FRASER (ffraser), MALCOLM, army and militia officer, seigneur, and office holder; b. 26 May 1733 in Abernethy, Scotland, son of Donald Fraser and Janet McIntosh; d. 14 June 1815 at Quebec, Lower Canada, and was buried five days later in St Matthew’s cemetery.
In July 1757 Malcolm Fraser purchased an ensigncy in the 78th Foot. The following month his regiment landed at Halifax, N.S., and Fraser subsequently took part in the sieges of Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), and Quebec. When the regiment was disbanded in 1763 he retired on a lieutenant’s half pay. His loyal services as a soldier entitled him to petition for land. On 27 April 1762 Governor Murray* granted him the seigneury of Mount-Murray, which was situated within the boundaries of the former seigneury of La Malbaie. Only two such grants in fief and seigneury were made by the British government, the other one being given to Fraser’s companion in arms John Nairne. That same year Fraser rented from Murray part of the seigneury of Île-d’Orléans including the parishes of Sainte-Famille and Saint-Jean, and in 1766 Murray granted him 3,000 acres at the back of his seigneury of Rivière-du-Loup. During the American Revolutionary War Fraser became a captain and paymaster in the 1st battalion of the Royal Highland Emigrants [see Allan Maclean*]. He gave the alarm when the Americans who were besieging Quebec launched their attack on 31 Dec. 1775 under Richard Montgomery*. Later his company was stationed mainly in the Montreal and Richelieu valley regions. When his battalion was disbanded in June 1784, Fraser again went on half pay, but it was withdrawn five years later because of the discovery of irregularities in his regimental books. He had to wait until 1795 to clear his reputation and again collect his half pay, along with arrears.
After the American invasion Fraser continued to acquire landed property. He bought the seigneury of L’Islet-du-Portage from Gabriel Christie* in 1777. Two years later he purchased for £1,000 the portion of Île-d’Orléans that he rented from Murray. In 1782 he took over part of a long-term lease that Murray had given Henry Caldwell. The territory, which was rented for £90 per annum for the first 11 years and £100 after that, comprised the seigneuries of Rivière-du-Loup and Madawaska and the fief of Île-Rouge. In 1786 he received 3,000 acres in Chatham Township. Fraser also turned out to be one of the major landowners in the Upper Town of Quebec. In the period 1777–91 he bought five houses and lots on Rue des Grisons, between Rue Sainte-Geneviève and Rue Mont-Carmel. His common-law wife, Marie Allaire, herself purchased some land on Rue des Grisons, of which Fraser took over the mortgage. Around 1790 he also acquired the house belonging to merchant John McCord on Rue de la Fabrique. In addition, in 1782 Fraser had set up the Madawaska Company in partnership with Caldwell. He had become a moneylender as well. He lent out the sum of £300 in 1773 and £1,000 in 1784. Three years later he made a loan of £200 to Hugh Blackburn, a miller at Mount-Murray.
Thus, beneath the exterior of a landed gentleman, Fraser showed himself to be an astute businessman, whether he was investing in property or putting out money. He did not hesitate to invest even when he had to mortgage his seigneuries. The seigneury of L’Islet-du-Portage had a mortgage of £400 on it in 1790, and again in 1810. In 1791 there was a mortgage on Mount-Murray made out to surgeon James Fisher*. On occasion Fraser leased his seigneuries, contenting himself with collecting the rent from them. They brought him income from fishing, wheat, saw logs, and seigneurial dues.
Fraser was an absentee seigneur. At Quebec he held for many years the office of justice of the peace, to which he was first appointed in 1764. He was a founding member of the Agriculture Society, which was created in 1789, and he became a subscriber to the Fire Society in 1790. Three years earlier he had been appointed a major in the Quebec Battalion of British Militia, a posting he retained until 1794. In May of that year Governor Lord Dorchester [Guy Carleton] promoted him colonel in the Kamouraska battalion of militia, and in 1805 he was colonel of the Baie-Saint-Paul battalion of militia. During the War of 1812, despite his advanced years Fraser led the militiamen from Baie-Saint-Paul to Quebec.
By 1803 Fraser had begun divesting himself of his real estate, giving his son Simon his 3,000 acres in Chatham Township on condition that Simon secure letters patent. Two years later he sold his share in the seigneury of Île-d’Orléans to Louis Poulin, a miller at Sainte-Famille. Finally, in 1810, he gave his son Joseph his seigneury of L’Islet-du-Portage.
One of Fraser’s biographers, William Stewart Wallace*, asserts that he had numerous illegitimate children, five of them with Marie Allaire, who came from the seigneury of Beaumont. Three other children, Ann, William, and John Malcolm, were born later of his liaison with Marguerite Ducros, dit Laterreur, who was from the seigneury of Mount-Murray. In his will, dated 4 Nov. 1811, Fraser bequeathed an annual pension to her and divided his Canadian estate among all his children.
ANQ-Q, CN1-103, 3 sept. 1765; CN1-205, 19 déc. 1777, 10 août 1784; CN1-224, 6 mai 1786; CN1-245, 11 mai 1780, 3 août 1784; CN1-256, 17 March, 25 May 1791; 5 July, 1 Sept. 1794; 6 Oct. 1795; CN1-262, 11 déc. 1795; CN1-284, 22 juill. 1791; P-81; P-297. ASQ, Polygraphie, XXXVI: 22g. PAC, MG 23, B7; GIII, 23, vol.1: 2–9, 191, 575; vol.5; K1; RG 1, L3L: 29, 37, 43, 408, 2368, 2643, 2649, 43277, 43282, 43329, 43332, 43355, 43361–62, 43369, 54137–41, 72886; RG 8, I (C ser.), 15: 18; 187: 3–4; 931: 28, 109. L.-P. Lizotte, La vieille Rivière-du-Loup, ses vieilles gens, ses vieilles choses (1673–1916); le pays des beaux couchers de soleil (s.l., 1973). G. M. Wrong, A Canadian manor and its seigneurs; the story of a hundred years, 1761–1861 (Toronto, 1908). W. S. Wallace, “Notes on the family of Malcolm Fraser of Murray Bay,” BRH, 39 (1933): 267–71.
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Cite This Article
Yvon Desloges, “FRASER, MALCOLM,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 3, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/fraser_malcolm_5E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Yvon Desloges|
|Title of Article:||FRASER, MALCOLM|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1983|
|Year of revision:||1983|
|Access Date:||June 3, 2023|