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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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FRASER, JOHN (1783-1837)

FRASER, JOHN, lumber and trading company head, customs officer, JP, and JCP; b. Inverness-shire, Scotland, c1783; m. 1825, Margaret Fraser, of Montreal; d. Newcastle, 9 Nov 1857.

John Fraser was "one of the Farraline Frasers of Inverness, Scotland" and was a relative of James Fraser. He arrived in Nova Scotia around 1803 and came to the Miramichi ten years later. In 1817 he became a partner in James Fraser & Co. After James Fraser's death in 1822 he conducted the company business on Beaubear's Island, with Alexander Fraser and James D. Fraser as partners. In 1825, when he was in his forties, he married Margaret Fraser, whose father was a Montreal merchant and whose mother was said to have been the daughter of an Irish artillery officer who served under Gen. James Wolfe.

Alexander Fraser withdrew from the Fraser firm in 1830, and James D. Fraser withdrew in 1834. John Fraser was thus left as sole owner, but the business had ceased to be a thriving one. In 1836 he advertised Beaubear's Island and its contents for sale. In 1839, as elsewhere noted, it was bought by Joseph Russell. In the meantime he moved to Newcastle and began a commission and agency business. After he sold the island, however, he concluded his business affairs and took a modest salaried position with the Provincial Treasurer's Department as waiter, searcher, and locker at Newcastle and Douglastown.

Fraser was appointed a justice of the peace in 1819. By 1834 he was also a justice of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas. He created controversy in 1851 when, as chairman of the County Sessions, he allegedly made a slighting remark to the members of the grand jury. He denied uttering the words attributed to him, but his position as a magistrate had been compromised, and he was not returned to the bench under a new commission issued in 1855.

Fraser was appointed to the 2nd Battalion of militia in 1823 as a captain, and he still held this rank in 1850. He was a school trustee for Nelson parish in the 1820s and 30s and a commissioner for some years of the Seamen's Hospital. He was a trustee for the building of St James Presbyterian Church in Newcastle and one of the original elders. He and his wife, Margaret Fraser, who died in 1842 at age forty-nine, had three children, including John J. Fraser and Sarah J. Fraser, the first wife of Jesse G. Harding.


[m] Royal Gazette 6 Dec 1825 [d] Gleaner 14 Nov 1857 / Advance 28 Dec 1893; Facey-Crowther; Gleaner 29 Jun 1830, 6 May 1834, 8 Jul 1834, 17 May 1836 (ad), 17 Jan 1837 (ad), 10 Feb 1851; Hoddinott; NB Almanac and Reg.; NB Courier 16 Apr 1842; PPNB (under John James Fraser); Spray (ENC)