Alexander Fraser (11th Lord Saltoun)

Alexander Fraser (11th Lord Saltoun)

Male 1604 - 1693  (89 years)

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  • Name Alexander Fraser (11th Lord Saltoun) 
    Born 1604  Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 11 Aug 1693  Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I183  King of Scots
    Last Modified 5 Feb 2009 

    Father Alexander Fraser,   b. 1570, Of Philorth, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1636, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 66 years) 
    Mother Margaret Abernethy (10th Lord Saltoun),   b. 1609, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1669, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 60 years) 
    Married 04 Jan 1595  Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F74  Group Sheet

    Family 1 Isobel Forbes,   b. Unknown, Tolquhon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Daughter Fraser,   b. Unknown,   d. Young
    Last Modified 5 Feb 2009 
    Family ID F200  Group Sheet

    Family 2 Elizabeth Seaton,   b. Unknown, Of Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    +1. Alexander Fraser,   b. 1630, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1682, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 52 years)
    Last Modified 25 Jan 2009 
    Family ID F84  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 1604 - Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, Scotland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 11 Aug 1693 - Scotland Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Philbroth Castle, seat of the Frasers
    Philbroth Castle, seat of the Frasers See
    Cairnbulg Castle (formerly Philorth)

    Cairnbulg Castle is of interest for three reasons. It is one of the oldest buildings in Aberdeenshire still to be inhabited by the family who built it, whose home it is. It is of great interest to students of mediaeval Castles and architecture, for there are many gaps in our knowledge of its history, and so much scope for study and speculation. Finally, it contains a collection of family portraits which is rare in Scotland, not because most of them are by painters of any distinction, for they are not, but because there is a portrait of every laird since 1570, and in many cases of their wives, brothers, sisters or in-laws, and this is very unusual.


    In the years before 1308-9, the Comyns, Earls of Buchan, held all the land in this part of Aberdeenshire which is still known as Buchan. Before the defeat of the Norse at the battle of Largs in 1263 and the death of King Haakon in the following year, the coast of Buchan was exposed to their invasions. The Earls of Buchan were responsible for coastal defence and built a number of Castles round the coast of which the first stone Castle here was probably one.

    Although the site does not nowadays appear to be near enough to the coast to be much use for coastal defence, there are strong reasons for supposing that at the time it was built, it was actually right on the estuary of the Water of Philorth, and its old name, Philorth, actually means "Pool of the river Orth". The site may not have been dissimilar to that of Red Castle at Lunan Bay, just south of Montrose. On this particular stretch of coast, the sea has been receding over the last few hundred years. The soils, levels, stones, etc., in the fields on the seaward side of the Castle mound show every sign of having been the bed of a tidal river, if not the sea shore itself. An old print shows a ship beached on the shore and boats drawn up along it, not far from the foot of the mound. The sand dunes between Fraserburgh and Cairnbulg Point probably only grew up during the 19th and 20th centuries. The author remembers that in her childhood there was a large expanse of flat sand with no dunes at all from a point opposite Philorth Bridge right to the present mouth of the river, and the river itself was still changing course. It only settled finally in its present course in the late 1930s, and the dunes opposite the castle have grown up since 1940. Until then it was possible to see the sea from ground floor level.


    In the Wars of Independence, the Comyns sided with the English against Robert I (the Bruce), and after he had defeated them at the battle of Barra Hill in the winter of 1308-1309, he carried out an operation known as the Harrying of Buchan, in which he destroyed all the Castles of the Earldom, so that they could never again be held against him, and he forfeited the Earldom and divided it up among various of his supporters. The Earl of Ross, who had eventually joined Bruce, received this part of Buchan and the ruins of the first castle.

    Rebuilt by Frasers

    In 1375 the daughter and co-heiress of the 5th Earl of Ross, Joanna, married Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie, whose grandfather had been Sir Alexander Fraser, Bruce's Chamberlain, married to his sister Mary, widow of Sir Neil Campbell of Lochow (Lochawe). The Ross lands in Buchan were Joanna's tocher ( English: dowry ), and probably c. 1380 they restored the Castle, at least the main tower appears to date from that time. Either then or later were added a courtyard and outbuildings to the east of the tower, where there are still foundations of buildings underground. Note the foundations of the tower which are just huge stones placed on the clay mound which forms the site, and which can be seen outside.

