Independence; and came out of retirement in 1794 to raise a Fencible Regiment, serving in Ireland until 1797.
He married Hannah Baillie of Dochfour (1739-c97) whose brothers were leading merchants in the slave trade. James and Hannah's three sons (see below) were all leading planters in Guyana; his daughter Emelia married Colin Mackenzie of Mountgerald, who became the joint owner of a Berbice plantation; and his daughter Isabella married Thomas Cuming, one of the earliest Scots planters in Demerara.
Fraser owned plantations in both Demerara and Berbice which were manged by his three sons - James, Simon and Evan. In 1790 James jnr was in Tobago, having been to Demerara where he had purchased 'a good estate that is likely to turn out to great advantage' [Highland Council Archive, D238/D/1/17/6 Thomas Fraser, St Vincent, to Simon Fraser, baker, Inverness 4 January 1790]. In late 1793 the partnership of Fraser, Inglis & Co in Demerara was dissolved [Essequebo en Demerarische Courant].
In 1794 Fraser owned plantation no 7 on the west sea-coast of Berbice [Naam-lyst] which by 1798 was known as Dochfour, a 500-acre cotton plantation. He also owned an 80-acre cotton plantation on the Mahaica. In Berbice [by 1799] the Belladrum Frasers held three plantation on the west sea-coast.
The sons were influential among Highland Scots in the Demerara and Berbice, particulary the eldest, James, who co-ordinated the gathering of contributions for Inverness Infirmary in 1799.
23 Mar 1799 By cash from Jas Fraser Younger of Belladrum to acot of Subscriptions in Demeraray . . . £500.0.0
Inverness Museum, Thomas Gilzean’s account book
Their fortunes in Guyana fluctuated - sometimes wildly. In 1801 Edward Fraser of Reelig wrote to Lord Seafoth that 'James Fraser is said to have made £40,000 by his last trip' [NAS GD46/17/20 18 Jun 1801].
Two years later, in 1803, James Grant in Inverness wrote to Evan Baillie in Bristol: 'Young Belladrum Fraser passed about 10 days in the country but set out the week before to London from where I fancy he will have sailed for Demerary. I exceedingly regret the embarrassment he must be in at this time.' [NAS GD23/6]
Yet shortly afterwards Donald Mackay in Demerara wrote to Grant claiming that James Fraser had spend £20,000 of profits from the plantations on 'adorning his house of Belladrum' in Scotland [NAS GD23/6/391/4].
Simon Fraser married Suzanna Maria van Imbyze van Batenburg, a daughter of the former Dutch governor, and the couple lived in style, more in the manner of Dutch planters who intended to make their home in the colony.
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