    At some stage, possibly not much later, the staircase tower was added and a wing running east from it, and probably later still, possibly at the time of the war of the Rough Wooing when Henry VIII tried to marry his son Edward to the young Mary Queen of Scots in 1545, the round tower was built and also the part of the castle now comprising the front hall and the room above it. The exact dates when any part of the Castle was built are a matter of speculation. What we do know from the masonry and various pictures of it when a ruin, is that it has been altered a number of times. At the foot of the round tower the old gun loops are still to be seen, one designed to fire north along the east face of the courtyard wall, covering the entrance gateway which was at the north-east corner of the east wall of the court-yard; one to fire south-east where the only dry ground was; and one to fire west along the south face of the range between the two towers, which was narrower than the present house; and one at first floor level above the latter.


    The family continued here at the Castle, the old Manor Place of Philorth, until the late 16th century. In the last quarter of that century, Sir Alexander Fraser, 8th of Philorth, built the town of Fraserburgh, improved the Harbour and founded a University there and built another Castle to which he moved and which was until recently the Kinnaird Head Lighthouse. As a result he got heavily into debt and in 1613 was obliged to sell this Castle and a great deal of land. The Castle was sold to Alexander Fraser of Durris on condition that should he or his descendants ever wish to sell it, they would first offer it to Sir Alexander or his descendants. The agreement was not honoured and the Castle passed from one family to another. From 1613 to 1631 or 1637 it belonged to Fraser of Durris, then until 1703 to Fraser of Muchalls (created Lord Fraser), then until 1739 to Thomas Buchan of Auchmacoy and his son, then until 1775 to Alexander Aberdein and his son. From 1775 to 1801 it belonged to George, 3rd Earl of Aberdeen, who vandalised it to build and improve other houses in the district in which he kept his mistresses. By 1780 both towers were in a ruinous condition, and the building in between a ruin. After him it belonged to his illegitimate son John Gordon. In 1863 the ruin was bought by Mr. Duthie of the Aberdeen shipbuilding firm who built and owned the famous tea clippers. In 1896 his nephew, Sir John Duthie, restored the Castle using granite which was his wife's tocher from her father who was a stone merchant. Their initials and motto are over the present front door. He died in 1923 .

    Back in the family

    In 1934 the late Lord Saltoun, 11th in descent from the 8th Laird, bought it back and modernised it. From 1966 to 1997 it belonged to Lady Saltoun, who did further modernisation in 1966. In 1989-90 extensive repairs were done and both towers, the staircase tower and the west face were re-harled. Since 1997 it has belonged to The Hon. Mrs. Nicolson, Lady Saltoun's eldest daughter. THE CASTLE IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. To make an appointment, write to her at Cairnbulg Castle, Fraserburgh, AB43 8TN.

    Alexander Fraser
    Alexander Fraser
    Personal Collection

    From 'The Abernethies of Abernethy'
    From "The Abernethies of Abernethy"
    From 'The Abernethies of Abernethy'
    From "The Abernethies of Abernethy"

  • Notes 
    • Fraser was born in 1604 in the young town of Fraserburgh. His father was Alexander Fraser (1570-1636) and his mother Margaret Abernethy. Upon the death of his father in 1636, he inherited the lands of Philorth as 10th Laird.

      Battle of Worcester
      During the 'Wars of the Three Kingdoms' like most Buchan Lairds, Fraser supported the Royalist Armies first against the Scottish Prebyterian Forces, and then against Oliver Cromwell. After King Charles I was executed, Alexander Fraser took to battle with the aim of restoring the King's son to the throne. Unfortunately, his cause struck a fatal blow at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Alexander Fraser was badly wounded at the Battle and would most likely have been slain or died of his wounds were it not for his manservant, James Cardno.
      It is written that the Laird's loyal servant saved him from the battlefield on horseback and nursed him back to health. He then returned the Laird to the safety of the Castle of Kinnairds Head on the outskirts of Fraserburgh.

      Family, Succession, Death
      Fraser married multiple times in his life. His first wife was Isobel Forbes of Tolquhorn, who bore him one daughter; she died within a year of the child's birth. His second wife was Elizabeth Seton (or Seaton) of Meldrum, who eventually produced his heir, also Alexander, who predeceased him in 1682 with issue.

      In 1669 Fraser inherited the title Lord Saltoun of Abernethy through the line of his mother. This gave the Fraser family great influence in Scotland. At the time of succession, it was thought that he succeeded his cousin Alexander, 9th Lord Saltoun. Instead, he succeeded Margaret, the sister of the 9th Lord, who outlived her brother only by six weeks. It was recently determined that Margaret inherited the lordship from her brother by Scots law, making her the 10th Lady ? and thus Fraser the 11th Lord. It must be noted that in old literature, Fraser is still titled as the 10th Lord, which has caused much confusion over the years.

      Alexander Fraser, the 11th Lord Saltoun, died on August 11, 1693 in his 89th year. His grandson William Fraser succeeded him as the 12th Lord Saltoun.

      From Wikipedia

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